In my last post, I reacted to critics who were convinced there was a racist motif in play in Avatar. But I’d like to talk about what Avatar is all about: Second Chances.
The movie is riddled with “seconds”— a twin who takes over for his brother when his brother is killed, a man who has his legs taken away from him getting a second chance at walking, Sully who has a second chance at being useful to the Na’vi, humankind getting a second chance to be at peace with a Planet.
Cameron in his acceptance speech for the Golden Globes says as much:
“‘Avatar’ asks us to see that everything is connected, all human beings to each other, and us to the Earth. And if you have to go four and a half light years to another, made-up planet to appreciate this miracle of the world that we have right here, well, you know what, that’s the wonder of cinema right there, that’s the magic,” Cameron said.
I was moved by the essay on Sully that I read over at the Respectable Negro Tribe blog
Jake Sully is emasculated in a literal sense because of a combination of physical injury, financial inadequacy and family tragedy. Not only is Jake Sully a Marine who cannot walk or fight, but more tragically he knows that there is a cure for his injury, but cannot afford it. Further, Jake’s closest relative, his twin brother, has been killed in a meaningless act of violence that Jake could not prevent, and now Jake is now forced to step forward into a position that he does not feel he is smart enough to handle.
He gets that second shot, for his brother, for himself, and in a representative way, for humans. When he is at the tree with the glowing strands, he asks the ancients to link up with him, look into his past. He’s trying to warn Erya that his kind are bloodthirsty, and that they would destroy the planet if given the chance. “We killed our Mother,” he tells the planet. And the planet steps up to save itself.
One wonders what our story would have been like if we would have had a more respectful way of listening to our planet. Is Climate Change the consequences of not listening?
This is the stronger message of Avatar. Not who saves who, but of having a second chance to save things at all….