Eurocentrism in Avatar

Topics: Colonialism, Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Indigenous peoples Pages: 5 (1537 words) Published: April 7, 2014
Avatar: Eurocentrism and the Colonization of Pandora

Initial Thoughts and Findings:

Within the fictional universe of James Camerons' Mind, the audience find themselves awaking in the year 2154 to a tragic tale of humanity succumbing to hubris: economic greed, and lust for power (political, economic, and social). Avatar sparks a rather interesting ethical debate, centralizing its' respective focus on the narrow lens for humanities survival through the colonization and resource extraction of celestial bodies within the Milky Way Galaxy. Although James Cameron does little to develop the current state of the Earth's political, economic, and social spheres, one can infer from the analysis of the film that Earth itself does not sit in the best position. James Cameron leaves subtle hints of: a Totalitarian Earth Alliance of Nations; Earth and its respective solar system devoid of resources; the re-emergence of Eurocentrism and a 15th Century Mercantile driven Economy; and the invisible domination of corporate power temporarily alligned with similar political interests (i.e. the harvesting of new resources to stimulate economic growth/for private gain).

With regard to the above, James Cameron created Pandora, a satellite (moon) orbiting a large celestial mass in a solar system located 4.4 light years from earth. This distance respectively places the Solar System of Pandora well within the confines of our homey slice of the galaxy, specifically within the home of the Alpha Centauri Solar System (note the orbit of two small dwarf stars orbiting a large sun-like star in the film). From this, we can infer that humanity has done two things: colonized our home solar system; and the extreme depletion of resources from said colonies. Knowing this, humanity has to search outside of the our home solar system in attempts to find new resources. Specifically within the fictional realm of Avatar, governments and corporations a like are looking for an element known as 'Unobtainium'; (oh wow, how inspiring and creative Cameron – really, anything could have been a more suitable name, but 'unobtainium'? …). This knew and impossibly hard to find substance is barely explained upon, however, from what was portrayed within the film one can infer that unobtainium is an extremely costly, rare, and important substance needed to fulfill a given design or application within context to the situation. Unobtainium within the realm of Pandora and much like DC's Superman, has the power to do or fill the roll of literally anything with regard to its use in the cannon. For example, we see a piece of unobtainium being massless in the opening scene of Pandora, suspended in gravity, while the film later eludes to properties of unobtainium being extremely dense, massive, and as chemically strong as diamond or super-diamonds.

The above context and geospatial setting is important to note because they subtlety embed the gkey themes of the overarching narrative and plot that follows. Within the first fifteen minutes of the film, the above information is immediately available to the audience, however it is presented to the audience in such away that one has to look past all of the cacophony on screen. Upon reaching Pandora, the audience is introduced to a beautiful world reminiscent of the South American Amazon, or the untamed harsh wilderness of North America. Cameron uses a lush, graphic, and sureal environment coupled with brilliantly developed and invested computer graphics and animation to bring to life a vibrant, lush, and colourful flora that was able to sweep the minds of so many across the world. However, on a much deeper scale, within the first few minutes of arriving on Pandora, the audience is introduced to the folly of humankind: we bare witness to a panning shot over a monstrous scar in the physical landscape – an unobtainium pit mining operation with a complete disregard for the environmental well-being of the host planet and its living...
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