Originally Answered: WHY DO PEOPLE HTINK AVATAR IS RACIST?
1. Avatar also portrays a Latina, an Indian, and an African American in heroic roles defending the Navi. The character Trudy Chacon, played by Michelle Rodriguez, is a Latina. Actually Rodriguez's character didn't need 4 months living with the Navi seeing life through their eyes, and to fall in love to convince her to respect other races. She quickly identified right from wrong, and unlike Jake Sully, she died for her beliefs.
Then there’s Dr Max Patel, an Indian actor, seems to lack any possible skill to fight but nevertheless goes up against marines and an entire security force without ever having met a Navi. Next is Private Fike, played by the African American actor Sean Moran, who also joined the Navis coalition. And then there is Norm Spellman, played by Joel David Moore, who respected the Navi before even arriving on the moon, which was a 5 year journey.
I believe Cameron made these character castings from diverse ethnic and racial groups deliberately to show that the movie is not about race but rather about respecting others, choosing right from wrong, and the process that different people go through to reach that epiphany to make the right choices. For Jake it took the whole movie, for Trudy it took one bad order, for Dr Patel it took the indignation of his colleagues, and for Norm it happened so early on we don’t even know why.
2. Avatar doesn’t use the recipe of a white messiah as did Dances with Wolves, District 9, Pocahontas, or even the Last Samurai. Instead Cameron relied heavily on Titanic’s successful recipe to tell the story of Avatar. Cameron could have filmed Avatar and Titanic as epic disaster, focusing only on cinematography, special affects, and a tremendous tragedy. In essence the Navi or Ewya could have been the hero’s alone, and we could have seen the movie through their eyes. But without RDA’s defectors Avatar would have been another “Natives massacre the white guy’s” movie. Further, the film would have lost the theme that we must all work together in a diverse world to help each other.
Like in Titanic the RDA force is led by seemingly arrogant men with their advanced ships, a futuristic complex, and huge mining trucks which they use almost blindly to obtain the mineral “unobtanium”. But like in Titanic we witness this movie behind a love story. Cameron again casts a woman of privilege and nobility in an arranged engagement meet a man from a different world. Initially both Rose and Omaticaya want nothing to do with Jack or Jake but it’s their own leaders who insist on them spending time together. Jake seems to have nothing to offer Omaticaya who is betrothed to the future King. In many ways Cameron shows the Navi and the rich of Titanic go through similar turmoil as lovely heroine chooses a men so common they seem like they are from different worlds. Yet these women see their soul mates for what’s on the inside, their knack for adventure, and their passion for life even.
3. Some that cry out that Avatar is racist seem to think the Navi resembles Africans due to their braids, or native American Indians because of the conflict over land rights. Who wouldn’t want to be represented by noble Navi? However Princess Omaticaya’s prefix to her name is from the Omati tribe in Papua New Guinea. Greenpeace has been documenting the plight of the Omati who live in a lush rain forest prone to illegal and unethical logging (Does this sound familiar?). And while some cite that Omaticaya is played by an African American actress, it’s also true that Jake Scully is played by an Australian.
If Avatar is a metaphor for a current social conflict then we should turn to the plight of the Indigenous tribes of Papua New Guinea. To watch this narrated slide show go to http://www.greenpeace.org/international/... If we watch the slide show you will see whites trying to save the Omati from illegal logging. The Omati are in canoes, some with braids, and one in a loin cloth. So these images in the film are not exclusive to racism towards Africans.
4. It’s not just about Jake, and the transformation he goes through that leads him to respect the Navi. Even the Navi seem to have some strong feelings towards the humans themselves which leads to an inability to respect them. So in seeing Jake transform in his respect we also see the Navi do the same. We wouldn’t be able to see this type of conflict within the Navi tribe without someone like Jake’s character. While some may see Jake called a traitor by the human security chief, he is also called a traitor by the Navi. Even Princess Omaticaya calls him a traitor and left him to die at one point because she blamed him for the actions of the RDA when her homeland was destroyed.
Clearly respect goes both ways and the Navi do not seem to be quite so noble when we consider that the princess did intend to kill Jake until her God intervened. And we also see that when she does follow her faith, she still insults Jake calling him a baby, and fights with her parents because she doesn’t even want to be around him. It may have been easy for some to see the racist humans and how the Navi were shown in loin clothes as savage, but not so fast were complaints that the Navi themselves were racist against humans who they saw them as ignorant and baby like. Further the movie shows the Navi as noble like and the RDA leadership as greedy and unethical.
5. While it’s quick to for some to cry foul when a “white man” saves the native population. No one seems to be crying foul depicting white men destroy a culture. Imagine, if the movie depicted the company headed by an Arab and the security chief and Jake Scully clearly as Arabs. Would critics cry that the movie is racist for having an Arabs save the native population or would they call the producers racist for casting the leadership as heartless, cold, and greedy casting further negative stereotypes against Arabs and Muslims in general. Funny, how it’s not racist to show evil white men but it is racist to show a white man who can choose good over evil.
6. Another issue that has come up is whether the movie promotes some form of nature worship. The Navi practice monotheism to a higher power called Ewya, which created all form of life for the purpose of serving the Navi. Nature worship is seldom monotheistic if ever. In animism animals are not even killed, but instead in Avatar, the animals are respected but killed for the purpose of providing for the Navi’s needs. Further the Ewya doesn’t seem worshipped as an object like the Planet or Sun above, or as a climate event such as thunder or lightning, wind or the sea. Ewya is instead an all powerful higher force connected to all forms of life, a sort of creator of all who seems to be not an exclusive God to the Navi, meaning a universal God whom the Navi call “Ewya”. Ewya is also capable of granting a sort of spiritual immortality which seems to go in line with the nature of heaven.
Further Jakes character and lessons taught are similar one found in the Bible, the Koran, and the Talmud. Jake is of two worlds, and is somewhat destined to live a dead life in the human world. He is rejected by the godless human leaders who clearly are villainous and act with evil. He turns down a later offer for life on Earth and riches in order to do the right thing. The movie shows a clear line between good and evil. Jakes relationship with the Navi and with Princess Omaticaya seems to be against their instinct but instead they turn to the will of a higher power to guide them. These scenes show the importance and power of faith and prayer. When Jake does marry Omaticaya, their bond is considered monogamous, lifelong, and heterosexual; they turn to a higher power to sanctify their bond, and for guidance in their relationship. While the Navi worship and think of Ewya as a living force, this merely lends credibility to the characters and Navi themselves as being more realistic and historically accurate.
Jake becomes inpatient waiting for Ewya and rather takes matter into his own hands by creating a fighting force to save an entire people even though the Navi seem complacent to pray for guidance. He, and the Navi take time to talk to and pray to Ewya, and Ewya does answer them. The RDA is seen initiating unprovoked action against the Navi in both incidents. The RDA sends a clearly superior force to wipe out the Navi and Jake as well as the Navi and RDA defectors fail to stop the RDA force. In this way the Navi resistance is not enough even with some of the RDA technology at their disposal. Rather a higher power in this movie saves the day and answers the call of prayer.
8. While Essence and hundreds of other respectable journals and magazines and media outlets have run with coverage about the racism in Avatar, the source for almost all the discussion traces back to a single article entitled “When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like ‘Avatar’”. You can read Annalee Newitz’s article here http://io9.com/5422666/when-will-white-p... Annalee is an American Journalist (Caucasian) whose key publications included the gem “White Trash: Race and Class in America”. Newitz’s article reads more into the guilt that this movie feeds than the racism in it. In a manner of speaking Newitz is advocating that helping the Navi is simply none of Jake’s business. However, Cameron casted Jake to reach the same conclusion that Martin Niemoller’s spoke of.
9. To me the movie is a masterpiece because it touches heavy on the idea of respect of others, seeing beyond their skin, despite differences. It shows a spirit of brotherhood while clearly identifying the fight against good and evil. But most of all, I find it ironic that some wou