Well I saw the movie Avatar this past Saturday night. And subsequent to having “experienced” it, I was involved in quite a thoughtful and very constructive — personally speaking — conversation. Discussing, both, the film’s flaws — animal issues, with which I have a specific concern with, and don’t fully agree — and itsÂ benefits — the fact that white people can better understand and relate to a white character, and thus begin to understand “colonial[/white] privilege, hegemony, etc.”Â — on Facebook.
As for the animal issues raised, I agree with the objections to the “domestication”/domination/ownership of the flying species the Na’vi used throughout the film is flawed, specifically with respect to the way they are “connected,” but I’ve issues with demonizing the hunting. While sad, of course, plus I’m not really sure how necessary hunting is to the Na’vi, given their seemingly “fruitful” environment, but condemning an indigenous people for living off the land, much the same away people in the Arctic currently, and for many a generation have survived, seems uncomfortably misplaced.
That said, my interpretation of the film is a bit different. Not better. Just different. While I agree with what one particular individual involved in our conversation said, it was very refreshing (even exciting) to see a disability cast in such a role, the main role, but something about Jake’s value as productive member of the team — only because he happened to be the twin of the intended original Avatar “driver” — didn’t sit right with me. An almost a least best scenario? Like “it’s this or nothing?” I understand it. But it still bothered me. And I’ll be the first to admit, it could be me being hyper-sensitive…
But the “escape” — and wanting it bad enough to fuck the Na’vi for it, all for a promise to be “fixed” as a reparation — from a disability was a constant emotion of Jake’s throughout the movie. Did anyone catch him looking at his legs with disgust following his first “driving” experience?
Please, don’t get me wrong, I understand the wanting to escape it and even “hate[ing]” — referencing District 9 in the context of this article (thanks Caitlin) — what Jake and Wikus are, by Jake and Wikus respectively, after being fully “functioning” humans, previously. Or I assume Jake was, seeing how he was a former marine, exhibiting signs of “depression,” or, in the very least,Â he is very unimpressed with being a paraplegic “now.” But living with — and being cast out (in Wikus’ case) by your own kind — is only going to reinforce those feelings.Â It’s only natural to long for something you previously enjoyed, no? I get it.
My point? How are we “crips” supposed to feel, given we don’t possess the ability (ironic?) to escape our bodies? And what about people who were born with their disability’s, and have never experienced the “rightness” of not being disabled? It’s not like Avatar cast a particularly flattering light on disability, and we could take many positive things for one negative thing. Aside from one comment of Jake’s, about not doing what doctors expect of him, it was all negative. More or less.
I don’t know, I thought it was headed somewhere else and was a tad discouraged with where it did end up…