The film Avatar has been stirring around in my mind since I saw it (so much so that I might try and catch it again when I'm in Pretoria next week--for those of you near an IMAX, I beg you to go and see this one. Seriously). Conor Friedersdorf says the things that were vaguely coagulating in my head, but better than I would have:
But James Cameron isn’t portraying native people of our world. His alien protagonists aren’t intended as stand-ins for the Navajos or the Aztecs or the Cherokee. In his different world, the native people really are in communion with nature. Were his purpose to comment on European history, this would be a terrible choice, but in fact Avatar is a film whose purpose is allowing humanity to reflect on its circumstances and fallen nature in a novel way. That is why I approve of the decision to portray the kinds of natives that were shown.Maybe I'm just a dirty hippie, but I went into that movie expecting the standard Hollywood flash in the pan that you forget ten minutes later and came out surprisingly moved. I'm pretty cynical, so I laughed at reviews that made snarky comments about the Na'vi being equipped with USB ports. Yet I couldn't just dismiss it as a movie (not just a special effects extravaganza); it had gotten under my skin a little bit. I suspect the movie is good, better than it lets on (if that makes sense), maybe even great.