26 January 2010

Anthony talks about Avatar and Environmental Issues

Anthony explores the relationship between the fictional movie Avatar (2009) and real life environmental issues. He gives three examples of how economic expansions destroy cultures and lands around the world.

Please share your comments.



  1. i loved the movie, it was truly beautiful, and i agree with you about the general message it sends to people about our continued destruction of the earth - excellent, hopefully it'll spur some people to tread more gently on earth!

    however, if we think more about the themes within the movie, i don't exactly agree with everything - i don't agree that a white man has to save an indigenous race (they are a group of intelligent people who can strategize and survive as well). likewise, i don't agree that a white man has to lead an indigenous group to war to win (implying they can't win on their own). this parallels christopher columbus' invasion of america, which led to the demise of the American Indians (very similar to the stories of many many other white vs. indigenous groups all over the world).

    and the concept of war is a very white man's thing. obviously this indigenous group would not respond this way, but for a movie to make it in hollywood - violence, killing and destruction brings in the money.

    but generally i did enjoy the movie...(i was able to silence my inner critic the majority of the time thanks to the incredible filming... ;) )

  2. That is an interesting point! Thank you for sharing I did not think about the "white man's war," when I watched the movie. I think it is true in many ways that white people are aggressive imperialists and invasive species by looking at the recent history of United States and Europe. Would the stickiness factor of the message on invasions be much stronger if the movie director decided to use aliens of another species instead of white humans? I'm curious about that.

    A lot of indigenous groups especially in Brazil expressed that they want to be left alone. They don't want to get modernized with the world economy and technology because they are contended living in their own environment but they are willing to share and make contributions to modern people. It makes me sad to hear stories how modern people rob their knowledge and push them off their lands.

    Here's what I found from Wikipedia:

    "Brazilian Indigenous people has been the keepers of the Amazon forest for centuries, living in harmony with nature. They have made substantial and pervasive contributions to the world's medicine with knowledge used today by pharmaceutical corporations, material and cultural development—such as the domestication of cassava and other natural foods."

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_peoples_in_Brazil

  3. I, too, enjoyed the movie but I honestly don't think the environment message will get to people. The majority of people who see this movie are largely ignorant and would not be able to see through the glamor of Hollywood to get that message. Most of what Beth from "Fake Plastic Fish" said about the movie, I agree with:

  4. Keri, thank you very much for sharing the blog with us! I was eco-smiling when I saw the recycle bin for 3D glasses! I think I will make that the next post for EcoDeaf as I want to make the ripple effect for movie theaters to start doing that. I'm not sure if all movie theaters recycle, hopefully reuse, 3D glasses for Avatar and future 3D movies.

    I agree with the author (I couldn't find her name)of that blog that we will not save the planet Earth if we continue to divide people into the "good" and "bad" categories and be hostile toward our natural resources.

  5. See my comment...her name is Beth. =)

  6. yup, Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish - she's one of my favorite bloggers, been RSS-feeding her posts for the last few years. she commented here on ecodeaf on a post of mine, "are cruises eco-friendly?", i was sooooooooo honored :D (just like meeting a celebrity ha ha). her blogging style influenced me when i created that particular post (photo journal-style).


  7. Raychelle, I understand that feeling! I was soooo honored when Rebecca Woolf of "Girl's Gone Child" commented on my blog. :)

  8. awesome! :) checked out her blog, gosh excellent writer... will definitely rss her blog. thanks keri :)

  9. Keri, oops!

    Looks like Beth is an interesting writer! I bookmarked her blog.

    I understand the feeling of meeting or hearing from well known people. I met Ralph Nader in person after his presentation at the Green Festival 2009 and it was awesome.

  10. The book "Storyteller" by Mario Vargas Llosa is an excellent book to read about the clash between the modern societies and indigenous communities. The Storyteller novel is similar to the movie Avatar in many ways.

    "This novel deals with the problem that not only persists in Peru, but also in many other counties of Latin America: the coexistence of the modern society which is prepared to participate in the cultural, economical and political life of the Global World, and of the indigenous population, which is viewed by modern societies as archaic and primitive."

    Source: http://www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/Llosa.html

  11. I'm with Raychelle on most of what she says. I did also like and enjoy the movie and I agree that there are underlying complex issues to which to pay attention in the interaction of cultures, and none of them have an easy, clear cut answer.

    I would like to add something else to Raychelle's comment about a white man saving an indigenous group. Yes, he does, but whether that's questionable or not, he calls upon the main principle of the Na'vi's people culture: balance. He asks the forces of nature to ally with him to set a boundary on Western imbalanced actions. In the end, according to the movie, nature's wisdom prevails(the Na'vi's wisdom). In my opinion, this complicates things a bit more.

    Then, my question is this: once indigenous populations enter in contact with Western civilizations, how do they protect themselves from their influence? Is is possible at all for them to keep away any sort of influence or intrusion?

    By the way, Tony, I'm glad that you decided to share my book recommendation in relationship to this post with the EcoDeaf community, yay!

  12. Laura, that's an interesting view about what would happen if indigenous populations enter into the Eastern civilization. It is like thinking about Indians (Native Americans) going to British to colonize. In that case, it makes me wonder about how much influence the indigenous groups would have on Britons. Would Indians teach Britons to be one with Earth like how you described balance in Na'vi's term?

    Thank you for recommending the book "Storyteller!" I look forward to finishing it over the weekend. There is another book that I was recommended to read by someone this morning and it is called "The Education of Little Tree" by Forrest Carter. I was told it is about the life of indigenous people but I have no idea what the story is about. That's the next book to read!

  13. I came across this recent article published in The New York Review of Books and I thought it fits our discussion here (old now) since it points at the contradictions of the movie (particularly the representations of the Na'vi) and reads Avatar in a way that had escaped to critics so far: the role of technology and fantasy.

  14. definitely an interesting read. nice to be validated in our thinking & discussion about avatar. thanks for sharing...

  15. I think that this explanation is so interesting , I think is so easy to speak about avatarb but it is a good video I think do, well I agree with Anthony.