Friday, January 1, 2010

Andrei Avatar and Maori Mythology

OK so the news is kind of slow at this time of year but really do we need a Maori Academic using a movie to push his grievance mentality?

Anyway get a load of this codswallop: Avatar recycles indigenous 'stereotypes'

The head of the School of Maori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Canterbury, Rawiri Taonui, said Avatar addressed the impact of colonisation on indigenous people in an entertaining way, but relied on stereotypes.

"It was a great movie and had some progressive themes, but did it in a way that still repeated some stereotypes," he said.

Taonui said the "rhythmic body swaying" of the indigenous people during a ceremony only appeared in "B-grade movies" and "just doesn't happen in any indigenous population".

He said the male members of the blue-skinned Na'avi population were stereotypical depictions of indigenous people.

"The indigenous men were not very good when it came to sorting out the problems. They just grunted. That contradicts history," he said.

"Indigenous people were overwhelmed by colonists, but they resisted against overwhelming odds.

"They all came up with strategies to try and overcome their situations."

Yeah right the old Noble savage myth.
However, he said the film acknowledged the negative impact of colonisation on indigenous culture.

"The fact that a movie like that has come out shows the Western world has less hang-ups about indigenous people. There is recognition that colonisation has a negative impact on indigenous people from a historical point of view," he said.


And now we descend into pure fantasy - the pre-European Maori were absolutely barbaric. Nor did they in any way live "in harmony with nature" as the extinction of the Moa and the Alpine Eagle attest.

And if New Zealand had remained undiscovered how would the indigenous be living today? They'd be raiding each others villages to take women and children as slaves and eating each other - for goodness sake why pretend otherwise. "The negative impact of colonisation on indigenous culture" was in the real world not negative at all - rather the Maori were raised from the nightmare of short and brutal lives lived in utter squalor.

Now the people who colonized New Zealand were people of good will for the most part and did everything in their power to include the Maori in the development of this nation. The New Zealand Maori got a better deal than virtually any other "indigenous" people in history.

But after 130 years of universal education and over 142 years of universal sufferage for Maori males (which is longer than white males have had universal suffrage) they are blowing it. They are harking back to a mythological past of the Garden of Eden wrecked by greedy white people.

Avatar is just a film, a new age fairy story which perpetuates the "noble savage" myth. Barbarity has been almost universal throughout human existence. Its with us still.

In 1900 Europeans probably believed they had pulled themselves out of barbarousness for ever but if 20th European history reveals anything at all it reveals how easily even the most enlightened societies can slide back into it.

And I fear that is the path the good professor is intent on taking us down with his myth making.

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mokauroots said...
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