Sunday, June 06, 2010

Avatar or Avarice

I know it's beautiful. I know it's cool. I know Sigourney Weaver kicks ass. I know everybody and her cat loves it. But as i watched Avatar, as what i was watching, the story being told, dawned on me, a rage began to grow inside me. It built until by the end of the movie, i was numb to little else.

This is not the story of some fictional planet called Pandora. This is not merely a dumbed down environmental allegory designed to promote 'the liberal agenda'. Its merits as a dubious vehicle of increased environmental awareness for the masses notwithstanding: in my eyes it is a crime and a travesty of appropriation on a monumental level.

The story at the heart of the movie Avatar is not fiction. It is the real life pain and struggle of indigenous people across our planet. They are not acknowledged anywhere. The obscene profit the movie has made is not flowing to them. Their pain, their blood, informed the plotline of this movie. And once again they are erased, invisible, irrelevant to getting on with making money. We get to feel all gushy about some blue giant aliens. I guess it's safe to let ourselves see and hear their truth--they're not real after all. We can't be accused of exploiting THEIR culture. Can we?


Well I do. I will. Avatar is one more f*&%%$# monument to avarice. It exploits the genuine pain, grief, loss, courage and unbelievable commitment of indigenous people across the globe, and particularly in the Amazon. This is not fiction (except the part where the oppressed actually win). This is the daily bread of those who live in biospheres unlucky enough to contain resources required to support our way of life. (Yes mine, yours--stop looking for someone else to point the finger at and suck it up buttercup.)

But, but, you say, what about those fabulous lines like: "We have nothing they need." Sigh. Again it is so convenient not to see ourselves as part of the system. THAT'S WHAT INTERCONNECTED MEANS PEOPLE! Of course we have things they need and they have things we need. And most of what that really is we'll never know consciously--but it's true nonetheless.

It's about respect. Little word, big deal. Respect life, all life. Including you, us. Until we see ourselves as intrinsic elements of the larger whole, we continue to be bystanders--and complicit in the destruction of cultures and biospheres. So stop feeling guilty. Feel the shame; let it in and let it awaken genuine dignity of self and purpose. (Sounds contradictory i know, but try it, it works)

There is nothing about Avatar that will make me get up on my feet; but i do fall to my knees when i think of those with so little resource who day after day offer up their energy, their bodies, and their lives to protect sacred land.

So maybe instead of shelling out another $20 for the fab folks up at Fox; maybe you want to give a rerun of Avatar a miss and send your cash to an indigenous land protection charity like this one:

Or maybe even do YOUR OWN research and find a little piece of the planet that matters to you and try to save that--instead of distracting yourself (NOW IN 3-D!) until it's way too late.

To indigenous people: I am sorry that once again your culture, your history, your pain, and that which you hold sacred, have become fodder for our entertainment and profit.

Now excuse me, i need to throw up.

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