January 31, 2015
Discussion Section 52393
The piece of media that I have chosen to write my research proposal on is the 2009 film Avatar directed by James Cameron. The film is based on the story of a paraplegic marine named Jake Sully, who finds himself en route to a distant moon called Pandora to fill in for his recently killed twin brother that was originally a scientist on the mission. Motivated by the possibility of “getting his legs back on Earth”, he accepts to participate by taking on the responsibility of lending himself to direct and control the expensive avatar creation that is the genetic hybrid of a human being’s thinking and of a Na’vi’s body, the natives of the land. Motivated by the mining of unobtanium found under the dense forest and the great profits it could produce for earth, the military, under the control of money hungry capitalists, is dedicated to push out the indigenous people of the land with the opposition of the scientists and researchers that are interested in learning about the Na’vi people and wish to preserve their land and culture. Both sides come to rely on Jake, who somehow finds himself befriending and later falling in love with Neytiri, the daughter of the leader of the clan. Jake Sully spends 3 months with the people, learning their language, becoming a warrior, and soon enough a “brother”, being indicted into the Na’vi clan and considered one of them after passing multiple tests. The money hungry capitalists become restless with trying to do things the civilized way, and attack the Na’vi people to destroy their sacred Home Tree that sits upon the largest deposit of unobtanium, commencing an all out war. Jake and a few of his few human friends that disagree with this totalitarian extinction of a race decide to join forces with the weakened Na’vi people and other outside clans from all over Pandora, all combining forces to beat out the human species that once tried to culture and overpower the “savages” in attempts to take away the land that is theirs.
The reason I have chosen Avatar as the topic of my research proposal is because of the references the film’s plot has to situations that have occurred multiple times throughout history and persist throughout the world. The main subjects I am referring to are the ideas of colonization and the constant comparison of one country or collection of people to another, and the strain contrasting groups can create when regarding themselves in comparison to a differing country. Within the film, this struggle for power and to assert one’s dominance over the other was evident in the relationship between the native Na’vi people and the alien human beings that felt they had a sense of entitlement to the riches the land bestowed. In the eyes of the humans, the Na’vi clan were savages that were in need of education and development that only they could offer, but the Na’vis believed otherwise, seeing the human race as ignorant and in need of change that could be supplied by their knowledge, such as when they took in Jake Sully to train him into a Na’vi warrior. With this topic in mind, I am interested in exploring the topic of colonization, and how one country always comes to overpower another as how it has happened all throughout history, motivated by the haughty belief that they are better than another and it is their responsibility to change these primitive people.
The theory I have chosen is the post-colonial theory, the assortment of strategies used to review a culture that was under the power of the Western empires and their relation to the civilized world beyond them. This theory questions the effects overbearing empires had upon the Eastern societies as well as those that remain in place to this day, and covers the discussion of the racism and exploitation of the natives that is known to have occurred (Makaryk, 154). Within post-colonial theory is Edward Said’s