A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

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Azure with Anger
By Aba Taylor

I love sc-fi.

So, given the title of this article, one can quite quickly and quite easily surmise where I am going with my critique of possibly one of the most expensive movies ever.  And maybe herein lies a good starting point for my beef with “the blue”. 

Avatar, directed by James Cameron tells the story of humans (namely those of the military, corporate and scientific nature) traveling to a land far away to pillage another planet for its natural resources, at the expense of the barefoot, barely-clad, blue-skinned alien natives living in extra-terrestrial harmony with their native terrain. 

Sound familiar? Yes, because it is an ultraviolet regurgitation of Earth’s own colonial narrative. Big bad foreigner with his money, destruction gadgets and invasive religion of “advanced science” meets vulnerable brown—oops I mean blue- tree-hugging culture whose only defenses are its humble bow and arrows and prayers to the ancestors. This culture/star/colonial wars story is nothing new, but apparently popular enough to slap a half-billion dollar pricetag to the making of the motion picture.

 

Yep. That some 400 million plus greenbacks went into creating and promoting a two-hour plus piece of entertainment when, oh yeah, there is a recession going on and the national unemployment rate has actually been increasing over the past few months, yeah, that was a hard pill for me to swallow. Heaven forbid I speak of un-fun things like economic disparities when it comes to simply escaping into Hollywood fantasia. But even with all it’s magical and phosphorescent visual seduction and imagination that the film tried to stand on, I still could not see, literally, what all the fuss was about. While the film's pricey expense report had much to do with the 3-dimensional technology that Cameron waited 10 plus years for, I’m almost sure I’ve had crepe pancakes that were not as flat as Avatar, never mind had much better taste.

Another reason I was azure with anger is simply because I am forced to agree with Armond White, in his NY Press critique of the film, aptly titled “Blue in the Face”. White states “Avatar is the corniest movie ever made about the white man’s need to lose his identity and assuage racial, political, sexual and historical guilt.”

Indeed the glitz and glitter of Avatar’s special effects failed to assuage my choking on the Great White Hope trope that Hollywood looooooves to shove down the multiple orifices of its patrons. My dark skin could have easily tuned a cerulean hue as I sat in the theater gasping for sense.  With all of his perverse attempts to romanticize brown naked folks and our “lost” pantheism, I was shocked that Cameron could have spent over a decade on a script that was as barbaric as the Vikings themselves. How, in the 21st century, Cameron justifies having a parapalegic marine – the United State’s ultimate symbol of a failed hero – turn out to be the chosen one and leader of an entire planet of brown – I mean blue natives, is quite beyond me. So is the fact that Cameron’s script-of-blatent-allegory can get away with calling the jungleboding aliens “monkeys” – simply because they are, after all, not real humans (just figments of some wealthy white man’s imagination).

In short, “Blue” blows. Hopefully the upcoming movie-version of the Smurfs, slated to be released in 2011, will prove to me smarter, cooler, and, well, bluer.

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