The success of Avatar has brought about many theories about the representation and meaning of the films plot and other aspects of the film from fans all over the world. Over time, the theories for the film have grown in numbers as the people behind these theories take a more deeper insight into the films plot and characters. In terms of the representations of the characters, the Na’vi seem to be very similar to Native Americans. This is due to the fact that they hunt for their food, wear very little clothing, speak in their own native tongue and follow their own religion. While this representation doesn’t seem to be negative, some minority groups believe that this is the case believing that that the film represents them as being victims who could not protect themselves. Furthermore, they believe this representation is also on the verge of racism as the film suggests that the Na’vi need the help of a white man, also known as The White Messiah in the form of the main character Jake Sulley, to be able to defeat the bad guys. These bad guys are represented in the form of the RDA, the American corporate mining company who are after a valuable mineral on the planet of Pandora. This has caused controversy due to the fact that a large corporation is being represented as the bad guys as they have no consideration for the environment or the people that live on these lands, which many environmentalists believe is correct. In addition, many American viewers believe there is an anti-American message in the form that the RDA soldiers represent the American soldiers of today. Russell D. Moore of The Christian Post stated that: “If you can get a theatre full of people in Kentucky to stand and applaud the defeat in their country in war, then you’ve got some amazing special effects.” However, Cameron defended himself in stating that the film is: “…definitely not anti-American…” whilst also mentioning that the good or bad guys could be America: “…depending on your perspective.” Another representation that received backlash from
audiences was the supposed reminiscence of 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre. Some audiences believed that the scene where the N’avi’s Hometree is destroyed by the RDA troops reminded them of the attack that took place on the World Trade Centre. Cameron was quick to calm those claims stating that it was not intended to represent the attack although he was: “…surprised at how much it did look like September 11.”
With regard to the possible meanings of the film, one of the most recognized meanings is the emphasis on the environment. This is due the fact that Cameron has spoken extensively with the media about his environmental message of how Avatar is a broad metaphor about how we treat the natural world. In an interview on National Public Radio, Cameron stated that the world would go through pain and suffering if the world did not acknowledge: “…our stewardship responsibilities towards nature.” Cameron further emphasizes this environmental message in another interview when he says that Pandora is a fictionalised version of: “…the world we used to have.” Another important meaning that the film gives off is about the use of imperialism. This is backed up by Cameron after he mentioned that he believed that people with more military or technological advances might: “…supplant or destroy people who are weaker, usually for their resources.” In some way, Avatar is very similar to the
construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad that started in 1863. The companies in charge of building the railroads fought with the Native Americans forcing them to leave their native land so that the companies could build the railroad on their land. This can be related to Avatar as the RDA tried to convince the N’avi to relocate so they could mine the valuable mineral that they had on their land. The Na’vi would not move leading the RDA to go into conflict with the Na’vi. Other theories around the film suggest that it is very religious, with specific links to Hinduism, and the militarism to help understand the impact the US military’s latest campaigns.
Overall, Avatar has affected many people across the world, by allowing them to try to understand the films much deeper meanings than what we may first initially see or simply parody the film in other entertainment brands, whilst also having a significant impact on how we have viewed movies since the release of Avatar and how we will watch movies in future years to come, due to the breakthrough in technology that the movie has bought with it.