A campaign is underway to boycott James Cameron’s latest film “Avatar: The Way of Water” due to a variety of issues.
Some Native and Indigenous people accuse the film, much like its predecessor, of cultural appropriation and its use of the white savior complex.
“Join Natives & other Indigenous groups around the world in boycotting this horrible & racist film,” tweeted Yuè Begay, a Navajo artist and co-chair of Indigenous Pride Los Angeles . “Our cultures were appropriated in a harmful manner to satisfy some [white flag emoji] man’s savior complex.”
The boycott of the sequel resurged the conversation that took place back in 2009 when “Avatar” was first released.
The original film follows the Na’vi people from the fictional planet Pandora, a group fighting off colonizers from Earth attempting to snatch their resources.
The movie’s 2022 sequel follows the same tribe as they leave their former land for one near the ocean, but still face the same issues with the Earth-based invaders.
Another factor fueling the boycott is the 2010 comments Cameron made about the Lakota Sioux tribe in a piece in The Guardian, where he talked about opposing the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam in the Amazon.
The Oscar-winning director said that the colonization and displacement of Native Americans were a “driving force” in his writing for “Avatar.” However, one specific comment has landed him in hot water as some feel it contributes to “anti-Indigenous rhetoric.”
“I felt like I was 130 years back in time watching what the Lakota Sioux might have been saying at a point when they were being pushed and they were being killed and they were being asked to displace and they were being given some form of compensation,” he said. “This was a driving force for me in the writing of ‘Avatar’ – I couldn’t help but think that if they [the Lakota Sioux] had had a time-window and they could see the future… and they could see their kids committing suicide at the highest suicide rates in the nation… because they were hopeless and they were a dead-end society – which is what is happening now – they would have fought a lot harder.”
These comments popped back up again in a tweet and set the internet ablaze.
“Don’t watch that movie. I couldn’t even begin how wrong he is about ‘they would have fought harder,'” tweeted Anpo Jensen, who claims the Oglala subtribe of the Lakota people.
“James Cameron apparently made ‘Avatar’ to inspire all my dead ancestors to ‘fight harder,'” Dr. Johanna Brewer of Smith College tweeted. “Eff right off with that savior complex, bud. And everyone, please go watch a real native movie instead of that badly appropriated blue trash.”
“Eww, way to victim blame & not reflect on your own positionally/ privilege,” tweeted Lydia Jennings, of the Wixárika and Yoeme people. “Saw original ‘Avatar’; was annoyed people celebrated the story while not reflecting on how many Indigenous Nations in the present are fighting to do so.”
So far Cameron hasn’t made any public comments on the boycott.
“Avatar: The Way of Water” is in theaters now.