James Cameron’s old comments lead to a Native American boycott of the new “Avatar” sequel

If you haven’t watched “Avatar: The Way of Water” yet, a Native American-led social media campaign hopes it will continue to be so.

After the long-awaited premiere of “Avatar,” a new campaign is calling on potential viewers to boycott the sci-fi film, which has already grossed more than $300 million internationally.

Asdzáá Tłʼéé honaaʼéí, a Navajo artist and co-chair of the campaign’s founder, Indigenous Pride Los Angeles, writes: in a tweetWhich has been liked by more than 40 thousand users. Our cultures have been appropriated in a harmful way to please some [white flag emoji] Man’s savior complex.

The campaign has a strong focus on Comments are back Directed by the film’s director, James Cameron, in 2010 about the Sioux nation, including the Lakota people, which the campaign calls “anti-Indigenous rhetoric.”

In 2010, The Guardian reported on Cameron’s efforts to oppose the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, which eventually displaced the indigenous people living in the Amazon. Inside the essay, the Oscar-winning filmmaker said his time with Amazon tribes prompted him to think about the history of the indigenous peoples of North America. Cameron credited Native American history as the “driving force” behind writing the script for the 2009 film “Avatar”.

“I felt like I was 130 years in the past watching what the Lakota Sioux would have said at a time when they were pushed around, killed, asked for displacement and were receiving some form of compensation,” Cameron told the Guardian.

“This was a driving force for me in writing ‘Avatar’ – I can’t help but think about it [the Lakota Sioux] They had a window of time and they could see the future…and they could see their children commit suicide with one of the highest suicide rates in the country…because they were desperate and it was a dead-end society—which is what’s happening now—they would have fought harder.”

Cameron’s representatives could not be reached for comment on Monday.

The original “Avatar” centers on a human soldier, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), who is sent by resource-hungry colonists from Earth to infiltrate the Na’vi people, but eventually sympathizes with them and becomes a Na’vi himself. He fights the colonial forces from Earth, but the Na’vi are still displaced from their homes.

Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, “The Way of the Water” follows the Sully family after they flee their land-bound home for a new home in the ocean, where their struggle with invading earthlings continues.

Cameron’s offensive comments resurfaced last week Johnny Jay, an Otoe-Missouria and Choctaw artist living in Los Angeles. The remarks, which were largely ignored a decade ago, prompted intense reactions on social media from some Native Americans who specifically objected with the insinuation that Natives could have “fighted harder” against settler colonialism to avoid displacement and genocide. .

He wrote: “It seems James Cameron made Avatar to inspire all my ancestors who died to ‘fight harder’.” Joanna BrewerProfessor of Computer Science at Smith College. “Right with this lifesaver compound, Bud.”

“Eww, way to blame the victim and not think about your status/privilege,” he wrote. Lydia Jenningswho is known as Wixárika and Yoeme. I saw the original avatar; Annoyed, people celebrated the story while not considering how many indigenous peoples nowadays struggle to do so.”

Brett Chapman, a Native American civil rights attorney, called “Avatar” a “white savior story at its core” in a tweet criticizing Cameron’s comments.

“I will not see new,” Chapman Books. “It does nothing for the Native Americans but sucks oxygen for itself at our expense.”

Autumn Asher Blackder of the Southern Cheyenne Nation and professor of social work at the University of Denver responded to comments List compilation From Aboriginal filmmakers for those who “don’t want to see a colonial blue people glorification movie”.

The boycott campaign also focused on Cameron’s decision to give white actors the lead role to play the Na’vi, an indigenous people in the film’s fictional Pandora, which Cameron previously said was based on indigenous cultures around the world.

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