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A brief thought on Avatar in relation to Human Terrain System

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The comparison is obvious. What is troubling is that the conclusion seem to be: We will never know 'the Other' well enough to understand 'where they are coming from' without (literally) walking in their skin. The message to the social sciences seems to be "you will enver know what you are not."

Of course reading Avatar through the lens of HTS (and recent wars) and colonialism also brings up the obvious problem of casting the indigenous peoples as alien lifeforms. In FernGully it is fey, in Avatar it is aliens - the indigenous are portrayed as non-human in both. Pocahontas and Dances with Wolves have their own set of issues, but at least the indigenous are human.

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On January 5th, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC), penguingod commented:
Are you suggesting that a sci-fi allegory about neo-colonialism is racist because it's sci-fi?

I'll give you the Dances with Wolves comparison, on the white guilt fantasy tip, but because they're not human? That's kind of the point.

Or am I missing something?
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On January 5th, 2010 06:59 pm (UTC), drakewind replied:
It was more of a thought I wanted to get get down on paper than an outright condemnation - and 'racist' is a strong word I think. I just wanted to explore the possibilities of meaning and effect in relation to casting humans as non-human - we could be having the same dialogue regarding zombies or what-have-you.
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On January 5th, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC), penguingod replied:
Ah, OK. I've been seeing so much kneejerk babbling about Avatar and how it's racist / not racist lately; let my preconceived notions blah blah blah.

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On January 6th, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC), mikoandnoel commented:
seems telling of our often unwillingness to even attempt to understand/empathize/treat people in non-oppressive ways - if we can just shrug and say "we'll never understand them anyway," it's easier not to try.
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