Saturday, January 16, 2010

The vocabulary of evildoers

I just came back from seeing Avatar for the third time -- and while the visual spectacle was still there, I paid a lot more attention to the dialogue this time. A lot of the critics who panned the film, panned it for the 2-dimensional story. I will have to humbly disagree with those critics. The story, unfortunately, is just as 3D as the visual spectacle itself.

The story of Avatar is the story of colonialism. Through our history, colonial powers have swept onto unprepared lands and savaged their people and environment. Today that practice continues, only this time it is mostly corporations and not just government funded mayhem that is descending on the unsuspecting. When a people is destroyed, their culture and history taken away, they are left with nothing. We shouldn't be surprised at the state Africa in which finds itself in today -- and why the tribes in North America have not recovered. It wasn't uncommon for instance for the Beothuk (the people) to be hunted for sport by the British. They are now extinct, in what is now widely regarded as genocide by the Europeans. While most of us may not understand -- we can only imagine what the indigenous populations around the world have suffered at the hands of colonial powers and the business interests that rode in their wake.

in reference to:

"The next level of debasement is to dehumanize altogether, i.e. to compare people who are about to be killed to insects or other lower life forms. During the Rwandan genocide, less than two decades ago, Rwandan Public Radio was calling on all law abiding Hutus to "exterminate the cockroaches," a mandate that makes Colonel Quarritch's one-liner about insects seem not so outlandish after all.
   Such evil-speak is not the stuff of Hollywood fancy. It is the true life vocabulary of people who do unimaginable things. The real reason we find one-liners like this so laughable in movies is not always that they are cheesy, it's that most of us -- in a post-modern and somewhat self-aware world -- cannot even conceive of a mentality that would utter such bile. Sadly, such bilious people are not only still out there, they are thriving."
- Josh Schrei: Avatar and the Vocabulary of Evildoers -- Or, Why James Cameron's Script Isn't as Bad as You Think (view on Google Sidewiki)


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