Plotting the destruction of the 'Tree of Life': Does the film

Avatar justify, rather than disparage, the practice of war?



Le Monde, France

Avatar: Nothing But a 'Stupid Justification for War!'


"All wars, even those that seem the most insane, always occurs for the 'right reasons' because they're for defense. Let us recall, even for Hitler, the war was just. We don't go to war to fight, whatever any warmonger says, but to defend ourselves!"


By Pierre Desjardins*


Translated By Helene Grinsted


January 28, 2010


France - Le Monde - Original Article (French)

Naively, many took James Cameron's film Avatar to be anti-war and even pacifist and environmentalist. However, it's nothing of the sort! Quite to the contrary, this film is meant to eulogize violence and war. It is true that, in reversing the roles and caricaturing the U.S. Army, this film is just shuffling the cards and has confused more than a few. But beneath its idyllic outdoor settings, the film conceals a view that is remarkably caustic: that of justifying war for us peaceful Westerners!


First of all, let's recall the scene of that enormous tree falling with a crash in the midst of a distraught population. How can one not see the analogy with the collapse of the towers of the World Trade Center? Then, after that spectacular scene, all is justified for a native people so savagely attacked on their own planet. And it's none other than an American marine, Jake, the hero of the film, who proposes the unification of all indigenous peoples (the allied forces) to suppress and kill those who, just like terrorists, attacked them in such a cowardly fashion. It's at this moment that the imperial American eagle appears on the screen in all its glory (in the guise of a giant Transformer-like dragon) which our American hero boldly sits astride to lead the natives to final victory.


This hero, a simple American soldier crippled by war and reborn into a new body, will return to war, but this time for a worthy cause! In this way, he is a perfect illustration of the average American; that is to say, an innocent man who doesn't want war but who, for the good of the cause, ends up becoming a fanatical fighter, urging even the indigenous population to follow him into battle. When attacked, they must know how to defend themselves. That's an absolute right. Such is the central message of this American blockbuster that cost $300 million. It is meant to be the expression of the ideology of war, that's to say of "just war," or if you like, that of good versus evil ...


For the film makes the distinction between good warriors (the Na'vi) and bad warriors (the GIs). But we know there are no good and evil warriors. Every war, even those that seem the most insane, always occurs for the "right reasons" because they're for defense (there's a reason we speak of the "Ministry of Defense"). Let's recall that even for Hitler, the war was just: it was about enlarging German territory to ensure the survival of his people [lebensraum or living space]. We don't go to war to fight, whatever any warmonger says, but to defend ourselves! That is the very essence of war and is this essential element that has made Avatar an "in" film. Even the word "avatar" which comes from Sanskrit, means a messenger of the divine dedicated to the struggle of good against evil.



Die Zeit, Germany: Avatar: A Shameful Example of Western Cultural Imperialism

Cyberpress, Canada: The Film Avatar is the 'Apocalypse Now of the Virtual Age'

Vedomosti, Russia: Krylatskiy Townspeople Treated Like Avatar Natives

Komsomolskaya Pravda: Communists Say Cameron 'Robbed' Soviet SciFi

BolPress, Bolivia: Jesus Christ and the Movie Avatar

China Daily, China: Twisting Avatar to Fit China's Paradigm

De Standaard, Belgium: What Does Avatar Mean to You?

Russia Today, Russia: Communists Demand 'Ban' on Movie Avatar

Jornal De Angola, Angola: Avatar Holds Out Hope for Something Better


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We should also note how the numerous battle scenes in the jungle remind us of what the Vietnam War did to the Americans. There, despite the use of napalm, the mighty Americans were trampled upon and humiliated. This film surreptitiously suggests that, henceforth, one must know how to respond intelligently to this type of humiliation. Not by insolently crushing everything in our path or by stupidly using poison gas, but by precise targeting of the enemy in concert with the other threatened nations. And there we find the perfect justification for the war in Afghanistan, do we not?



And, as always, the natives are depicted as creatures attached to outmoded rituals who must be led into battle by the film's intelligent hero. Armed with a submachine gun to annihilate the invader, this new type of Na'vi, due to the appeal of a fierce exterminator who leads by example, shows these poor natives how to fight without pity to establish their supremacy. This calls to mind American westerns where, almost always, a brave cowboy ends up joining forces with the Indians to spur them on to fight the American Army to the death. By serving as a dispenser of justice, the hero subtly contributes to minimizing guilt over the genocide of the tribes of the American Indian.


In the same way, this film again permits the American eagle to be displayed with pride and nobility. Its director, James Cameron, will doubtless have understood better than any other film maker that for a movie to please its audience, it must reinforce their convictions. Killing is alright, but only of those who threaten the security of our nation! That's what's comforting and reassuring. Courtesy of this film, the expression si vis pacem, para bellum ("If you wish for peace, prepare for war") can, therefore, be put back into service. The only problem with this ridiculous old expression, however, is that it's valid for all people who feel threatened ...


Adding insult to injury is that the film, which aside from its technical prowess has offered us nothing new under the sun, is in search of tributes. Positioned somewhere between a Walt Disney film and an episode of the Transformers or, to put it another way, between Jurassic Park and The Terminator, Avatar goes off in every direction. For example, the simplistic formula of beasts who are friends of the good and enemies of the malevolent is beyond irritating. But for a country where environmental problems still aren't taken seriously, this is surely more than enough! And there's no doubt that, with such an eye-catching formula, the king of the world, as James Cameron likes to call himself, will please a very large public and will, once again, be crowned with glory!


*Pierre Desjardins is an author and Professor of Philosophy at the Montmorency College pre-university in Quebec.



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US February 8, 7:59pm]


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