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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"White Guilt" and Avatar: Soul Brothers?

Jesus. It's getting so we can't even enjoy a ground-breaking science fiction film anymore without people getting all crazy about the hidden messages and metaphors within them. Many groups are taking offense to James Cameron's BILLION $$$$ hit "Avatar": anti-smoking groups, disabled groups, and racial groups. Makes you wonder if you'd be hearing any of this if this film was a flop (you would not). But I digress...

So the question of the day: Does Avatar promote White guilt OR White racial fantasies? In my review, I declared the film a remake of Dances with Wolves (which it is-- don't deny it). And films like Wolves, and District 9 and The Matrix and The Last Samurai and Enemy Mine and Alien Nation and Tron and The Last Starfighter have often been accused of using the iconic White male image as savior to the indigenous or native people of "insert nation here". There are stories that follow the model of the "every(white)man" who is discovering a group of people that is "alien" to him. We are in his shoes as we, too, discover that a group of people that we have been told to hate...turns out to be misunderstood. It is the "establishment" who are the enemy, and the hated group are actually the good guys. And it is only through our protagonist that we are able to see that. He/She is our way in-- our spy, so to speak. And upon making this discovery, we have become traitors; just as our hero has. And not only has our hero become a traitor...he has also, even, become the leader of the group. "The One."

Look, I have been following stories on race in America for a long time. I understand the history of race and it's social and economic ramifications. And I'm the first one to call "racism" WHEN IT WARRANTS IT. The problem is that we're at this point in America when the cup of racism is bubbling over...and no one knows how to address it. People are incapable of having intelligent conversations about race in this country because everyone is too quick to get defensive. EVERYONE takes a racial conversation personally. So every time it comes up, someone starts shouting and yelling and name-calling...and that's all she wrote. All talks collapse, and nothing is accomplished. And why? Because Blacks assume that all Whites are like their slave-owning ancestors, and Whites think that Blacks are looking for revenge. And both groups are f**king stupid. Both groups need to pull their heads out of their own asses, and wake up.

Yes, there were some horrible, f'ed up things done in this country in the name of White supremacy. Yes, there are still White racists in this country to this day. Yes, there are a large number of White people that cannot stand the sight of a Black family in the White House. Yes, yes, yes, that is all very true. Does that mean that EVERY White person is a murderous, racist neanderthal? NO.

Yes, Black folks are angry. Yes, we have been told by our ancestors for GENERATIONS that White folks are dangerous and not to be trusted. Yes, EVERY ONE OF US has encountered God-honest racism from White folks (and that includes being called a "nigger" out of malice).  Yes, yes, and yes, these things are all true. Does that mean that EVERY Black person is looking to slit a White man's throat, or rape their White women? NO.

What it means is that we have A LOT to talk about. And we also, probably most importantly, have A LOT TO LISTEN TO. We all know the stereotypes, we all know the slurs. You've heard them said to or about you, or to other people. And it may anger you. But why does it anger you? Why does it anger any of us? All of these things are merely uneducated opinion and myth. Some things may be true, but the knowledge base behind it is so warped, so misguided, and just plain ignorant that one can't help but, well...laugh. PERFECT example-- the McCain/Palin rallies during the 2008 Presidential Campaign:

Every time I saw things like this, I laughed. Why? Because these people are afraid of something that simply does not exist! These are people that feel safe because they are surrounded by "their kind"-- they would NEVER say things like this with Black folks around (or, at least, more than 1 Black person around). And why? Because deep, deep, DEEP down inside...they know their fears are irrational, and they do not want to confront them. It's like an addict in an intervention. They have a problem, but you'll probably get into a fist fight by the end of it because your ego just won't allow itself to be corrected. It's easier to hide behind false propaganda and stereotypes than it is to judge yourself. It's easier to blame Mexicans or Affirmative Action for why you don't have a job, rather than looking at yourself and saying "Maybe I need more training", or "Maybe I should stop drinking," or whatever else could be keeping you from attaining personal success. Many people say "This is the way I was raised!" Lame excuse.

What the people at these rallies are really doing is asking for help. They don't understand that the myth and lies that they have been fed for generations are wrong. They were used and manipulated to garner support for an awful system that abuses its populous. This country was built on slave labor. And honestly, it will continue to be built on slave labor. The next generation of jobs that will be available in this country (after the "recession") will pay far less than the previous generation. The job market is resetting, and recessing, to reintroduce a "legal" form a slave labor. After all, you can't pay people nothing for work...but you CAN pay them next-to-nothing. And sure enough, all those hard-working "true American" White folks will become exactly what they fear...niggers. Maligned against, forced to work with no reward or no hope, undereducated and incapable of moving forward.

This is a long way away from "Avatar" (sorry!). I guess my point is that there are people out there making arguments out of nothing. If there are White folks out there that feel guilty...stop. There's no need. And to the Black folks (or White folks for that matter) that see racism is every little tiny freakin' thing...stop. That's just silly. The only way we are going to get past this stupid crap is to stop being passive aggressive. Grow a pair. Take a long hard look at yourself-- you're so used to judging others, when was the last time you judged yourself? Is your ego so precious that you can't take what you're dishing out?

In other words, stop your goddamn whining. It's just a movie!

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