Friday, February 24, 2017

Cultural Analysis of Avatar

Feminist Critique of Avatar
During 22nd century, humans colonized a planet, Pandora, in the Alpha Centauri star system. Humans want to mine the mineral unobtanium under the ground of the native humanoid species homeland. In order to convince the natives, humans invented avatars, which have to use a person’s mind to control it. Avatars can breath on this planet’s air and complete physically difficult tasks outside. They use avatars to convince them to give up their homeland. The main character, Jake, chases by wild animals down a fall, meets with the princess of the omaticaya clan, Neytiri. She teaches him how to become a part of the clan, and also the importance of nature. At the end, they defeated RDA and gained back their homeland from humans. This movie is among many popular movies in 2009 that didn’t pass the bechdel test, such as Hangover, District 9, and Watchmen. The trend of representing men as strong and muscular, and representing women as weak and needing protection from men.
Jake’s boss, Dr. Grace Augustine, is in charge of the Avatar program. One time after Jake has done his video log, he falls asleep in front of the camera. Then she puts him into bed. (1:10) When Jake come back from his Avatar life, she cares about Jake by saying that he is losing weight. He needs to take care of his avatar as well as himself. She also prepares food for him. (1:12 in the movie) She employs the housewife and mother stereotype by caring for Jake’s health and preparing food for him. Those roles of women from 18th and 19th century are still active in people’s mind. They are taught by our society and continue influence people’s thoughts. The film director let her act this way to make an appeal to people she is nice and caring.  After Jake rides his own Mountain Banshee and earns his place in the clan, Neytiri falls in love with Jake, and they mates in front of the tree of voices. After the night, The RDA comes with bulldozers and crushes the trees. Jake wakes up and destroys the camera on the bulldozer. (1:36-1:40) At this scene, Neytiri becomes attracted to Jake because what he did. However, Jake falls in love with her not because of what she did. Jake and Neytiri fit into the stereotype of “men do, women appeal”. Neytiri conforms to the seductress stereotype because she has little or no agency and fall in love with Jake automatically as the story flows. At the end, when Jake needs the omaticaya people to save Grace, He use his intelligence and bravery to jump onto a Great Leonopteryx. When he return to the clan, he wins the recognition from the clan members and Neytiri. Neytiri forgives him as soon as she sees him with the Toruk Makto. (2:11) Again, Jake wins Neytiri’s heart by his action. Jake conforms to the tough guy stereotype because he accomplishes the impossible thing. Jake also conforms to other stereotypes such as being smart as well strong. The character of Jake is set up to be perfect, and he conforms to a model of what men should be. The film is teaching men how to behave so you can become perfect and attractive to girls.

The stereotypes represented in the movie also applies to many other movies. It is representing part of a trend in the American film industry. The men and women are setup as the what people would expect. When I think about my own life, gender roles are still taught by my parents and my environment. Unless everybody realize it and do something, it will keep to be the dominant ideology in American society.

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