The International Writers Magazine:
Avatar - a critiqe
Saleem Ayoub Quna
If I were an inhabitant of the planet Avatar and saw the movie named after my indigenous habitat, I would be deeply upset. If I could, I would sue the makers of this film on more than one account. Can I go on? Thank you.
Before the arrival of the most technologically prone creatures who call themselves civilized humans, our community was living in peace and harmony, enjoying the most beautiful and abundant landscape ever nature came up with in this universe. Without our knowledge or approval, those humans managed to steal samples of our DNA and transplanted them in the bodies of some of their "scientists" so they could invade our sanctuary from within. Face to face encounter with us, those humans have estimated, was futile because we were much stronger by all measures.
Our original sin lay in the fact that that our soil embodied a precious material they needed to fulfill their greed and subjugate their other rivals on their planet. Our objection to their intrusion was not based on our fear of them or our hatred, but rather on our faith and attachment to our habitat and the symbol of our existence: the life-tree.
They wanted to uproot us from our land. We just wanted to live in peace there. They came to us. We did not even know of their existence before. Isn't this scenario, the original copy of-colonizer-colonized relationship along the recorded history on earth? From the colonizers view, it's OK to annihilate and destroy a whole race or people or community to exploit the richness of primitive communities. To enforce this image of our primitiveness, the makers of the film, added long tails to the lower back parts of our bodies. They made us speak a funny language. They distorted our faces with these huge noses and ears. They likened our eyes to those of wild big cats. But our sages saw the real distortion was in their minds and schemes.
They abused our innocence and good hearts by fabricating a classical love story between, the native and the sophisticated, between one of our females and one of their male "soldiers". They used the value of love to penetrate our secrets and invade our sacred hideouts. To justify their heinous schemes to destroy us physically, they portrayed us in this derogatory way. To achieve their goals, they amassed the most lethal arsenal they could.
But luckily I am not Navi. I am a man of the street in a developing country. I have seen and read enough of these super-primitive stories such as the white-red Indian tales. The supers prepare plans in their high-tech labs and think-tanks to be implemented on the miserable heart-breaking reality ground of the primitives, whether in Africa, South America or the some parts of Asia. In this connection: super stands for rich: primitive stands for poverty. To appease naïve viewers, makers of these tales would insert some small twists to the story: the super hero, not super after all, and he is underestimated by colleagues for his physical handicap. But at the crucial turning point, he would turn weak and fall in love with one of the natives, in this case his official escort. Did we not see that all along the Hollywood movie-making history, from Mutiny on the Bounty, to The King and I, and now Avatar?
On my part I must admit that I have a weak point when it comes to high-tech special effects, music and photography in making films. James Cameron once again proved that he is not a good director only, but an excellent business man as well. His apologetic attitude regarding the imbalance of geopolitical present relations between nations today, between super powers and much less super powers is one thing; his success in relaying this message, if he has one, is something else. Movies alone do not make up for long unfair relationships between nations.
© saleem quna Jan 2010
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