White Man's Boredom

So I was reading the comments on one of the (far too few) articles that noticed how much Avatar sucked, and one person was complaining about the Noble Savage thing in it. Rather than complaining about it because it's historically/anthropologically inaccurate Mary Sue BS, however, he was mad because, get this, it continues to dehumanize "the other"; he went on to say of course it's popular with white audiences, because they never have to view themselves as the other.

Okay couple things. First, why not dehumanize the Other? Are Sparks even human? She's a sociopath and she's got all those zombie slaves and those "ghost women" servants, right?

Sorry, couldn't resist the Girl Genius reference.

Ahem. For real this time, though, yes, it is bad that the Noble Savage archetype is so condescending. But the reason we continue to use it in fiction is because, the second we judge other cultures by the same standards as Western Civilization, we notice, huh, they're just as bad as we are, if not worse. And there goes a multimillion dollar victim politics industry, which has friends in Hollywood.

Funny how the people who act like Watergate was Lepanto are never willing to follow the money.

Also, though, whaddaya mean white audiences never have to view themselves as the other? Tell a French, Polish, or Spanish American Hollywood never portrays his people as the other. Tell a Catholic he's never been portrayed as the other. Tell it to a Mormon or a Southerner. For that matter tell it to a corporate executive, a suburbanite, or a homemaker. Not only are white people commonly portrayed as "other", they're routinely demonized, even in contradiction of history.

The guy also said the Noble Savage is a legacy from Colonialism, which is false; it's a legacy from Romanticism, which inherited it from the Enlightenment denial of the Fall.

But that reminds me, why do we always assume decolonization is a good thing? Does anyone else think it's weird that leftists use this neo-con rhetoric about democracy and self-determination, as long as we're talking about European powers getting out of their colonies? Belgium leaving its colonies had much worse consequences than Saddam being toppled in Iraq—and the colonial Belgian governments were much better than Saddam's on human rights—yet the left likes decolonization and hates the Iraq War. Do you like democracy for blacks, but hate it for Syrians, Mesopotamians, and various Persian tribes, to be specific about what Iraqis are? Or do you just have an illiterate, unthinking taboo on Westerners having any foreign influence? 'Cause if you do, you might wanna stop all those global distribution deals for Hollywood movies.

1 comment:

penny farthing said...

They also ought to stop the UN from telling everybody what to do, and forming a separate foreign affairs office for the entire EU that isn't answerable to any member nation. And calling for a global carbon tax. And a global financial order. And population control programs in developing nations. And starting a branch of the AFL-CIO in China. I could go on.

But yeah, basically, rules don't have to applied consistently.