cupidsbow (cupidsbow) wrote,

the trouble with avatars

Have you seen the trailer for James Cameron's latest yet? It looks utterly gorgeous. But the plot (as it's advertised in the trailer, anyway) is making me grind my teeth.

Why is this a story about a white guy donning an indigenous skin and becoming the hero of the exploited natives? I... don't want that story, and I've been asking myself why all afternoon. I mean, I didn't mind Kevin Costner going native in Dances With Wolves -- in fact, I liked it a lot -- but in that story there was never any pretence that he was not still a white man. It's the white man gaining indigenous cred through a removable skin that's bothering me, I think. It just icks me out.

I should know better, but I keep expecting mainstream stories to interrogate colonialism and sexism, because here we are in a hyperchangeably embodied world for real, right, with online avatars and all. There's a lot of room to explore ethics (or the failure of them) in that kind of world, and some mainstream texts have started to go there, like Battlestar Galactica. But a change of virtual skin doesn't necessarily change our politics, as the internet so ably demonstrates every day. And implying that it's that simple just seems like a massive cheat to me, not to mention it cheapens the real issues of real indigenous people (because, oh right, they should just change their skin and then everything will be okay for them; why didn't they think of that solution sooner?).

Have any of you seen the film yet? Is it really trying to tell us that a skin change is all it takes to become a postcolonial equalist? I'm thinking I might have to go and look, just to prove/disprove my reading of the trailer. But on the other hand... do I want to spend money on that story, even in order to critique it more effectively?

In other news, Victoria Bitter is back it seems. Wow, what a perfect demonstration that virtual avatars don't necessarily change what's underneath!

This entry was originally posted at
Tags: discussion, ethics, fandom, movies
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.