Extra! Avatar is NOT about China

Written by Julen Madariaga on January 9th, 2010

avatar-china-movie-poster-560x798 By the way, I watched the movie Avatar last night. It was an amazing experience for a China observer, and I draw this enlightening conclusion: the film has absolutely nothing to do with China.

Even if the king of the internet and man of the year Han Han thinks the opposite, the plot has as much in common with the forced evictions in China as it has with the cruel seal huntings in Greenland, or the extinction of the smurfs.

Which makes me think we are all suffering a phenomenon of hyperobservation, if that is the word I want. It was warranted in the case of 2012, where China was explicitly displayed, but let’s give ourselves a break and not scan every Hollywood number for signs of Chineseness.

Apart from this, if you want my opinion the movie was just OK, nothing to write blogs about. I have to say I am more of a reader than a movie watcher, I am focused on the plot/characters and the special FXs tend to leave me cold. On the other hand, I guess my watching it on my 2D Television without special glasses or even beer goggles didn’t help much. And to be fair to the Chinese commentators translated on ESWN, most of them (except HH) were just rambling about the technical level of the FX.

Ah, by the way, Avatar DVD was already on the tricycles already as of last weekend, and the series Woju just came out yesterday. My local retailer stopped me as I rode back from work, he was keeping an eye for me. No English subtitles included though, not even Chinglish.

Sharing is free, support my work:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Haohao
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • LinkedIn
  • Netvibes
  • Reddit
  • Posterous
  • Live
  • QQ书签
  • MSN Reporter
  • 豆瓣
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • MySpace
  • FriendFeed
  • Print

Comments so far ↓

  1. Jan

    Uln, I think you’re confusing Chinese people using the evocative movie’s similarities to forced evictions to criticize the forced evictions AS Chinese people narcissistically scanning for Chineseness in Hollywood movies. This, I feel, is being unfair to the intelligence of those Chinese people. I don’t doubt that some Chinese are indeed narcissistic like that, but the vast majority are more or less just saying “hey, that sucks, and hey, you know what else sucks? SOMETHING SIMILAR THAT HAPPENS BEFORE OUR EYES.” Avatar’s popularity is being co-opted to solidify the critical feelings Chinese have towards forced evictions. Few of them genuinely think anything like Cameron was intentionally telling specifically their story. They’re not that stupid, Uln.

    [Reply to this comment]

  2. Jan

    Hi Kai,

    Actually, my criticism was not intended against Chinese people. It is quite natural to watch a movie and draw parallels with your own life.

    I was rather making fun of us, the China-observers, who have become so used to watching China for any interesting news that we take seriously even the tiniest joke of the Chinese forums and try to read deep into them.

    I am sure some Chinese thought of evictions while watching that, others perhaps thought of Tibet, and myself I thought of the Smurfs,seriously. And this movie has been so big that probably American, Spanish, etc. forums also drew parallels and jokes from it. The difference is they don’t have a legion of foreigners watching every step to analyse them.

    Anyway, dont take this post too seriously, I am just poking some fun at the China blogosphere, a bit of self criticism is always healthy. Of course I include myself as well, I actually went to buy that movie with an eye on learning something about China (admittedly, I hadn’t really read the blogs before, just skimmed some headlines).

    PS. I just corrected my name in your post. I might go open ID some day but for the moment I stick to my nickname.

    [Reply to this comment]

  3. Jan

    China and its seedy, leacherous expats will burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrn!

    Contrarian Investor Sees Economic Crash in China
    by David Barboza
    Friday, January 8, 2010

    provided by
    The New York Times

    James S. Chanos built one of the largest fortunes on Wall Street by foreseeing the collapse of Enron and other highflying companies whose stories were too good to be true.

    Now Mr. Chanos, a wealthy hedge fund investor, is working to bust the myth of the biggest conglomerate of all: China Inc.

    As most of the world bets on China to help lift the global economy out of recession, Mr. Chanos is warning that China’s hyperstimulated economy is headed for a crash, rather than the sustained boom that most economists predict. Its surging real estate sector, buoyed by a flood of speculative capital, looks like “Dubai times 1,000 — or worse,” he frets. He even suspects that Beijing is cooking its books, faking, among other things, its eye-popping growth rates of more than 8 percent.

    … More on the NYT

    [Reply to this comment]

  4. Jan

    Hey that is an interesting article, but I think it would have made more sense in the previous post, it is slightly offtopic here. Also, please provide links, not copy+paste.

    [Reply to this comment]

  5. Jan
    Papa Smurf

    Smurfs are endangered creatures though - see link :)


    [Reply to this comment]

    Uln Reply:

    Not sure I agree with the story but LOL.
    BTW, I have seen people call Mao lots of things, but “loser” thats a new one!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Uln Reply:

    Oops, this comment was in response to a previous one with a smurf link. I think somehow I erased that comment while I was answering it. Sorry, here is the link:


    [Reply to this comment]

Leave a Comment