Friday, January 08, 2010

Stupid movie reviews my dog, Xanatos, could have written…

posted by Bill Arnett @ 1:58 PM Permalink

…with greater intelligence, lucidity, thoughtfulness and vision than David Brooks [I never link to Brooks, people are suffering enough nowadays. Bill], who wrote of the movie "Avatar":
Every age produces its own sort of fables, and our age seems to have produced The White Messiah fable

This is the oft-repeated story about a manly young adventurer who goes into the wilderness in search of thrills and profit. But, once there, he meets the native people and finds that they are noble and spiritual and pure. And so he emerges as their Messiah, leading them on a righteous crusade against his own rotten civilization.[…]

Still, would it be totally annoying to point out that the whole White Messiah fable, especially as Cameron applies it, is kind of offensive?

It rests on the stereotype that white people are rationalist and technocratic while colonial victims are spiritual and athletic. It rests on the assumption that nonwhites need the White Messiah to lead their crusades. It rests on the assumption that illiteracy is the path to grace. It also creates a sort of two-edged cultural imperialism. Natives can either have their history shaped by cruel imperialists or benevolent ones, but either way, they are going to be supporting actors in our journey to self-admiration.

It’s just escapism, obviously, but benevolent romanticism can be just as condescending as the malevolent kind — even when you surround it with pop-up ferns and floating mountains.
Xanatos tells me Brooks has it all wrong, that most real life stories and fables end with the White Man overwhelming the foreign civilization, if not with open warfare then with blankets used by smallpox infected invaders, razing their crops, killing their women and children, and utterly destroying their civilization.

But, hey, what does Xanatos know (that's his thumbnail picture next to my comments with his favorite green tug-toy in his mouth) as he is just a vewy, vewy smart dog and thus has a clearcut advantage over David Brooks, who is, after all only…David Brooks.

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