After the release of Avatar: The Way of Water, Indigenous people have expressed their dissatisfaction with the film’s features and concepts.
The Way of Water, like the original Avatar, has been condemned for its use of the white saviour cliché. Crystal Echo-Hawk, president and CEO of IllumiNative, described the Avatar franchise as a “lost opportunity” in an interview with CNN.
“[James Cameron] might be telling that story of colonization, but he’s telling it through the lens of a White male. It’s a level of arrogance once again that a White filmmaker can just somehow tell a story that’s based on Indigenous peoples better than Indigenous peoples ever could.” Echo-Hawk said.
Rhonda Lucy, founder of the Toronto Indigenous Filmmakers Collective, has also stated that she does not intend to view the film.
“I live that reality. My community lives this reality. Why would I want to pay the small amount of money I make to hand over to a massive money making machine to pay them to show me heartache and pain that’s just glazed over? I want to see our people leave all of this stuff in the dust, and say, ‘We made our own.'”
Indigenous critics of the Avatar movie have been recognized by James Cameron.
“It’s not up to me, speaking from a perspective of White privilege, if you will, to tell them that they’re wrong. It has validity. It’s pointless for me to say, ‘Well, that was never my intention […] The important thing is to listen and to be sensitive to issues that people have.”
Avatar: The Way of Water is on theaters.