“Avatar — The Way of Water” Made Me Deeply Uncomfortable
I saw “The Way of Water” last night. What follows is not a review of the film, but an examination of my thoughts that surfaced both during the movie and afterwards. If you have yet to see it, I will do my best not to spoil it for you.
The film is, at heart, a commentary on colonization, and the “manifest destiny” that settled the American West. As if to underscore this point, Cameron had the indigenous people using bows and arrows to counter the humans’ guns, and emitting war cries that sounded for all the world like those “yi-yi-yi” war cries from cowboy and Indian battles. The indigenous people were differentiated from humans in a variety of ways…why make them sound like American Indians when they could conceivably have done anything else?
After humankind has wrecked our planet, they will search for another one to conquer and use up
The undercurrent throughout the movie seemed to be one of people believing that taking what they want and laying waste to whatever they don’t is an innate human motivation that explains the waves of colonization and destruction that have dominated human history and, one might suppose, the future. It’s not a pretty picture. Nor is the depiction of humans kind to us…they are presented as cartoonish portraits of mercenaries and “hoorah!” style alpha males.
For all the breathtaking visuals and hints of spirituality, the film ultimately leads us to the conclusion that after humankind has wrecked our planet, they will search for another one to conquer and use up. Sadly, that seems entirely likely.