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Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World

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Avatar is rich in historical allusions and James Cameron deftly weaves into the fabric of the film the core of the relations between humans and their world. Namely, the film is primarily about the two clashing world-views at the core of the relationship between the civilised and the wild. Informed and justified by the Darwinian narrative, the civilised perspective stresses competition and violence, in which the balance of power is achieved by the strong teaming up together against everyone rendered weaker for the purposes of conquest and use as resources, whereas the wild position sees life as a process of cooperation and the balancing of forces, not powers. This is the debate between Kropotkian and Darwinian evolutionary science as well as between the wild and civilised, between pacifism and oppression, between anarchy and imperialism, and between life and death.

Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World

Review by Layla AbdelRahim,

23 December ‘09

Avatar is rich in historical allusions and James Cameron deftly weaves into the fabric of the film the core of the relations between humans and their world. Namely, the film is primarily about the two clashing world-views at the core of the relationship between the civilised and the wild. Informed and justified by the Darwinian narrative, the civilised perspective stresses competition and violence, in which the balance of power is achieved by the strong teaming up together against everyone rendered weaker for the purposes of conquest and use as resources, whereas the wild position sees life as a process of cooperation and the balancing of forces, not powers. This is the debate between Kropotkian and Darwinian evolutionary science as well as between the wild and civilised, between pacifism and oppression, between anarchy and imperialism, and between life and death.

Avatar’s storyline begins with a paraplegic marine, Jake Sully, who agrees to take his deceased brother’s place on an expedition to the far away planet Pandora. Through Jake’s eyes, we learn of the deeply enmeshed corporate interests in «natural resources» and the realisation of corporate interests by means of military operations and scientific research. The parallel between the handicapped Jake — victim of his own subscription to war — and our handicapped world is played against the backdrop of the relations between the obsessive interests of the scientists, personified by Grace. These scientists like to think of themselves as neutral, if not empathetic towards the «primitive», «weak» «natives» and yet they know all too well that they are puppets of the political and corporate dictates and that the military can press the wake-up call button at any moment. Still, Avatar presents the scientist as possessing much more information than the average person or the leaders of the game, and because of that has the ability to care more for the fate of the “field-research” than the alien business, political, and military bullies. What the scientist often lacks, though, is the strength of character to make an honest decision, because science relies on the grace of the structures that fund it. Scientists are prostitutes, in other words, and rarely dare to take a responsible stance. The film also shows that, even though they use scientific information, the financiers and the military rarely take scientists and the knowledge they provide seriously.

The film is, thus, an overt commentary on the historical and present-day place of anthropologists in imperialist expeditions and of the role the hard sciences play in, both, elaborating the philosophy of imperialism and in providing the necessary information for its execution. As Col. Quaritch makes clear, the scientist is the carrot and the military is the stick in operation corporation. One can miss the truth of this commentary only if one is totally ignorant of how the social and political world functions and of how knowledge is being produced. Jake, however, we learn later, is chosen by Pandora for several reasons, among which are, both, his ignorance and the strength of conscience, which the Na’vi refer to as the strength of “spirit” to speak the truth and to act upon it, even if he is totally unaware of any of it.

In fact, the film begins with his ignorance. For, even though Jake has lost his ability to walk, he still fails to learn from his experience and to identify the link between his civilisation and his impotence. Deluded in that this is the right way of life, he believes that he will get a second chance to walk if he agrees to help «his» people kill and destroy life on other planets as well. In other words, his civilisation brings him to an impasse, to his ambulatory impotence, which also dumbs him down and renders him unable to mature or even to learn from his experience. «You are like a baby» were the first words Neytiri addressed to Jake on Pandora: a stupid and irresponsible brat who fails to understand that the death of Viperwolfs was needless and, actually, very sad, and that his irresponsibility, stupidity, selfishness and disregard for life — not only accounted for the futile loss of life — but prompted him to dare and thank Neytiri for their death. It is here, among the Na’vi that Jake will begin to learn that the scientific white supremacy model of knowledge is what «evolves» humans into ignorant and impotent, yet lethal, invalids who, having turned their own planet into grey metal limbs of death, continue to ravage other worlds.

Here, Cameron displays his solidarity with the aborigines of the world and his understanding of the knowledge of north American First Nations, while concomitantly linking the history of colonisation of the «New World» to the whole history of civilisation and its war of terror on the seven continents. The hunt for the precious Unobtanium, whose true value is, precisely, in it remaining untouched and unattained is an obvious parallel with the diamond mines of Africa, the petroleum of the Middle East, the tar sands of the Americas, et al, the material ends of which are short-lived but the disastrous effects on the life of native human and non-human populations is agonising. The extraction of all of these “natural resources” for the purposes of civilisation spells death to the intricate system of connectedness between all forms of living and non-living beings, depicted in the film as the Hometree of the Na’vi and a whole variety of life-form that rests on Pandora’s biggest deposit of Unobtanium.

This struggle for the control and extraction of «natural resources» is a historical saga that dates back to the beginnings of civilisation with its inherent propensity for imperialism. To ignore the actuality and the dark history of the problem of the displacement of natives, the dispossession, the murder of trees, birds, and human and non-human animals by corporations and their armies today and yesterday in lands that are ravaged by tar sands, bio-fuels, petroleum, diamonds, coal, among others, reveals a complete paralysis of the emotional and intellectual ability of the «civilised» to know and to feel the pain of the world.

The internet, however, is infested with thousands of messages that echo, basically, a couple of American critics who have appreciated the film’s technological innovation but dismissed the story-line as a bad first draft, ignorant of “real knowledge”, or even totally absent. Most ironic, though, is the review, Blue in the Face, written by a black critic, Armond White. White raves his outrage at Avatar’s implication of white man’s guilt and Cameron’s suggestion that his redemption lies in the renouncement of his white body and will to power as Jake became the other in everything, including his body and soul. It is sad that White fails to see the irony in his own indulgence in renouncing his blackness by having fully accepted the white-man’s outlook on the world with the only problem that, unlike Jake, he couldn’t change body and skin. White’s new outlook is so complete, that even white people no longer dare to openly exclude the aborigines from the category of human, but White complains that “Avatar condemns mankind’s plundering and ruin of a metaphorical planet’s ecology and the aboriginals’ way of life”. In other words, the logic of this sentence is that the whole of «mankind» ravages. That’s what “mankind” is and, by its very nature, meant to do. That’s the job of that wonderful, highly evolved “mankind”. Now, if the Aboriginals, or whoever else, do not ravage or are themselves ravaged, it is because they are not «man-kind» and hence, who cares?. Just don’t blame the white man for what he has supposedly been created to do.

This reminds us of a lot of things, such as British and French colonialism, Nazi Germany, and Japan in the rest of Asia during WWII - just as a couple of illustrations. But the problem here is not to blame every single white man for everything gone awry in the world. The problem here is the perspective and the knowledge that allows people to justify their acts of violence against other living beings. It is the problem of civilisation and of everyone who subscribes to its knowledge, regardless of their colour of skin. It only so happens, that the most recent and most successful development in the application of this knowledge was elaborated, mostly, by European and North American white men. A glance at the faculty and researchers in North American universities and their social and hard science departments or research centres will reveal how pale that body is and, just as it was in the 19th century, this is still true today.

The most important point of Avatar is Cameron’s turning of the table on the question of who is the alien and what is the definition of «alien». The film demonstrates that the alien is not only the one who invades from without, the alien is the one alien to the community of life and thus threatens it with its disregard for its value. The alien is alienated from its own essence when it fails to adapt to life around it.

The chorus of the viewers and reviewers who dismiss this point in Avatar, points to the inability or, perhaps, the unwillingness of the civilised to take a look at themselves from aside and to question their own ability — or rather lack of ability — to adapt to life instead of death. In this respect, Jake represents the conscience of the civilised awakened by his ability to finally learn. Interestingly, it was his ignorance that won Grace’s favour, in the first place, when she said «now empty your mind. You won’t find that difficult to do». But Grace is not alone in her appreciation of this quality in Jake, Col. Quaritch finds it beneficial for his goals and, most important, it is a big part of the reason for which Pandora’s consciousness chooses him to join its community. It is important to note, however, that even though Jake joins the Na’vi as an important, probably a key, element in the survival of the planet, he does not come there as a leader, but as someone responsible for the disclosure of vital information about the enemy Pandora faces and the extent of the enemy’s brutality. Without this information, Pandora’s natives will never be able to imagine the scope of the alienation of these aliens.

Through Jake, Avatar makes its statement, that if one is to preserve life, as a scientist, soldier, or human being, one is responsible for recognising the nature of the civilised self and is responsible for sharing this information with the world. Again, this knowledge of the lethal nature of the civilised — or rather the unavailability of this knowledge — is the story of the First Nations first encounter with the Europeans when they adopted them and helped them to acclimate to the new continent the Europeans landed five hundred years ago. This is the story behind native generosity even today, when these invaders have shown their lack of gratitude and the scope of devastation, dispossession, suffering and violence that they are capable of inflicting. As an example, just recently, two First Nations were ready to adopt the Viviers, a white South African family seeking residency in British Columbia because they are allergic to the sun, but the Canadian government refused to grant them the residency status, at first. The Aboriginals fail to see the alien for what he is, not because of some inherent flaw in native intelligence, but because their own perspective, that favours empathy and mutual aid, would not allow them to defeat their own being and to become so alienated from their essence as to ignore the cry for life of even that very same alien who kills them then.

Avatar’s logic based on the lessons from history is perhaps what really angers the civilised, and which leads us to his response to the violence of colonisation. This colonisation is achieved by education (reference to the brutal residential schools in Canada, as well as, to the French, English, and Italian missionary schools in Africa and the rest of the world), by exploitation (the South African diamond mines come to mind), and military occupation (all the wars are present here without exception). The film tells us that as history has shown, pacifism is not going to solve matters here. If life is to survive against the machine, it is vital to respond as brutally as the invader attacks in order to stop the disease. Resistance is going to cost lives, but it is necessary, if one wants to save the balance of life. Without the role played by the white people in the Underground Railway, blacks wouldn’t have succeeded – not because of some inherent lack – but because the enemy is powerful and those with a “strong spirit” need to make their stance from within the system of abuse to rectify the injustice. The same applies to all the battles for resistance. This resistance cannot succeed without the conscientious «aliens». And hence, Jake plays a vital role as the one who can make it happen because he knows who he is and where he comes from.

There are, however, problems with this anarcho-primitivist work of art.

First, there is the problem of art itself, for, if it is based on the symbolic representation relying on the use of the same materials that are at the basis of our alienation from the world, how can a medium that is based on acting, i.e. on the overt acknowledgment of the «fakeness» of the experience told, convince us of truth? This is a larger problem with cinema, but it is a problem for all works of art, including writing.

Second, the film’s logic has anarcho-primitivism stamped in every scene and on every page except for the fact that to relate the story, Cameron uses the same machines, technologies and money that devastate the wilderness he tells us we need to save. And although I see the point in that if nothing is done from within the field to challenge it and to undermine its violence, the picture of the consistency and righteousness of the civilised model would remain intact and bullet-proof, this point of infiltration (a strong theme in the film itself that goes both ways: Jake infiltrates the Other and then as Other infiltrates the Civilised Alien self) of the machine still leads to the question of intent on the part of the author and on the part of the audience.

The audience, according to the thousands of messages and posts on social networks and internet, wants entertainment and a 3-dimensional experience of violence and sci-fi. They don’t want some sap about natives and nature. They don’t want the “crap” about white man’s guilt or white man’s burden or whatever. We’re done with that, they say. We’re postmodern. We want blood.

Fine, perhaps not every single one out there wants that, but I hadn’t had the time yet to dig beneath the thousands of these messages to uncover an alternative stance. I’m sure it will come, but, still, the majority speaks for itself. Particularly dismissive appear the anthropologists - of course, their role in the whole galore is under attack. For example, a male, white American anthropologist in Asia, Kerim Friedman, saw the film as “clichéd” and as nothing to do with the “representation” of the Indigenous people. First of all, the film is not about Indigenous people, but about historical relations and outlook on life. But then, since the topic of Indigenous populations is implied it is interesting that Friedman appeals to his position as a teacher on Indigenous matters and representation: he knows, he says, because he teaches courses on Indigenous People in Taiwan and the Indigenous people he teaches do not recognise themselves in the teaching. Now, how cliché is that: HE teaches on INDIGENOUS peoples! He is NOT a student of indigenous people. He doesn’t understand that by occupying this position of the “holder” “possessor” of knowledge, as a white male, particularly there in Asia, he oppresses by his mere existence in that position in science and academia for he embodies that perspective and replaces the Indigenous other with his body, mind, appetite and all. No wonder he doesn’t find Avatar inspiring. How many Indigenous people are there teaching in France about the French people, at Columbia University teaching about white immigrant culture, at the University of Montreal teaching about the Franco-Anglo relations, at Oxford revealing the history of the British Empire, for example? How many Indigenous people are invited to teach anywhere at all about anything at all - even about themselves?

Such rejections of the critique presented in Avatar betray the extent of the threat felt by scientists and the lesser bolts of civilisation, which leads us to the question of Cameron’s intent when he spent the hundreds of millions of dollars on this film and what plans does he have for the hundreds of millions expected to be harvested?

For, if his intention was to invite the masses to a leap of imagination that was to give them a chance to exercise empathy and to expand their narrow horizons, judging by the majority of responses, he has failed, not because the film was a failure, but because it might be futile to attempt to infiltrate the sphere that is, to an extent, responsible for the zombification of the «masses» in the first place. They go to the movies to see blood, to forget their invalid lives where they crave to imagine that they are fit because they can conquer, ravage and kill. They don’t go to the movie-theatre to hear truth, they want film to live up to its promise of falsehood.

“Truth is outmoded. We’re done with Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Tarkovsky and their soap about conscience and truth. We are postmodern,” scream the audiences, “and there is no truth in our postmodern misery except for the future of death. Technology guarantees us just that, through entertainment and through that something we call life but by which we really mean war”.

An interesting sidetrack is that Cameron was the producer of Soderbergh’s re-make of Tarkovsky’s Solaris and obviously has learnt a great deal from Tarkovsky’s quest for the meaning of conscience, truth, and art as well as from the book, originally written by Stanislaw Lem. I strongly disliked the trashy love-line of the re-make and so did the book’s author, Lem, who said that “the book was not dedicated to erotic problems of people in outer space… Had “Solaris” dealt with love of a man for a woman - no matter whether on Earth or in Space - it would not have been entitled “Solaris”!”

Solaris was about alien consciousness and Tarkovsky interwove it with the question of conscience on a personal level: a moment of truth that every mortal had to face, one day or another, even out in cosmos. Avatar takes this question of conscience and consciousness even further, on to the level that tests the human possibility to know the world and if so, how can we live with this knowledge. If we look at the world through the lens of speceism – i.e. that knowledge that the civilised call scientific and which is the basis of all racism, sexism, animalism and discrimination it will turn ugly where-ever we go. This brings us back to the basic distinction in knowing the world from the perspective of Kropotkin’s theory of evolution through cooperation and mutual aid rather than from Darwin’s claim that nature is a gladiators’ rink that always favours the fittest.

The scene in which Neytiri catches Jake saying a prayer at the sacred place spells this out. Jake’s prayer was not meant to beg salvation, but to warn and to relay vital information for Pandora about the enemy: this enemy is ruthless and is here to spell the end for all life. Jake knows, like no one else, what these aliens from the sky are capable of because he is one of them.

«Your prayer is useless. Mother nature does not take sides,» Neytiri tells him. «She guards the balance of life». And yet, having received this information, Mother Nature makes a critical decision, and, all forms of life on the planet come together in fighting the invader. In the end «the aliens return to their dying world». The balance of life prevails, at least in the film. Now what are we going to do about the impeding threat by our own alienism to the world we have renounced?

For more specific examples on the struggle for life around the globe, read The Real Avatar Story: Indigenous People Fight to Save their Forest Homes from Corporate Exploitation http://news.mongabay.com/2009/1222-hance_avatar.html

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Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World | 16 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World
Authored by: exworker on Thursday, December 31 2009 @ 07:54 PM CST

why is it not brought up that the film in real life has partnered with mcdonalds(one of the leading destroyers of the amazon rain forest) for its promotional materials? pathetic and ironic, to say the least.

here is a much better review: http://io9.com/5422666/when-will-white-people-stop-making-movies-like-avatar

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Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, December 31 2009 @ 09:50 PM CST

first of all, nobody (especially not the above review) said the film showed anything other than perspectival or emotional solidarity with the victims of human civilization on this planet, nor are any anarcho-primitivists trying to dissimulate that Avatar is, like everything else in this false order, ultimately the product of alienated experiences in an alienated culture

BUT the "much better review" linked above is actually just a really lame recombination of the same leftist garbage everybody has been sick of for decades, without even a hint of a critique of civilization as an errant human project, so we can just throw it the fuck out right there

it should be obvious to anyone who has seen Avatar that the film could, at best, play a similar cultural role to films like Fern Gully - an anomalous fragment of the spectacle which offers a glimpse, at least for the children imprisoned in some parts of the civilized world, of another reality which is so huge and real that even if the film means to produce a recuperated experience some of that other world breaks through and forms a point of lifelong emotional reference which, no matter how impoverished the rest of our lived experience turns out to be, remains real in memory and fuels our personal insurgencies

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Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World
Authored by: exworker on Friday, January 01 2010 @ 04:04 PM CST

"it should be obvious to anyone who has seen Avatar that the film could, at best, play a similar cultural role to films like Fern Gully - an anomalous fragment of the spectacle which offers a glimpse, at least for the children imprisoned in some parts of the civilized world, of another reality which is so huge and real that even if the film means to produce a recuperated experience some of that other world breaks through and forms a point of lifelong emotional reference which, no matter how impoverished the rest of our lived experience turns out to be, remains real in memory and fuels our personal insurgencies"

Are you fucking kidding? The only point of lifelong emotional reference a child might take from that film(and every other film like it) is that indigenous cultures are in need of saving--and the only one's who can do it are, not themselves, but white heroes. If you cannot see that simple connection, then you are blind.

Then, if that weren't bad enough, children get to go to McDonalds and play with the action figures there--furthering the disconnect between any positive message the film could have had. I agree that films like these have lifelong emotional references, I just think they are--in the long-term--much more damaging than productive.

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Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 01 2010 @ 05:15 PM CST

It's not fucked up or racist to observe that whole primal cultures were and still are largely unable to "save themselves" from civilized assaults because many of them have not been able to face the long-term effects or damages of the project of civilization.  In fact, the evidence points largely to the contrary: uncivilized peoples were often forced by Leviathan's advances to gradually accomodate themselves to a changing worldview whose horrific totality isn't necessarily immediately apparent (or can, at least, be disguised) in the beginning of the shift: to put it another way, they are tricked or forced by their enemies into becoming like them.  Much of Perlman's Against His-story is specifically given to drawing such a conclusion (which has never been repudiated) from the annals of consensus history.  The fact that a white man has to "go native" in order to help the indigenous understand how their enemies work is no more an act of colonialism than would be sending guns to hunter-gatherer tribes in Papua New Guinea so they could fight the national military and private corporate contractors - it's obviously fucked up that anybody had to use civilized tools or experiences to aid the human communities threatened with destruction, but in the end, people who are not civilized just can't understand how the people from this dead culture work, or why, and that means they remain human - so saying they should up and "save themselves" (or maybe with the help of some "decolonization activists") is just a fucking lame way for people who don't really have an understanding of human history to dodge having to talk about the actual nature of civilization.

Everyone is admitting that Avatar is not an explicit vehicle of primitivist critique, and everyone is correctly observing that the film is, among many other things, alienated, ironic, impoverished, and, it bears repeating, like everything else the civilized world produces, largely damaged.  The fact is, however, that he people criticizing this film for being "racist" are foolishly attempting to confuse race with civilization - a connection which is real in many historical experiences, notably in Africa and the Americas - but is totally ahistorical and misleading in the global context.  There were massive alienated civilized orders in large parts of eastern Asia which developed mostly independently of those in the West, and which acted out the same process of assimilation and annihilation of existing non-agricultural peoples in their expansion in China and Japan, so Avatar's story, for anyone who does even the most cursory research, could be transposed into a context of non-white civilized expansion and aggression. 

"Anarchists" who obviously don't categorically take issue with the civilized world, however, are in no place to call out even the most alienated indictment of civilization, like Avatar, on anything.  I said before that these films, even with all of their disgusting aspects, offer glimpses even if they don't want to of a non-alienated world which, even as a monstrously recuperated profit-play, cannot disguise an underlying and devastating criticism of the existing world that some of the kids are going to get even (or especially) if exworker and all the other activists don't.

A generation of anarchists who begin as primitivist televisionaries is still better than one mentored by a bunch of doddering, whining "revolutionaries" like the one my friends and I are increasingly sickened to find ourselves in.

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Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World
Authored by: Nik on Friday, January 01 2010 @ 05:41 PM CST

"people who are not civilized just can't understand how the people from this dead culture work, or why..."

Really?...wow...what possible evidence could you have of this?  Do you actually talk to people?

"and that means they remain human"

What exactly is your definition of human?  Clearly, it's not the widely recognized and accepted definition.  Is someone human only if they fit your standards?

"A generation of anarchists who begin as primitivist televisionaries is still better than one mentored by a bunch of doddering, whining "revolutionaries" like the one my friends and I are increasingly sickened to find ourselves in."

While I am not exactly sure what "primitivist televisionaries" are, or how this could lead one to anarchism, I strongly disagree that it is better to have a bunch of people who have some vague, childhood emotional affinity with certain romanticized (and also maybe appropriated and capitalized?) ideas while still, as has been noted above, supporting the dominant culture/economic system (i.e. eating at McDonalds, driving to see the latest hip movie, etc.) than a bunch of people "mentored" (as if a pop culture movie is comparable in mentoring to a human) by "doddering, whining" revolutionaries (whatever that means - maybe people that have some experience in the real world?).  I'll take real, human interaction and experience over pop culture sensationalism and isolation all day long...

 

 

 

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Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World
Authored by: exworker on Friday, January 01 2010 @ 06:10 PM CST

You're still  missing the point. It's not racist for a white person to help indigenous or people of color in struggle, but when making a film you're only going to show a tiny glimpse into that reality, intrinsically. Showing a lone hero, who is white, and basically saves the day all by himself is a little disingenuous--even for a hollywood film. Further, it perpetuates a inaccurate view of the world, if you wanna look at it that way. There are plenty of struggling communities that fight back on their own, often times successfully.

I'm sure we agree on many aspects of this film. I actually enjoyed it. I just think ignoring the cliche elements of it that do the storyline and any message it could have conveyed a disservice is silly.

 

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Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World
Authored by: tuna-cake on Thursday, December 31 2009 @ 09:43 PM CST

Really? Really? REALLY? Come on. You're not serious?

It's odd how some APists are so apt to creating false dichotomies (the civilized vs. the wild) that really just obscures everything that goes against that dichotomy. I mean, what happened to just looking at other cultures and seeing inspiration? AP seeks to impose a "reality" or a "history" that really doesn't exist, nor is it applicable to our current situtation. Ideology doesn't offer any clear picture, it's really just something that strives to impose a world upon us. Articles like this are examples. There are people being colonized out there and appealing to some kind of pristine past is not going to help them or anyone else from stopping their oppressors.

And Avatar is totally not some kind of anarcho-prim paradise. It's a movie from the post-modern age that creates a sort of noble savage, as well as continues to tell the story of the white guy who saves those "savages" from the horrors of "civilization." 

Though I really liked the CGI and I got teary eyed when I saw it.

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Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World
Authored by: kindness on Friday, January 01 2010 @ 06:27 PM CST
I agree with you there. Do you know about the Metropolitan Indians? I thought they were a cool synthesis of re-wilding/anti-civ feelings being incorporated into the post-industrial capitalist first world, where we fin ourselves now.
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Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World
Authored by: WorkerFreedom on Friday, January 01 2010 @ 02:28 AM CST

it is interesting to see the two analysis of this movie jucts opposed to each other on the same infoshop page.

 

 While we are on the subject of movies called AVATAR I am probably going to see this this one tomorrow but I am a bigger fan of AVATR  "the last air bender" the cartoon seemed to be about imperialism. The live action film has now been renamed just "the last air bender"  because of this movie came out first.

 

Only problem is that the actors they chose to star in this asian themed movie are all white ,or at least so I have heard :( I am still going to see it when it comes out this summer.

 

 

 

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Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World
Authored by: kindness on Friday, January 01 2010 @ 06:30 PM CST
juxtaposed
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Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 01 2010 @ 06:33 PM CST

On a different note, has anyone considered the implications of the fact that the bad guys in this movie are not actually Marines anymore, but private contractors, just like in Alien?  This makes the movie merely a critique of corporate criminals, while saying nothing about the State as such.  In fact, one could even imagine government as a hero in this story, investigating and punishing corporate malfeasance back on Earth.

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Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World
Authored by: WorkerFreedom on Friday, January 01 2010 @ 07:13 PM CST

 Although if you look at it that is what is going on the  Military is slowly being privatized, look at Blackwater. 

 

 I would say it is also dangerous to consider "big government" the enemy and not corporations as well.

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Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, January 01 2010 @ 08:14 PM CST

Of course, corporations should be opposed, just as government, big or small, must be.  Avatar, however, has no critique of the State, and a very weak one of capitalism.  Only the bad capitalists, the ones without compassion who don't play by the rules, are opposed.

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Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World
Authored by: ThreadPusher on Saturday, January 02 2010 @ 03:13 PM CST

Avatar is in no way, shap, or form an anarcho-primitivist film.  This is one of the more rediculous articles I've seen on this website.  I saw it on christimas day with my mother and really..... Its a god damn hollywood film.  Something as Patriarchal and ignorant as Avatar is just a piece of bullshit propaganda for the capitalist go green movement. Its has that strange apocolyptic undertone that many hollywood films have these days. Its like they are trying to get people ready for whats comeing up . That fucking love story too, the womyn always caves towards what she first hates right? She learns to love what she was once repulsed by, especially if she has to take care of them and teach them. You know, the whole "motherhood complex". Fuck that shit.

I was really fucking angery after seeing it. It was a slap in the face to indgenous humans and non humans as well. They're was blatant speciesism within the movie too.

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Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World
Authored by: lawrence on Sunday, January 03 2010 @ 01:54 PM CST

The Idealism inherent in describing this film as somehow sympathetic to anarcho-primitivism (or anti-corporate anti-globalization or whatever) is sickening. The ideologue (who is not that different from a demagogue, and not just orthographically) will be able to discern her/his favorite ideology within just about any manifestation of popular culture -- and we can thank all those cretinous postmodernists for their fetish for gazing at texts. Even with a story that was originally pretty anarchist (V for Vendetta), once it got on film it was no longer recognizable, so much so that Alan Moore had his name removed from the credits. But some anarchists wanted to insist that the anarchist kernel was still present.

Avatar is a big budget fantasy, and with its half-assed critique of bad corporations rather than capitalism, or of a noble military being manipulated by those bad corporations (hasn't anyone bothered to read former Marine General Smedley Butler?) it is right in line with the half-assed reformism that fueled the Obama campaign.

As for the idea that white people are necessary to help the natives regain their dignity, it's a long-standing fantasy to be sure, but it doesn't always look like that despite the cultural trope of maintained domination.

There are plenty of stupid things claimed by and for anarcho-primitivism. One or two (or a dozen or two) anarcho-primitivist claims to this film doesn't make it so. James Cameron would piss himself laughing were this brought to his attention.

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Avatar: An Anarcho-Primitivist Picture of the History of the World
Authored by: soahc on Friday, March 05 2010 @ 08:21 AM CST

I am torn on this.

 

My main critique of Avatar is that it looked like shit. I walked out and got a refund before the blue natives even showed up. I hated the 3-D, found it artificial and plastic. Totally unable to emote or suspend disbelief. It was just visually too loud for me to even give it another minute. The ladies at the cash register were surprised. I wonder how many people have walked out within the first 15 minutes like me. Probably under a hundred nationally.

So on that level I thought this film was far from criticizing civilization and it's onslaught. The whole damn thing was one big cyborg robot simulation to me. I liek films that are staged. For special effects I prefer animatronics, SFX makeup, and scale models (a la the original Star Wars) over CGI (the new Star Wars). To me, even the latest technology can only produce cartoons and I like live action stuff. Perhaps it is because I am from a theater background.

Can films do ANY good to help the consciousness of society? Well speaking from a personal standpoint, I think some films really effected my path in life. I did not have a lot of guidance as a child, in a way I was an orphan, and films like Blade Runner and The Emerald Forrest (MUCH better than Avatar, but similar, and BEFORE the Fern Gulley was made) in a way helped me become who I am today.

When I was a kid I would walk along a residential street and play a game. It was the game of Evil God. Everytime I stepped on concrete, this Evil God would laugh and become more powerful. Everytime I stepped on grass, it would weaken and whither away.

I was blessed to have some wonderful wilderness experiences in my childhood that effected me profoundly. But there were times when I was feeling very alone that certain films kept me company too.

I tend to view films that are tragic or absurd as having some merit. Because the plight of civilization is tragic and absurd. Avatar is only unintentionally so. If it portrayed more of an insanity among the humans that are on the planet, the psychological damage that they suffer from, I would be more inclined to accept it as some sort of meritable meme.

In essence I believe that everyone in modern civilization is insane. We all are. Mental illness is almost at 100%. And for traditional aboriginal peoples who are pretty well off psychologically, the story is tragic. Because in the end living like a 'noble savage' is simply bad tactics.

While the idylic existence is beautiful and sweet, it is basically ignorance. These people are ignorant. If they weren't ignorant, they would prepare themselves for the barbarians at their gates. Their memes are weak and exposed to exploitation. If one wants to survive in these modern times, one has to be able to travel in these streets of life. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Primitive societies try to keep the enemy in the distance. They preserve and thus destroy themselves.

Much better to be a double agent provacateur. Know the beauty and innocence of frolicking in the waters on the beaches of 'eden', but also know how to operate behind enemy lines. Know how to move through territory and blend in. Know how to communicate with different cultures, how to strike up conversations about nanotech or Nanatasket.

I talked with a heroin dealer on a bus one night and I thought he said it well. When I asked him how he stayed out of jail he said "Stick and move." It's a boxing allegory that works well in general. To survive in this atrocious, sick society, one musty be able to "stick and move". Native peoples certainly can not. And if any white people want to go arm them and convey how vast are the ranks of the aliens that loom then  by all means. But I think 'white messiah syndrome' in such a case is not a good label. Because it's not about preserving their idyllic culture, but about giving them a fighting chance. Fuck their culture, these people need to keep eating. Like all life, they just need to keep their genes in the pool.

 

 

Edited on Friday, March 05 2010 @ 08:27 AM CST by soahc
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