The Na’vi Do Not Exist

In response to an article from Alter-Net, “Will Avatar’s Pro-Indigenous Narrative Bother Oscar Voters”:

Shouldn’t the title of this piece be “Will Avatar’s Pro-Noble-Savage Narrative Bother Oscar Voters?”

The militaristic invaders are portrayed, in a way, as the actual savages of the film, but few seem to see that the Na’vi (the official or formal “savages” of the film, in Lenin’s sense of actual/formal) are part-n-parcel of our own savageness the film arguably is showing us.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that one of Cameron’s ideas behind the film is an eye-opener about Western imperialism for some (while preaching to the choir for many more, probably). In a very important sense though, the Na’vi don’t exist. They do not exist as savages apart from the savagery of the imperialists. Avatar will do well at the Oscars because it offers a way of enjoying imperialist savagery.

Uncritical Exuberance: Judith Butler On Obama

I should have posted this days ago, from over at IndyBay. Butler makes many points, but the one that resonated with me is how many who voted for Obama did not transcend their bigotry so much as voted with their wallet. For this she points to the majority of Proposition 8 supporters who also voted for Obama, or those who did not give up their racist beliefs or attitudes so much as temporarily subordinate them.

If there are avowed racists who have said, ‘I know that he is a Muslim and a terrorist, but I will vote for him anyway,’ there are surely also people on the left who say, ‘I know that he has sold out gay rights and Palestine, but he is still our redemption.’ I know very well, but still: this is the classic formulation of disavowal. Through what means do we sustain and mask conflicting beliefs of this sort? And at what political cost?