When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like "Avatar"?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Dusty Ayres, Dec 24, 2009.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Arrqh

    Arrqh Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2004
    But this has nothing to do with being white.

    I'm of Eastern European Jewish decent and am as pasty white as you can get. My ancestors were never singled out because of the color of their skin but as everyone is aware, that didn't stop us from being singled out. And therefore, I find the very term "white guilt" itself to make several offensive implications. I am very aware that people like were harshly oppressed and that there are people even now who would be happy to do it again. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the color of either mine nor anyone else's skin.

    I feel the weight of history too. I am acutely aware that if I was born a mere 40 years earlier and across an ocean things would not be so rosey and that the color of my skin has little to do with that. And I find the implication that because my skin is of a most pasty complexion that I must therefore have no personal or direct experience as to what it's like to be an oppressed minority fairly distressing.

    OTOH, I know that this is not anyone's intent. Certainly no one in this thread or the author of the original article. But the term itself uses a level of granularity so huge as to miss the complexity involved in humans oppressing other humans throughout history. And by doing so, I feel it misses the point greatly. Could there be something akin to "imperialism guilt" on a societal level? I could buy that, I suppose... but none of it is caused by virtue of skin color which is practically incidental.
     
  2. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Location:
    Ireland.
    No, it's definitely a bad change for him. He's grown as a person, but he's also lost everything and is now living in a lousy slum that is supposedly even worse than before. Even ignoring him turning into an alien this is a pretty abysmal place for him to remain in.

    ...funny, because that ties directly into Avatar, doesn't it? ;)

    It is interesting that each film leaves us with the hero literally having lost his humanity and become an alien. But while der Merwe does this unwillingly and it's something of a downsizing for him, Sully does it and it's nothing but roses. Der Merwe loses his wife, Sully gets a girlfriend.

    I guess on one level this comes from the idea that the Na'vi life is awesome, since they're pre-colonial natives living the Noble Savage dream, and the prawn life sucks, because they're a post-colonial underclass. Or basically, white society is about to screw over the Na'vi, but by the time we've reached the prawn level, it's already happened. Am I reading too much into this to generalise self-importantly? I believe so, yes.
     
  3. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    I don't know. It stands for "Multi-National United," which sounds pretty corporate to me. This Slate article identifies it as a private corporation with a government contract, which was my impression when I saw the movie. But the film might have said otherwise. I got the Blu-Ray for Christmas, so I'll pay closer attention when I rewatch it.
     
  4. Locutus of Bored

    Locutus of Bored Co-Founder of ISIS Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2004
    Location:
    Huntington Beach, California
    MNU is a multinational corporation with its hands in a bunch of different fields, and the troops are part of a private military contractor subsidiary of theirs (though for the sake of simplicity they just call everything MNU in the movie).

    http://multinationalunited.com/

    Think of the larger corporation as being like Halliburton, and the relocation administrative/construction service Wikus works for and private military contractor Venter (the bald guy) runs as being like their subsidiary KBR and you'll have the basic idea.
     
  5. Hyperspace05

    Hyperspace05 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2005
    Yeah, MNU is definitely a corporation, and is also identified in the film as the worlds largest arms manufacturer.
     
  6. Good

    Good Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2001
    Location:
    Pumpkin Center, North Carolina
    Good points on multiple levels. I agree that looking past skin color is crucial. Poor whites I. The south often had it pretty bad in their own ways. Opression takes many forms. Sometimes it's skin color, but sometimes it's religion, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. I personally find that "white guilt" along with it's cousin "liberal guilt," often get used most by the people who do t feel any responsibility for what has happened in the past.
     
  7. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2001
    Location:
    where it hurts
    Not only that, it was clear their entire motivation was to get their hands on (and learn to use) Prawn weaponry. They didn't care one whit about the poverty-stricken aliens under their care. By the time of the movie, it was evident they didn't care anymore, but given their obsession with Prawn weapons, it's probably fair to say they never cared in the first place, and were only it for greed.
     
  8. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Location:
    the real world
    Coming back from the diversion into better understanding the plot of District 9 to the general topic of how offensive it is to make movies like Avatar, isn't the question whether movies like Avatar are offensive because they're racially patronizing? Or because the implicit message is that a real hero would go over to the "other" side? Looking over the original article and this thread, it seems to me that the resistance is to the latter, even if it is more diplomatic to take the tack that the patronizing is horribly offensive.
     
  9. dragunzng

    dragunzng Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2003
    Location:
    Ortigas, Philippines
    I was going to bring up the fact that everyone in the movie was African when you said the Nigerians were the only Africans!
     
  10. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Location:
    the real world
    None of the characters talking on film are African, are they? Were the wife and father-in-law boss supposed to be Afrikaner too? Now I don't even know what was supposed to be multinational about the MNU!

    Doesn't Wikus presumably have Afrikaner parents and possible siblings?
     
  11. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2001
    Location:
    Down in the tube station at midnight
    I assume having branches in more than one nation would make them multi-national.

    My impression was the wife and her father, as well as many others working for MNU, were South African.
     
  12. Hyperspace05

    Hyperspace05 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2005
    The spokesperson (or CEO?) in media interviews of MNU was not south african. He sounded distinctly american.
     
  13. Locutus of Bored

    Locutus of Bored Co-Founder of ISIS Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2004
    Location:
    Huntington Beach, California
    With the exceptions of the Prawns (obviously), a couple of reporters/UN reps interviewed, and the CEO of MNU who was American (mentioned by Hyperspace), everyone else with a speaking role in the movie was from South Africa or Nigeria.
     
  14. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Location:
    United States of America
    This thread has been quite fascinating. Lots of good discussion in it.

    That said, I feel that humans — regardless of skin color, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and whatnot — absolutely *excel* at finding ways to marginalize others, most of the time with no legitimate basis for doing so.

    It's just something we do as a species, and that won't change anytime soon. Well, unless evolution gets involved and reworks our genetic constitution. But would we still be human afterward?

    Gatekeeper
     
  15. Trent Roman

    Trent Roman Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2001
    Location:
    The Palace of Pernicious Pleasures
    ^ Kind of a pat answer, I daresay. Yes, we're social animals, and one of the easiest ways to belong to a social group is to participate in the exclusion of another; that's something that applies to nations and high school cliques alike. But--and I haven't seen Avatar, but from what I understand of the plot it's applicable--we shouldn't ignore the practical, material side of this either: in-group/out-group thinking is a resource control mechanism. As long as we're competing over 'scarce' resources, we'll find reasons to appropriate them for ourselves and deny them to others, by variously defining who qualifies as 'us' and who is rejected as 'them', from the grand narratives of race or nationalism down to simple familial units. That's the 'legitimate' basis of marginalization: self-interest, at whatever scale. And it is possible to defy those attitudes, by working on both ourselves and our environment.

    Fictitiously yours, Trent Roman
     
  16. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Location:
    Tatoinne
    I finally saw District 9, and yeah, I really didn't see the multinational aspect of MNU. Just because a movie gives something a name doesn't mean they plausibly sell that idea on-screen.

    Let's face it, if aliens really did show up over Johanesburg, the US military would move right in and appropriate all the aliens and their tech. With an event that big and potentially threatening/filled with opportunities, any notion of national sovereignity would quickly become a joke. A million aliens would not be outcast refugees; they would be fought over by every nation capable of staking a claim to them. I could see the whole thing sparking a global war. I just didn't buy the premise of the film, which made it hard for me to buy anything (except I guess the slam-bang action, which isn't dependent on story logic).

    And wow, talk about a moralizing sledgehammer of a movie, too. :rommie: So if I find District 9 clumsy and un-subtle, I guess I'd think the same of Avatar, in spades?
     
  17. Locutus of Bored

    Locutus of Bored Co-Founder of ISIS Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2004
    Location:
    Huntington Beach, California
    If you showed up to the Chicago branch of a multinational corporation you would expect it to be occupied mostly by Americans. Why would there be a difference with the Johannesburg branch of a multinational? Besides, they showed that the CEO was an American, and I believe it was mentioned somewhere that MNU got the contract because they had a presence in Joburg and because of their status and influence with multiple nations around the world.

    I really don't see why they have to plausibly demonstrate it's multinational status anyway. It's irrelevant to telling the story. Just saying the name should be satisfactory.
     
  18. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Location:
    Tatoinne
    The way it struck me is that the "multinational" thing was a clumsy and unconvincing attempt to make the movie seem like it had a bigger canvas and it wasn't just a relatively cheap flick being shot in South Africa. It came off as lame and they probably would have been better off not reminding the audience about any of that.
     
  19. Trent Roman

    Trent Roman Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2001
    Location:
    The Palace of Pernicious Pleasures
    ^ I rather expect that the point of it was to further the film's social criticism; to wit, the callousness and unaccountability of multinational corporations, and the perils of off-loading governmental/international responsibilites to private, for-profit firms.

    Fictitiously yours, Trent Roman
     
  20. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 1999
    Location:
    Tatoinne
    That's the problem - it's part of the overall sledgehammer approach to "social criticism" which I found way, way too obvious and clumsy. Ech.

    Anyway, to get back to talking about Avatar, I chuckled at The New Yorker's review, where the reviewer mentioned

    Hollywood hypocrisy at its finest! :bolian:
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.