Photo of Natural Resources Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

James Cameron’s Avatar has been making millions of dollars from movie ticket sales worldwide. The movie features humans invading the planet Pandora in the future. Corporate entities in cooperation with military units hope to extract natural resources from territory inhabited by indigenous people called the Na’vi. Although a human named Jake Sully initially agrees to gather intelligence for the military by using an avatar identity, he eventually decides to help the Na’vi mount an attack against the military. Regardless of James Cameron’s intention, the movie’s themes parallel several real-life occurrences such as the extraction of natural resources from the periphery, the forcible removal of indigenous peoples from their land, and the rise of transnational corporations.

Some people praise the movie for its recognition of environmental degradation, its promotion of sustainable practices, and its acknowledgement of the importance of landholding among indigenous peoples. Meanwhile, other people characterize the movie as anti-American and anti-military. Additionally, some critics consider the movie to be racist. Similar to other movies such as Dances with Wolves, the movie involves white males rescuing indigenous peoples.

Interestingly, the Chinese government is removing the movie from many movie theatres. Although some contend that the government intends to protect returns on domestic movies, others speculate that the government hopes to prevent citizens from engaging in collective action. They argue that the government fears citizens connecting the movie’s theme of the military forcibly removing indigenous people from their land to the government violently evicting residents from their homes.

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“Environmentalism” By Ted Benton

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