Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Avatar Shown to UN Forum by Cameron, White Messiah Alleged, "We're All Indigenous"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 24 -- Avatar was screened by its director James Cameron for the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on Saturday night in Manhattan. Afterwards Cameron was asked why the hero had to be a white male, in the tradition of Dances with Wolves and before that Little Big Man.

Cameron replied that he was trying to "wake up Caucasians." He said both that "we are all indigenous" and that he wants "everyone to be a white Messiah." While unclear it was heartfelt. At the end an indigenous legislator from Peru stepped forward to give him her business card. It's 2010 and networking is everything.

In fact in the film, networking is central. The enormous trees which the U.S. corporate invaders are seeking to fell have "roots which interconnect," Signourey Weaver informs us, making up a network. The invaders are not impressed. Echoing Iraq, pointing at a book about the Na'vi, it is said that "when people are sitting on [stuff] that you want, you make them your enemy."

In another echo of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and post 9/11/01 war, the military villain vows "we'll fight terror with terror." He has looked at the protagonist's file - "I see you were in Venezuela." One wonders, is Cameron predicting a US assault on Hugo Chavez, before the time frame of the film?

While the movie was being screened, Cameron did fast one on one interviews with reporters. Inner City Press didn't ask for one, but heard about at least two. The "we are all White Messiahs" line was said both in private and in public: it is a talking point, for better or worse.

Inner City Press asked the UN how the screening came about and was told

"Matthew - The idea for the screening came about as the Secretariat for the Permanent Forum had heard many positive reactions from indigenous representatives on the film and how it was echoing their own stories. Through personal contacts of the Secretariat and the NGO co-sponsors, they contacted James Cameron re the possibility of a screening and it went from there."

Cameron (per Broddi) at UNPFII screening: White Messiah?

Since, as Cameron put it, the movie made "$2.7 billion for Rupert Murdoch," clearly he doesn't need the publicity. It seems he consented to the event in order to put to rest the residual criticism of the movie as racist -- although the "White Messiah" critique has been raised mostly by, well, white Messiahs -- and to show that his motives weren't commercial.

Witness Cameron's support to a protest of a project in Brazil. One wonders what Cameron thinks of President Lula's policies on the indigenous. Or of Evo Morales' recent comment that Western food, genetically engineers, leads to "baldness and homosexuality."

Cameron disclosed that he opposed the invasion of Iraq -- very courageous, at this point -- and that corporate interests are "plundering if you will." Yes, they will, including the financiers of the studios distributing Avatar. But if enough business cards are passed, perhaps there will be justice. At least, there will be a sequel. Watch this site.

UN footnote -- and the United Nations is increasingly often only a footnote -- one wanted to ask Cameron where he thought the UN would be in the conflict he depicted. But the public Q&A session was too short and smacked of pre-determined. If reality's any guide, the UN would be offering humanitarian assistance on behalf of the invaders, after the invasion.

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