I know, I know. Reviews of Avatar are a bit played out at this point. But David Brooks’ review in today’s New York Times caught my eye. First of all, he is no conservative, so his critique comes from an entirely different angle. Second, his critique deconstructs the story-formula itself. Brooks argues that “Avatar” fits the genre of “The White Messiah fable,” and he suggests that such stories are offensive. He writes:
“[The white messiah fable] rests on the stereotype that white people are rationalist and technocratic while colonial victims are spiritual and athletic. It rests on the assumption that nonwhites need the White Messiah to lead their crusades. It rests on the assumption that illiteracy is the path to grace. It also creates a sort of two-edged cultural imperialism. Natives can either have their history shaped by cruel imperialists or benevolent ones, but either way, they are going to be supporting actors in our journey to self-admiration.”
Read the rest here.