Encountering with the "Other" in Cameron's epic film "Avatar"
Tags: media, race/ethnicity, colonialism, culture, othering, representation, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: The caption below this YouTube video remix by Craig Saddlemire and Ryan Conrad describes it as highlighting " the overplayed racial tropes of Hollywood cinema using James Cameron's multimillion‐dollar epic Avatar as its visual anchor." The clip works as a " media literacy tool for deconstructing how whiteness and Other-ness are portrayed in mainstream films about humanitarian crises," and I would add, colonialism. The clip draws footage from seventeen different films, all of which tell the same narrative about a white protagonist's encounter with the "Other." It would work well as a means of beginning a class discussion on media representations and especially those which pertain to race and ethnicity. By taking footage from so many different films, the clip is able to give students a sense of how ubiquitous and deeply resonant the representations associated with this narrative are. Instructors can encourage students to consider that the story is consistently told from the white colonizer's perspective, and in each story, a "native," or person of color, plays the so-called "magical negro" role. This is a character in fiction, typically woven into the story to further the self-discovery of the white protagonist. The magical negro can be seen as a variant of the much older ideal of the "noble savage."
Submitted By: Lester Andrist
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