‘White man’s fantasy’: Indigenous groups call for a boycott of Avatar 2

A film critic decried Avatar: The Way of Water as a ‘white man’s fantasy of Native American resistance,’ as at least one indigenous group has called for a boycott of the blockbuster sequel.

The film debuted to largely positive reviews – a 78 percent critic score and 93 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes – and nearly half a billion dollars worldwide at the box office.

However, Jason Asenap – who comes from Comanche and Muscogee Creek tribes, according to his bio – writing for Grist, wrote that he hoped moviegoers would look for ‘Indigenous futurism filmmaking’ from people other than director James Cameron, becoming the latest indigenous critic of the film.

Asenap points out that ‘you can make up anything you want in a fantastical tale and even have your left-leaning cake too’ but that the issue is that Cameron based the original film off the plight of the Lakota Sioux indigenous people.

A film critic decried Avatar: The Way of Water as a ‘white man’s fantasy of Native American resistance,’ as at least one indigenous group has called for a boycott of the blockbuster sequel

Cameron told The Guardian in 2010: ‘I couldn’t help but think that if they [the Lakota Sioux] had had a time-window and they could see the future … and they could see their kids committing suicide at the highest suicide rates in the nation … because they were hopeless and they were a dead-end society — which is what is happening now — they would have fought a lot harder.’

Asenap calls the comments from 12 years ago ‘tone-deaf, condescending, and not the kind of ally I want or need to help tell Indigenous stories.’

He notes that a Native American group, Indigenous Pride Los Angeles, has called for a boycott of the film.

Asdzáá Tłʼéé honaaʼéí, co-chair of the group, tweeted: ‘Do NOT watch Avatar: The Way of Water. Join Natives & other Indigenous groups around the world in boycotting this horrible & racist film. Our cultures were appropriated in a harmful manner to satisfy some [white] man’s savior complex. No more Blueface! Lakota people are powerful!’

The critic suggests someone like Taika Waititi, himself the descendants of the Māori, New Zealand’s indigenous tribes, might have been more sensitive with the material.

Asenap wonders about the overall point of the film: ‘Do we need a white guy to dress these issues up in the world of fantasy where 10-foot-tall aliens fight ‘hard enough’ to save the day to prove that we aren’t after all a ‘dead-end society’?

Asenap - who comes from Comanche and Muscogee Creek tribes, according to his bio - calls James Cameron's comments from 12 years ago 'tone-deaf, condescending, and not the kind of ally I want or need to help tell Indigenous stories'

Asenap – who comes from Comanche and Muscogee Creek tribes, according to his bio – calls James Cameron’s comments from 12 years ago ‘tone-deaf, condescending, and not the kind of ally I want or need to help tell Indigenous stories’

Asenap notes that a Native American group, Indigenous Pride Los Angeles, has called for a boycott of the film

Asenap notes that a Native American group, Indigenous Pride Los Angeles, has called for a boycott of the film

Asdzáá Tłʼéé honaaʼéí, co-chair of the group, tweeted: 'Do NOT watch Avatar: The Way of Water.  Join Natives & other Indigenous groups around the world in boycotting this horrible & racist film.  Our cultures were appropriated in a harmful manner to satisfy some [white] man's savior complex.  No more Blueface!  Lakota people are powerful!'

Asdzáá Tłʼéé honaaʼéí, co-chair of the group, tweeted: ‘Do NOT watch Avatar: The Way of Water. Join Natives & other Indigenous groups around the world in boycotting this horrible & racist film. Our cultures were appropriated in a harmful manner to satisfy some [white] man’s savior complex. No more Blueface! Lakota people are powerful!’

He concludes: ‘We have enough proven talent at this point and don’t need out-of-touch, privileged directors like James Cameron to appropriate Indigenous culture for his stories. We can tell our own stories. We tell them better.’

It’s not the first case of someone accusing the film of cultural appropriation in the run-up and days following the sequel’s release.

Freelance film critic Kathia Woods, who has contributed to Buzzfeed News and The Philadelphia Tribune, made the comments on Twitter.

‘At some point we gotta talk about the cultural appropriation of Avatar and white actors are playing as little. It’s just a mess and so not necessary & no amount of visual effects/CGI is gonna erase that. Bad lace fronts/dry synthetic braids. Jesus fixed it,’ she said.

Cos play is the act of dressing up in costume to portray a specific character.

Actors Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana in Avatar: The Way of Water, which premiered last week

Actors Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana in Avatar: The Way of Water, which premiered last week

Freelance film critic Kathia Woods claimed the film was guilty of 'cultural appropriation' and that white actors 'cos played' as 'people of color', even though their characters are blue Indigenous aliens

Freelance film critic Kathia Woods claimed the film was guilty of ‘cultural appropriation’ and that white actors ‘cos played’ as ‘people of color’, even though their characters are blue Indigenous aliens

Woods has now made her Twitter account private, but many seized on her comment as a woke take gone too far.

‘James Cameron didn’t even try to find native blue people to play these roles smh,’ joked Free Beacon reporter Andrew Kerr.

‘Only nine-foot tall blue aliens can play nine-foot tall blue aliens in movies, apparently!’ joked radio host Dan O’Donnell.

Woods failed to take note of the fact that not only are the Na’vi creatures depicted in the film described as ‘indigenous blue humanoids’ living on the planet Pandora, some are indeed played by black actors in the film.

Zoe Saldana is among those starring, along with Maori actor Cliff Curtis, African American star Laz Alonso, and Bailey Bass.

Woods, a freelance critic for The Philadelphia Tribune and Buzzfeed, has now made her Twitter account private

Woods, a freelance critic for The Philadelphia Tribune and Buzzfeed, has now made her Twitter account private

Woods was immediately mocked for her woke take on the blockbuster film

Woods was immediately mocked for her woke take on the blockbuster film

Avatar: The Way Of Water made $434.5 million at the box office during its global debut, according to studio estimates Sunday, after director James Cameron said it needs to earn $2 billion to break even.

The sequel made $134 million from North American theaters and another $300.5 million internationally for a $434.5 million global opening.

‘The Way of Water’ tied with ‘The Batman’ as the fourth highest domestic debut of the year, finishing behind several Marvel blockbusters like ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ ($187.4 million May), ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, ‘ ($181 million in November) and ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ ($144.2 million in July).

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