Ideologies of Nature in Popular Culture – Jones

Popular culture surrounds us and is a major influence on emotion. In James Cameron’s movie, Avatar, he creates an alien world rich with resources and a spiritually inviting environment. Then the humans come and try to extract everything of market value while sacrificing nature for financial opportunity.  The idea that they’re “just trees” objectifies what the natives held dearly. The Omaticaya clan’s way of living was very sustainable; you take what you need and give back what you can. Conversely, humans are all about taking, and its typically not out of necessity but rather the promise of profits. This blatant disregard for the environment is modern capitalism and it exploits resources in exchange for an unsustainable wealth.

I believe Pandora mimics what once was a pure earth, before the demands of capitalism and the expansion of markets. The domination of western nations ended up tainting and, in some cases, even preventing the culture of communities. The Na’vi clans represent indigenous tribes who were coerced into surrendering the lands that provided their subsistence. Once the lands were taken away, the indigenous lost the right to follow through on their cultural practices. To this day, indigenous nations fight for that right back and for restoration to ensue.

Capitalists are like kids in front of a cookie jar. They know they shouldn’t reach in without asking, but they’re going to anyways. Because cookies. However, this does not make the capitalist entitled. Access does not mean ownership. Privatization is a unique feature of capitalism and acts as a way of seizing what shouldn’t be monopolized. Indigenous people don’t imagine themselves as owning anything; they are there to serve a purpose. Resources aren’t to be exploited, but to be utilized reasonably. This is what the Na’vi fight for in Avatar and the movie concludes with an eerie feeling of similarity. For me this similarity makes me recognize the opportunity we have to realign our priorities and recognize what’s truly important; nature.

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