Black and White and Blue All Over

By Sean Carroll | January 5, 2010 8:50 am

By now a lot of people have seen James Cameron’s Avatar, and a much larger number have formed an opinion about it. Anticipation had been building for months, as people were excited by the prospect that ultra-realistic computer animation would combine with dazzling 3D technology to produce a different kind of movie than anyone had ever seen.

It’s generally not a good sign when the buzz is about the technology behind a movie rather than the story within it, and in the case of Avatar the worries are justified. There’s no question that the moviemaking is truly impressive; not only is it a great technological achievement, but Cameron is an accomplished storyteller. The film is long but never ponderous, the set pieces are thrilling, and one’s heartstrings are tugged at all the right places. As a bonus, the acting is fantastic — Sigourney Weaver’s gruff scientist in particular is a great character.

Alas, in a world that one would like to see fleshed out in shades of gray, Cameron’s contrast knob is stuck resolutely at eleven. (Spoilers henceforth.) Humans have destroyed their own planet, and are now descending on Pandora to set about destroying that. The bad guys are represented by a craven businessman and a scarred ex-Marine. War and capitalism are bad! We get it.

But cartoonish villains don’t necessarily spell doom for a movie, especially one meant to be an elaborate thrill ride. I didn’t leave Raiders of the Lost Ark wishing that the Nazis had been more fleshed-out, and nobody gives thanks that the Star Wars prequels let us in on Darth Vader’s backstory. The problem arises when such banal evil is trotted out in service of A MESSAGE. And if there’s one thing Avatar has, it’s a message — a particularly trite one, which is deeply misguided, but a message nonetheless.

The Na’vi, Pandora’s native race, are presented very bluntly as traditional noble savages. They may be nine feet tall and blue, and find themselves trapped in a series of Yes album covers, but that just provides a convenient excuse to mix and match features of Native Americans and African tribes as the director sees fit. The Na’vi are portrayed as saintly tree-huggers who feel bad when jungle beasts are killed unnecessarily; at any moment you expected to hear “This animal is called the bufa’lo. We use every part of it.”

To drive things home, most of the humans are portrayed by white actors, while most of the actors behind the motion-captured Na’vi are people of color. And to drive things home even more (things worth driving home can never be driven too much, right?), the Na’vi have a literal connection with the natural world around them. Which might be a cool idea worth exploring, if it weren’t deployed as a gimmick to emphasize the pastoral purity of the pre-technological natives. (I can’t wait for Oscar night: “We would like to express our gratitude for all these Academy Awards for technical achievement given to our movie about how true virtue is to be found in wearing loincloths and chanting around trees.”)

avatar

And even that wouldn’t be so bad, if the noble savages weren’t portrayed as good-hearted but ineffectual. Eventually they manage to fight off the invading Earthlings, who despite mastering interstellar travel and consciousness-transferal are still stuck using machine guns and tiny rockets when hostilities break out. But they’re only able to do so because the kind-hearted white warrior rides to their rescue. Sam Worthington’s character, the protagonist with whom we are supposed to identify, spends three months as a Na’vi and turns out to be better at it than any of the primitive sods who were actually born that way. Only he is able to tame the legendary beast, bring far-flung tribes together to work for a common cause, and have the wit to appeal to the ecosystem-network for a bit of help.

It’s an old trope, fueled by liberal guilt. “Sure,” the elaborate narrative rationalization goes, “people like me have screwed over people like you for generations. But I’m pretty sure that, had I been around at the time, I would have been one of the shining exceptions who bravely turned against my compatriots to side with the honorable native folk. Who, frankly, could have used my help.” It’s the victors who tell the stories and make the movies.

How one reacts to Avatar depends strongly on how bothered one is by this kind of stereotypically condescending storyline. As a thrilling popcorn movie, it absolutely works; the detailed world Cameron created is breathtaking; and the technological feat is singularly impressive. But when these achievements are in the service of a message that is so ham-handed and ultimately off-putting, I find it hard to enjoy. If the storytelling had been handled with a little more self-awareness and toleration for ambiguity — by the folks at Pixar, for example — it might really have been an historically good movie.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Entertainment, Humanity
  • zhaphod

    It is just a movie. Watch it. Forget it. Why should anyone try to read a message in it.

  • Roman

    Exactly!
    And I’m trilled to know that you remember Yes!

  • Ben

    I agree wholeheartedly. I spent much of the second half of the movie puzzled by how poorly the Na’vi (and the plot in general) were written. These issues were inoffensive enough that I could still be amazed by the visual spectacles, but in-between I couldn’t ignore how the script appeared to be a well-meaning, but offensive, white guilt trip.

  • REX

    It is a MOVIE people!

    Yes is is a $1B juggernaut, but ultimately, it is a piece of matinee fluff. Reality is reality and a matinee is an escape from that. If said matinee makes you think about reality based concepts, then great, but it is still just a piece of entertainment.

    To paraphrase Freud, sometimes a movie is just a movie!

  • Analyzer

    Gone With the Wind is “just a movie,” too. The Mona Lisa is “just a painting.” Romeo and Juliet is “just a play.” The Bible is “just a book.”

    Movies are a major artistic medium, in terms of money spent and people reached, in our culture. If you don’t enjoy dissecting them and assessing them, that’s fine, but don’t dismiss the idea of dissecting them and assessing them. I’m not saying that Avatar is the next Casablanca or Citizen Kane, but I object to the philistinism of the sentiment “it’s just a movie, so don’t think about it at all, ever.”

  • Julianne

    Movies “work” when you can be fully submerged in the experience. Anything that takes you out of the movie diminishes your experience. I don’t think Sean was “reading into” it — to him, the subtexts were glaring enough that they took him out of the movie to the point where it wasn’t enjoyable.

  • G Hats

    I Agree with Analyzer. It’s sometimes very important to be reminded of the mistakes that we as a race, or culture, have made. Think about District 9 also. That was another perfect example of a modern movie that uses a different circumstance to retell the story of how people have acted to others in the past. I find it interesting how a movie can have you cheering for the aliens and against the humans. If anyone out there found themselves doing this, you didn’t just think it was a movie, you immersed yourself into its meaning and believed it as if it were real, at least while you were watching anyway. Perhaps these types of messages are important for the human race to remind ourselves of where we want, or need, to be in the future in order to learn, grow, and succeed.

  • Jason

    Villains are stereotypical because they tend to be the most popular and common everyday villain. We see corporations acting in this way, we see soldiers as human and prone to both cruelty and heroism.

    Does that bother you? It doesn’t just need to be noble savages that receive ‘white guidance’ to beat back their enemy, see Afghanistan against the Soviets with CIA intervention, training and supply. See guerilla intervention against the United States in Vietnam. The corporation was investing a fortune in attempting negotiation for months, if not years, before finally going to forced relocation. The military used tear gas to drive out the Na’vi before destroying the tree and did not fire directly back upon the Na’vi when they were being attacked with primitive weapons. Are the noble Na’vi as noble as they are portrayed? Not really, except for a spiritual sign Netyri was about to kill an unarmed, lost civilian and we can be assured they have done that before. They used the captured scientist and soldier avatars as hostages when the military approached. They mocked their student Jake as he risked his life against the avian creature and likely wished him to fail/die.

    Yes, the story is cliche, yes superficially so are the heroes/villains. But that’s because we’ve already seen it before in Dances with Wolves and believe me, if that movie were re-released now, we would mock it in this same way as being a ‘cliche’.

  • Toni

    I agree with most of what you’ve written. But for the first time in a long time I had a great time at the movie theater.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/sunclipse/ Blake Stacey

    As a thrilling popcorn movie, it absolutely works; the detailed world Cameron created is breathtaking; and the technological feat is singularly impressive.

    When the technology becomes commonplace, in five years or in ten, will anyone care? Films which were groundbreaking on technical terms alone become the term papers of film-studies majors. Nobody watches The Lonedale Operator for its keen grasp of characterization.

  • Radha

    Blake, I think you’ve hit on it. When CGI has proceeded to that next level and we start to see Avatar’s effects as hokey, will it have any other leg to stand on?

    That said, I did enjoy seeing this film. I just cannot see a justification for ever seeing it again!

  • Nazareth

    Sean, more important than where one would have been on these issues back when such horrors were being perpetrated, e.g., on Native Americans, is where one is on issues of inequality and exploitation now. Maybe this movie can get a few people thinking about *that*. Possibly a few will…

  • Ryan

    I largely agree. I found Sherlock Holmes to be more enjoyable a movie than Avatar. Avatar held my attention, but it didn’t enthrall me, as I find the story is more important to me than the technology(as nice as the technology might be). I found the story of Avatar to be lacking in several respects, originality being one of the key things. Avatar may have held my attention, but it didn’t compel me to enjoy it. I’d see enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes storyline more than Avatar and would see it again before I see Avatar a second time.

    FYI – I’m not trying to push Holmes on anyone, I just saw them back-to-back and found the one more enjoyable than the other.

  • Techno

    Does anybody know that director James Cameron started out as a Canadian physicist?
    Now you know where his mojo comes from. He knows science, he knows high art, and his knows how to put the two together like very few in this world.

  • Tom

    while I found the depiction of the Na’vi to be overly convenient for Mr. Cameron. I do undersatand he was striving for the antithesis to modern consumerism and technology found in first world countries today.
    Instead of re-creating a more unique and believable race, he co-opted traits from the typical go-to: Native Americans. Even so, we know he is a smart man, and knew what he was doing. While some may eschew the use of the familiar, others, because of the familiarity, can connect more strongly with the message. The abuse heaped on the “inferior” is not something we can relegate to ancient history. It continues this very day. You just have to choose to not look the other way.

  • Bob

    I’m glad to finally start seeing it get dissected this way. I always have a hard time suspending disbelief, but I would have in a heartbeat this time around because Cameron built an *entire world* – an entire biosphere, an entire species, and an entire language. All that only to remake Pocahontas? Ick. Thought it was awful.

    Some gripes:
    – FEW HUMANS have any CONSCIENCE! “Life on another planet / moon? Burn it down! Oh well.” I can’t believe that for a millisecond.
    – The aliens are basically Native Americans / East Africans / Aborigines / Maori — I just find that unsettling.
    – It’s 2154. Earth has mastered cryogenics, interstellar travel, robotics & automation, the growth of entire alien lifeforms, and the transportation of consciousness. Yet all this — this whole film, their whole impetus for being there — is to make a larger *strip mine*. Arrgghhh. Just invest in keeping a smaller footprint and go explore Pandora, dammit.
    – He’s in a wheelchair. Wheelchairs.. in 2154. You can beam his consciousness to another body you regrew but you can’t regrow his nervous system because it costs too much? And that’s *his* whole motivation?
    – The strip mine. The dump trucks. The bulldozers. I actually laughed when I heard diesel engines rumbling to raze the forest. Come on.
    – Bullets, helicopters, missiles, “daisy-cutters” being pushed out the back of C-130-like aircraft. The cartoonish evil military, their dialogue, “oo-rah”, “get some” — it’s supposed to be 2154 — what I watched was a close cousin to fighting the Gulf War with the technology, dress, and dialogue of the War of 1812.

    Again, suspension of disbelief… but come on.

    My eyes were drawn in, but my attention was not. Like a first date with the most beautiful person you’ve ever seen who has the personality of someone from Jersey Shore. I’m sorry. **Plot and characters always trump technology and visuals.** In this film, the live actors were actually the cartoons. It was just Starship Troopers meets Ferngully. So disappointing.

  • Cusp
  • http://www.shaky.com Timon of Athens

    “It’s an old trope, fueled by liberal guilt.”

    What have you done with the *real* Sean Carroll?!

  • Haelfix

    Sean has a point. It does ultimately *distract* from a movie’s experience, when the audience is spoon fed the same tired themes and stereotypes that have been rehashed hundreds of times over with little regard for subleties or ambiguity.

    So much so that I after I saw the trailer, I knew exactly what the movie was about and you could more or less guess what was going to happen at any interval. I imagine most people felt the same way.

    Cameron always does this too. Whether its the evil military/corporations in the terminator series, or the silly rich vs poor theme in Titanic. It does in fact distract when the directors personal politics is being jammed down your throat, rather than being delivered with a little more suave and ingenuity.

  • Gordon

    I agree with Ryan–go see Sherlock Holmes. It has problems also, but Downey is absolutely
    magnetic, and the whole movie is undiluted fun. Cameron is over-rated, and the storyline
    is liberal pc pap.

  • jick

    As for me, the biggest off-putter was the easiness and eagerness of the protagonist to change side. When the movie starts, he is a human, an employee and ex-marine, and has friends and colleagues who are also human.

    Two hours later, he is firing machine guns at people who traveled and dined with him until just a few weeks ago. Not only him, but every friend of him, including not just a hot-blooded ex-marine but even scientists!

    Imagine an American soldier deployed to Afghanistan to see terrors beyond his previous experience, and decide this war is completely unjust. And then he decides to set things right… by becoming a Taliban warrior, gather a horde of Talibans, and storm American military base. How realistic is that?

    (That, and the built-in biological USB, and yes, how come the bad guys cannot intercept, or even track down, the source of Avatar remote-control communication channel?)

  • Low Math, Meekly Interacting

    In a word: Yup. Sad to say, your review is more-or-less spot-on. Not as gob-smackingly offensive as George Lucas’ Jar Jar Binks, but still plenty wince-inducing. It’s like these blockbuster directors are stuck in Star Trek land, circa 1967, as if making the restless natives aliens still yields such subtle allegory that the digital blackface will just sail right over our heads.

    Which is really a damn shame, because this is hands-down the most visually arresting film I think I’ve ever seen. And, yes, turning most of your brain off really can provide moments of thrill, suspense, the usual action/adventure-flick manipulations that are still reasonably fun if you surrender to them. Put it in a package this gorgeous, and Avatar can be intermittently quite compelling. But the shear ponderous mass of socioeconomic manichaeism and noble savagery just got obnoxious.

    I can easily see how it took a decade to get the effects. But the script itself? Again, it wasn’t execrable like the Star Wars prequels, which, unbelievably, were decades in the making, but you gotta ask yourself (as I have, over and over again), why-oh-WHY, when they’re capable of spending years dumping literally hundreds of millions of dollars on the eye candy, is it so tough for these guys to hire a better writer? Just imagine how insanely great Avatar could have been.

    I suppose it’s good to be reminded yet again, even in the face of such jaw-dropping technical achievement, that story still matters.

  • Ijon Tichy

    Oh how I absolutely detest the “noble savage” myth! Will it never die, despite the overwhelming facts to the contrary? We should be instilling ideals into our children rather than ideology. Well, as Sean mentioned, at least we have Pixar movies.

  • obm

    Classic western (a.k.a. “cowboy movie”) in Sci-Fi setting. In short, the cowboy rescues the girl, then sleeps with it. The rest, what you may call “the story” often comes as a side feature, almost always overshadowed by “the action”.

    “The story” is a very badly put together version of Solaris+Dances with the wolves+Some “Elf” knick-knack from the modern FRP genre.

    For the sequel, (often there are) at least they can improve the story by saying the previous company was a very small and cheapskate one, but due to this conflict, they had to reveal the location of the planet to the public, and the full “cavalary” with the technology that can travel interstellar distances within 5-6 years, and create avatars, is coming.

    For me a better story for this kind of action movie would emphasise the clash between bio and current style static metal&silicon technology.

  • http://www.astro.multivax.de:8000/helbig/helbig.html Phillip Helbig

    What’s the deal with apostrophes in names in science fiction? I don’t know if it started with T’Pau, but they are quite common. With real languages, the apostrophe perhaps has some sort of function, perhaps an attempt at rendering something in one alphabet in the case of a word from a language which uses another alphabet.

    But alien worlds will not use any human alphabet. (Big goof in one episode of Star Trek: a clock with a traditional clock face with twelve numerals on an alien planet.) So, one has the freedom to write things as they sound, and in English the apostrophe doesn’t have a phonetic function.

    It’s a cheap gimmick.

    With Star Trek, maybe it was OK. They shot an episode a week on a really low budget, so I don’t care that the styrofoam boulders are always the same, no matter what the planet, that McCoy’s instrument was a salt shaker etc. But Cameron, with his big budget, has the possibilities to create a truly different world, and apparently does so (I haven’t seen the film; I am tempted to do so because of good review by James Berardinelli, whose taste in film is sufficiently similar to mine that I often use his critiques to help me decide whether a film is worth seeing), so he really doesn’t need this cheap gimmick.

  • Neal J. King

    #25, Phillip Helbig:

    Often the apostrophe is intended to mark a glottal stop.

  • Guy

    I liked all aspects of the film. I don’t get all the negativity towards the pro-environment message. It is about doing what’s best for the greater good. How is that a bad thing?

  • http://www.astro.multivax.de:8000/helbig/helbig.html Phillip Helbig

    I think the negativity is due to a variety of factors: 1) the message isn’t subtle, 2) the bad guys are white and the good guys are coloured (hence the title of this thread), 3) nevertheless, the hero is a converted bad guy instead of one of the good guys.

  • Pat Dennis

    Did you notice that the little notification area in the “diary cam” that Jake occasionally speaks into is permantly set to “Security Level Orange” ?

  • Guy

    I’ve read that some people think it has a blatant “anti-human” message. I disagree because a film that captivates our imaginations and encourages us to think, makes us better humans in the end. Thus, it could just as easily be interpreted as being pro-human.

  • JMW

    @Haelfix #19, “…Cameron always does this too. Whether its the evil military/corporations in the terminator series, or the silly rich vs poor theme in Titanic…”

    I always thought Titanic wasn’t just about rich vs. poor but also a plea to leave the wreck alone. After all, “Titanic” (the movie) was made shortly after “Titanic” (the wrecked ship on the bottom of the ocean) was found and shortly before various corporations sent expeditions there to recover artifacts…

  • CoffeeCupContrails

    Have you people seen Battle for Terra?

    Here’s the plot synopsis on IMDB, with obligatory SPOILER ALERT! :
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0858486/synopsis

    Oh, don’t worry. Its almost the EXACT same story as AVATAR rehashed again and again. This one is animation from back in 2007 (around the time AVATAR was being made) and quite well done.

    Synopsis of the Synopsis:
    1. Humans exhaust Earth’s resources
    2. Humans discover that Terra, if terraformed would be perfect for them.
    3. Terra’s inhabitants worried that this might destroy them.
    4. Smart alien girl perfects alien flying craft.
    5. Stranded human astronaut who thinks aliens are savage beings helped by alien girl.
    6. They get each others jokes and syntax and sarcasm in both languages are the same.
    7. They combine forces to save the world from humans.
    8. Thankfully, the alien is far from humanoid, so no mating scenes.

    Done quite well though.

    Wonder why nobody told Cameron about this movie.

  • Roman

    @31 – So in order to plea to leave the wreck alone he personally went down there with his entire production machine.
    Cameron simply has big ego – I’m on the top of the world and will make the greatest movie ever. And his big ego is justified – he’s already made a billion dollar movie. Avatar was an attempt to make the next “greatest movie ever” and for Cameron it meant the most technologically advanced. Quality of the story? – the story had to allow for full display of technical wizardry and be commercially safe.

  • Low Math, Meekly Interacting

    I dunno. In terms of percent profits, District 9 did extremely well, and since it was practically a grad-school film project compared to Avatar in terms of budgets, probably much easier to pitch. You pretty much have to be James Cameron to even contemplate projects on this scale.

    And while D9 wasn’t didn’t exactly employ subtle allegory either, it didn’t approach the stunning conceit of Avatar’s great white hope. In D9, the human protagonist (such as he was) started out a pathetic, shallow, callous little nepotistic d-bag, and ended up a miserable, mutated, mutilated outcast. Yeah, Blomkamp copped-out on one heroism moment, but overall Wikus is a much more plausible “hero” than Jake’s Dances-With-Ehwah (or whatever Pandora’s Gaia was called).

  • amphiox

    I didn’t have a problem with the discongruously primitive military tech. After all, this is a not a government with an army, but a mining corporation with mercenary security. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the company skimped on the security budget. If you think your adversary has just horses and bows and arrows, why invest in anything more than machine guns and helicopters (probably purchased second or third hand)? These guys are the equivalent of today’s Blackwater on a shoestring budget, not the US military.

    The discongruously primitive mining tech was harder to swallow. It seemed that the only difference between the equipment portrayed in the movie and what is available now is just bigger size. This is supposed to be a major mining corporation, for whom the mining of unobtanium is their primary business. You’d have expected them to have something closer to state of the art here.

    I would have liked it if they had been a little bolder with the design for the Navi themselves, rather just stretched out humanoids (although I liked the consistency of the mention of Pandora’s low-g). All the other terrestrial vertebrate equivalents in the Pandoran ecosystem were hexapods, including the primate-like critters which were presumably in the same clade from which the Navi themselves descended. It would have been nice if the film-makers had decided to have the Navi keep a vestigial third limb pair, like a wing remnant, or parachuting organ (they climb trees a lot, after all), or something.

  • Guy

    Part of movie going is the ability to suspend disbelief for a time so that you can just enjoy the experience.

    I think we’re likely to find a lot of rare minerals in the asteroid belt and/or the moons of Jupiter. We’ll send robots to mine them and bring the stuff back without the need for invading alien worlds and being unwelcome guests. There are probably lots of uninhabited worlds out there to be discovered.

    Should we find a world like Pandora we should study it, learn about the culture, not seek to exploit it or harm the natives in anyway.

  • Richard

    I don’t understand why everything has to have some secret message. It’s a movie…get over it.

  • Low Math, Meekly Interacting

    The movie has grossed over a billion dollars and has been seen by millions of people. There’s nothing remotely secret about it.

  • Zontar

    The message isn’t secret: the audience is hit over the head with it for three hours. Your point is that it’s not worthy of discussion because it’s a movie?

  • http://thegreenbelt.blogspot.com The Ridger

    “It’s a movie”

    Well, yeah. But it’s telling a story. What? People aren’t allowed to complain that it’s a story they’ve heard before and don’t much like? They have to just accept it, because “it’s a movie”? I don’t think so.

    And I too was bothered by the Na’vi having two less limbs and eyes than everything else. Like the ants in that movie where the grasshoppers have six limbs… it’s like we can’t be expected to empathize with anything that isn’t a tetrapod humanoid.

    And as for the ‘ – well, it’s a voiceless stop, by the way. But it’s silly to complain that the Na’vi wouldn’t have used a human alphabet. Of course they wouldn’t, but they didn’t. That was a human attempt to write their language, so of course a human alphabet was used.

  • Gorman

    Well, as far as lib guilt goes, I still feel bad about the Dodo.

  • Odani of the Critics

    “The medium is the message”, wrote Marshall McLuhan. In the long run “the story” is irrelevant.

    ‘Course, “In the long run, we are all dead,” as a noted economist once said. Frame it how you will, the story sucks.

  • http://www.astro.multivax.de:8000/helbig/helbig.html Phillip Helbig

    OK, it’s a glottal stop. [Dons hybrid Aussie/Cockney accent] Righ’ ma’!

    I rephrase my question: Why do writers of English-language science fiction often have the glottal stop in proper names in their work? Is it the science-fiction equivalent of the
    heavy-metal umlaut?

    Readers here might be interested in the take on Avatar (with spoilers) at Brad’s blog:

    http://ideas.4brad.com/avatar-isnt-dances-wolves-its-another-plot

  • http://vacua.blogspot.com Jim Harrison

    Granted the moral state of mankind as depicted in the film, the obvious implication is that the Company would soon be back with more firepower to blow up the tree of souls and exterminate the natives, thus following the precedent set by the Europeans, first in the Canary islands and then in many places in the Americas, Africa, and Oceania. People complain that Avatar had a banal plot, which is true enough. The unfortunate thing, however, is not that the plot has been used in too many novels and movies but that it recurs too often in history books.

  • Brian Too

    @43. Phillip Helbig,

    I laughed at your comparison to the heavy-metal umlaut, but there are parallels. The metal bands liked the heavy-metal umlaut because it made their names and albums seem ‘cooler’ and more dangerous.

    My guess is that sci-fi writers like the apostrophe because it’s not used much in English or other common languages (both in word position and as a glottal stop function). Therefore it’s presence in sci-fi is an easy way to achieve an alien-ness that the authors often want. They need audience buy-in and anything which helps that assists the author’s cause.

    Back to the umlaut. I remember watching a video by a well-known former blogger about the heavy-metal umlaut’s entry in Wikipedia. The video was meant to illustrate a typical article’s evolution in the open editing environment and the heavy-metal umlaut was just a handy, non-directed context in which to show that. The video even showed a couple of defacement attacks.

    I enjoyed the whimsy of the choice of topic!

  • John

    The most unrealistic thing about Avatar is that the humans didn’t land on Pandora with “we love you” cards and bibles and chocolate bars for the Navi kids, and ofcourse, big mining machines and lots of promises but little respect for the ways of navi culture. And any navi or native that fights back in retaliation is labeled a terrorist or criminal or savage. In reality, we wouldn’t land on Pandora with guns blazing, we’d land with a lot of promises and good intentions to reform the uneducated natives, lots of candy bars and money for those who follow along, but behind the scenes we’d be there to exploit, dominate, and assimilate the native population.

    So much for Pandora.

    At our core, we’re selfish animals and consume whatever is around us. The only way Pandora can survive is if we’re forced to stop consuming or thrown off the planet altogether. People are right in saying we’re wicked and selfish, but they’re wrong in saying this is because of some kind of original sin or because eve ate some fruit she wasn’t supposed to. This is all just an over elaborate unnecessary way of saying exactly the same thing: humans are sick fukkkks.

    People who fixate on little thigns like “With their advanced technology a primitive native population would stand no chance against them” are missing the point entirely.

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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .

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