Join our Mailing List

"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

China's Love-Hate Relationship with "Avatar"

February 19, 2010

By TMM Editors
February 18, 2010

RED CHINA has a complicated relationship with the
blue people of "Avatar." Chinese moviegoers have
made it the country’s highest grossing movie, and
yet their government can’t decide whether to
stymie this global phenomenon or cash in on it. So, they’re doing both.

James Cameron’s scifi epic debuted early this
year to mostly rapturous audiences who cheered
the clear anti-imperialist message. Some saw an
indictment of George W. Bush’s warmongering. And
America’s rapacious and ecologically ruinous
appetite for natural resources. “The more
advanced the technology, the greedier you
become,” wrote one Chinese blogger. But some were
put-off by the cross-cultural narcissism implicit
in the white-man-saves-the-natives plot.

Other killjoys also pointed out that the plight
of the tree-hugging Na’vi, who are pushed off
their land by a mechanized human army, resembles
China’s own policy of forcefully relocating rural
peasants to make way for dams and stadiums. Then
there’s that whole cultural genocide echo with
Tibet. As one Tibet supporter wrote, “I cannot
help but compare the Na’vi to the plight of
Tibetan nomads and farmers. It is almost like the
story is inspired by the Khampa farmers who
fought against a Chinese mining company and armed
security forces to save their sacred mountain,
Ser Ngul Lo, from being mined for gold.” To which
one rabid China booster offered this Freudian
slip: “Planet Pandora is an inseparable part of our motherland!”

It came as no surprise when China abruptly pulled
"Avatar" from theaters to make room for a
state-sponsored Confucius biopic, which fizzled
most shamefully at the box office.

What a difference a billion dollar makes! Now
that "Avatar" has become the biggest movie in the
known universe, China now claims that the
towering rock columns of Hunan province are the
inspiration for the floating Hallelujah Mountains
of Pandora. China likes to take credit for just
about everything except the invention of sliced
bread, but this claim actually has merit.
Cameron’s crews shot a ton of footage in the
Wulingyuan Scenic Zone, footage that appeared in
at least 20 minutes of the movie.

To lure die-hard Avatards and foreign visitors to
this piece of Pandora on Earth, tourism officials
have just recently changed the name of the
Southern Sky Column to "Avatar Hallelujah
Mountain." To which Chairman Mao would probably
say, “Comrades, can I get an ‘Amen!’” It should
be noted that the well-publicized “christening”
ceremony was replete with hundreds of locals
dressed in the region’s ethnic Tujia costumes.
No, the natives were not painted blue. Not yet.

The views expressed in this piece are that of the
author and the publication of the piece on this
website does not necessarily reflect their endorsement by the website.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank