Your job is to first watch the film Avatar
Students must then post a minimum of THREE paragraphs up to a maximum of FOUR in response to one or two of the discussion questions posted below.
NOTE WELL: Three paragraphs is the minimum to pass. You will not be able to make an A if you do not post FOUR paragraphs. Respond to at least one comment from a previous post, providing thoughtful questions, reflections or similar.
NOTE WELL: This film is rated PG-13, so it’s basically fine, but there are a few scenes that depict harm to animals that I just want to warn about in case you have a hard time with things like that (like me). There is a scene at the 36 min mark that you may want to skip (though be warned it is tied to the nature and place question, so watch this if you choose that question). And then there is a massive battle scene that depicts several animal deaths during fight scenes, from 2:13:30-2:19:00 and then again from 2:26:00 – 2:27:15.
Choose 1 (max 2) of the following discussion question options:
Science Fiction as geographical metaphor: Lauded science fiction author Ursula LeGuin once said that science fiction isn’t predictive, its descriptive. Meaning that works of science fiction are not really about the future, or far flung adventures, but they are rather a thought experiment whose actual purpose is to describe reality – to describe the present world, but under the guise of a metaphor or changed scenario. There are at least two major metaphors behind the film Avatar, discuss a minimum of one of them in detail.
Imagined Communities-The settler imaginary: We just watched the film Smoke Signals, which as I mentioned was the first feature length film written, directed, and produced by Native Americans, starring a cast of Native Americans and filmed on a Native American Reservation. In short, it was a film written and created by and for Native Americans but with the intent to be culturally shared. The movie Avatar, however, came out 12 years after Smoke Signals and was directed by James Cameron, a white man famous for directing movies such as Aliens, the Terminator franchise and Titanic. In Avatar, he portrays the experience of indigeneity from a completely different perspective, which is academically referred to as a “settler imaginary”. That is, the telling of a story involving indigenous lands, peoples, cultures, etc, from the perspective of the descendants of those immigrants who arrived from other parts of the world to “settle” on the North American continent. Provide examples from the film that highlight why using a settler imaginary to tell indigenous stories can be problematic or sometimes even culturally violent. Provide a critique of the film from this perspective.
Nature and Place: The concept of nature is very important in the film. Compare and contrast Jake Sully’s preliminary relationship with nature compared to Neytiri’s and the Na’vi. Now recall that the discipline of geography holds a broader understanding of nature, one that does not view nature and cities as two opposites. Explain what that broader understanding is and then compare and contrast it with the movie’s more narrow portrayal of nature. Now reflect on why you think James Cameron felt there couldn’t be any cities on the planet Pandora.
Scalar Politics: Analyze the scalar politics of the film Avatar, discussing the film in terms of at least two-three different scales.
Gendered production of outerspace:Identify and discuss 2-3 moments in the film that illustrate the gendered production of space on Pandora. Make sure you include examples from both the human and Na’vi societies.