Wednesday, January 6, 2010

in support of race traitor stories (regarding Cameron's Avatar)

I had been thinking about discussing Avatar and the merits of stories about race traitors, but I didn't want to see Avatar, not because I suspected, as its antiracist critics claim, that it was racist, but because I suspected it was stupid science fiction (as opposed to the smart stuff).

Roz Kaveny has saved me the trouble: Avatar. She makes me want to see it. She reminds me that for all that I hated Titanic, I enjoyed Terminator 1 and 2 enormously. My only quibble with her discussion is that in mentioning District 9, she says it was racist. Is it racist to depict all the members of a criminal gang as having no redeeming qualities? Simplistic, yes, but racist?

ETA: Just remembered that he did True Lies, which I hated so much more than Titanic that I forgot it existed. But I still want to see Avatar now.

9 comments:

  1. (((Is it racist to depict all the members of a criminal gang as having no redeeming qualities? Simplistic, yes, but racist?)))

    Is there anyone of that race in the movie who isn't a member of a criminal gang? If not, that's a bad sign racism-wise.

    More to the point, I'd say that lack of complexity is usually a sign of racism in a book/movie.

    I did see Avatar, but discussing it here doesn't seem like a good idea until you decide for certain whether you're going to see it or not.

    CC

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  2. The person who is arguably the hero of the story, the one who gets the truth out, is black. Where D9 gets problematic is that the gang is Nigerian, not South African, so by my definition, the movie can't be racist, but it might be bigoted against Nigerians. The movie is over the top, almost slapstick, so I think complaining about its Nigerians is kind of like complaining about Italians in a parody of the Sopranos. Or something...I'm failing to come up with the perfect analogy because D9 isn't the kind of movie that Americans make.

    I will see Avatar.

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  3. OK. Doesn't sound racist to me.

    I will keep an eye on UUpdates for a post on Avatar.

    CC

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  4. It's also worth noting that one of the themes of District 9 is the construction of criminality. I found it very hard to look at the aliens, who were clearly shown being pushed in their status as criminals, and not see the Nigerian criminals (who were never seen outside the same ghetto to which the aliens were restricted) as a commentary on the modern situation in South Africa. I can't tell you whether that was how it was intended, but that's how I saw it.

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  5. I didn't actually follow the link... but yeah, it looked bizarre just on the face of it...

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