Taking political issue with a movie

Yeah, yeah, yeah; I know, a white guy gets to play the part of a cat guy and all racial hell breaks loose.  Normally, I would sympathize with such complaints when in the real world and here on Earth race relations go south.  Such as the Linda Campbell editorial (Spokesman-Review recently) about a racist who makes public threats against non-white journalists including Leonard Pitts, jr of the Miami Herald.  When racial profiling used by cops seems to net the innocent along with the guilty.  But a movie?  Come on now!

Would it make a difference if the Avatar were a non-white human who transforms into a cat and ultimately demonstrates the same liberal sympathy toward the peoples his race is invading?  IE the race card playing critics might not feel so jealous if the “race traitor” were in fact African-American, Indian, Oriental?  Of course, on the other side of the political fence…  Would come the argument of “that’s not fair,” this is a movie that questions our loyalty!

So why do “race traitors” get played more often by white guys than those of any other race?  Bet that’s a political question that doesn’t get asked in this racial rush to judgment about the movie itself.  The thing is, in the very real world of the Civil Rights struggle, race traitors were played by white dudes.  It also cost them their lives.  Or it cost them politically.  Because Caucasians continue to dominate the American landscape, it has fallen to Caucasians to also advance the cause of minorities, religious, political, racial, etc.  To bring change when the cause was just in a time when injustice prevailed.  To be the most politically outspoken when engaging in dissent of what is deemed “socially acceptable” for that time and place.

Courtland Milloy of the Washington Post (republished editorial in the Spokesman-Review 27 December 2009) unfortunately does the same  thing that the critics of Sci-Fi flick “Avatar” do, miss the larger point, that of history.  I’d consider it to be no less than accurate that when those of a “liberal bent” take up the cause of Palestinians over that of the people of Israel—besides the fact that they ignore the state of Israel’s struggle to survive—they are merely engaging in the old tradition that Caucasians must advance just causes, engage in protests of the “accepted;” even if fundamentally misguided.  Of course, I’d hardly regard Jake Sully as “misguided” if he ultimately sought to protect a people from doom.

I have not watched “Avatar” yet.  And do plan on it.  Even if I have to buy the movie.  But suffice it to say, I’d regard “Avatar” as a decent escapist movie to watch rather than attaching politically charged race relationships to it.

There are race relationships involved.  But that is of the human race versus the navi-cats.  The human race that has a very long history of invasion and conquest, of the decimation of indigenous peoples that go all the way back to biblical times.  A very sad history of violence which James Cameron’s movie no doubt accurately depicts.  After all, what we have historically done to our own in the real world on Earth, why would we assume that we wouldn’t do the same on other worlds and to the people’s of other worlds?  Of course we could.  And Mr. Sully so disagreed with that eventuality that he became a race traitor (of the human race) to side with the navi-cats.

Star Trek, after all, showed us the better angels of our nature.  What we as a people no longer as prone to violence—in short, we’d actually grown up and had truly become a civilized people—”Avatar” suggests the grim prospects that we never actually do.  We enter the universe still on the same path of destructive tendencies that we always did have while inhabiting Earth.  Jake Sully then becomes the enlightened dude (even if he did have to fall in love with a native first) to oppose humanities worst devils.

So, who the hell cares what he looked like originally before he became a navi-cat?  Unless you just happen to be a shallow type who nitpicks the fact that Sully was originally white.

Why don’t the movie critics hell bent on playing the race card try this on for size?  Doesn’t matter as to the color of your skin, you are still part of the human race.  When people grow up enough to realize that, then Jake Sully could have been played by anyone of any “race” of the human species and it should actually make no difference.  When he took the side of the navi-cats, he had become a traitor to his own.  Yeah, I’ll see the movie for the escapist flick that it is.

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8 Responses to “Taking political issue with a movie”

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