what I wish I’d been told about Avatar

1.Dr Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) never convincingly smokes at any point in the entire film. She also does not look like a chain-smoker entering middle-age, she looks like a Hollywood actress entering middle-age.

2. Jake Sully appears to have learned the Na’vi language fluently at some points in film, at others he can’t seem to speak a word and needs a translator and interpreter. When you learn a language, you aren’t able to speak bits of it as a native speaker: you stutter and wobble and correct yourself.

3. The Na’vi can only speak broken English. They say things like, Where you go Jakesully? so they sound a little bit simple and a little bit slow. When Jake Sully speaks, the subtitles – when used – imply that he is speaking the Na’vi language fluently and articulately. Given his basic command of his own language, this is unconvincing.

4. Neytiri looks quite like Angelina Jolie, infact like many of the Na’vi.

5. Neytiri is presented to us as wise, athletic, a hunter, a great shot, courageous and objective. And yet she suddenly has ‘hysterical’ outbursts such as when Jakesully (she can’t pronounce his name properly because she’s also simple) nearly falls off the cliff-top whilst choosing his toruk. ‘JAKE!’ screams Neytiri, ‘JAKE!’ as the film reverts to using the female in the most conventional and unimaginative way possible. Later, when she realises that Jakesully has been spying on the Na’vi and has sold them to the devil, she shouts out, ‘I TRUSTED YOU!’ again reverting to a eurocentric, human worldview of male-female relationships, as if she had simply caught him shagging (sorry, ‘mating’: they are natives after all, and so mate like animals… oh but they are animals… oh but)  another Na’vi.

6. The Na’vi are presented as wise and in touch with their plant world and nature and yet they are so dumb, they are unable to assess Jake Sully as the souped-up squaddy he really obviously is.

7. The Toruk chosen by Jake Sully understands English instructions like ‘TURN LEFT!’, which leads to point 8:

8. The script is so bad, it might have been written by Jake Sully himself.

9. It’s all really about climate change. It will make the whole world wake up to itself. It will ultimately save the planet. James Cameron should be awarded a Nobel.

10. Jake Sully is a man with a conscience. That he is a mercenary, or a squaddy, or a fanatic white North American, is irrelevant.

11. Jake Sully is a cripple: he must be kind.

12. Neytiri’s braids transform miraculously into straightened caucasian hair when she falls in love with Jakesully; and, equally amazingly, revert to braids when she’s cross with him. That’s true.

13. Jake Sully never gets a Na’vi name, despite becoming a brother, their leader, their God, their and our superhero. Jake, we love you.

14. The Na’vi totally ‘get’ Jake Sully when he talks about his rights. ‘I HAVE THE RIGHT TO SPEAK’ he shouts, and the Na’vi all nod. They, too, like us, understand rights. They are animals, they mate, they love plants, but they also believe in rights. Good. So they are definitely ok then.

15. The Twin Towers is the key moment in the film. No wonder the avatar PTSD page is so popular. It’s all too much.

16. When the Twin Towers comes down, Jakesully uses exactly the same script as countless North American military films when soldiers are being ordered to attack: ‘MOVE! MOVE! GO! GO!’

17. It’s quite like that other movie about under-armed natives fighting over-armed whiteys, Black Hawk Down. It’s as clichéd, as arrogant, as poorly scripted, as racist, as paternalistic. But the FSE are probably better in Avatar, and at least they didn’t do what Black Hawk Down did: using clearly non-Somali black actors to play Somalis on the basis that all black people look the same. Don’t they?

18. Jakesully was a warrior who dreamed he could bring peace. That line alone would have stopped me going to the Ritzy on Saturday, but alas, everyone had simply insisted, ‘the three dee is amaaazing’.

19. Jake Sully becomes the Na’vi saviour, obviously. As he says himself, ‘I can’t do this without you’. Ring any bells? Afghanistan? Those bloody Na’vi: they are so bloody ungrateful. HELP the man, why don’t you? He’s doing it for you! Don’t you see? I s’pose it’s coz they’re kind of native animals. They don’t get it. But they’re so beautiful. Awwhhhh. I’d like one.

20. The Na’vi are more interested in saving non-chain-smoking spy Dr Grace, than their own people: and they can’t even do that properly!

21. Nasty Colonel Miles Quaritch, when giving his final battle speech to the troops, is really focusing on his black and hispanic men: we know this because the camera tells us. You see, it’s not only white people who are mean. If, like me, you thought the film was a sort of imperialist, paternalist exercise in US propaganda, you realise, at this point in the film, that you’ve been wrong all along.

22. Jakesully really like connects with Eywa. I wanna know how he did that? Ah! But hang on, he tells us in another beautiful bit of dialogue, ‘It was worth a try,’ as he tells silly Neytiri.

23. Neytiri falls in love with Jakesully. She ultimately comes to her senses and realises that the white human is best. Hang on a minute, he has become a Na’vi, by then hasn’t he? So I got that wrong. He’s not a clever white man saving the natives. He’s a native. Like, duuuurrrrh.

24. You will wake up feeling depressed the next day. Not because you want to live in Na’vi land and can’t cope with real horrible human land, but because so many people you like and respect told you that Avatar is an amazing must-see anti-imperialist film.

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