Do you own a culture and all things that come compliments of it? Depending on your genetics, some may say you do.
Such is the foundation of “cultural appropriation”: People with particular bloodlines somehow own the exclusive rights to all products of past relatives’ creation. And a family tree needn’t be traced — a similar shade of skin sufficiently serves as an indisputable deed.
Hence, a recent film critic’s critique of the new film Avatar: The Way of Water — AKA Avatar 2.
Rotten Tomatoes serves a synopsis:
Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, Avatar: The Way of Water begins to tell the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure.
Here’s the trailer:
When movie analyst Kathia Woods — previously featured by Buzzfeed, NBC News, Digital Spy, and the Philadelphia Tribune — watched the film, something struck her.
As reported by Fox News, she tweeted accordingly:
“At some point, [we’ve] gotta talk about the cultural appropriation of Avatar and white actors are cosplaying as POC.”
“POC,” of course, refers to “People of Color,” a contemporary term for all human beings who aren’t Caucasian.
The Avatar characters at issue — known as the “Na’vi’ — certainly aren’t white; they’re blue. However, they aren’t human. Still, it might be said, they’re people — if “people” denotes works of fiction.
Either way, Kathy lamented the mess:
“It’s just a mess and so not necessary, and no amount of visual effects/CGI is gonna erase that.”
“Bad lace fronts/dry synthetic braids,” she went on to observe.
Her take is fairly in step with modern sensibilities. Consider headlines from the past few years:
Back to woke film criticism: Though Avatar’s natives are cartoons, real actors are naturally voicing them. And the female protagonist is played by black actress Zoe Zaldana. Presumably, she and other nonwhite cast didn’t poach the possessions of an imaginary race. But her Caucasian costars, it seems, enacted appropriation by speaking into a microphone to match the movements of iridescent, greenish-cyan cat-people.
And it’s a shame, because the movie might’ve otherwise avoided the problematic.
In response to Kathia’s review, online users appropriated sarcasm:
Initially, Kathia locked her account and made it private. She’s since responded to the wrath — by changing her Twitter name to “Kathia Woods, AKA Woke Girl/Blue Advocate.”
She also posted as follows:
“I’m happy to come on radio, TV, etc., to discuss my advocacy for Blue people and how woke I am. Email is in the bio, and [thank you] for going to the site; traffic has been up. Wanna thank my new promo team, AKA the haters.”
Good for her. And let’s hope Avatar 3 gets its act together; there’s no reason for blue cartoons not to be played by other blue cartoons who aren’t those blue cartoons but are nonetheless blue cartoons.
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