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The Lounge => Media and Inspiration => Topic started by: RPGPundit on December 26, 2009, 11:24:46 AM

Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 26, 2009, 11:24:46 AM
From the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/21/opinion/21douthat1.html):

Quote
It’s fitting that James Cameron’s “Avatar” arrived in theaters at Christmastime. Like the holiday season itself, the science fiction epic is a crass embodiment of capitalistic excess wrapped around a deeply felt religious message. It’s at once the blockbuster to end all blockbusters, and the Gospel According to James.

But not the Christian Gospel. Instead, “Avatar” is Cameron’s long apologia for pantheism — a faith that equates God with Nature, and calls humanity into religious communion with the natural world.

In Cameron’s sci-fi universe, this communion is embodied by the blue-skinned, enviably slender Na’Vi, an alien race whose idyllic existence on the planet Pandora is threatened by rapacious human invaders. The Na’Vi are saved by the movie’s hero, a turncoat Marine, but they’re also saved by their faith in Eywa, the “All Mother,” described variously as a network of energy and the sum total of every living thing.

If this narrative arc sounds familiar, that’s because pantheism has been Hollywood’s religion of choice for a generation now. It’s the truth that Kevin Costner discovered when he went dancing with wolves. It’s the metaphysic woven through Disney cartoons like “The Lion King” and “Pocahontas.” And it’s the dogma of George Lucas’s Jedi, whose mystical Force “surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.”

Hollywood keeps returning to these themes because millions of Americans respond favorably to them. From Deepak Chopra to Eckhart Tolle, the “religion and inspiration” section in your local bookstore is crowded with titles pushing a pantheistic message. A recent Pew Forum report on how Americans mix and match theology found that many self-professed Christians hold beliefs about the “spiritual energy” of trees and mountains that would fit right in among the indigo-tinted Na’Vi.

As usual, Alexis de Tocqueville saw it coming. The American belief in the essential unity of all mankind, Tocqueville wrote in the 1830s, leads us to collapse distinctions at every level of creation. “Not content with the discovery that there is nothing in the world but a creation and a Creator,” he suggested, democratic man “seeks to expand and simplify his conception by including God and the universe in one great whole.”

Today there are other forces that expand pantheism’s American appeal. We pine for what we’ve left behind, and divinizing the natural world is an obvious way to express unease about our hyper-technological society. The threat of global warming, meanwhile, has lent the cult of Nature qualities that every successful religion needs — a crusading spirit, a rigorous set of ‘thou shalt nots,” and a piping-hot apocalypse.

At the same time, pantheism opens a path to numinous experience for people uncomfortable with the literal-mindedness of the monotheistic religions — with their miracle-working deities and holy books, their virgin births and resurrected bodies. As the Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski noted, attributing divinity to the natural world helps “bring God closer to human experience,” while “depriving him of recognizable personal traits.” For anyone who pines for transcendence but recoils at the idea of a demanding Almighty who interferes in human affairs, this is an ideal combination.

Indeed, it represents a form of religion that even atheists can support. Richard Dawkins has called pantheism “a sexed-up atheism.” (He means that as a compliment.) Sam Harris concluded his polemic “The End of Faith” by rhapsodizing about the mystical experiences available from immersion in “the roiling mystery of the world.” Citing Albert Einstein’s expression of religious awe at the “beauty and sublimity” of the universe, Dawkins allows, “In this sense I too am religious.”

The question is whether Nature actually deserves a religious response. Traditional theism has to wrestle with the problem of evil: if God is good, why does he allow suffering and death? But Nature is suffering and death. Its harmonies require violence. Its “circle of life” is really a cycle of mortality. And the human societies that hew closest to the natural order aren’t the shining Edens of James Cameron’s fond imaginings. They’re places where existence tends to be nasty, brutish and short.

Religion exists, in part, precisely because humans aren’t at home amid these cruel rhythms. We stand half inside the natural world and half outside it. We’re beasts with self-consciousness, predators with ethics, mortal creatures who yearn for immortality.

This is an agonized position, and if there’s no escape upward — or no God to take on flesh and come among us, as the Christmas story has it — a deeply tragic one.

Pantheism offers a different sort of solution: a downward exit, an abandonment of our tragic self-consciousness, a re-merger with the natural world our ancestors half-escaped millennia ago.

But except as dust and ashes, Nature cannot take us back.

So is that it? is this movie more of the "Western Civilization and Science are bad, take us Back To the Cave" movement? Matched with a shallow new-agey religion of obliviousness?

Its really amusing to me how this particular kind of nature-worshipping pantheism is a religion that could only come to exist in an utterly pampered privileged society that is very glorious and mercifully separated from Nature. Because any slightly less-privileged, less-advanced or less-pampered society would be able to tell you that Nature is a fucking bitch.

(note also that, however much the Relativist Liberal Hollywood New-Agers want to make you think its so, this philosophy is extremely different from Buddhism, Hinduism or Taoism, none of which have any of the illusions American-Leftist-Pantheism have about the the gentleness of mother nature or the virtue of being reduced to an animal)

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: JongWK on December 26, 2009, 01:06:25 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;351471
So is that it? is this movie more of the "Western Civilization and Science are bad, take us Back To the Cave" movement? Matched with a shallow new-agey religion of obliviousness?

Ross Douthat is a fine writer, but that article shows how much of a modern-day US conservative he is.

The movie is strongly against colonialism and corporate exploitation. Period. It is not against science or progress, for reasons that I cannot tell without spoiling the movie. I'll just say that Cameron borrowed a few pages from a couple of highly revered sci-fi authors.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: JongWK on December 26, 2009, 01:19:35 PM
You also missed this other NYT opinion piece (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/26/opinion/26sat4.html).
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 26, 2009, 01:48:48 PM
Its not just him I've heard it from: the comparison with Dances With Wolves, the whole element of Humanity as the Bad Guys (except for those few who betray their own species to defend the Noble Savages against the evil White Man who's come to Ruin Them), this is something I've heard over and over again in reviews.

Meanwhile, its also not just the Right Wing who take issue with this movie. One prominent left-wing reviewer (unfortunately i don't have the link) that I read made a point of how this is only the latest in the "White Guilt" movies; which involve the White Man assuaging his guilt by "going native"; and are ironically inevitably racist themselves as we watch the White Man become the BEST Native Ever, much better than the actual "darkies", and inevitably he's the only one who can defeat the other Bad White Men and their stooges in order to save the day, because there's no way any of the Savages themselves could. In many of these movies, the other Noble Savages even end up making the Guilty White Man Gone Native their new chief.

Also, I'm not sure which spoiler you're referring to, but if its to do with either the Gaia consciousness being a real thing, or the human dude getting to become a Real Boy at the end, those both just make it worse. The former because it removes any question of moral doubt from the story (The Noble Savages are absolutely objectively RIGHT, which means that the humans are absolutely wrong), and the latter because its just another cheap White Guilt gimmick. If Tom Cruise got to really become Japanese at the end of the Last Samurai, or Kevin Costner got to really be an Indian at the end of Dances With Wolves, wouldn't that just make those movies even more atrocious?

I don't know; I think I'm going to see Sherlock Holmes instead...

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: JongWK on December 26, 2009, 02:29:13 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;351491
Its not just him I've heard it from: the comparison with Dances With Wolves,


It shares elements with DWW, yes, but not the entire plot.


Quote

the whole element of Humanity as the Bad Guys (except for those few who betray their own species to defend the Noble Savages against the evil White Man who's come to Ruin Them),


You know what? Ignore the race card. It's fucking stupid and the kind of no-win trap used to derail actual debate about the real issues: colonialism and corporate exploitation. Seriously, stop thinking that political bloggers make good movie critics, or that "White Guilt" is a good argument to criticize a movie, because 99.9% of the time, they don't.


Quote

Also, I'm not sure which spoiler you're referring to, but if its to do with either the Gaia consciousness being a real thing,


You're not thinking this one through.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Vargr on December 26, 2009, 02:30:58 PM
I have yet to see this movie, but from the trailer and the reviews I would tend to agree that the premisse is something we have already seen 1000 times before, even if it comes wrapped in the shinniest package ever.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: JongWK on December 26, 2009, 02:36:54 PM
Quote from: Vargr;351501
I have yet to see this movie, but from the trailer and the reviews I would tend to agree that the premisse is something we have already seen 1000 times before, even if it comes wrapped in the shinniest package ever.


The difference lies in having James Cameron as director, rather than Michael Bay.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: BedrockBrendan on December 26, 2009, 02:42:36 PM
haven't seen it yet. hope to see it soon. agree that it looks like it belongs to the long line of 'going native' movies (Lawrence of Arabia, Dances with Wolves, Shogun, etc). but just going on the previews and the handful of reviews I have read. i try not to take the politics of any movie too seriously, since it is a potent medium and easy to absorb the film makers point of view without thought. if the film is good, that is all that matters to me.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Werekoala on December 26, 2009, 03:01:48 PM
The plot is bog-standard "going native", as has been said. Pundit has a point in that in the movie, the "Earth Mother" is an actual quantifiable THING with control over all life on the planet - or, if you prefer, it IS all life on the planet; a giant network.

**spoiler**





And yet Jake doesn't actually win the day for the Na'vi - they are actively getting their asses handed to them until the BIOSPHERE ITSELF turns on the humans. All Jake did was ask it for help before the battle (by actually "jacking in" to the network), and it responded in spades with tons of huge creatures that flung themselves at the human machines and won the day. As I said - it is "Deathworld" in beautiful CGI.

And its one hell of a ride - I'd recommend it to anyone, regardless of their opinions of the "message". I'd like to see it again, in fact. Make sure you catch in in 3-d though. Wow.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 26, 2009, 03:03:33 PM
There's nothing about James Cameron as a director that screams "subtlety" or "writing quality" to me. Big (relatively awesome) special effects, sure, I'll give him that.

But seriously, this is the guy that did Titanic...

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: J Arcane on December 26, 2009, 03:06:28 PM
There was a hilarious poster on /co/ the other day, of the title and various cast member heads shopped over the poster for Ferngully: The Last Rainforest, a rubbish environmentalist cartoon film from the 90s.

The discussion went on towards exactly the vein the title hints at, joking that the moral of the film was apparently to betray your rank, and go live with a bunch of loincloth wearing blue folk, because all science and industry is badwronglies or some such nonsense.

Frankly, I find the quality of the animation and the bizarre look to the films main characters, to be sufficiently offputting that I have no interest in it as it is, learning from a number of sources that it's basically the White Wolf/Exalted rant all over again is hardly a selling point.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on December 26, 2009, 06:09:57 PM
I think the NYT opinion piece and the Pundit's subsequent posts on the subject is complete BS.

Cameron's view about humanity, technology, the military and the enviroment has always been complex (see, Aliens and The Abyss).

To accuse him of the first two in the thread title is dumb. The last one for this film at least may be apt. I'll weigh in when I actually see the film :D

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: One Horse Town on December 26, 2009, 06:18:53 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;351508
There's nothing about James Cameron as a director that screams "subtlety" or "writing quality" to me. Big (relatively awesome) special effects, sure, I'll give him that.

But seriously, this is the guy that did Titanic...

RPGPundit


Pretty much - he ain't no Ridley Scott. Aliens, however, is groovy.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Arminius on December 26, 2009, 11:07:39 PM
Scrolling past much of this since I haven't yet seen the film. I don't really have high hopes for the plot, I'm open to being pleasantly surprised, but I'll mainly be there for the visuals. Mainly I hope that once SFX reach the ultimate pinnacle, audiences will become jaded and Hollywood will have to pay some decent writers if they want to earn a decent return.

I did read the OP and all I can say is that I share Pundit's disdain for fluffy New Ageism, combined with its kneejerk reversals of Western values. However I see nothing in pantheism or reverence for nature that is inconsistent with humanism...after all the Greeks and Romans developed some very refined philosophies without the benefit of orthodox monotheistic dogma--and was not the Copernican Revolution largely a matter of knocking both man and an anthropomorphized God out of their central role in the universe? Yet the result IMO was to make humanity more fully responsible for its own morality and destiny. However an awareness of Nature's...supremacy (?) is IMO also an important antidote to the sort of overweening belief in rationality or "hyperhumanism" that gave us such disasters as the French & Marxist Revolutions, as well as neocolonialism in the 1800's and neoconservatism in the 21st century.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 27, 2009, 10:48:29 AM
Depends on what you mean by "pantheism" or "reverence for nature".  The Greeks and Romans weren't pantheists, they were polytheists (mostly); but that's not really relevant, you can certainly have a pantheist conception of the world and develop civilization; both the Chinese and India did it quite nicely.

The real issue is very simply whether you believe that its a "Bad" thing that humanity has become more than just an animal. The Hollywood Pantheists, as it were, clearly really do believe that, even if they won't upfront admit it to themselves and others. THAT is "anti-humanism", saying "It would be better if we were all monkeys/not around".

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on December 27, 2009, 12:47:37 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;351631
Depends on what you mean by "pantheism" or "reverence for nature".  The Greeks and Romans weren't pantheists, they were polytheists (mostly); but that's not really relevant, you can certainly have a pantheist conception of the world and develop civilization; both the Chinese and India did it quite nicely.

That has nothing to do with anything.  Pantheism is the only internally consistent outcome for Judeo-Christian religions.  If God if omnipotent, omniscient, and most importantly, omnipresent, then God must be present in everything.  Trees, water, animals, computers, cars, buildings, everything; but most importantly, God is present in each of us.  A conception of God as a single entity isn't a definitive bulwark against pantheism, it is a misconception of God.

That is what people are coming to realize.  God isn't locked away in a church, only accessible by handlers and interpreters.  It's not necessarily some new-agey touchy feely treehugging.  Understanding of God's nature is expanding, which is bad news for the Old Guard, and the fundamental cause for reviews such as the one you cited.

Also, the fundamental duty as 'stewards of the Earth' has, as a principle, the rule of "don't shit where you eat".  Reverence for nature is only one expression of that.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: BedrockBrendan on December 27, 2009, 02:08:02 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;351631


The real issue is very simply whether you believe that its a "Bad" thing that humanity has become more than just an animal. The Hollywood Pantheists, as it were, clearly really do believe that, even if they won't upfront admit it to themselves and others. THAT is "anti-humanism", saying "It would be better if we were all monkeys/not around".

RPGPundit


I've just long given up on grading movies on their politics. In my experience, hollywood isn't the most vibrant source of deep philosophical/political thought. It tends to be knee jerk, I believe because movies are such a superficial medium (I love film, but I do think it's potency to persuade is far greater than it's depth).

I see where you are coming from, and agree that the Civlization Bad, Nature Good argument is a gross oversimplification of reality. I don't know about other people, but freezing my keister off in the wilderness while avoiding being eaten by dangerous predators, doesn't appeal to me as much as sitting in the comfort of my home and watching the sunday news programs. I would be the first to acknowledge that progress is complicated, that it can produce diffulties while solving others. But that doesn't mean all progress is bad, and all regress must be good.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on December 27, 2009, 05:34:00 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;351631

The real issue is very simply whether you believe that its a "Bad" thing that humanity has become more than just an animal. The Hollywood Pantheists, as it were, clearly really do believe that, even if they won't upfront admit it to themselves and others. THAT is "anti-humanism", saying "It would be better if we were all monkeys/not around".


Why don't you throw out a couple of titles, as exmples of this rather bizarre claim.

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Machinegun Blue on December 27, 2009, 06:15:15 PM
Quote from: David R;351667
Why don't you throw out a couple of titles, as exmples of this rather bizarre claim.

Regards,
David R


You know very well that Pundit likes to become outraged at imaginary things. Makes him feel important.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: jeff37923 on December 27, 2009, 06:53:04 PM
Quote from: David R;351667
Why don't you throw out a couple of titles, as exmples of this rather bizarre claim.

Regards,
David R


The movie The Day After Tomorrow comes to mind. Particularly the last line of the movie where the astronauts stranded on the space station are remarking about how nice and clean the Earth looks after so many signs of human civilization have been wiped out by the catastrophic weather patterns.

Neither is this new for Hollywood science fiction. Two of my favorite movies, Silent Running (1972) and Soylent Green (1973) both had plots based on a background where Human population growth and industrialization have destroyed the Earth's ecosystem.

So, there is precedent. I question the bulk of the NYT opinion piece cited, because it seems to me to be a gimmick to sell more papers than anything else. My own thoughts are in this thread about Avatar. (http://www.therpgsite.com/showthread.php?t=16026)
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on December 27, 2009, 08:26:14 PM
Quote from: jeff37923;351672
The movie The Day After Tomorrow comes to mind. Particularly the last line of the movie where the astronauts stranded on the space station are remarking about how nice and clean the Earth looks after so many signs of human civilization have been wiped out by the catastrophic weather patterns.

Neither is this new for Hollywood science fiction. Two of my favorite movies, Silent Running (1972) and Soylent Green (1973) both had plots based on a background where Human population growth and industrialization have destroyed the Earth's ecosystem.

So, there is precedent. I question the bulk of the NYT opinion piece cited, because it seems to me to be a gimmick to sell more papers than anything else. My own thoughts are in this thread about Avatar. (http://www.therpgsite.com/showthread.php?t=16026)


I don't really think that these are good examples of the Pundit's claims, jeff. Day was just pandering to the current enviromental craze and the other two are fine cautionary tales with a nuance far beyond what the Pundit was ranting about.

Planet of the Apes and the brilliant sly original Omega Man dealt with some of the themes in your post. Omega Man deserves special consideration because of it's cheeky reference to race :

[describing Neville]
Matthias: One creature, caught. Caught in a place he cannot stir from in the dark, alone, outnumbered hundreds to one, nothing to live for but his memories, nothing to live with but his gadgets, his cars, his guns, gimmicks... and yet the whole family can't bring him down from that, that...
Zachary: Honky paradise, brother?

Matthias: Forget the old ways, brother, all the old hatreds.

Don't get me wrong, I actually want to see some examples of this "antihumanism" as opposed to pandering and convenint proselytizing , because, it's a radical out there perspective, something I don't think contemporary Hollywood is capable of.

Edit: When I say by cautionary, it's not so much anti-civilization but rather the fear of what civilization would become if.....

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 28, 2009, 01:08:50 AM
Quote from: David R;351667
Why don't you throw out a couple of titles, as exmples of this rather bizarre claim.

Regards,
David R


Battlestar Galactica (the more recent one, of course)

This Island Earth (the remake, of course)

There's a couple, for starters.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: jeff37923 on December 28, 2009, 01:12:50 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;351713
Battlestar Galactica (the more recent one, of course)

This Island Earth (the remake, of course)

There's a couple, for starters.


Could you please explain the two choices of yours?
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Werekoala on December 28, 2009, 02:07:13 AM
I think he meant "The Day the Earth Stood Still" instead of "This Island Earth" which, as far as I know, hasn't been "re-made" yet - thank god.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on December 28, 2009, 03:59:46 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;351713
Battlestar Galactica (the more recent one, of course)

This Island Earth (the remake, of course)

There's a couple, for starters.


As jeff said, could you explain why.

(I'm no fan of the BSG remake but I hardly think it's maker(s) are "antihumanism" or "anticivilization" as the way how you defined those terms. I'd go so far as to say, if anything they created one of the most complex series about human nature, messed about with clashing political ideologies and transcended the genre's perceived limitations)

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: JongWK on December 28, 2009, 09:50:09 AM
It's crushing the box office: (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/news/?id=2633&p=.htm)

Quote

Living up to its hype as the event picture of the season, Avatar was monolithic with $75.6 million, down a mere two percent from its opening. Though boosted by the Christmas holiday, it nonetheless broke the record for highest-grossing second weekend ever, edging out The Dark Knight's $75.2 million. The sci-fi adventure's 3D sites accounted for a 3D-record-setting $57.9 million of the weekend, and the picture posted another rousing performance in IMAX, which contributed an estimated $8.8 million of the weekend gross. In ten days, its tally stands at a whopping $212.7 million, including $158.7 million from 3D sites. It also continued to fly overseas, grossing $152 million and lifting its total to $410.9 million. That puts its worldwide haul at $623.6 million in less than two weeks.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 28, 2009, 10:30:24 AM
Quote from: Werekoala;351716
I think he meant "The Day the Earth Stood Still" instead of "This Island Earth" which, as far as I know, hasn't been "re-made" yet - thank god.


Sorry, yes, the Day The Earth Stood Still; I got my classic sci-fi mixed up.

And what is there two explain? In both, the implication is "the world/universe would be better off if we all just died out"; not to mention the "Wouldn't it be just dreamy if all of our technology and civilization were destroyed/abandoned and we could go back to living as savages"?

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 28, 2009, 10:32:56 AM
Quote from: David R;351722
As jeff said, could you explain why.

(I'm no fan of the BSG remake but I hardly think it's maker(s) are "antihumanism" or "anticivilization" as the way how you defined those terms. I'd go so far as to say, if anything they created one of the most complex series about human nature, messed about with clashing political ideologies and transcended the genre's perceived limitations)

Regards,
David R

Who's questions throughout the entire series were "Do we deserve to survive as a species" (we being us humans in the metaphor of the Colonists), and the conclusion it gave was "No, we don't. We deserve to be wiped out; we should abandon all our technology and go back to living like primitive animals, until we die".

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on December 28, 2009, 10:48:49 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;351754
Who's questions throughout the entire series were "Do we deserve to survive as a species" (we being us humans in the metaphor of the Colonists), and the conclusion it gave was "No, we don't. We deserve to be wiped out; we should abandon all our technology and go back to living like primitive animals, until we die".

RPGPundit


I don't know how you arrived at this. I haven't seen the whole series (so I could be wrong) but friends who have say it's a "creation myth" fable with an epilogue of characters from the series musing if humans (Earth) are fated to replay the tragedy of the original Colonist.

As for Day (both the original and remake) they were about the fear of a Superior Being(s) abrogating the fate/destiny of mankind because we weren't doing a good job. Fearmongering ? Perhaps, but in no way antihumanist or anti civilization, esp considering the spiritual/religious aspects of such a fear.

Edit: Thinking about this, as far as anti-civilization and anti-humanism as you have defined them - I think we can look at John Carpenter's Escape from New York and most of his early work to see a kind of pessimism* about humanity and society (see also, Assault on Precinct 13). Of course the ending of Escape best exemplifies your defintions of antihumanism and anticivlization.

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: jeff37923 on December 28, 2009, 11:04:23 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;351754
Who's questions throughout the entire series were "Do we deserve to survive as a species" (we being us humans in the metaphor of the Colonists), and the conclusion it gave was "No, we don't. We deserve to be wiped out; we should abandon all our technology and go back to living like primitive animals, until we die".

RPGPundit


OK, I will buy the anti-technology conclusion for BSG, but the series declares the opposite of your assertion. If anything, BSG demonstrated that while humanity is flawed it does deserve to survive as a species because that is what humanity did in the show. If humanity did not deserve to survive, then it would have been completely wiped out by the cylons.

I suspect that you may not have watched BSG and this is why you came to your erroneous conclusion.

EDIT: I'd comment on The Day The Earth Stood Still remake, but I haven't seen it.

As far as movies where humanity has created an apocalypse for itself which can definitely be considered anti-civilization and anti-humanity, there is The Day After and recently The Road. If you want to include horror, Night of the Living Dead (both versions) fit.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 28, 2009, 09:47:10 PM
At the end of BSG, the colonists apparently decide to abandon all of their technology, and live on Earth as savages, because of the apparently horrible things their technology and civilization did.  So civilization, in the first place, was deemed a Bad Thing that didn't deserve to go on, and the life of the Noble Savage was deemed superior.
And the series implies directly that all of the Colonists end up dying out, because all modern humans are instead descended from the half-cylon child in the series. So apparently they also didn't deserve to live on as a species.

The series also implies that we (modern humans) are bound to end up making the same mistakes the Colonists did.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: jeff37923 on December 28, 2009, 10:23:56 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;351807
At the end of BSG, the colonists apparently decide to abandon all of their technology, and live on Earth as savages, because of the apparently horrible things their technology and civilization did.  So civilization, in the first place, was deemed a Bad Thing that didn't deserve to go on, and the life of the Noble Savage was deemed superior.


OK, the Colonists abandoned their technology but unless you equate technology with civilization then you are reaching. I would say that technology is a subset of civilization that may help to define it, but that civilization can exist at extremely low levels of technology because a civilization is primarily social, political, and cultural.

EDIT: I do think that technology must exist for civilization to happen, but the level of technology is very low. The only tool that is needed is language in my estimation.

Quote from: RPGPundit;351807

And the series implies directly that all of the Colonists end up dying out, because all modern humans are instead descended from the half-cylon child in the series. So apparently they also didn't deserve to live on as a species.
This is an incorrect conclusion. The series finale never declared that the Colonists died out except for the human-cylon baby (and that in itself does not make much sense because if the human-cylon baby was the only survivor then who did it breed with to populate the planet?).

Quote from: RPGPundit;351807
The series also implies that we (modern humans) are bound to end up making the same mistakes the Colonists did.


Again, incorrect conclusion. The only thing that the end of the series showed was that the potential was there for the same cycle of creating their own apocalypse via technology. There was an equal potential for them to not create their own demise with their technology.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: estar on December 29, 2009, 12:47:27 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;351807
The series also implies that we (modern humans) are bound to end up making the same mistakes the Colonists did.


I am on your side on this issue. But in the case of Avatar the predictable hamfisted "message" only bumps the film from down to A from an A+. It is swamped by the other elements of the films.

The simple fact is nobody is going to vote to return to the caves despite the last vestiges of 60's idealism being played out on the big screen. Sure it would have been nice to have a plot that explored the idea of a planetary consciousness a little better. Rather than portraying the base folks as corporate tools I would make the situation more complex exploiting the alien nature of the situation on Pandora more. Rather than saying we are total fuck ups and taking what we want. I would make it about  that we need help but we can't just tear apart Pandora to get it.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 29, 2009, 03:38:30 PM
Quote from: estar;351848
I am on your side on this issue. But in the case of Avatar the predictable hamfisted "message" only bumps the film from down to A from an A+. It is swamped by the other elements of the films.


That's my problem: WHAT other elements?
Thus far, the only retort people have been making to these criticisms is "the special effects are awesome"/"the movie is so beautiful"/etc.

What else is there, in the story or themes themselves, that can actually salvage this film?

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 29, 2009, 03:40:48 PM
As for the New Republic, the review I read of Avatar there was this one (http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NTBmNDU0YWUwZmM2MDNhZWUyNmVlZGZlMzZmYjE3ZmY=):

Quote
Yet in presenting the apparently eternal conflict between gentle people with flowers in their hair and technology-crazed meanies, Avatar comes to us by means of the most advanced technology available. Director James Cameron took 14 years to make the movie, inventing a new process for 3-D in order to film it. He took the motion-capture technology that gave us Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and advanced it several major steps forward. This film was not made by folks who live in a giant tree.

And it’s unclear how this plaintive call to live in tune with nature is supposed to be implemented by the viewers who take it to heart. Should we demand that our popcorn be made over a campfire? Then hoof it home in a Fred Flintstone car?

I don’t need to tell you that, at 161 minutes, Avatar is far too long for material this thin. This story has been told plenty of times before, and better. You can also expect that a hectic, noisy battle scene is surely on the way, one that consumes great quantities of film in showing us what looks like a video game.


RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: two_fishes on December 29, 2009, 04:07:33 PM
Quote
Yet in presenting the apparently eternal conflict between gentle people with flowers in their hair and technology-crazed meanies, Avatar comes to us by means of the most advanced technology available. Director James Cameron took 14 years to make the movie, inventing a new process for 3-D in order to film it. He took the motion-capture technology that gave us Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and advanced it several major steps forward. This film was not made by folks who live in a giant tree.

And it’s unclear how this plaintive call to live in tune with nature is supposed to be implemented by the viewers who take it to heart. Should we demand that our popcorn be made over a campfire? Then hoof it home in a Fred Flintstone car?

I don’t need to tell you that, at 161 minutes, Avatar is far too long for material this thin. This story has been told plenty of times before, and better. You can also expect that a hectic, noisy battle scene is surely on the way, one that consumes great quantities of film in showing us what looks like a video game.


Maybe the real lesson is that we need to push technology to the point where we can all live happily ever after in a virtual-reality techno-fantasy wonderland. I mean, shit, the only reason I plan to see the movie is for the knock-em-dead special effects.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Spike on December 29, 2009, 05:31:52 PM
I just wanted to see 12 foot tall nekkid smurfettes with tails. Is that so wrong?

Don't you judge me, don't you dare!

:p
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Koltar on December 29, 2009, 06:00:09 PM
Quote from: Spike;351888
I just wanted to see 12 foot tall nekkid smurfettes with tails. Is that so wrong?

Don't you judge me, don't you dare!

:p


Can't judge you on that at all.

You like what you like.


Just answer me this, anybody please:

Is it worth paying a $7.00 price to see it  first run?

$6.00 ??


$5.00 or less?

$4.00 ??

What amount is a fair trade for the entertainment value I will get seeing this movie?


- Ed C.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on December 29, 2009, 06:08:03 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;351880
As for the New Republic, the review I read of Avatar there was this one (http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NTBmNDU0YWUwZmM2MDNhZWUyNmVlZGZlMzZmYjE3ZmY=):



RPGPundit


Here, you might find this interesting :

http://www.ifc.com/news/2009/12/james-cameron.php


Quote
In that sense, the world left at the end of "Avatar" is one completely free of humanity, a potentially unnerving prospect for anyone who worries about a time in the future when movies might be made by entirely by computers without any human actors at all. The impressive advancements made by "Avatar" in the field of performance-captured characters inch us closer to a world where that is possible.
[/I]

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Werekoala on December 29, 2009, 06:52:46 PM
But why would Skynet make movies?
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on December 29, 2009, 07:00:31 PM
If you grok the concept that Miles Bennett Dyson is Cameron's real life Tyler Durden, you would not have to ask that question.

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on December 29, 2009, 11:47:54 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;351880
As for the New Republic, the review I read of Avatar there was this one (http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NTBmNDU0YWUwZmM2MDNhZWUyNmVlZGZlMzZmYjE3ZmY=):
Again, they are conflating 'technology' with 'civilization', which is the mistake made by most people who complain in this excluded middle format.

Depending upon how you look at it, all this technology has brought us to the beginning of a post-scarcity economy, or the end of our scarcity economy.  And that frightens the hell out of a lot of people; especially the ones in power.

From what I have been reading lately, most people are at a point where they are willing to put 'progress' on autopilot for a while, until we sort out how to keep things moving without killing ourselves in the process.  I think that is the direction many people are headed these days, and the folks with the wealth and power are no less terrified of losing everything to that paradigm.

The message is not one of 'live in caves'.  It's a message of living more in harmony with Nature.  Whether people want to admit it or not, all the progress wrought by technology has at least as much destruction in its wake.  It is almost completely a zero-sum game up to this point in human history, or possibly having a small balance on the 'destructive' side.  Getting rid of that negative balance is the goal, not completely abandoning all technology.

Because all the shiny iPods in the world won't save us in the event of financial collapse, ecological catastrophe, or governmental failure.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 30, 2009, 01:44:07 AM
post-scarcity economy depends on moving toward technology, not away from it. One could argue that the primitivist fear of technology is what is really in the vested interest of those seeking to hold onto power.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on December 30, 2009, 03:19:23 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;351931
One could argue that the primitivist fear of technology is what is really in the vested interest of those seeking to hold onto power.

RPGPundit


And this does not have anything to with Cameron or any of the films you mentioned.

Stormbringer has the right of it, IMO.

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: JongWK on December 30, 2009, 06:25:23 AM
Quote from: Koltar;351891

What amount is a fair trade for the entertainment value I will get seeing this movie?



How much does it cost to watch it in the biggest 3D screen in your area? Say, IMAX 3D?
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: jibbajibba on December 30, 2009, 07:55:59 AM
The Film is awesome (even at £11 a ticket = 17 of your yankee dollars)

The plot is thin, more Pocohantas than Dances with Wolves and I, like nearly everyone else, get pissed when the interloper becomes the greatest native and leads then all to the promised land but stories tend to be about exceptional people and the tale of the marine who turned out to be a shit native and couldn't do anything and got killed is a bit too postmodern for a studio stumping up $300M.

There is a strong anti-capitalist, anti-colonial theme which perhaps is meant as a postmodern ironic joke as the film cost as much to produce as the GDP of Tonga and I doubt very much of the expected 2MM profit will go to setting up fresh water pumps in Africa or shoring up the sea defences in Micronesia. I didn't really get the anti-technology anti-civilisation drive as heavily. Yes the natives are less technologically advanced but technology is the tool that enables the Avatars to exist and without a bit of tech the poor Humans wouldn't stand a chance. The civilisation of the Na'vi is probably more advanced if anything as the human are depicted as a race where civilisation has begun to breakdown and individualism rules whereas the Na'vi are more about society as a whole.

What really strikes me about the movie though is how it looks. And since its a movie ... I really think that Cameron has changed movie making. The 3D isn't just about sticking the odd spear into the lens. The whole forest is a 3 dimentional space and you fully engage with it. The creature CGI is also exceptional because they have resolved any lingering issues with the 'face' so the cgi beings have a full range of expression that removes any remaining traces of a barrier between you and the cast. The only doubt is probably caused by the flood of really high quality cgi animated movies because you treat those as cartoons and Avatar does have the same quality so maybe you think of it as a cartoon but when the humans and Na'vis meet ... forget about not seeing the wires you don't even think abotu it for a moment.

I think there will be better films made with this technology but its like the bit in Jurassic Park when you first see the dinosaurs and you just go ... how the fuck did they do that?
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: JongWK on December 30, 2009, 11:07:21 AM
From James Cameron: (http://techland.com/2009/12/17/avatar-the-james-cameron-interview-sequels-hell-yeah/)

Quote from: James Cameron

"Our whole goal in making this film was to take you to another world, to make you forget that you're sitting in a movie theater wearing glasses, to have an out-of-body, transformative experience. And you have these moments in movies from time to time, but most movies don't work this way, where our goal is to sort of overwhelm the senses. We set out over two years to design a world so rich and captivating that even if you decide to not follow the story, you should still be able to get swept up in it all.”


In other words: immersion.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on December 30, 2009, 01:28:18 PM
Quote from: David R;351935
Stormbringer has the right of it, IMO.
Thanks!

Quote from: JongWK;351965
From James Cameron: (http://techland.com/2009/12/17/avatar-the-james-cameron-interview-sequels-hell-yeah/)
In other words: immersion.
James Cameron = AD&D

:)
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Edsan on December 30, 2009, 08:10:43 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;351471

So is that it? is this movie more of the "Western Civilization and Science are bad, take us Back To the Cave" movement? Matched with a shallow new-agey religion of obliviousness?


I just came back from watching the movie. I must say it's worse than that. It's bonafied anti-human, anti-military, anti-capitalist, pro-racial treason and pro-tribal primitivism to such an extent I don't consider it a movie...it was a nearly 3 hour long animated propaganda reel.

It is not...I repeat not! a science-fiction movie by any possible stretch of the imagination.

Jake Sully is a traitor to humanity...period.

And Col. Miles Quaritch should posthumously be awarded the Earth Federation Medal of Honor, or whatever passes for it in that tree-hugging-usb-porting-sicko universe where this...*gasp* movie takes place.

Someone getting a quarter of a billion dollars to spend on this piece of excrement is one of the reasons I'm an atheist.

The twin turds of Titanic and Avatar have now made me definetively remove James Cameron from my "must see" director's list.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Machinegun Blue on December 30, 2009, 09:23:51 PM
Quote from: Edsan;352042
I just came back from watching the movie. I must say it's worse than that. It's bonafied anti-human, anti-military, anti-capitalist, pro-racial treason and pro-tribal primitivism to such an extent I don't consider it a movie...it was a nearly 3 hour long animated propaganda reel.

It is not...I repeat not! a science-fiction movie by any possible stretch of the imagination.

Jake Sully is a traitor to humanity...period.

And Col. Miles Quaritch should posthumously be awarded the Earth Federation Medal of Honor, or whatever passes for it in that tree-hugging-usb-porting-sicko universe where this...*gasp* movie takes place.

Someone getting a quarter of a billion dollars to spend on this piece of excrement is one of the reasons I'm an atheist.

The twin turds of Titanic and Avatar have now made me definetively remove James Cameron from my "must see" director's list.


This is the most retarded interpretation I've ever read. Some aliens prevented some humans from stealing expensive rocks by destroying their environment and culture and you're cying boo hoo?

Racial treason? Were you dropped on the head as a child?
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Machinegun Blue on December 30, 2009, 09:28:53 PM
I had to read that post again. It really was that stupid.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Ian Absentia on December 30, 2009, 11:02:43 PM
Quote from: Edsan;352042
Jake Sully is a traitor to humanity...period.

Quote from: Machinegun Blue;352047
Racial treason? Were you dropped on the head as a child?
Chee-hee!  I love you guys. :)

!i!
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 31, 2009, 12:44:30 AM
I've now been to see this movie, thanks mainly to Jong and The Wench double-teaming me, and I have the following conclusions:  First, I was essentially right; the movie is (as everyone has been saying here over and over again as if it is somehow a defense of the film's overall quality) absolutely visually beautiful and very well made (apart from the note that I think that a lot of the 3-d animation, while amazing at times, tended to end up distracting from scenes as much as it added; so it was a mixed bag that I felt was at times over-used just because its a new toy... that, and I spent the first 20 minutes or so with my eyes severely watering trying to adjust to the damn glasses).

However, "visually stunning" is not a decent rebuttal to the points raised here.  There's a mentality, foremost among nerds, but also in general, to think that because something looks cool or high-tech that also means its good. This is less forgivable among those nerds who actually believe that just being a "geek" makes you smarter than the average person, when very clearly it does not, if you can be fooled (like so many "average people" were apparently also fooled) into thinking that Avatar is a really smart movie just because its visually stunning and sci-fi.  Not all sci-fi is smart, and not all pretty movies are smart.

In the second place: you can judge a film on three different levels: aesthetically for its beauty, in the literary sense for its writing and philosophically for the message it conveys and the depth at which it conveys it.

Aesthetically, on the whole, this is a beautiful film. But in the other two elements, its a horrible movie.

The dialogue is godawful, the characters are pathetically shallow, the whole thing is just putrid melodrama, from a literary standpoint.

And philosophically, Edsan has it right, the thing is a 3-hour propaganda piece. It re-wraps the old "Noble Savage" argument, and in a particularly stupid way.  The problem with the Noble Savage has always been that in fact Savagery is not Noble at all, and those who try to portray the Noble Savage inevitably create a fairy-tale where the "savage" in question is always clean, gentle, handsome, and in touch with the earth. In reality, the Savage is covered in filth, violent, crawling with parasites, and not necessarily an iota more ecologically conscious than we are.  In this movie, on top of that the Alien Noble Savage has the benefit of wearing magic USB-ports, and being Objectively Right because the movie leaves absolutely NO room for doubt that their nebulous earth-goddess/life-force is REAL.  (this also ties into the awfulness of the story as literature, because this particular revelation of absolute rightness for the Navi thrusts the humans into Absolute Wrongness and makes any kind of grey moral-uncertainty impossible).

The ultimate irony of the Noble Savage, and the ultimate irony of the movie, is that had the main character been born a Navi instead of a human, and had the Navi been portrayed in a realistic way, there's NO WAY the main character would have been alive to save all the Navi, because the moment he was crippled he'd have stood no chance of surviving.
The truth of the Savage, and the truth of the "Nature" that the wishy-washy Hollywood pantheists always wax romantic about is that Nature is a First-Class Bitch, and that it is Survival of the Fittest. Rooting for nature means rooting for the power of the strong over the weak, the hunter over the hunted, and that being weak means that you'll be dead.
Believing in Civilization is actually believing that humanity can do better than this, and create a world where the weak are protected.

The anti-human, anti-western anti-civilization Hollywood new-ageism is there just like I predicted; too. So is the White-Guilt complex mixed in with the underlying (ironic?) racism of "only the civilized white man who betrays his own people can actually save us from them, we savages are far too stupid to be able to do anything for ourselves".

Its a beautiful film to watch, but in every other respect, Avatar is a horrible, horrible movie.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on December 31, 2009, 01:42:40 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352075
I've now been to see this movie, thanks mainly to Jong and The Wench double-teaming me, and I have the following conclusions:  First, I was essentially right;
No fucking way.  That is a complete surprise.  Good thing we abolished confirmation bias globally back in the 18th century.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 31, 2009, 02:01:48 AM
Quote from: StormBringer;352089
No fucking way.  That is a complete surprise.  Good thing we abolished confirmation bias globally back in the 18th century.


Hey, I've had plenty of films that have surprised me. I went into the new Star Trek film EXTREMELY cynical about it, and came out massively impressed.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on December 31, 2009, 03:23:28 AM
I see you managed to sneak in some "anti-western" and geek hate into your rant, not to mention distort the argument of many in this thread or raise some that nobody was making.

:rotfl:

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on December 31, 2009, 04:44:57 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352075
The anti-human, anti-western anti-civilization Hollywood new-ageism is there just like I predicted; too. So is the White-Guilt complex mixed in with the underlying (ironic?) racism of "only the civilized white man who betrays his own people can actually save us from them, we savages are far too stupid to be able to do anything for ourselves".
Well, let's take a quick look at this one, then.

After chaining you to a chair, I put my laptop in front of you, and demand that you re-write the operating system from scratch, because my hard drive is blank.  To motivate you further, I will shoot various joints and organs at a rate of one per hour until you finish.

So, all you have to complete this task are your fingers and your skill at programming.  I assume you have the standard number of fingers, but as I recall, your knowledge of computer science starts and ends with a pre-loaded version of Windows.  Hence, without the assistance of someone in possession of a great deal of programming skill and a few programs to get the computer started again, your situation is pretty hopeless.

The more advanced technology always wins.  It's not a matter of the 'savages' being smart or not.  You must have taken some history courses at university.  Who wins: long bow, or crossbow?  Crossbow or muzzleloader? Muzzleloader or breechloader?  Club or sword?  Bronze sword or iron sword?  Iron sword or steel sword?  Cured leather or boiled leather?  Boiled leather or iron rings?  Iron rings or steel plates?

And that isn't even getting into modern times.  The hero doesn't help because they are the Great White Hope.  They help because they have outside knowledge the native group lacks; knowledge they would not gain before being wiped out.

Seriously, you study religious texts.  Look into that confirmation bias thing.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: jibbajibba on December 31, 2009, 06:32:01 AM
So the story that Pundit would have like to have seen would have gone... (this might count as a Spoiler )

The Corporation are set up on Pandora. There are a bunch of savage locals nearby who's home happens to rest on the mother-lode of the rarest mineral in the galaxy. The Humans create a gas that knocks out all of the locals. Then they collect them, well most of them, in transporter ships and move them to a re-education centre. The Na'vi then learn the importance of cleanliness and free market economics. They accept Jesus into their hearts and all get jobs in the fast food industry.

Meanwhile on Pandora the Corporation strips out a lot of the vegetation with an Agent Orange style defoliant and strip mines the planet for resources. Any amimals that can be saved are captured and sent to Pandora Safari Park in California.

All is well.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Koltar on December 31, 2009, 09:08:49 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352090
Hey, I've had plenty of films that have surprised me. I went into the new Star Trek film EXTREMELY cynical about it, and came out massively impressed.

RPGPundit


Thats GOOD to know.
 I couldn't remember if you had mentioned seeing the new ST movie or not.


- Ed C.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Machinegun Blue on December 31, 2009, 10:47:21 AM
So, let me see if I understand this. Any movie that has humans do bad things is anti-human?
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Edsan on December 31, 2009, 10:49:04 AM
Quote from: Machinegun Blue;352048
I had to read that post again. It really was that stupid.


Yes, I guess since you are really stupid you needed to read it twice to understand. :rolleyes:

Quote from: RPGPundit;352075
And philosophically, Edsan has it right, the thing is a 3-hour propaganda piece.


Thanks Pundit. I'm glad for not being the sole soul to thinks this movie isn't the best thing since slice bread + Jesus. :p
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Machinegun Blue on December 31, 2009, 10:58:43 AM
Quote from: Edsan;352140
Yes, I guess since you are really stupid you needed to read it twice to understand. :rolleyes:


I do admit that your post made my IQ drop a few points.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: boulet on December 31, 2009, 11:08:06 AM
I have no idea about the movie, haven't seen it yet. But Pundit amazed me again with his "wishy washy" use of evolutionary concepts applied to any thesis and its contrary...

Quote from: RPGPundit;352075
The truth of the Savage, and the truth of the "Nature" that the wishy-washy Hollywood pantheists always wax romantic about is that Nature is a First-Class Bitch, and that it is Survival of the Fittest. Rooting for nature means rooting for the power of the strong over the weak, the hunter over the hunted, and that being weak means that you'll be dead.


(emphasis mine)
Social pseudo-Darwinism isn't equivalent to scientific theories about evolution. I know you love this alpha male bullshit, which can be transposed as "I got big balls so I'll perpetuate in the end, thus I'm right" and you love to present it as some demonstrable concept which it isn't. The "fittest" isn't always the strongest, or the predator, or some ubermensch autoerotic Crowleyan wet dream. It's just shitty oversimplification. Demonstrable scientific theories don't dissolve in esoteric half baked kitchen psychology, hardly better than GNS, models. The biggest/meanest predator species are fossils nowadays, how come? Depending on the angle you look at, Neandertal seemed superior to Sapiens Sapiens, including brain size, how come?

It's because "the fittest" isn't the solution to some fucktard political program that can be reduced to "the ends justify the means". The "fittest" is difficult to express in any general way. Because it's something that's observed a posteriori and it's often difficult to reckon which ingredients in the environmental soup actually contributed to select this or that species. Intelligence isn't an absolute winner of the evolutionary game, neither massive muscles or aggressiveness. Pundit, please stop using intellectual tools you hardly understand.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Werekoala on December 31, 2009, 11:15:08 AM
I'm willing to posit that the Na'vi were DIFFERENT, but not necessarily BETTER or WORSE than humans. Unfortunately, it seems that the first large-scale expedition to another world was hand-picked to include the biggest assholes that Mankind could find.

American assholes.

Almost exclusively white, corporate, male, American assholes.

That's the story we were told. It would have been far better to have some kind of Abyss-like moment of clarity and understanding where we started to understand each other and work together in peace and harmony. That's not the story that Cameron wanted to tell. About the only "bright" spot that the AmerAngloCorporFascists had was when the Suit reluctantly gave Jake one last chance at a diplomatic solution, and it happened so fast most people probably missed it. One tiny bit of humanity in an otherwise cardboard-cutout Evil Guy character.

So, yeah, this is clearly an opinion piece wrapped up in a pretty package. I've read similar screeds ad nauseum in blogs and newspapers and magazines for years.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: JongWK on December 31, 2009, 12:04:44 PM
Quote from: Werekoala;352145
Unfortunately, it seems that the first large-scale expedition to another world was hand-picked to include the biggest assholes that Mankind could find.


Pandora isn't the first alien world visited by humans, nor the only place with unobtanium. It just happens to have huge amounts of it (hence the Hallelujah Mountains (http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2009/1228/Avatar-the-real-life-science-behind-the-fantasy)). It also explain why the base is run by a corp rather than a government, and makes me wonder if the sequels will involve the government rather than a corporation.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Werekoala on December 31, 2009, 12:12:13 PM
The movie doesn't really make either of your points clear. You have to go digging on-line for "background" material to fill out the story (some of it quite good), but it's not on the screen. For 95% of the people watching this movie, if its not on the screen, they'll never know about it.

Also, it does not negate my point that, to a man, the expedition seems to be staffed with assholes, top to bottom.

Regarding a return to Pandora; an interstellar mission with 6-year one-way travel times is going to be hideously expensive. Unless they got a lot of the mineral before leaving, they may well have bankrupted the company. On the plus side, the hardware is already built. They just need to find people willing to go back. Depending on how desperate the situation on Earth is, I imagine it'll either be nukes or (since they have enough of a knowledge of Na'vi genetics to make passable clones) a bio-weapon to wipe out the natives and/or all life on the planet. I would imagine it'll be an automated ship on the genocide leg of the next mission, with a manned mission as follow-on to start the strip-mining again.

Don't look so shocked. We're talking about asshole American corporations after all. Bottom line, babee! And you know how Americans hate to lose!
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Seanchai on December 31, 2009, 12:22:55 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352075
I've now been to see this movie...


Wait. You made a big fuss about how it was anti-human, etc., and you hadn't even seen it? Nevermind, par for the course...

Seanchai
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Spike on December 31, 2009, 12:36:51 PM
Y'know... I just want to point out that everyone calling Edsan and the Pundit out about the whole 'anti-human' aspect has yet to offer any counterargument more substantive than 'confirmation bias'.

What? Are you all screeching hairless monkeys that can't mount anything better than parroting some cool phrase you were exposed to on the internetz to defend your point of view?

Show me, the guy sitting on the fence, why you are actually right and the Pundit/Edsan crowd is wrong... 'cause right now? They are getting my vote.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: jibbajibba on December 31, 2009, 01:02:31 PM
Quote from: Spike;352156
Y'know... I just want to point out that everyone calling Edsan and the Pundit out about the whole 'anti-human' aspect has yet to offer any counterargument more substantive than 'confirmation bias'.

What? Are you all screeching hairless monkeys that can't mount anything better than parroting some cool phrase you were exposed to on the internetz to defend your point of view?

Show me, the guy sitting on the fence, why you are actually right and the Pundit/Edsan crowd is wrong... 'cause right now? They are getting my vote.


Well I would think from a narative perspective it is common to explore other cultures through the eyes of a observer that the viewer is able to identify with. This is perhpas lazy but I it is common and its a given that the audience needs to be able to identify with the hero. So that is why, A Man called Horse, Dances with Wolves, The Emerald Forest, Tarzan and John Carter of Mars all have white male protagonists its a standard trope. So Avatar needs to set up some hero in this model. However, because Cameron wants to make the aliens part of his new world, and here I think he got cautious and I expect it was due to the studio or technical considerations but I expect that the first Na'vi had an extra set of limbs like every other creature on the planet (but I digress). So the avatar concept is used and lets face it its a great concept. If you have that it logically follows that there needs to be funding for said project gives you 2 choices. First a government investigating the Na'vi. Second a corporation who can reap great rewards from the Na'vi.
Now a blockbuster movie is aimed at a core demographic and the typical core demographic for such movies is 14-25 year old men. This group likes action and movies all need conflict of some sort.
So you could have a goverment agent who is investigation the Na'vi and has a range of internal conflicts about the expolitation of a people might be good. Or you have a conflict over resources between a group of natives and the future equivalent of Blackwater. The second option has guns, explosions, some cool mecha shit.
Then you add the Hollywood liberal politics and the fact that 90% of Western Civilisation between the ages of 9 and 30 are tree hugging socialist sympathisers.

I am really not sure how the Film could have turned out any different. Yeah they should have asked Tom Stoppard to cast an eye over the script (I mean you are paying $300M for the film you may as well chuck Sir Tom 100K to sort the dialogue out) but taking the basic premise of movie making I really don't know where else it would have gone.

Please enlighten me as to what film they should have made based on :
Realise entire Alien world
Explore a new Alien Species
Need for Human protagonist
Need for lots of explosions
Need to satisfy political sensibilities of target audience
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Werekoala on December 31, 2009, 01:50:50 PM
Again, they could have the "shit blows up real good" (remember there were two battle scenes) and then have some reconciliation between the species, thereby covering all the bases without having to change much of anything up until the ending. But happy endings don't sell in Hollywood.

Unless this WAS a happy ending, of course.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Spike on December 31, 2009, 02:05:27 PM
Quote from: jibbajibba;352161
Well I would think from a narative perspective it is common to explore other cultures through the eyes of a observer that the viewer is able to identify with. 8snip for brevity*

I am really not sure how the Film could have turned out any different. Yeah they should have asked Tom Stoppard to cast an eye over the script (I mean you are paying $300M for the film you may as well chuck Sir Tom 100K to sort the dialogue out) but taking the basic premise of movie making I really don't know where else it would have gone.

Please enlighten me as to what film they should have made based on :
Realise entire Alien world
Explore a new Alien Species
Need for Human protagonist
Need for lots of explosions
Need to satisfy political sensibilities of target audience



Wow that was a lot of words to NOT ADRESS MY POST.

Let me turn it back around for you.  Please enlighten me on how a film based on:
Realize entire alien world
Explore a new alien species
need for human protagonist
etc...

requires in any way an Anti-human bias.  

For bonus points, you can instead address my original post and explain clearly how the film actually lacks an anti-human bias.

Like I asked.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: jeff37923 on December 31, 2009, 02:34:49 PM
Anti-humanist? No, unless by the same logic you label any movie where the antagonist is human as anti-human as well.

Anti-civilization? No, since the Na'vi also had a civilization and the movie paints that as the "correct" version.

Empty-headed? Yes, it is very pretty to watch, but the script has all the smarts of a ham sandwich.

Avatar would be better described as anti-corporate, anti-exploitation, anti-technology, and pro-environment.

EDIT: And yes, the Hollywood Noble Savage imagery is in full force in the movie.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Seanchai on December 31, 2009, 02:44:10 PM
Quote from: Spike;352156
Y'know... I just want to point out that everyone calling Edsan and the Pundit out about the whole 'anti-human' aspect has yet to offer any counterargument more substantive than 'confirmation bias'.


I don't have a counterargument - I don't care to. I have no desire to over-intellectualize movies, particularly ones that aren't especially intellectual to begin with, and defend them from the ravings of someone who can't even be bothered to see them before spouting off a bunch of nonsense about them.

Let's say Avatar is anti-humanist, anti-civilization and empty-headed? Who the fuck cares? It's a movie. An action movie.

Seanchai
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 31, 2009, 03:09:17 PM
Quote from: Machinegun Blue;352139
So, let me see if I understand this. Any movie that has humans do bad things is anti-human?


No, but a movie that presents a ridiculous stereotype of our own civilization as hopelessly corrupt and evil, while presenting an equally ridiculous stereotype of the Noble Savage as wonderful and idyllic, is pretty much anti-civilization; and if the reason the latter are presented as being idyllic is because they live without all but the most primitive levels of human technology, then its probably anti-human.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 31, 2009, 03:16:27 PM
Quote from: boulet;352143
I have no idea about the movie, haven't seen it yet. But Pundit amazed me again with his "wishy washy" use of evolutionary concepts applied to any thesis and its contrary...

(emphasis mine)
Social pseudo-Darwinism isn't equivalent to scientific theories about evolution. I know you love this alpha male bullshit, which can be transposed as "I got big balls so I'll perpetuate in the end, thus I'm right" and you love to present it as some demonstrable concept which it isn't. The "fittest" isn't always the strongest, or the predator, or some ubermensch autoerotic Crowleyan wet dream. It's just shitty oversimplification. Demonstrable scientific theories don't dissolve in esoteric half baked kitchen psychology, hardly better than GNS, models. The biggest/meanest predator species are fossils nowadays, how come? Depending on the angle you look at, Neandertal seemed superior to Sapiens Sapiens, including brain size, how come?

It's because "the fittest" isn't the solution to some fucktard political program that can be reduced to "the ends justify the means". The "fittest" is difficult to express in any general way. Because it's something that's observed a posteriori and it's often difficult to reckon which ingredients in the environmental soup actually contributed to select this or that species. Intelligence isn't an absolute winner of the evolutionary game, neither massive muscles or aggressiveness. Pundit, please stop using intellectual tools you hardly understand.

Except that what you are then suggesting is that what is BETTER, both as an option and as a general survival tactic than the "survival of the fittest" mentality of Savagery, is specifically to create CIVILIZATION.

Thank you for arguing in favour of my point. Avatar is anti-human because it suggests that everything we've accomplished is somehow UN-natural ("they killed their motherrrrr!!") and that the closer we can get to living like animals, the purer, better and happier we'd all be. And that's just not true. You seem to realize that.

The Hollywood new-agers don't seem to get it, any more than a michigan militia survivalist or a "crowleyan wet dreamer" would fail to get it; because just like while the latter groups might revel in this fantasy of them being the ubermensch getting to rule by their brute might, the aforementioned hollywooders create this complete nonsense fairy-tale of being "back to nature" being some dreadlock-wearing hippie love-in where everyone is clean, beautiful, healthy and groovy.

Also, work on your reading comprehension, fucktard. I was the one arguing AGAINST "survival of the fittest". The people arguing in support of Avatar are, whether they realize it or not, the ones who are arguing for it; if only by virtue of having Not Thought Things Through.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 31, 2009, 03:21:09 PM
Quote from: Seanchai;352154
Wait. You made a big fuss about how it was anti-human, etc., and you hadn't even seen it? Nevermind, par for the course...

Seanchai


I had read a great deal about this movie; reviews and articles that pretty well turned out to be completely accurate. Enough so that I could know that this was not a movie I wanted to watch.

Or do you think that you need to see every fucking movie in the world before you decide whether its likely to suck ass or not? Have you gone out and bought the DVD of Home Alone XVII yet?

RPGpundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Machinegun Blue on December 31, 2009, 03:23:12 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352195
No, but a movie that presents a ridiculous stereotype of our own civilization as hopelessly corrupt and evil, while presenting an equally ridiculous stereotype of the Noble Savage as wonderful and idyllic, is pretty much anti-civilization; and if the reason the latter are presented as being idyllic is because they live without all but the most primitive levels of human technology, then its probably anti-human.

RPGPundit


Did you miss the humans in the movie that didn't happen to be hopelessly corrupt and evil? Even the corporate douche had misgivings about what was going on.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 31, 2009, 03:24:18 PM
Quote from: jibbajibba;352161
Well I would think from a narative perspective it is common to explore other cultures through the eyes of a observer that the viewer is able to identify with. This is perhpas lazy but I it is common and its a given that the audience needs to be able to identify with the hero. So that is why, A Man called Horse, Dances with Wolves, The Emerald Forest, Tarzan and John Carter of Mars all have white male protagonists its a standard trope. So Avatar needs to set up some hero in this model. However, because Cameron wants to make the aliens part of his new world, and here I think he got cautious and I expect it was due to the studio or technical considerations but I expect that the first Na'vi had an extra set of limbs like every other creature on the planet (but I digress). So the avatar concept is used and lets face it its a great concept. If you have that it logically follows that there needs to be funding for said project gives you 2 choices. First a government investigating the Na'vi. Second a corporation who can reap great rewards from the Na'vi.
Now a blockbuster movie is aimed at a core demographic and the typical core demographic for such movies is 14-25 year old men. This group likes action and movies all need conflict of some sort.
So you could have a goverment agent who is investigation the Na'vi and has a range of internal conflicts about the expolitation of a people might be good. Or you have a conflict over resources between a group of natives and the future equivalent of Blackwater. The second option has guns, explosions, some cool mecha shit.
Then you add the Hollywood liberal politics and the fact that 90% of Western Civilisation between the ages of 9 and 30 are tree hugging socialist sympathisers.

I am really not sure how the Film could have turned out any different. Yeah they should have asked Tom Stoppard to cast an eye over the script (I mean you are paying $300M for the film you may as well chuck Sir Tom 100K to sort the dialogue out) but taking the basic premise of movie making I really don't know where else it would have gone.

Please enlighten me as to what film they should have made based on :
Realise entire Alien world
Explore a new Alien Species
Need for Human protagonist
Need for lots of explosions
Need to satisfy political sensibilities of target audience


Well, shit, I don't know, just off hand.. they could have made a movie about first/early contact with an alien race where there is misunderstanding and failure to communicate, and the protagonists struggle to gain that understanding to end the conflict; rather than "Western White Guys = BAD; Blue Hippie Natives = GOOD!"

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 31, 2009, 03:26:01 PM
Quote from: Werekoala;352167
Again, they could have the "shit blows up real good" (remember there were two battle scenes) and then have some reconciliation between the species, thereby covering all the bases without having to change much of anything up until the ending. But happy endings don't sell in Hollywood.

Unless this WAS a happy ending, of course.


Judging by the way people in the theatre here cheered when the human marines were being slaughtered and when the Colonel died, I think that a lot of people were sufficiently directed to feel this was the "happy" ending, yes.

I can't even chalk it up to some kind of anti-americanism in Uruguayan filmgoers, either, since I've heard reports from american filmgoers detailing the exact same phenomenon there.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Seanchai on December 31, 2009, 03:26:04 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352199
Or do you think that you need to see every fucking movie in the world before you decide whether its likely to suck ass or not?


No. But your claim isn't that it sucks ass, is it? You have some very specific claims and they're all based on something you read online somewhere...

Seanchai
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 31, 2009, 03:28:00 PM
Quote from: jeff37923;352180


Anti-civilization? No, since the Na'vi also had a civilization and the movie paints that as the "correct" version.


No, they had a CULTURE.  Culture and Civilization are not the same thing.  Of course, unlike any real primitive culture in our world, their culture happened to be a utopia thanks to the REAL Earth-goddess and the Magic USB Ports, things your typical yanomami indian doesn't get to have.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 31, 2009, 03:32:28 PM
Quote from: Machinegun Blue;352200
Did you miss the humans in the movie that didn't happen to be hopelessly corrupt and evil? Even the corporate douche had misgivings about what was going on.


The corporate douche seemed pretty much like a corporate douche to me, but that's not the point. Yes, all of the scientists and that pilot chick were all immediately willing to turn against their own side; what that tells me is that they were all so eager to abandon the human cause because any "moral" person in that universe would abandon human civilization without so much as a second thought, as being beyond saving (because apparently "we killed our mother").

So there are good individual humans in the movie, but the human race as a whole is apparently portrayed as utterly worthy of condemnation, and the proof of that is that any human who's even a little bit good abandons that civilization's cause the first chance it gets.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: The Butcher on December 31, 2009, 03:33:39 PM
I don't see what the fuss is all about. It's just another White Man Guilt Trip, in the vein of Werewolf: the Apocalypse 1e. Only in space, with all-too-humanlike aliens. And somewhat more hackneyed and stupid, plot-wise.

Though the 3D is indeed shiny, even if the xenobiology is not terribly creative.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 31, 2009, 03:34:06 PM
Quote from: Seanchai;352204
No. But your claim isn't that it sucks ass, is it? You have some very specific claims and they're all based on something you read online somewhere...

Seanchai


I don't get what's the fucking problem here dude (unless this is just more standard Pundit-hate); a bunch of people wrote very accurate reviews, where they portrayed the movie's plot, dialogue, and philosophy in a very accurate way and assisted me to form an opinion as to whether this movie would be worth watching or not, and I made that judgment based those very accurate reviews. THEY DID THEIR FUCKING JOB.

I guess you're not the sort who ever bothers reading reviews then?

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: jeff37923 on December 31, 2009, 03:39:50 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352205
No, they had a CULTURE.  Culture and Civilization are not the same thing.


Then please clarify the difference so that we may discuss it.

(As far as I can see, what a fictional intelligent alien species has in a movie is sufficiently nebulous that it can be termed either or both a civilization and culture for this discussion.)
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Machinegun Blue on December 31, 2009, 03:49:48 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352206
So there are good individual humans in the movie, but the human race as a whole is apparently portrayed as utterly worthy of condemnation, and the proof of that is that any human who's even a little bit good abandons that civilization's cause the first chance it gets.

RPGPundit


That's only because you choose to see it that way. The only condemnation that I saw were the means the humans were going through. The "good" humans didn't abandon their civilization. They abandoned their corporation. A corporation. Maybe I missed the part about how if Earth wasn't able to get unobtanium it would somehow end all human life or something?
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: boulet on December 31, 2009, 03:55:44 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352197
Except that what you are then suggesting is that what is BETTER, both as an option and as a general survival tactic than the "survival of the fittest" mentality of Savagery, is specifically to create CIVILIZATION.

No, you got me wrong. It may be because of my shaky English skill. What I'm saying is relying on evolutionary concepts in the context of a debate that relates to culture or civilization means entering unstable terrain. That you chose to use those concepts to put them in the mouth of someone else is astute but looks like a straw man argument.

Quote
Thank you for arguing in favour of my point. Avatar is anti-human because it suggests that everything we've accomplished is somehow UN-natural ("they killed their motherrrrr!!") and that the closer we can get to living like animals, the purer, better and happier we'd all be. And that's just not true. You seem to realize that.

From what I read, it's probably less about Rousseau's ideal savage and more about "we don't need Monsanto and their shitty seeds, we can do better on our own and use cheaper technologies with low impact on the environment." But I haven't seen the movie yet.

Quote
Also, work on your reading comprehension, fucktard. I was the one arguing AGAINST "survival of the fittest". The people arguing in support of Avatar are, whether they realize it or not, the ones who are arguing for it; if only by virtue of having Not Thought Things Through.

Straw man again.

I like you too!
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Seanchai on December 31, 2009, 05:09:51 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352209
... and assisted me to form an opinion as to whether this movie would be worth watching or not...

But that's not what you did, right? You didn't post, "I've decided not to watch Avatar." You posted, "Avatar is evil. You should think it's evil, too, because I do." And you didn't mention that the information on which you based your decision for us to start thinking that Avatar is evil was all third hand.

You keep trying to portray your actions as something they're not. This is not our first rodeo. Pundit doesn't exist without something to rail against, to decry as damaging and harmful, and so when you ran out of your standard fodder, you saw an opportunity with Avatar.

Seanchai
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on December 31, 2009, 05:48:10 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352195
No, but a movie that presents a ridiculous stereotype of our own civilization as hopelessly corrupt and evil
No, it presents a stereotype of this particular corporation as almost completely corrupt and evil.  They take pains to remind people that the 'military' folks in the movie were ex-military, for example.  Likely because of the very behavioural traits they exhibit in the movie, ie: ruthless, more savage than the 'savages', and wholly remorseless in their brutality.

If you think the mercenaries and the few corporate folks shown in the movie represent the whole of civilization, you are really projecting things onto the script that simply aren't there.  Michelle Rodriguez' pilot character pulls out of the first firefight, and Sam Worthington's ex-Marine returns from the ruthless, focus on the mission 'machine' back to his inherent humanity and empathy.  If the film presented the stereotype you claim, there would be no development of Worthington's character, the other scientists would be just as bloodthirsty, and the jungle would have been leveled five years before Worthington's character arrived in theatre, obviating the need for a movie at all.  As it is, they spent some portion of the six years that team was in transit trying to negotiate with the natives, which completely negates your characterization of 'hopelessly corrupt and evil'.  They also gave him three months to work out a deal with the natives; hardly the mark of all consuming evil.  Spike may not like it, but this is a clear case of confirmation bias on the part of yourself and several others.  A movie where the humans don't win every time is hardly an anti-humanist propaganda piece.

Unless you want to argue that corporations, and especially American corporations, are really misunderstood philanthropists, and are unfairly portrayed in this film.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Werekoala on December 31, 2009, 06:04:02 PM
Again, what's wrong with an ending where we come to mutual understanding and love and galactic Brotherhood and all that? It doesn't have to be either/or. That would have been a positive ending, an outcome that says "no matter our differences, we can work together to overcome them and our misunderstandings of each other, and work together towards a brighter tomorrow". After all, the natives were worried about life-forms being killed, not the rocks. And the corporation couldn't give a fig-leaf about the animals, all they wanted was the rocks. Also, it is a SIX YEAR trip back to Earth, at best. What's the rush?

(God, I'm starting to sound like Koltar - can't we all just get along? Maybe dance?)

So, point - Cameron could have written a more positive story about a coming together and understanding between two species. Instead, he turned it ino a polemic against greedy American (and I can't stress that enough) corporations.

Yes, a grand total of 5 (of hundreds? Thousands?) personnel got a conscience (and really, the scientists were already on the side of the Natives. Native... Na'vi minus the ET).

I really do have a problem believing that even in our day and age, we'd have people that would gladly mow down clearly intelligent creatures because the Boss told them to. And don't go all "Blackwater/Gitmo/McBushHitler" on me. There's a difference in fighting people who are actively trying to kill you and shooting sentient beings who pose no threat.

It flat out would not happen that way. Period. We wouldn't get into space in the first place if that was the case.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on December 31, 2009, 06:05:09 PM
Brothers, did anyone else notice the wierd racial politics of this film ? I mean the ex-marine is played by a white dude and the blue alien is played by a colored chick. Then the white character becomes blue (courtesy of that vile technology) and they fall in love. It's like, outside we're all the same color.

Man, I can't stand all these pro-technology, anti-imperialism, pro fucking with the other, Hollywood crap. Messes up my love for Western Civilization !

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Edsan on December 31, 2009, 06:09:12 PM
Quote from: Seanchai;352183
I don't care to. I have no desire to over-intellectualize movies, particularly ones that aren't especially intellectual to begin with, and defend them from the ravings of someone who can't even be bothered to see them before spouting off a bunch of nonsense about them.


Hear, hear. I only expressed my negative opinion because I was tired of reading heaps of praise around forumsphere, or "...yeah, but the effects are awesome!" weak attempts at defending a very weak story.

And in please note, before posting my "ravings" I did went and see the bloody thing.

I could write explaining why I personaly labeled this movie as "anti-human"; but Senchai is right in what he says about over-intellectualizing movies.


Bottom line. Someone likes Avatar and enjoyed seeing it? Great! More power to them. Just don't try to pretend it's a quality work of cinematic art or a serious sci-fi tale...because it ain't neither, no matter how pretty the pretty pictures were.

A mature rational human being should be capable of separating his fondness for something from it's quality. I readily admit a lot of stuff I like is crap: like the traditional fried pig fat and blood "sausage-thing" that's a traditional food from my mother's village or the equally traditional liquor from the Arbutus unedo that gives pure vodka a run for its money in alchool content (of the ethanol variety) and can cause brain lesions if taken in excess.

Both of these are crap, they are bad for you, but I enjoy them. It's an aquired taste and I would not fault anyone for spitting the stuff after tasting for the first time.

Avatar is like these...its crap. A variety of crap that many find entertaining, but that doesn't change its crappiness. And those that enjoy the crap that is Avatar should not feel ashamed by it and feel the need to defend it when someone points out the fact that it is indeed cinematographic crap.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on December 31, 2009, 06:24:11 PM
Quote from: David R;352244
Brothers, did anyone else notice the wierd racial politics of this film ? I mean the ex-marine is played by a white dude and the blue alien is played by a colored chick. Then the white character becomes blue (courtesy of that vile technology) and they fall in love. It's like, outside we're all the same color.
An excellent point by my colleague from Malaysia.  I yield my remaining time to him.  :)
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 31, 2009, 07:05:16 PM
Quote from: jeff37923;352210
Then please clarify the difference so that we may discuss it.

(As far as I can see, what a fictional intelligent alien species has in a movie is sufficiently nebulous that it can be termed either or both a civilization and culture for this discussion.)


It could take a long time to explain the difference between culture and civilization to someone who sincerely doesn't grasp it, but the long and short of it is that a civilization has as one of its precepts the concept of human beings (well, sentients, in this case) being able to develop beyond the state of mere subsistence in a natural environment. It comes from the root Civis, which is to say "City".

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 31, 2009, 07:07:27 PM
Quote from: Seanchai;352233
But that's not what you did, right? You didn't post, "I've decided not to watch Avatar." You posted, "Avatar is evil. You should think it's evil, too, because I do." And you didn't mention that the information on which you based your decision for us to start thinking that Avatar is evil was all third hand.

You keep trying to portray your actions as something they're not. This is not our first rodeo. Pundit doesn't exist without something to rail against, to decry as damaging and harmful, and so when you ran out of your standard fodder, you saw an opportunity with Avatar.

Seanchai


Whatever, dude. Nowhere in this thread did I suggest that I had seen Avatar before I actually had.

Feel free to get back to something relevant in this thread by trying to provide an actual counter-argument explaining how my points about this film are wrong.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Machinegun Blue on December 31, 2009, 07:08:32 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352257
It could take a long time to explain the difference between culture and civilization to someone who sincerely doesn't grasp it, but the long and short of it is that a civilization has as one of its precepts the concept of human beings (well, sentients, in this case) being able to develop beyond the state of mere subsistence in a natural environment. It comes from the root Civis, which is to say "City".

RPGPundit


I'd say you did a fairly good job defining the difference. Not that it really matters in this case.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 31, 2009, 07:13:11 PM
Quote from: StormBringer;352241
No, it presents a stereotype of this particular corporation as almost completely corrupt and evil.  They take pains to remind people that the 'military' folks in the movie were ex-military, for example.  Likely because of the very behavioural traits they exhibit in the movie, ie: ruthless, more savage than the 'savages', and wholly remorseless in their brutality.

If you think the mercenaries and the few corporate folks shown in the movie represent the whole of civilization, you are really projecting things onto the script that simply aren't there.  Michelle Rodriguez' pilot character pulls out of the first firefight, and Sam Worthington's ex-Marine returns from the ruthless, focus on the mission 'machine' back to his inherent humanity and empathy.  If the film presented the stereotype you claim, there would be no development of Worthington's character, the other scientists would be just as bloodthirsty, and the jungle would have been leveled five years before Worthington's character arrived in theatre, obviating the need for a movie at all.  As it is, they spent some portion of the six years that team was in transit trying to negotiate with the natives, which completely negates your characterization of 'hopelessly corrupt and evil'.  They also gave him three months to work out a deal with the natives; hardly the mark of all consuming evil.  Spike may not like it, but this is a clear case of confirmation bias on the part of yourself and several others.  A movie where the humans don't win every time is hardly an anti-humanist propaganda piece.

Unless you want to argue that corporations, and especially American corporations, are really misunderstood philanthropists, and are unfairly portrayed in this film.


In the film, they make it pretty clear from early on why they didn't just massacre the Navi in the first place.  

Still, you at least are trying to argue the actual points, which I have to give you some credit for. Yes, if you want to be very very generous, we can all imagine that back on Earth there's a wonderful and conscientious society focused on Human Rights (which, by the way, is essentially an invention of OUR civilization, all those wonderful primitive cultures had no space for such peripheral nonsense), and that this corporation is somehow a complete outlier, totally contrary to the mainstream situation on Earth. But the few snippets of information we get about earth, and the overall depiction of humanity in the film, does not seem to back up that assertion.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on December 31, 2009, 07:20:29 PM
Quote from: StormBringer;352248
An excellent point by my colleague from Malaysia.  I yield my remaining time to him.  :)


Please don't. You and jeff are making some very good points :D

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: jeff37923 on December 31, 2009, 10:49:18 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352257
It could take a long time to explain the difference between culture and civilization to someone who sincerely doesn't grasp it, but the long and short of it is that a civilization has as one of its precepts the concept of human beings (well, sentients, in this case) being able to develop beyond the state of mere subsistence in a natural environment. It comes from the root Civis, which is to say "City".

RPGPundit


A little patronizing, but OK. Now, here is where I will quibble with you.

You have said that a civilization has as one of its precepts the concept of sentients being able to develop beyond mere subsistence in a natural environment. I would say that culture is an artifact of sentient existance that can only occur when mere subsistence is no longer an obstical for that race, so culture is an aspect of civilization. I would even go so far as to claim that they are both intertwined, you cannot have a civilization without culture and culture cannot exist outside of a civilization.

When you use the term civilization, I think you are meaning something more akin to technology, something more modern or progressive. This is because in the Hollywood Noble Savage stereotype it is strongly suggested that technology or any kind of modern applied sciences is not needed and should be abandoned in exchange for a greater oneness with nature, that technology interferes with our ability to commune with nature and thus renders us soulless or spiritually retarded. This idea, I agree, is total bullshit.

The key here in our disagreement is that I think that a civilization or the culture within that civilization can exist with only a bare minimum of technology. That minimum being language because the sentients must have a tool for communication of the ideas and concepts which make up their culture which is a building block for their civilization.

Your thoughts on the above, please.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on December 31, 2009, 11:58:50 PM
It takes more than language to avoid starving to death or being eaten by a tiger.

You can end up creating a civilization out of very limited technology; the Mayans and Aztecs had civilizations. On the other hand, you had barbarian tribes, with language (like all humans had language for at least quite some time now), but that had no real civilization.  What civilization requires is the ability to move beyond the strictest confines of the tribal structure, and to have your society set up for things greater than just survival in and of itself.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 01, 2010, 12:01:26 AM
Quote from: jeff37923;352313
When you use the term civilization, I think you are meaning something more akin to technology, something more modern or progressive. This is because in the Hollywood Noble Savage stereotype it is strongly suggested that technology or any kind of modern applied sciences is not needed and should be abandoned in exchange for a greater oneness with nature, that technology interferes with our ability to commune with nature and thus renders us soulless or spiritually retarded. This idea, I agree, is total bullshit.

The key here in our disagreement is that I think that a civilization or the culture within that civilization can exist with only a bare minimum of technology. That minimum being language because the sentients must have a tool for communication of the ideas and concepts which make up their culture which is a building block for their civilization.
I'll tell you what is bullshit.  We are in agreement here.  What happened to the days we could scream at each other over the little things, Jeff?  :)

As I mentioned before, I don't have a problem with technology, nor its progress, per se.  While Jeff makes a good point about the bare minimum, I prefer our current level and look forward to future developments.  What many people are starting to have a problem with, however, is the destruction and blight that almost always accompanies technological advances.  More plastic for iPods means more plastic in landfills, along with lithium-ion battery waste seeping into the ground water.  Higher levels of production for food products leads to higher waste production as well, along with unhealthy food.

Technology has reached a point where we can maintain a standard of living, health, and comfort without 80% of the arable land becoming a Human Occupied Landfill.  We can maintain that standard without concentrating the wealth in the hands of less than 1% of the population.  We can maintain that standard without belching coal soot and toxic chemicals into the air.  Most of the producers of technology just want to get rich from selling it, but there is a fast growing number of ordinary people who want technology to start working for them to improve their lives without threatening it on some other front.

That is really the undercurrent to the movie.  They can put people into stasis for six years and travel to another planet, but they can't find a sustainable method for extracting this ore?  An ore which has no other value, according to the movie, except being worth $20mil an ounce.  The point is not 'we should live like the natives', but rather 'we can do better than we have in the past'.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: jeff37923 on January 01, 2010, 12:26:01 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352325
It takes more than language to avoid starving to death or being eaten by a tiger.

You can end up creating a civilization out of very limited technology; the Mayans and Aztecs had civilizations. On the other hand, you had barbarian tribes, with language (like all humans had language for at least quite some time now), but that had no real civilization.  What civilization requires is the ability to move beyond the strictest confines of the tribal structure, and to have your society set up for things greater than just survival in and of itself.

RPGPundit


Agreed, but now you are talking about technology, and progress, and modernization. All of which are considered evil by the Hollywood Noble Savage proponent because it keeps us from getting back to nature. However, these same HNS proponents conveniently forget that technology and progress allows us to not die prematurely from simple medical problems, that technology allows us to be better environmental conservationists by allowing more efficient use of natural resources, that technology and progress allow for the lifestyle we enjoy today that gives them the luxury to explore a fantasy about a pre-technological existance that never was.

Most of these same modern day Luddites would not be able to survive in the low-technology environment that they claim we should revert to in order to be more environmentally friendly or more in-tune with nature or more spiritually aware of Gaia or whatever pop culture crapulence they are espousing this week.

Now, you have claimed that Avatar is anti-civilization, which I take as anti-technology, but if you look at it - it is actually more against certain kinds of technology while others are considered acceptable. With the pervasive neural interfaces of the Avatar biosphere, it would seem that information technology is found to be acceptable as long as it is biological or eco-friendly in origin. However, the technology that must be in place to support that non-biological neural interface is deemed exploitive and must be rejected.

I feel masturbatory doing this, but here is a quote of mine from the other Avatar thread.

Quote from: jeff37923;350314
The things that got me about the life forms was that there was no biological reason to have naturally occuring neural interface for the Na'vi and the rest of the animals. Plus all of the large animals were six limbed and had four eyes  while the Na'vi were four limbed and had two eyes - didn't seem like they had evolved from a common base stock at all.

I came up with an untold backstory where the Na'vi were actually survivors of a crashed starship of human analogues (humanocentric panspermia again) and the various plant neural networks and animals with interfaces were actually the biological tools of this formerly starfaring race. By thinking that, I was able to keep my suspension of disbelief going through the movie.


And I think that is an important point. Because for all the eco-friendly Hollywood Noble Savage crap in the movie, the biological representation of the world of Avatar appears to only make sense when you think of it as an untended artificial creation and not as something naturally occurring.

Which makes the whole message of the movie fuck itself pretty damn hard.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Axiomatic on January 01, 2010, 08:10:57 AM
I find it hilarious how much Imperium of Man Neonazi flavored Xeno-hate this movie inspires in the geek population. It's like the whole internet has been flooded with people furiously masturbating to mental images of kinetic kill asteroids wiping out all life on Pandora.

I haven't heard the words "race traitor" used as often in the past two years as I have in the past two weeks.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: GameDaddy on January 01, 2010, 11:49:23 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352257
It could take a long time to explain the difference between culture and civilization to someone who sincerely doesn't grasp it, but the long and short of it is that a civilization has as one of its precepts the concept of human beings (well, sentients, in this case) being able to develop beyond the state of mere subsistence in a natural environment. It comes from the root Civis, which is to say "City".

RPGPundit


Mmmm. o.k. Totally not getting what there is to debate about here.

To summarize:

If man is civilized he would cultivate and develop renewable resources and thus would not need to go to Pandora in the first place to strip mine the Moon for, ...let me get this straight? Unobtanium?

If man is not civilized then he/she will (by any means) excercise the habit of resource depletion, which is to say, Will acquire said resources and waste them to obtain yet more resources (possibly expanding said civilization, elsewhere, perhaps where there is different resources that can be utilized...), in an increasingly intensified process, until such time as the original resources are completely exhausted.

The consequences of the second choice has historically been the collapse of said civilization unless some new technology is developed that utilizes other resources, that utilizes existing resources an order of magnitude better, or that is otherwise renewable.

Why would it be anti-human and anti-civilization to turn away from a resource gathering policy that leads to resource depletion?  

Haven't seen the movie yet, just sayin' is all


From Wikipedia:
In Hinduism, Avatar or Avatāra (Devanagari अवतार, Sanskrit for "descent (of a deity)", from the verbal root tṝ "to cross over") refers to the appearance in physical form, having descended from heaven to earth, of a deity. It is mostly translated into English as "incarnation", though more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation".[
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 01, 2010, 12:07:03 PM
Civilization sometimes requires doing difficult things. If you find out you have to use a non-renewable resource, then you don't say "well fuck it, then!" and crawl back in the caves to die of cholera; you use that fucking resource until you can develop alternatives .

If you have to go to war to preserve your civilization you do it; because you know that civilization, and preserving the light of civilization, is a higher order of good than the alternative, which is darkness and barbarism.

I suppose there are those here who also think that the Romans were evil for resisting the barbarian incursions, too?  Would we all have been better off had we followed Hermann's example, and lived in mud-huts in the dark of the forest slaughtering each other, than if we followed the example of Augustus or Trajan?

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Axiomatic on January 01, 2010, 01:55:45 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352380

If you have to go to war to preserve your civilization you do it; because you know that civilization, and preserving the light of civilization, is a higher order of good than the alternative, which is darkness and barbarism.

...isn't that what the Na'vi do?
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Edsan on January 01, 2010, 02:50:06 PM
Quote from: Axiomatic;352368
I haven't heard the words "race traitor" used as often in the past two years as I have in the past two weeks.


Well, there must be a reason for that. Unless you choose to believe on some universal geek conspiracy theory or somesuch.


Kinetic kill asteroids wouldn't do the trick, btw. Too much dust would go up into the atmosphere of Pandora ushering an ice age and making mining Unobtanium much harder.

Na'avi tailored bio-weapons released from orbit combined with Nth-grade Agent Orange planetary-scale fumigation would work much beter.

The furious masturbation is an optional bonus.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: jeff37923 on January 01, 2010, 03:17:47 PM
Quote from: Edsan;352397
The furious masturbation is an optional bonus.


Not to mention the source of potential biological weapons.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Seanchai on January 01, 2010, 03:23:59 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352259
Feel free to get back to something relevant in this thread by trying to provide an actual counter-argument explaining how my points about this film are wrong.


Come up with something relevant and intelligent and I just might. But as I said above, Avatar is a purdy, CGI-laden action flick. The idea that it has some kind of preachy ideology and that said ideology has to be defended from the likes of you is just the essence of dumbness...

Seanchai
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Ian Absentia on January 01, 2010, 03:35:57 PM
Quote from: Axiomatic;352392
...isn't that what the Na'vi do?
Hush you.  We're referring only to civilisations that resemble our own.  Everything else is indulgent self-hate.

!i!
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 01, 2010, 04:20:00 PM
Quote from: Ian Absentia;352408
Hush you.  We're referring only to civilisations that resemble our own.  Everything else is indulgent self-hate.

!i!
You forgot 'race-traitor'.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Ian Absentia on January 01, 2010, 04:27:56 PM
All this "anti-humanism", "anti-civilisation", "race-traitor" business is simply subsets of self loathing.  Which, surely, is totally unmerited.

!i!
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 01, 2010, 04:47:32 PM
Quote from: Axiomatic;352392
...isn't that what the Na'vi do?


No. They're fighting to defend their magic tree.   Which isn't to say that its a completely invalid thing, fighting for the sake of their tribe, and for the things that they know and care about.

Over here in real life, the Gauls and Iberians and Britons fought the Romans too; until they had time to get what Rome was offering them; then they stopped because they realized that life within civilization was shitloads better than a life of savagery.  Of course, over in movie-land that's not really a decent argument because Cameron has set up the stage so that there's fuck all the Navi could really get from humanity that would be worthwhile, since the Navi are so healthy and wonderful and pure, while humanity is hopelessly ruined.

But in the context of this argument in the real world, Civilization is a very powerful and wonderful thing.
Last night the Wench and I watched Monty Python's Life of Brian again, and this scene is one of the best examples  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExWfh6sGyso)of a defense of civilization around.  

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on January 01, 2010, 05:38:59 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352436
No. They're fighting to defend their magic tree.   Which isn't to say that its a completely invalid thing, fighting for the sake of their tribe, and for the things that they know and care about.


Since we are talking about a SF movie, so yeah, they were fighting for their civilization.

Quote
Over here in real life, the Gauls and Iberians and Britons fought the Romans too; until they had time to get what Rome was offering them; then they stopped because they realized that life within civilization was shitloads better than a life of savagery.


Over here in real life, I guess the Indians, Africans and a whole bunch of other savages should have just stopped fighting their Imperial Overlords because they should have just realized their lives under them was shitloads better than their lives of savagery.

Quote
Of course, over in movie-land that's not really a decent argument because Cameron has set up the stage so that there's fuck all the Navi could really get from humanity that would be worthwhile, since the Navi are so healthy and wonderful and pure, while humanity is hopelessly ruined.


Maybe it's Humanity that needs to learn something from the Navi. Or rather the message is, we can learn things form other cultures or civilizations or something like that.

Quote
But in the context of this argument in the real world, Civilization is a very powerful and wonderful thing.
Last night the Wench and I watched Monty Python's Life of Brian again, and this scene is one of the best examples  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExWfh6sGyso)of a defense of civilization around.  


A gamer quoting Monty Python.....

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Axiomatic on January 01, 2010, 05:54:54 PM
It's not a magic tree, it's the goddamn Library of Alexandria crossed with the Vatican crossed with fucking HEAVEN ITSELF. That's basically what the humans were planning to blow up. The place where the Na'vi store all their knowledge and where they UPLOAD THE MINDS OF ALL THEIR DEAD.

The Na'vi have a place where they store all the knowledge and wisdom of all their ancestors for probably longer than humans have known about how to sharpen stones. Then outsiders come and, since this knowledge is worthless to them, seek to destroy it.

Tell me, how exactly are the Na'vi playing the role of the barbarians here, when it's the humans who are coming a-pillaging?

As for what humanity could learn from the Na'vi...WHAT ABOUT IMMORTALITY? Shit, clone yourself a new body and get the biointernet to transfer your mind into it. Congratulations, humanity, if you manage to refrain from blowing up a tree because you're shortsighted morons, YOU CAN BE IMMORTAL. YOU CAN DEFEAT DEATH.

Or you can be retarded Imperium of Man fanatics and scream about fukken xenos.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Edsan on January 01, 2010, 05:58:25 PM
Quote from: David R;352439
Since we are talking about a SF movie, so yeah, they were fighting for their civilization.


Ahem...

From the Wikipedia:

A civilization (or civilisation) is a complex society or culture group characterized by dependence upon agriculture, long-distance trade, state form of government, occupational specialization, urbanism, and class stratification. Aside from these core elements, civilization is often marked by any combination of a number of secondary elements, including a developed transportation system, writing, standards of measurement (currency, etc.), formal legal system, great art style, monumental architecture, mathematics, sophisticated metallurgy, and astronomy.


I didn't see a lot of those in Na'vi society...I did see a lot of wishy-washy, new-age, usb-port-tree worshipping.

So that about settles the fact that the Na'vi aren't civilized. They have a culture, of course; but at the end of the day they are just a bunch of savages.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Edsan on January 01, 2010, 06:04:33 PM
Quote from: Axiomatic;352446
Tell me, how exactly are the Na'vi playing the role of the barbarians here, when it's the humans who are coming a-pillaging?


Barbarians don't have space flight, explosives, helicopters and mecha. :cool:
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Axiomatic on January 01, 2010, 06:08:27 PM
Quote from: Edsan;352451
Barbarians don't have space flight, explosives, helicopters and mecha. :cool:


Tell that to the Orks...;)
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Machinegun Blue on January 01, 2010, 06:13:51 PM
Quote from: Edsan;352447
Ahem...

From the Wikipedia:

A civilization (or civilisation) is a complex society or culture group characterized by dependence upon agriculture, long-distance trade, state form of government, occupational specialization, urbanism, and class stratification. Aside from these core elements, civilization is often marked by any combination of a number of secondary elements, including a developed transportation system, writing, standards of measurement (currency, etc.), formal legal system, great art style, monumental architecture, mathematics, sophisticated metallurgy, and astronomy.


I didn't see a lot of those in Na'vi society...I did see a lot of wishy-washy, new-age, usb-port-tree worshipping.

So that about settles the fact that the Na'vi aren't civilized. They have a culture, of course; but at the end of the day they are just a bunch of savages.


Well, if the Na'vis' environment were somehow engineered then they would have that stuff. Or the equivalent.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: GameDaddy on January 01, 2010, 06:15:22 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352436
No. They're fighting to defend their magic tree.   Which isn't to say that its a completely invalid thing, fighting for the sake of their tribe, and for the things that they know and care about.

Over here in real life, the Gauls and Iberians and Britons fought the Romans too; until they had time to get what Rome was offering them; then they stopped because they realized that life within civilization was shitloads better than a life of savagery.  Of course, over in movie-land that's not really a decent argument because Cameron has set up the stage so that there's fuck all the Navi could really get from humanity that would be worthwhile, since the Navi are so healthy and wonderful and pure, while humanity is hopelessly ruined.
RPGPundit



The Gauls and Iberians and Britons got what Rome gave them, which was over the long term, not much. What Rome took from them though was their culture, their freedom, their knowledge, and the lands. Thier culture was either destroyed outrigth or spread to all corners of the Roman empire in a new guise. The newly acquired slaves were scattered throughout the empire as well. The Romans routinely destroyed any knowledge they did not understand, and especially targeted the peoples carrying said knowledge, In Briton, the Druids come to mind in this matter. The Romans only surrendered the lands that they took when they could no longer hold said lands.

They never conquered Germany, and were in fact repeatedly conquered by Germans having first the Western Capitol Rome sacked, looted, and burned around 313 AD (The first time) and during the 400 AD's, with Constantinople (The Eastern Capitol of the Holy Roman Empire) falling around 1100 AD at the beginning of the first Crusade. The time in-between was known as the Dark Ages.

This was a time of Rennaissance for Charlemagne and the Gauls (One of the Celtic Tribes), and for the Germanic and Skandinavian tribes that established trading networks throughout the Middle East, and Africa. It led to the formation of self-governing nations throughout Europe. Only the departure of the Romans from the scene provided these benefits, not their presence.    

There are many cited authorities in archaeology circles stating the Gauls (Celts) were a peaceful resplendent people right up until the time they were originally invaded (First from the Far East, and then later, from the Romans.)

Archaeological evidence tends to support this as well with the Celtic towns and settlements being unprotected by walls and fortifications and located on Hillsides and within fertile Valleys. Only during the later Megalithic Era (Just prior to the First Roman Conquests were the towns and settlements re-located onto Hilltops, and fortified with defensive Ramparts, Earthworks, and walls. Also, the Celts (Germanic and Gaul) didn't have Horses until after the Mongols invaded in the late Megalithic Era from the East. By the time the Romans arrived on the scene, domesticated Horses were more common, but were not used as mounts often. They were looked upon more as a food source.

Northern Europe was geographically not suited well for horses, chariots, and wagons. It could easily be argued that the Romans were hopelessly ruined, only they just didn't realize it during the time they were busy conquering the Northern European savages.

What the Romans did bring to Europe was the concept of taxation, otherwise known as Tribute.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 01, 2010, 06:15:31 PM
Quote from: David R;352439

Over here in real life, I guess the Indians, Africans and a whole bunch of other savages should have just stopped fighting their Imperial Overlords because they should have just realized their lives under them was shitloads better than their lives of savagery.


In some ways, the 18th and 19th century Imperialist "powers" were less civilized than the Romans. They sought to exploit the people they colonized without also giving them the benefits of civilization. The Romans went as far as to extend citizenship rights.
Don't misunderstand me, I'm not in favour of 19th-century style colonialism; I think it was done very wrongly, and resulted in many of the serious problems we face today.


Quote

A gamer quoting Monty Python.....

Regards,
David R


I recognize the stereotype. But that does nothing to take away from its absolute validity as far as my point is concerned.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 01, 2010, 06:18:33 PM
Quote from: Axiomatic;352446


The Na'vi have a place where they store all the knowledge and wisdom of all their ancestors for probably longer than humans have known about how to sharpen stones.


And yet, in spite of this Mystic Wikipedia, the Navi still hadn't developed very much beyond sharpening stones...

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As for what humanity could learn from the Na'vi...WHAT ABOUT IMMORTALITY? Shit, clone yourself a new body and get the biointernet to transfer your mind into it. Congratulations, humanity, if you manage to refrain from blowing up a tree because you're shortsighted morons, YOU CAN BE IMMORTAL. YOU CAN DEFEAT DEATH.


Well now, see, that would have been a far more interesting movie at least; if you had presented the humans as capable of learning the real value of the whole Navi Magic Wikipedia; and if in turn the Navi learned the value of human knowledge to allow them to reach to the stars; the two races coming to understand that their destinies were intertwined in co-operation.

But that wasn't the movie, or the message, we were given.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on January 01, 2010, 06:21:31 PM
Quote from: Edsan;352447
Ahem...

From the Wikipedia:

A civilization (or civilisation) is a complex society or culture group characterized by dependence upon agriculture, long-distance trade, state form of government, occupational specialization, urbanism, and class stratification. Aside from these core elements, civilization is often marked by any combination of a number of secondary elements, including a developed transportation system, writing, standards of measurement (currency, etc.), formal legal system, great art style, monumental architecture, mathematics, sophisticated metallurgy, and astronomy.


I didn't see a lot of those in Na'vi society...I did see a lot of wishy-washy, new-age, usb-port-tree worshipping.

So that about settles the fact that the Na'vi aren't civilized. They have a culture, of course; but at the end of the day they are just a bunch of savages.


Ahem, I don't really buy into this whole civilization/culture distinction (and certainly not the Pundit's defintion) esp when it's used to support a concept such as Imperialism.

And I see a lot of tree worshipping in the various indegenous populations around my country and the rest of the world and strangely enough, for them there's nothing new agey about their religions or culture.

And I guess savages need to be "civilzed, more :rolleyes:

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Edsan on January 01, 2010, 06:31:51 PM
Quote from: David R;352461
Ahem, I don't really buy into this whole civilization/culture distinction


Dude, no one was chalenging your beliefs, you can believe the flying spagheti moster for all I care. I was just making definitions clear because some people seem to think culture and civilization mean the same thing...they don't.

Quote from: David R;352461
And I see a lot of tree worshipping in the various indegenous populations around my country and the rest of the world and strangely enough, for them there's nothing new agey about their religions or culture.


I believe you. However the Na'vi are new agey dialed up to 11, and it was them that were being discussed. I fail to see what those IRL native folk have to do with fictional 10ft tall aliens.

Quote from: David R;352461
And I guess savages need to be "civilzed, more :rolleyes:


David, there might just be hope for you yet. You are begining to see the light. ;)
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Werekoala on January 01, 2010, 06:41:41 PM
Quote from: David R;352439

Maybe it's Humanity that needs to learn something from the Navi. Or rather the message is, we can learn things form other cultures or civilizations or something like that.


Maybe that's my problem with the movie, one of them at least - nobody LEARNED anything. One of the narrative outcomes of most stories is that there is growth of character for someone. I don't really know if Jake's "transformation" counts as character growth or not because we don't know much about who he was before arriving on Pandora. Humans didn't learn to respect the Na'vi. I suppose the Na'vi learned to hate humans, but they were already well into that anyway. In effect, all that really happened was to kill a bunch of both people on both sides and send the humans packing. They'll be back. They always come back. And then the Na'vi will likely be wiped out.

Still think a better ending could have been had.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 01, 2010, 06:47:19 PM
Quote from: Edsan;352465
Dude, no one was chalenging your beliefs, you can believe the flying spagheti moster for all I care. I was just making definitions clear because some people seem to think culture and civilization mean the same thing...they don't.
You were making definitions clear using a self-selecting Wikipedia entry.  In other words, the victor not only writes the history, they write the dictionary.

For instance, that definition didn't cite 'careful marshaling of natural resources', 'respectful co-existence with indigenous peoples', 'measured levels of progress that limit harm', to name but a few; what they did cite, however, is money, class boundaries, job specialization, centralized government, and a 'developed transportation system'.  So, unsurprisingly, all the things that authour thinks define 'civilization' are all the things that mark our current civilization, and none of the things that mark earlier tribal or current 'primitive' civilizations.

You have to wonder why that is.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 01, 2010, 06:48:32 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352460
And yet, in spite of this Mystic Wikipedia, the Navi still hadn't developed very much beyond sharpening stones...
At least your 'iPod = civilization' mantra is consistent.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on January 01, 2010, 08:07:00 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352459
In some ways, the 18th and 19th century Imperialist "powers" were less civilized than the Romans. They sought to exploit the people they colonized without also giving them the benefits of civilization. The Romans went as far as to extend citizenship rights.
Don't misunderstand me, I'm not in favour of 19th-century style colonialism; I think it was done very wrongly, and resulted in many of the serious problems we face today.


I wonder what "benefits" of civilization the Imperial powers had to offer since the colonialism itself was predicated on greed and racism. Thinking less of the "other" generally means you don't think he is worthy of "your" culture. I think it rather twee that anyone would think that 19th century colonialism could be done "a right way", unless you mean some sort of cross transmission of cultural ideas, which I think is the best method, to reach some sort of understanding and profit.

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I recognize the stereotype. But that does nothing to take away from its absolute validity as far as my point is concerned.

RPGPundit


Brother, we all say this .

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on January 01, 2010, 08:14:02 PM
Quote from: Edsan;352465
Dude, no one was chalenging your beliefs, you can believe the flying spagheti moster for all I care. I was just making definitions clear because some people seem to think culture and civilization mean the same thing...they don't.


You do understand that I am rejecting those definitons that you think are so clear ?

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I believe you. However the Na'vi are new agey dialed up to 11, and it was them that were being discussed. I fail to see what those IRL native folk have to do with fictional 10ft tall aliens.


Then tell that to the Pundit. This whole idea of noble savages and real world examples of "civilizations" was something he brought into the discussion. I happen to think he makes interesting points even though I disagree with them. Of course the new agey was dialled up. But I think it's a mistake (considering his past films) to think of Cameron as anti civilization and anti humanism. Of course as I said upthread, there's very little defense against empty headed Hollywood religion.

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David, there might just be hope for you yet. You are begining to see the light. ;)


You mistake me for one of those cats with a sense of humour when it comes to these kinds of issues.

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on January 01, 2010, 08:16:28 PM
Quote from: Werekoala;352468
Maybe that's my problem with the movie, one of them at least - nobody LEARNED anything.
Still think a better ending could have been had.


I think this is a good point. I'd have to expose my near fanboyish admiration for Cameron if I say anything beyond this.

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: JongWK on January 01, 2010, 11:27:18 PM
Quote from: Werekoala;352468

Still think a better ending could have been had.


A more dramatic ending would have had Jake dying in the lab, eyes wide open, while Neytiri is trying to wake up his dormant avatar. That's a Titanic-grade tear jerker right there.

Of course, that would probably screw up Cameron's plans for the sequels, which given the monstrous box office results (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=avatar.htm) are a near certainty.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 02, 2010, 01:16:33 AM
Quote from: David R;352461
Ahem, I don't really buy into this whole civilization/culture distinction (and certainly not the Pundit's defintion) esp when it's used to support a concept such as Imperialism.

And I see a lot of tree worshipping in the various indegenous populations around my country and the rest of the world and strangely enough, for them there's nothing new agey about their religions or culture.


And I'm sure that if you examined their beliefs more closely you'd find that they'd have very little in common with the Navi Hollywood-pantheism.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 02, 2010, 01:27:04 AM
Quote from: David R;352485
I wonder what "benefits" of civilization the Imperial powers had to offer since the colonialism itself was predicated on greed and racism.


I think that there was a lot of greed and racism involved, to be sure, and sadly in the end those forces dominated the colonialism of the 19th century. But there were motives besides that as well.

As to the question of "benefits"; I think that pretty much every other society on earth has ended up benefiting from western civilization at this point. The whole concept of "human rights" is something that exists in the form it has today thanks to this civilization. Many of the ex-colonial nations are still benefiting, long after their liberation, from the developments in infrastructure, education, health, government/civil service, and both the liberal arts and sciences that were transmitted by the west; and pretty well all of those who in their anti-colonial zeal threw out those babies along with the bathwater of oppression have ultimately come to regret it.

Curiously, we now stand at the beginning of a century where a former western-colony, India, is poised to become a major world power, and had it not been from the influence of the west on that country, this would neither have been possible, nor if possible would it have been even remotely positive for the world.

And yes, the West also got back a great deal from those colonies, and I'm not just talking about stolen resources or wealth. I think it could have gained a lot more than what it did, had the western powers been less greedy and racist in their handling of things.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 02, 2010, 02:19:59 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352609
Curiously, we now stand at the beginning of a century where a former western-colony, India, is poised to become a major world power, and had it not been from the influence of the west on that country, this would neither have been possible, nor if possible would it have been even remotely positive for the world.
Are you fucking serious?
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on January 02, 2010, 02:43:43 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352606
And I'm sure that if you examined their beliefs more closely you'd find that they'd have very little in common with the Navi Hollywood-pantheism.

RPGPundit


That's because the Navi are a ficitonal race. I'm sure you would find similarities too but at the end of the day we are talking about blue skinned aliens, here.

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on January 02, 2010, 03:42:40 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352609
I think that there was a lot of greed and racism involved, to be sure, and sadly in the end those forces dominated the colonialism of the 19th century. But there were motives besides that as well.


What other motives were there ? Unless you think that the "savages needed to be civilized" is an altruistic motive ?

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As to the question of "benefits"; I think that pretty much every other society on earth has ended up benefiting from western civilization at this point. The whole concept of "human rights" is something that exists in the form it has today thanks to this civilization.


Well, I think it would be disingenuos for me to argue otherwise. I think this is perhaps the greatest concept that came out of the West.

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Many of the ex-colonial nations are still benefiting, long after their liberation, from the developments in infrastructure, education, health, government/civil service, and both the liberal arts and sciences that were transmitted by the west; and pretty well all of those who in their anti-colonial zeal threw out those babies along with the bathwater of oppression have ultimately come to regret it.


This is rather misleading. Most preliberation infrastructure, education, health, goverment/civil service were determined by how well it facilitated control of the population and the extraction of resources. This meant that large segments of the population were ignored and lived without these socalled benefits. Of course these "benefits" also destroyed the established social dynamic of a diverse range ethnic groups and created discontent that still persist to this day.Things changed post liberation. Depending on where you were, for the better or worse. (I take it we are speaking in generalities, here)

I reject the idea that throwing out the baby with the bath water is purely anticolonial zeal. There are normally a whole host of other factors involved, one of which is post colonial meddling.  

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Curiously, we now stand at the beginning of a century where a former western-colony, India, is poised to become a major world power, and had it not been from the influence of the west on that country, this would neither have been possible, nor if possible would it have been even remotely positive for the world.


You really are infatuated by Imperialism aren't you ? You are aware that India was a major power with it's influence felt in most, if not all parts of Asia and beyond before the arrival of the West ? You don't think it's possible they would become a major power had it not been for the influence of Britain ? Seriously ?

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And yes, the West also got back a great deal from those colonies, and I'm not just talking about stolen resources or wealth. I think it could have gained a lot more than what it did, had the western powers been less greedy and racist in their handling of things.

RPGPundit


They still can brother, but you chaps keep wanting to chase out those foreign devils. I soo understand this. (Well, I guess, I am one of those cats, with a sense of humour, when it comes to issues like these, after all )

(I apologize for this derail, guys)

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 02, 2010, 12:21:28 PM
Quote from: David R;352623
What other motives were there ? Unless you think that the "savages needed to be civilized" is an altruistic motive ?


What motives are there for fighting AIDS or starvation in Africa today?


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Well, I think it would be disingenuos for me to argue otherwise. I think this is perhaps the greatest concept that came out of the West.


Nice to see you give that credit, a lot of others arguing your side of the debate would not.

One of the things people tend to forget while busy Damning Western Civilization is that without any doubt whatsoever, this civilization is by far the most humanitarian that has ever existed in the history of man as we know it.


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This is rather misleading. Most preliberation infrastructure, education, health, goverment/civil service were determined by how well it facilitated control of the population and the extraction of resources. This meant that large segments of the population were ignored and lived without these socalled benefits. Of course these "benefits" also destroyed the established social dynamic of a diverse range ethnic groups and created discontent that still persist to this day.Things changed post liberation. Depending on where you were, for the better or worse. (I take it we are speaking in generalities, here)

I reject the idea that throwing out the baby with the bath water is purely anticolonial zeal. There are normally a whole host of other factors involved, one of which is post colonial meddling.  


So at which point are you willing to accept that a given Shithole African Post-colonial dictatorship is the fault of its own people? Where do you stop blaming whitey? Or is it a "get out of jail free card" forever?
How many countries in Africa today could be described in general like this: "was an extremely prosperous nation, one of the most prosperous on the continent, at the time of gaining its independence, but has now become a hell on earth due to decades of mismanagement/corruption/civil war"?


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You really are infatuated by Imperialism aren't you ? You are aware that India was a major power with it's influence felt in most, if not all parts of Asia and beyond before the arrival of the West ? You don't think it's possible they would become a major power had it not been for the influence of Britain ? Seriously ?


Except for under the peak of the Mughals, who were ALSO IMPERIALISTS (just not european imperialists, so apparently they get a free pass), India was never even really close to being a single unified state.  It was a series of petty empires and principalities, mired in abject poverty, a fixed Caste system, and hindu-muslim conflicts.

Let's play a simple game, shall we? Let's imagine that India is going to become the next World Superpower, at least as influential as the U.S.
Now, let's imagine that you get to pick which kind of India gets to be that superpower that will dominate us all: it can be the India we know, with all that brutal British colonialism in its history, OR you can magically choose to erase all British influence from India's history, yet still allow it to be a superpower.
It will be a superpower that believes in the Caste System, Sati, Untouchables, all-powerful luxurious Maharajas, and has none of the concepts that come with British education, no democracy, no concept of western human rights.

Now, which India's power would you rather live under? The one you've miraculously "freed" from the evils of western imperialism? Or the one that has wisely learned a great deal from Britain, made those lessons its own, and now is a better place for it, and the world's largest democracy to boot?
Your choice.

Hell, we don't even have to play make-believe. The choice in the 21st century might very well be between India, a country that has had western influence to the point of obtaining democratic values; and China, a place that has had no such thing. There are reasons why everyone is praying to fuck that India succeed, or that China grow a conscience fast (not going to happen, I think).

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They still can brother, but you chaps keep wanting to chase out those foreign devils. I soo understand this.


I'm a multiculturalist who has never been against legal immigration in my entire life, the son of immigrants to Canada, and am now myself an Immigrant to Uruguay.
I think that qualifies as an Epic Fail in your attempt to paint me as a member of the teabagger set.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Edsan on January 02, 2010, 12:50:30 PM
I must say I'm amused about the way this thread evolved. Somehow folks who didn't put the na'vi on a pedestal began being likened to the bad behaviour of their civilizations of origin centuries ago.

All this blatant finger pointing at all of Western Civilization's "past evils" is souding a lot like Ad Homine attacks in disguise.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Machinegun Blue on January 02, 2010, 01:52:09 PM
Quote from: Edsan;352677
I must say I'm amused about the way this thread evolved. Somehow folks who didn't put the na'vi on a pedestal began being likened to the bad behaviour of their civilizations of origin centuries ago.

All this blatant finger pointing at all of Western Civilization's "past evils" is souding a lot like Ad Homine attacks in disguise.


As far as I can see, it's you and the Pundit who are pointing out the bad behaviour of the humans in the movie as "anti-human/anti-civilization" from the supposed view of the film makers. Seems rather Ad Homine to me.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on January 02, 2010, 06:45:49 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352669
What motives are there for fighting AIDS or starvation in Africa today?


You didn't answer my question. What other motives were there for Imperalism ? Your answer here seems to imply altruism but what great tragedy was happening in the colonies that needed the attention of the Imperialist ?

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Nice to see you give that credit, a lot of others arguing your side of the debate would not.


What exactly is my side ? I'm arguing that Cameron's films (maybe not this one) are more complex than what you make them out to be. As for this little derail, I'm on my own here.

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One of the things people tend to forget while busy Damning Western Civilization is that without any doubt whatsoever, this civilization is by far the most humanitarian that has ever existed in the history of man as we know it.


What people? Again, I was sceptical of your claim of the benefits of Western Imperialism not Western Civilization. I do think that if the perception is that Western civilization is by far the most humanitarian it's because of the benefits it received from Imperialism.

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So at which point are you willing to accept that a given Shithole African Post-colonial dictatorship is the fault of its own people? Where do you stop blaming whitey? Or is it a "get out of jail free card" forever?


If you read my reply you would notice that I never said the Africans were blameless. I said "not only purely anticolonial zeal". And I suppose whitey stops getting blamed when they stop interfering in Africa. Remember most of these dictatorships have received support from whitey.

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How many countries in Africa today could be described in general like this: "was an extremely prosperous nation, one of the most prosperous on the continent, at the time of gaining its independence, but has now become a hell on earth due to decades of mismanagement/corruption/civil war"?


Not many. So, what you are saying is that the darkies can't look after themselves. That they need the white man to control them. That they were better of under white control. Like South Africa, for instance ?.

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Except for under the peak of the Mughals, who were ALSO IMPERIALISTS (just not european imperialists, so apparently they get a free pass), India was never even really close to being a single unified state.  It was a series of petty empires and principalities, mired in abject poverty, a fixed Caste system, and hindu-muslim conflicts.


This is nonsense. They were of course disparate power structures but India was a vibrant nation of trade, education and culture. Hindu Muslim conflicts were of course present but never really a threat to the influence they projected out of their borders. And certainly not as hostile as it is today, with the British creation of Pakistan. These petty empires managed to spread their culture (which by the way included their system of governance) over wide areas of Asia and Central Asia.

And just so you know, India today is mired in poverty and corruption with states jealuously guarding their autonomy, still struggling with the caste system and mired in Hindu Muslim conflicts. And yet they struggle on despite this. It's not because of the influence of British Colonialism.

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Let's play a simple game, shall we? Let's imagine that India is going to become the next World Superpower, at least as influential as the U.S.
Now, let's imagine that you get to pick which kind of India gets to be that superpower that will dominate us all: it can be the India we know, with all that brutal British colonialism in its history, OR you can magically choose to erase all British influence from India's history, yet still allow it to be a superpower.


Let's play another game, shall we ? Let's imagine that India is going to be the next World Superpower, at least as influential as the U.S. Now, let's imagine that you get to pick which kind of India gets to be that superpower that will dominate us all : it can be the India that we know (read the last para of my reply above) OR you can take your chances on an India which has demonstarted it's influence over all of South East Asia and parts of central Asia. It's influence so subtle that it's mostly hinted at in the cultures it chose to interact/colonize. Trade of course was the dominant motive.

Of course this rather a silly game, because India has no intention of becoming a Superpower of the kind the Pundit envisions. And it's not the British that we have to thank for the way how India is today. It's the Americans. Indians love the Yanks. They love their spirit. They love the fact that America embraces capitalism while remianing deeply spiritual (don't laugh) and welcomes any into the fold. They are not naive but understand the (sometimes) deep undercurrents of racism in the American Dream but some how unlike the Brits, the Yanks manage to rouse them out of their fatalism and insularity.

And guys, remember the Brits were the most devious cunning Imperialist that walked the Earth. I say this with admiration. Their divide and conquer model, is still practised in India today. Think about it.

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It will be a superpower that believes in the Caste System, Sati, Untouchables, all-powerful luxurious Maharajas, and has none of the concepts that come with British education, no democracy, no concept of western human rights.


This is nonsense of course. Like I said, India was a great influence in Malaya and many other parts of the South East Asia and we didn't have any of this. In fact, what the "natives" had done, with the encouragement of Indian traders is adapt many of their customs - the importance of education - maths and science, the importance of literture as a transmitter of cultural norms - no castse nonsense and the importance of the family unit. Of course it was not all sugar and cream and Indians could be ruthless when they wanted to protect their trading interests but I do think the picture the Pundit paints in his zeal to rewrite Imperiliasm as the salvation of the dark man is simply poopyheadedness. To think that we were all savages before the white man saved us is purely whishfull thinking.

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Now, which India's power would you rather live under? The one you've miraculously "freed" from the evils of western imperialism? Or the one that has wisely learned a great deal from Britain, made those lessons its own, and now is a better place for it, and the world's largest democracy to boot?
Your choice.


Yes your choice. And remember my game is a little more realistic. India would of course have changed with the time unless the Pundit thinks that only the societies of white people evolve. India would probably be influenced more by America than Britain. Some would argue that this is not a good thing but like I said, it's a silly game.  

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Hell, we don't even have to play make-believe. The choice in the 21st century might very well be between India, a country that has had western influence to the point of obtaining democratic values; and China, a place that has had no such thing. There are reasons why everyone is praying to fuck that India succeed, or that China grow a conscience fast (not going to happen, I think).


Now of course it's back to reality. I guess this means I have to embrace Imperialism, huh ? Well no. As I said the last time we did this little dance, India is already very influential in the World and so is China. I said we can see what this influence means to India. They have no interest in any form of Imperialism and have no interest in the kind of overt political or military action that the Pundit seems to be hinting at. Just as America (which values freedom and democracy) has sustained despots when it suited their interests, India and China will do the same (if they become a Superpower) paying lip service (in the case of India) to those ideals.

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I'm a multiculturalist who has never been against legal immigration in my entire life, the son of immigrants to Canada, and am now myself an Immigrant to Uruguay.
I think that qualifies as an Epic Fail in your attempt to paint me as a member of the teabagger set.

RPGPundit


When you stop painting me as whatever...I'll stop throwing paint at you. And I was joking, you big pipe smoking dummy.

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: GameDaddy on January 02, 2010, 07:34:55 PM
Well I (and my family) quite enjoyed the movie. James Cameron still rocks! He's a great storyteller.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: beejazz on January 03, 2010, 12:59:26 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;351471
From the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/21/opinion/21douthat1.html):



So is that it? is this movie more of the "Western Civilization and Science are bad, take us Back To the Cave" movement? Matched with a shallow new-agey religion of obliviousness?

Its really amusing to me how this particular kind of nature-worshipping pantheism is a religion that could only come to exist in an utterly pampered privileged society that is very glorious and mercifully separated from Nature. Because any slightly less-privileged, less-advanced or less-pampered society would be able to tell you that Nature is a fucking bitch.

(note also that, however much the Relativist Liberal Hollywood New-Agers want to make you think its so, this philosophy is extremely different from Buddhism, Hinduism or Taoism, none of which have any of the illusions American-Leftist-Pantheism have about the the gentleness of mother nature or the virtue of being reduced to an animal)

RPGPundit
I haven't seen the movie, but I feel obligated to say that embracing death, destruction and pointlessness aren't new and don't require a nature-centric religion. Bible's got Job, Ecclesiastes, and Revelations. And Christians forget those books same as pantheists (if anyone thinks of themselves as such) forget the potential brutality of nature.

As an anecdote though, while hiking on the AT back in middle school for a few weeks, I met a very old man whose trail name was mainframe (he used to work with the old mainframe computers). He was vomiting frequently, and could only hold down water, so he cut his distance down from 24 miles a day to 16 until he could walk somewhere with a doctor. Not all nature lovers reject technology, and as advanced as we are, there are still a handful of tough bastards out there walking from GA to ME (or the reverse) just for the hell of it.

Getting back to the movie though, I've got other reasons not to want to see it... it looks like a bunch of ugly CGI for people who like pretty movies. I'm not gonna waste 10 bucks on a movie my technophile roommate is so certainly going to download off usenet (and watch on our tv) anyway.

EDIT: And from the sounds of things, it's Ender's Game minus the good stuff (not that Ender's Game doesn't have its own problems)
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 03, 2010, 09:58:25 AM
Quote from: David R;352747
You didn't answer my question. What other motives were there for Imperalism ? Your answer here seems to imply altruism but what great tragedy was happening in the colonies that needed the attention of the Imperialist ?


Yes, it was the altruism of seeking to bring a superior civilization and its benefits, to spread it out across the entire world, so that people wouldn't live in darkness.   In a few cases, that sentiment was misplaced, in many it was not.
The europeans brought with them ways of thinking, intellectual disciplines, philosophical teachings and, for lack of a better term, paradigms that were completely new to most of the rest of the world, as well as intellectual disciplines and scientific/technological advancement.

Finally, one cannot put aside the significance of Christianity in motivating the European people at least as much as greed, as a motivation to go out into the world and seek to Save it.

Sometimes, these twin motives of Civilization and Christianity were manipulated by the greedy, and at other times they were subverted by the racist; but it was THOSE motives, and not greed and racism themselves, that prompted the great expansion of European Culture to the world.

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I do think that if the perception is that Western civilization is by far the most humanitarian it's because of the benefits it received from Imperialism.


Really, you don't think that little things like Christianity, Humanism, Freemasonry, and the Enlightenment might be a little more directly responsible?


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If you read my reply you would notice that I never said the Africans were blameless. I said "not only purely anticolonial zeal". And I suppose whitey stops getting blamed when they stop interfering in Africa. Remember most of these dictatorships have received support from whitey.


And the Democracies there have received at least as much support and financial aid from whitey too.


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Not many. So, what you are saying is that the darkies can't look after themselves. That they need the white man to control them. That they were better of under white control. Like South Africa, for instance ?.


No. I'm saying that the degree to which countries Went to Shit after their independence was directly related to how much of Western Civilization they held on to. Those countries that rejected Civilized values as being something "white" that was not their way ended up on a toboggan ride straight to hell; while those countries that are doing reasonably well are almost invariably the ones that took the most advantage of the Intellectual Infrastructure that the European powers left behind for them. India being pretty well one of the best examples, where many of their institutions (their education system, their civil service, etc) are perhaps more English than the English themselves have these days.


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And just so you know, India today is mired in poverty and corruption with states jealuously guarding their autonomy, still struggling with the caste system and mired in Hindu Muslim conflicts. And yet they struggle on despite this. It's not because of the influence of British Colonialism.


Well, I would say that those problems you name are not because of the influence of British Colonialism, they're in spite of them.


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Of course this rather a silly game, because India has no intention of becoming a Superpower of the kind the Pundit envisions. And it's not the British that we have to thank for the way how India is today. It's the Americans. Indians love the Yanks. They love their spirit. They love the fact that America embraces capitalism while remianing deeply spiritual (don't laugh) and welcomes any into the fold. They are not naive but understand the (sometimes) deep undercurrents of racism in the American Dream but some how unlike the Brits, the Yanks manage to rouse them out of their fatalism and insularity.


You do know that the United States is also part of Western Civilization, right?


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This is nonsense of course. Like I said, India was a great influence in Malaya and many other parts of the South East Asia and we didn't have any of this. In fact, what the "natives" had done, with the encouragement of Indian traders is adapt many of their customs - the importance of education - maths and science, the importance of literture as a transmitter of cultural norms - no castse nonsense and the importance of the family unit. Of course it was not all sugar and cream and Indians could be ruthless when they wanted to protect their trading interests but I do think the picture the Pundit paints in his zeal to rewrite Imperiliasm as the salvation of the dark man is simply poopyheadedness. To think that we were all savages before the white man saved us is purely whishfull thinking.


Well see, except here you've gone and proven my point for me, dude.



Because I never said "you were all savages before the white man". I said that there are Savages and there is Civilization, and everyone is a savage before being civilized. And India has had some whoppers of civilizations in its past. The Mughals, the Guptas, the Buddhist empire of Ashoka, just to name a few.
And you Malayans were savages, until they brought their civilization to you. You just said as much.

And of course, one of the differences between the relative success of India compared to the relative failure of a lot of the Central African Hellholes of today is of course that India already had civilization, not just culture. It was not a new concept for them, to receive new Civilizational elements.

Its got nothing to do with race, David. The Savages of the 1st century were blond haired and blue eyed.



RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 03, 2010, 10:03:24 AM
Quote from: beejazz;352789
I haven't seen the movie, but I feel obligated to say that embracing death, destruction and pointlessness aren't new and don't require a nature-centric religion. Bible's got Job, Ecclesiastes, and Revelations. And Christians forget those books same as pantheists (if anyone thinks of themselves as such) forget the potential brutality of nature.


I don't want to speak of what Christians in general may or may not forget. But there is a difference between Forgetting a lesson that is in fact there, not being taught that lesson in the first place, or being taught a LIE that directly contradicts reality.

Christianity may end up forgetting the violence in the Bible (though I'd argue with you that none of the three books you named are about "embracing death, destruction and pointlessness" though certainly some christian elements have ended up choosing to interpret them that way); but the teachings of Hollywood Pantheism directly lie to their viewers about reality; they teach you that "going back to nature" is going to be a beautiful Love-In where you will all be hip and beautiful and everything will be provided for, and we'll all be singing campfire songs; and it completely ignores the horrible savage brutality of the natural world. It sells you a con job.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: beejazz on January 03, 2010, 10:48:52 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit
I don't want to speak of what Christians in general may or may not forget. But there is a difference between Forgetting a lesson that is in fact there, not being taught that lesson in the first place, or being taught a LIE that directly contradicts reality.

I'd consider the two similar. In either case, both religions (again, I'm hesitant to call vague pantheists members of a religion) acknowledge and deal with the negative nature of the world, but the practitioners of both happily forget that life can suck for people who are good by the standards of their faith.

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Christianity may end up forgetting the violence in the Bible (though I'd argue with you that none of the three books you named are about "embracing death, destruction and pointlessness" though certainly some christian elements have ended up choosing to interpret them that way); but the teachings of Hollywood Pantheism directly lie to their viewers about reality; they teach you that "going back to nature" is going to be a beautiful Love-In where you will all be hip and beautiful and everything will be provided for, and we'll all be singing campfire songs; and it completely ignores the horrible savage brutality of the natural world. It sells you a con job.

RPGPundit

I'm not saying that Christianity *embraces* death, destruction, or pointlessness (any more than older, more mature pantheistic faiths do)... only that it at least acknowledges it. Job says that God will destroy you when it's convenient for Him and you've got no right to question Him for it (otherwise "shit happens"). Ecclesiastes starts with "Vanity of vanities. All is vanity" (or in some versions "All is meaningless") and throws in "This too is vanity/meaningless" every time it's made some point. And Revelations depicts the horrific destruction of the earth and people we don't like under the supervision of a kind and loving God. I'm not saying any of this is a bad thing to have in a religious text. Far from it, Ecclesiastes is my favorite book and I think the "Genesis, Exodus, Psalms and Gospels" reading most Christians have is sadly insufficient. Just saying they at least acknowledge the shit in the world we live in.

As for the movie... it looks like what they were going for was a very different kind of nature than the one we've got if there's something between wikipedia and a hivemind going on. How ethical is it to farm a sentient plant, exactly? (I kid here... I've got no doubt the movie failed to think of an actual good reason for the technological stasis of a species with built in internet access). Now... the movie might fail horribly in terms of plausibility. But to go from saying the movie is implausible and seems rooted in some hippy bullshit and then go on to calling it "pantheism" and then to go from there to calling pantheism bad, as the article seems to... it just looks like a bit of a stretch.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on January 03, 2010, 12:15:12 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352828
Yes, it was the altruism of seeking to bring a superior civilization and its benefits, to spread it out across the entire world, so that people wouldn't live in darkness.  


More like arrogance. The worlds they conquered were not living in darkness. India for instance gave the world Buddhism, Sanskrit, architectural wonders etc. Does this sound like a people living in darkness ?

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In a few cases, that sentiment was misplaced, in many it was not.
The europeans brought with them ways of thinking, intellectual disciplines, philosophical teachings and, for lack of a better term, paradigms that were completely new to most of the rest of the world, as well as intellectual disciplines and scientific/technological advancement


Except of course in many cases the world they conquered had their own intellectual disciplines, philosophical teachings and scientific technologies. Not to mention medicine, art and warfare. Again, do these people sound like savages needing to be civilized? I am no historian (you are) but didn’t the civilized world learn a lot esp with regards to the sciences from the Middle East and India, pre colonization ?

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Finally, one cannot put aside the significance of Christianity in motivating the European people at least as much as greed, as a motivation to go out into the world and seek to Save it.


Christianity was a means of control. It was also the stumbling block for the colonial powers. For many oppressed people, faith in the Christian God led them to revolt against their colonial masters. This is one aspect of colonialism that I am not critical of. Of course the rise of Christianity created a whole new set of problems but I think in the long run, it is beneficial to the world as the main “defense” against a growing Islam. (I am not Islamaphobic or anything, I just believe in a little ying and yang)

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Sometimes, these twin motives of Civilization and Christianity were manipulated by the greedy, and at other times they were subverted by the racist; but it was THOSE motives, and not greed and racism themselves, that prompted the great expansion of European Culture to the world.


I disagree. Like you, they thought the other civilizations were inferior. Nothing in the way how they presented their civilizations demonstrated any altruism of any kind. If you were lucky you were treated as a second class citizens. If not, you were treated much worse. They did do a lot of looting, though. So I think we can put greed front and center.

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Really, you don't think that little things like Christianity, Humanism, Freemasonry, and the Enlightenment might be a little more directly responsible?


Not really. I think when you get rich of the work of others you can afford to be humanitiarian. While others are toiling away and you look upon their lands as a “great adventure”, you can afford to be charitable.

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And the Democracies there have received at least as much support and financial aid from whitey too.


What’s your point ? If whitey supports democracies he gets to share some of the credit. If whitey supports crackpot dictators he gets to share some of the blame.

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No. I'm saying that the degree to which countries Went to Shit after their independence was directly related to how much of Western Civilization they held on to. Those countries that rejected Civilized values as being something "white" that was not their way ended up on a toboggan ride straight to hell; while those countries that are doing reasonably well are almost invariably the ones that took the most advantage of the Intellectual Infrastructure that the European powers left behind for them.


This is rather misleading. The degree to which countries Went to Shit after their independence was directly related to how the colonial powers left the country. How the country gained independence. What kind of support they got from their former colonial masters.

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India being pretty well one of the best examples, where many of their institutions (their education system, their civil service, etc) are perhaps more English than the English themselves have these days.


India is often used as an example of “what is right with colonialism”. This ignores the precolonial history, India had with Britain. The kind of relationship it had with Britain during WW2. There are very few colonies….I would say India is the only one, that had the kind of relationship it had with it’s colonial master.

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Well, I would say that those problems you name are not because of the influence of British Colonialism, they're in spite of them.


Really ? You don’t think the bureacracy that was left behind and the way how it worked during the colonial period has anything to do with it ? You don’t think the creation of Pakistan has any influence ? Seriously ?

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You do know that the United States is also part of Western Civilization, right?


We were talking about Western Imperialism, right?

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Well see, except here you've gone and proven my point for me, dude.
Because I never said "you were all savages before the white man". I said that there are Savages and there is Civilization, and everyone is a savage before being civilized. And India has had some whoppers of civilizations in its past. The Mughals, the Guptas, the Buddhist empire of Ashoka, just to name a few.
And you Malayans were savages, until they brought their civilization to you. You just said as much.


Um, no. You are making this argument, now. Look back at the beginning of your reply. You said that Christianity and Civilization was used to bring light to the darkness of the savages. Savages being the colonized. You said Western Civilization was superior. You didn't think that the people they colonized were part of an older (sometimes) Civilization , you thought they were savages.

But of course when you say they are Savages and there is Civilization – you don’t mean any Civilization except Western Civilization because if you did acknowledge other Civilizations you would not consider India, as being an example of Savages.

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And of course, one of the differences between the relative success of India compared to the relative failure of a lot of the Central African Hellholes of today is of course that India already had civilization, not just culture. It was not a new concept for them, to receive new Civilizational elements.


Of course comparing Africa with India is bizarre. Africa with it’s history of slavery, numerous colonizers and it’s violent revolts, is totally different from the Indian experience.

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Its got nothing to do with race, David. The Savages of the 1st century were blond haired and blue eyed.


That maybe so, but there were no savages that were colonized by later day Imperialist only other Civilizations.

(Again I apologize for my part in this derail)

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 03, 2010, 01:28:08 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352829
...but the teachings of Hollywood Pantheism directly lie to their viewers about reality; they teach you that "going back to nature" is going to be a beautiful Love-In where you will all be hip and beautiful and everything will be provided for, and we'll all be singing campfire songs; and it completely ignores the horrible savage brutality of the natural world. It sells you a con job.
You must have been out getting popcorn or tamping your pipe bowl during the first part of the movie.  Quite early on, Jake wanders away from the scientists on his covert mission to infiltrate the Na'vi, and is almost eaten by the local fauna.  In fact, most of the scenes where he is learning their culture are highlighted by nature kicking his ass.

But only someone who is ideologically entwined with technology would describe the natural world as 'horrible savage brutality'.  Sounds like you should watch less Discovery channel, and take a hike into the Uruguayan foothills a bit more.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: GameDaddy on January 03, 2010, 04:10:04 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352828

Really, you don't think that little things like Christianity, Humanism, Freemasonry, and the Enlightenment might be a little more directly responsible?

And the Democracies there have received at least as much support and financial aid from whitey too.


Well, the Freemasons were responsible for salvaging a little native culture and civilization that wasn't completely destroyed by the European Conquests. In some cases they (The Masons) preserved the culture and knowledge, and in others, they thought to obscure or eliminate unique cultural knowledge due to other more pressing conflicting goals.

I'm currently reading Mysteries of the Mexican Pyramids (c) 1976 by Peter Tomkins. The Spanish Church had instituted a uniform policy of destroying and/or looting native cultural sites during the Conquest. This included burning heretical natives at the stake when they sought to teach others from their writings and artworks, and destroying any writing and artwork they came across, especially if the writings and artwork were created in gold or silver.

One exception was Don Carlos de Siguenza y Gongora (Who had been expelled from the Jesuit order). He acquired and preserved small collections of the remaining caches of native documents and shared them with the Italian, Giovanni Francesco Gemelli Careri when Careri visited Mexico from 1697 to 1698. Careri published the first and best description of Pre-Columbian Mexico, however until recent times, was completely discredited with naysayers stating that he had not ever even visited Mexico. Such was the nature of the Church (and State) during those times.

It wouldn't be until 1803 when Baron Fredrich Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (A Freemason) arrived in Mexico that additional information on just how civilized the natives really were prior to the Spanish Conquest would come to light.

As Humboldt and his companions approached Mexico City, a messenger brought word of welcome from Viceroy Don Jose Iturrigaray, granting Humboldt passports to travel wherever he pleased in New Spain, a special treatment arranged for Humboldt in Madrid by the Minister of Saxony, who had convinced the Spanish Crown that such a distinguished scientist and 'conservative' young nobleman would not rock the boat of state with his reports from Mesoamerica. Actually the arrangement had every earmark of being a masonic ploy to facilitate the reconnaissance of Mexico, possibly on behalf of long-term mining interests in Europe.

Within the city, with its wide clean avenues, flanked by iron candelabra, respendent at night with lighted palaces and churches, Humboldt was welcomed as a learned and erudite visitor. It was his charm however, and his apparent sincerity and ease, along with his sociability and brilliance of conversation, which really opened doors to him. Wherever he went, cultivated persons gave hime their confidence; In Mexico he got help from peasant and governor, missionary and bishop, savant and noble, being welcomed indiscriminately in palaces or shack, workshop or hacienda. Almost everyone had heard of Baron Humboldt as either astronomer, physiologist, botanist, economist, archaeologist or Philologist; but seldom had any of them had occassion to frequent so distinguished a personage.

Most amazing, the viceroy immediately opened up for Humboldt the country's classified archives. To help with his research, Humboldt found, in circumstances that seemed more than fortuitous, a former classmate from Freiberg University, Don Andres Manuel del Rio, who had providentially become director of Mexico's school of mines. A young savant, Dr. M. Oteyza, was selected to tutor Humboldt on the history of Mexico and show him where he could obtain the rare Indian picture writings which had escaped the autos da fe of the Conquest, picture writings so scarce in New Spain, that the majority of educated persons had never seen one.

With access to the official files, and a bent for statistics Homboldt completed a population survey of Mexico City (Twice the size of New York at the time). Humboldt found both town and county teeming with priests, monks, and nuns - one priest for every sixty inhabitants, or 100,000 priests in a county of six million people. To Protestant Humboldt, the higher clergy of Mexico appeared to be living in clover, some receiving incomes greater than that of the then president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.

After several months of studying the statistics and geography of the country, and of analyzing Mexico City as the political, commercial, industrial, and ecclesiastical capital of New Spain, Humboldt turned to the city's antiquities to observe it as an ancient center of civilization. He was shocked to discover the extent of the destruction of Tenochtitlan (Founded in 1325 btw), as well as the statues and painted codices. He also learned that since Siguenza's death another great collection of books, manuscripts, and codices had been pillaged and dispersed, that of the eighteenth century Milanese traveler Lorenzo Boturini Benaducci, which had been burned, stolen, or taken abroad, where a part of it was siezed by British pirates who destroyed it without understanding its value.


My opinion is that any "Support" and "Financial Aid" received from European powers after emancipation pales in comparison to the amounts looted and destroyed during the earlier era...
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 03, 2010, 04:28:11 PM
Quote from: David R;352853
More like arrogance. The worlds they conquered were not living in darkness. India for instance gave the world Buddhism, Sanskrit, architectural wonders etc. Does this sound like a people living in darkness ?


Quite right, they did provide the world all kinds of wonders. India is a truly ancient culture that has lived through a number of cycles of civilization and decadence. But by the time that the west came along to conquer India, it was back in another stage of decadence.
Again, India had marvelous civilizations, including several that were, at the time, foreign invasions, and it has managed to learn from each of them. Your case study here seems to be arguing in favour of my point, actually.

 
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Except of course in many cases the world they conquered had their own intellectual disciplines, philosophical teachings and scientific technologies. Not to mention medicine, art and warfare. Again, do these people sound like savages needing to be civilized? I am no historian (you are) but didn’t the civilized world learn a lot esp with regards to the sciences from the Middle East and India, pre colonization ?


Hundreds of years earlier, when the Middle East and India WERE the civilized places, and Europe was clawing its way back out of barbarism, yes, absolutely.


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Christianity was a means of control. It was also the stumbling block for the colonial powers. For many oppressed people, faith in the Christian God led them to revolt against their colonial masters. This is one aspect of colonialism that I am not critical of. Of course the rise of Christianity created a whole new set of problems but I think in the long run, it is beneficial to the world as the main “defense” against a growing Islam. (I am not Islamaphobic or anything, I just believe in a little ying and yang)


That's ironic, because what I consider to be one of the greatest mistakes of colonialism was the sequence of events that allowed Islam to be co-opted by radical fundamentalism. The modern Wahabi movement is entirely a product of European intervention during the colonial era, and a tragic and stupid mistake.

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I disagree. Like you, they thought the other civilizations were inferior. Nothing in the way how they presented their civilizations demonstrated any altruism of any kind. If you were lucky you were treated as a second class citizens. If not, you were treated much worse. They did do a lot of looting, though. So I think we can put greed front and center.


That's a deeply cynical view. Again, you can say it was a tainted altruism, but what motivated the western culture as a whole (apart from profiteers) was the sense of responsibility of spreading civilization.
Judging some of the actions and forms of this sense of responsibility by today's modern standards may end up finding it erroneous on many levels; and certainly racism was mixed into things in a way that harmed the whole enterprise, but don't pretend that an entire civilization got up one morning and said "hey, let's go destroy all these people for kicks and our own benefit!"; that's not what was going on.

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Not really. I think when you get rich of the work of others you can afford to be humanitiarian. While others are toiling away and you look upon their lands as a “great adventure”, you can afford to be charitable.


Lots of other civilizations got rich off of lesser nations they conquered, but did NOT end up developing humanitarian ideals.


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What’s your point ? If whitey supports democracies he gets to share some of the credit. If whitey supports crackpot dictators he gets to share some of the blame.


Yes, that's fair, fine.
What it also means is that ultimately the other half of the blame depends on the choices made by the people in these countries themselves. They are not free of responsibility, praise or blame.


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This is rather misleading. The degree to which countries Went to Shit after their independence was directly related to how the colonial powers left the country. How the country gained independence. What kind of support they got from their former colonial masters.


No, I don't think that's the determinant factor. According to you (and others, and yes, a good argument can be made), the English intentionally tried to sabotage India when they left; there were other countries where England or other powers tried to leave on good terms, but the place was subverted by warlords or marxist guerillas. India, in any case, turned out quite well.


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Really ? You don’t think the bureacracy that was left behind and the way how it worked during the colonial period has anything to do with it ? You don’t think the creation of Pakistan has any influence ? Seriously ?


The creation of Pakistan is certainly something that England bears some responsibility, but if I'm not mistaken there was also the little matter of the Muslim intelligentsia in India desperately wanting to create their own state, and millions and millions of muslims in India who were convinced that without the british around to protect them the Hindus would end up devouring them. So like, you know, I don't recall that British troops had to go around forcibly making the state at gunpoint, either.


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We were talking about Western Imperialism, right?


Well, you were. I'm talking about Civilization. Although, if you really think that the U.S. isn't an imperialist nation, and one of the most successful of all time, you're kind of being blind. They probably did better than the greeks, romans and british combined when it comes to spreading their culture all over the world, the good and the bad.


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Um, no. You are making this argument, now. Look back at the beginning of your reply. You said that Christianity and Civilization was used to bring light to the darkness of the savages. Savages being the colonized. You said Western Civilization was superior. You didn't think that the people they colonized were part of an older (sometimes) Civilization , you thought they were savages.


Perhaps I wasn't clear, and if so I'm sorry. I do think that western civilization is a superior civilization; there are lots of other civilizations that also have a lot of virtues to them. Then there is savagery, which is different than civilization.
Some of the places that western civilization expanded into had their own previous civilizations, or had already been influenced by earlier civilizations that were also foreign to them. Other areas were barbaric, either having always been barbaric or having fallen into barbarism after long periods of decadence.

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But of course when you say they are Savages and there is Civilization – you don’t mean any Civilization except Western Civilization because if you did acknowledge other Civilizations you would not consider India, as being an example of Savages.


(most of) India in the time of the English domination of India was not savage; it was a decadent civilization.

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Of course comparing Africa with India is bizarre. Africa with it’s history of slavery, numerous colonizers and it’s violent revolts, is totally different from the Indian experience.


India had slavery (and untouchables), was conquered and colonized multiple times, and had unspeakable violence occur in the course of its history.
The main difference between India and Africa was actually that India already had prior experience of civilization before its encounter with the West; whereas most of sub-saharan Africa did not.


RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 03, 2010, 04:30:18 PM
Quote from: StormBringer;352874
You must have been out getting popcorn or tamping your pipe bowl during the first part of the movie.  Quite early on, Jake wanders away from the scientists on his covert mission to infiltrate the Na'vi, and is almost eaten by the local fauna.  In fact, most of the scenes where he is learning their culture are highlighted by nature kicking his ass.


That is meant to show the contrast between the foolish evil civilized man who cannot be in harmony with nature, and the Navi who are.

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But only someone who is ideologically entwined with technology would describe the natural world as 'horrible savage brutality'.  Sounds like you should watch less Discovery channel, and take a hike into the Uruguayan foothills a bit more.


Paying nature a little visit, and actually living in nature without any of the benefits of civilization, are two very different things.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Machinegun Blue on January 03, 2010, 04:57:42 PM
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That is meant to show the contrast between the foolish evil civilized man who cannot be in harmony with nature, and the Navi who are.


Pfft. You've got quite the imagination. I've got to say.


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Paying nature a little visit, and actually living in nature without any of the benefits of civilization, are two very different things.

RPGPundit


It's a bit short sighted to think that you don't live in nature 100% of the day.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on January 03, 2010, 06:51:34 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352902
Quite right, they did provide the world all kinds of wonders. India is a truly ancient culture that has lived through a number of cycles of civilization and decadence. But by the time that the west came along to conquer India, it was back in another stage of decadence.


Except decadence does not mean Savagery. America could be considered decadent at this moment but this does not make it "savage" or in need of "saving" nor does it take away from the fact that it continues to play a vital role in the World. One could argue that Imperialism is a symptom of decadence but again, this would not make the Imperialist, savages. I of course disagee with your assesment that India was decadent it was merely ripe for outright conquest after numerous skirmishes with the British Empire.

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Again, India had marvelous civilizations, including several that were, at the time, foreign invasions, and it has managed to learn from each of them. Your case study here seems to be arguing in favour of my point, actually.


How so ? Your point is that India was a Savage in need of saving. You changed the tone of your argument to India being decadent. Of course countries learn from their invasions and those invasions were based on expansion and greed but your point was that the later day Imperilaist were in India to save India from Savagery based on altruism which is certainly not the case because :

1. India was already an advanced Civilization which had a relationship with the British Empire

2. Like Western Civilizations, had already gone through it's own process of being delievered from "savagery"
 
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Hundreds of years earlier, when the Middle East and India WERE the civilized places, and Europe was clawing its way back out of barbarism, yes, absolutely.


Again, this merely means they were already Civilizations. Unless you are saying that India reverted to barbarism by the time it was colonized, which certainly is not the case. I doubt very much (and you would know more about this) that Europe was clawing it's way out of barbarism. It seems to me, that the Middle East and India learnt a lot from Europe too. I think it was a two way street.

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That's ironic, because what I consider to be one of the greatest mistakes of colonialism was the sequence of events that allowed Islam to be co-opted by radical fundamentalism. The modern Wahabi movement is entirely a product of European intervention during the colonial era, and a tragic and stupid mistake.


Good point. I was acknowledging Christianity as one of the new paradigms that caused a change in the mindset of the colonized. I think it's important to understand how radical a concept Christianity was at one time. I'm not talking about the religion per se but rather it's use as an agent of social change.

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That's a deeply cynical view. Again, you can say it was a tainted altruism, but what motivated the western culture as a whole (apart from profiteers) was the sense of responsibility of spreading civilization.


Well the point here is that they wanted to spread "their civilization" which they considered superior. This would have been altruistic if who they were conquering were in fact savages in need of some kind of saving but this was not the case. These "savages" had something they wanted and it was easier to take by force then deal with equals.

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Judging some of the actions and forms of this sense of responsibility by today's modern standards may end up finding it erroneous on many levels; and certainly racism was mixed into things in a way that harmed the whole enterprise, but don't pretend that an entire civilization got up one morning and said "hey, let's go destroy all these people for kicks and our own benefit!"; that's not what was going on.


I don't think they got up one morning said "hey let's go destroy all these people for kicks and for own own benefit" I think it was a slow insidous process where their ideals were warped and they begun to understand how easy it would be if they controlled instead of negotiated.

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Lots of other civilizations got rich off of lesser nations they conquered, but did NOT end up developing humanitarian ideals.


Some colonizers were "better" than others. I don't dispute this. In fact I think I acknowledged this in one of my replies.

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Yes, that's fair, fine.
What it also means is that ultimately the other half of the blame depends on the choices made by the people in these countries themselves. They are not free of responsibility, praise or blame.


I never said they were free from responsibility or blame.

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No, I don't think that's the determinant factor. According to you (and others, and yes, a good argument can be made), the English intentionally tried to sabotage India when they left; there were other countries where England or other powers tried to leave on good terms, but the place was subverted by warlords or marxist guerillas. India, in any case, turned out quite well.


I didn't mean intentional sabotage by the Colonial powers. What I meant was, the kind of colonizers they were - the good one or the bad ones, the kind of resistance the natives put up and the kinds of different ideological groups that were created during this time. The alliances made then broken etc.

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The creation of Pakistan is certainly something that England bears some responsibility, but if I'm not mistaken there was also the little matter of the Muslim intelligentsia in India desperately wanting to create their own state, and millions and millions of muslims in India who were convinced that without the british around to protect them the Hindus would end up devouring them. So like, you know, I don't recall that British troops had to go around forcibly making the state at gunpoint, either.


Jinnah was a prick of the highest order but ultimately it was the British who were in control. They didn't have to go around with troops (although in this case in certain places they did in fact do this) to manipulate the population to get what ultimately benefitted them. Remember their policy was to divide and conquer. The rise of the Muslim intelellgenstia was something they secretly encouraged.

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Well, you were. I'm talking about Civilization. Although, if you really think that the U.S. isn't an imperialist nation, and one of the most successful of all time, you're kind of being blind. They probably did better than the greeks, romans and british combined when it comes to spreading their culture all over the world, the good and the bad.


No, you were talking about the British in India who were indeed Imperialist. You also begun this derail by talking about the altruistic nature of Imperialism. You have so far tried to downplay the difference between Imperialism and Civilization. I have no problem with Western Civilization but I do have a problem with Western Imperiliazation.

And yes American is the most successfull imperialist nation of all time, but I think where they do very well , where they benefit the World most, is through their cultural expansion, which I don't view as a form of imperialism.

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Perhaps I wasn't clear, and if so I'm sorry. I do think that western civilization is a superior civilization; there are lots of other civilizations that also have a lot of virtues to them. Then there is savagery, which is different than civilization.


I don't have an issue with this, although I think when we view people as savages, we make all kinds of excuses as to why "we" are better, when the reality is, that they may not be savages at all. I do think that the Imperialist viewed the colonized as savages when they in fact were highly developed civilizations.

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Some of the places that western civilization expanded into had their own previous civilizations, or had already been influenced by earlier civilizations that were also foreign to them. Other areas were barbaric, either having always been barbaric or having fallen into barbarism after long periods of decadence.


Again, decadence does not equal savagery and it certainly does not mean the kind of barbarism that the Roman Empire encountered.

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(most of) India in the time of the English domination of India was not savage; it was a decadent civilization.


I disagree with this charatization but again, your main point is that Western Imperialism brought civilization , which is certainly not the case with India and many other countries.

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The main difference between India and Africa was actually that India already had prior experience of civilization before its encounter with the West; whereas most of sub-saharan Africa did not.


I think this is one factor but like I said, what is really important is the nature of the colonization and the events leading up to liberation, those are the main factors, IMO.

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Axiomatic on January 04, 2010, 05:57:41 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352903
That is meant to show the contrast between the foolish evil civilized man who cannot be in harmony with nature, and the Navi who are.
If, by harmony with nature, you mean beating the shit out of nature and wrestling it to the ground.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: JongWK on January 04, 2010, 08:55:30 AM
From the BBC: (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2010/01/is_blue_the_new_black_why_some.html)

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Is blue the new black? Why some people think Avatar is racist

Mark Mardell | 22:36 UK time, Sunday, 3 January 2010

I am back after the holidays. Christmas day was bracketed by breaking news on health care on Christmas Eve and the underpants bomber on Boxing Day, but for the last few days I have been enjoying some time with the family.

One of the best things we did was see Avatar. Stupendous. Exhilarating. Extraordinary. I never thought 3D could work. The technology is stunning. I admit I am something of a science fiction buff, but I think most people are going to be blown away by this film. Predictably, columnists who live to attack whatever is successful and put the counter-intuitive point of view are having a field day.

But the criticism that has intrigued me is the charge that the film is racist.

I have tried in writing this not to blow the plot, but inevitably there are some spoilers. For those who don't know already, the story centres on a conflict between greedy corporate human invaders and the planet's inhabitants, 10-foot tall, blue-skinned people with rather feline features and tails. One of many such blogs argues that "Avatar is a fantasy about ceasing to be white, giving up the old human meatsack to join the blue people, but never losing white privilege."

With a certain accuracy critics have pointed out that all the "human" characters are played by white actors and all the blue, cat-like Na'vi are played by non-whites. With a degree of American insularity they also say that because they use bows and arrows and wear feathers they are "really" native Americans. This ignores tribal indigenous people from New Guinea to Brazil, so deliberately misses a wider point.

The debate in the US is conditioned by the long-running argument among sci-fi writers and fans about the "magical negro". It is a term coined by black critics who noted white authors often featured non-white characters possessed of a certain sort of natural wisdom, mystic powers, who play sidekick to the white hero and often sacrifice themselves for the central character. They are a variant on the much-older ideal of the "noble savage".

If I have understood correctly, the critics say this is demeaning because the character, who need not actually be black, but native American or some other ethnic group, acts only to help the whites central to the story, and isn't part of a racial group, doesn't have a back story, or a fully developed character but is essentially a plot device. I'd note that American fiction has quite often featured a "magic janitor" and I think the key is what the author perceives on a very basic level as otherness as much as race.

The term surfaced in the political arena during the last presidential elections when in the LA times David Ehrenstein suggested Barack Obama was a magical negro: "Like a comic-book superhero, Obama is there to help, out of the sheer goodness of a heart we need not know or understand. For as with all Magic Negroes, the less real he seems, the more desirable he becomes."

It is a thoughtful article, disturbing for its unspoken assumption that Obama is a self-constructed stereotype, not a real person and that "authentic" black people behave in a certain way.

In any case the term was gleefully taken up by Obama's opponents and set to the tune of Puff the Magic Dragon. You might guess their purpose was not to advance post-structuralist criticism but to earn the licence to repeat the naughty word "negro" and make fun of the candidate.

Thank the powers, of whatever race, that no-one has suggested that any character in Avatar is "really" the president. Although I thought I spotted Donald Rumsfeld on the big screen. The criticism of Avatar is an extension of the "magical Negro" idea. Indeed at one level it is an inversion of it: "the magical Caucasian" who turns out to be an even nobler savage than the common and garden, bred-to-it variety. Tarzan, Lord of Greystokes, Lord of the Jungle has to be top of the tree in this game. The central complaint is that in Avatar it takes a white hero to lead the natives.

This seems to miss two points. The first is simply about the way narrative works. The critics' version of the film would be very dull. Bad people land on planet. Good people defeat them - virtuous but not much of a story arc. An emotional journey, learning and changing are better narrative. Raising age-old questions about whether it is better to be true to your values and your friends rather than your country (species) is more thought-provoking than most Hollywood blockbusters manage.

My second objection is more profound. I strongly believe the racial divide has been the driving force in American history, and continues to play a huge, and often under-discussed role in its politics. I am not one to underestimate its power.

But that doesn't mean everything is about that debate. One of the reasons I like sci-fi, apart from the escapism, is the way it explores political ideas, old and new. The film is actually a rather old-fashioned, liberal, morality tale. As in many futures imagined by authors over the last several decades the company has replaced the state as the agent of colonialism and greedy conquest. Then there is the mainstay of Hollywood morality, the underdog mounting a ferocious fight-back. Added to the mix is a healthy dose of new age Gaia-ism (Pandoraism?). The idea of weaker opponents fighting back against a military force with an apparently overwhelming technological superiority, aided by the enemy within, surely echoes not only Vietnam but conflicts much closer to us in time and space. Perhaps it is easier for American critics to think it is about race.

Oddly enough I read a rather subtler take on the idea of technology versus nature just a few days after seeing the film. My wife bought me Peter F Hamilton's Fallen Dragon for Christmas. It is much more compact and better written than his past sprawling space operas but equally packed with ideas. One chapter sees the company's military defeated in a way very familiar to viewers of Avatar. The twist is, the planetary defenders of Santa Chico are not aboriginal but come from elsewhere, post-humans genetically mutated into a state of harmony with the local flora and fauna, which are themselves itself genetically uplifted into a state of scientifically ennobled post savagery. The natives are originally from California. I always thought the West Coast was magic.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 04, 2010, 09:35:45 AM
Quote from: David R;352915
Except decadence does not mean Savagery. America could be considered decadent at this moment but this does not make it "savage" or in need of "saving" nor does it take away from the fact that it continues to play a vital role in the World. One could argue that Imperialism is a symptom of decadence but again, this would not make the Imperialist, savages. I of course disagee with your assesment that India was decadent it was merely ripe for outright conquest after numerous skirmishes with the British Empire.


Actually, the entire western world is falling into decadence. The abandonment of all previous moral standpoints, and the rise in anti-civilization movements (including the incredible success and blind acceptance by average people of the premises in this film) is a clear sign of that, as one of the first steps of the decadence of a civilization is that people stop actually believing in the worth of civilization.

So while the west is not quite reduced to savagery yet (that takes time), I do think it is very much DESPERATELY in need of "saving".


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How so ? Your point is that India was a Savage in need of saving. You changed the tone of your argument to India being decadent.  :


Well, actually, way back when, you will recall I was talking about the Gauls, Iberians and Britons under the Romans, who were much better examples of real Savagery; but then you insisted on changing the topic into being about the British empire and India, probably because this allows you to conflate the issue with accusations of racism, and because its a much messier example.


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Again, this merely means they were already Civilizations.


You're making this whole line of argument, only it sounds from other elements of your debating that you don't actually believe that there's such a thing as any culture without civilization?  Do you believe that everything is just civilization, and equally good? Do you think that people wearing a leather thong, shitting in the field and ritually cannibalizing their neighbours are identical in value as a civilization that built the Louvre, the Statue of Liberty or wrote War and Peace or invented the internet? Just checking...


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I doubt very much (and you would know more about this) that Europe was clawing it's way out of barbarism. It seems to me, that the Middle East and India learnt a lot from Europe too. I think it was a two way street.


I presumed that when you say Europe learned a lot of lessons from the Middle East, that you are talking about the period shortly before, during, and shortly after the Renaissance. At this point, Europe had lost almost all of the remnants of the Roman Civiliization; which granted being the greatest civilization that had ever existed up to that point, left behind a lot of remnants, but essentially the Europeans at that time had fallen into a kind of barbarism.  In 1000 AD, when there were street lights and running water in the muslim city of Cordoba, in rome the population had been reduced to a pathetic 20000 living among the rubble of what had once been the greatest testament to humanity of all time, Paris had about the same population and there wasn't even a sewer system, never mind running water. People shat on the streets and it festered there. Europeans had lost some of the most basic concepts of mathematics, medicine, art, philosophy, music, architecture; they had to relearn ALL of these things from the middle-east. So yes, at that time, the muslim world was civilized, and the European world was barbaric.


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I disagree with this charatization but again, your main point is that Western Imperialism brought civilization , which is certainly not the case with India and many other countries.


Which others? What other countries that were colonized by the west can you claim were on-par with India as a civilization?

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Imperator on January 04, 2010, 11:01:16 AM
I wouldn't delve too much in the alleged message of the movie, as it is just an enormous crock of stupid shit, IMO. I'm sad that I wasted 12 € in that crap.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on January 04, 2010, 11:27:01 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;352988
Actually, the entire western world is falling into decadence. The abandonment of all previous moral standpoints, and the rise in anti-civilization movements (including the incredible success and blind acceptance by average people of the premises in this film) is a clear sign of that, as one of the first steps of the decadence of a civilization is that people stop actually believing in the worth of civilization.


Um, you do understand that the main reason why the film is so popular is because of it’s special effects and the fact it’s a very populist genre. You do know this, right ? And if some do agree with the premises of the film, it’s not because they think Cameron is anti civilization and anti humanist (and if anyone is interested in what I think of this film and Cameron’s films in general, just let me know) I disagree with your assessment as to why the West is falling into decadence but it’s not a discussion I want to have.

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Well, actually, way back when, you will recall I was talking about the Gauls, Iberians and Britons under the Romans, who were much better examples of real Savagery; but then you insisted on changing the topic into being about the British empire and India, probably because this allows you to conflate the issue with accusations of racism, and because its a much messier example.


Well of course your examples were more convenient and less messy. We were talking about spreading civilization (amongst other goals) by force, in other words Imperialism. Real world examples other than yours needed to be introduced. If you believe that Imperialism brought civilization to the savages, then why are you bothered by the examples of the British Empire in India or the Dutch in Indonasia or the French in Vietnam. Apparently you think they were savages (even though they had civilizations of their own) and needed to be saved. Of course there was racism was involved. The Imperialists certainly made it clear that they felt the natives were inferior.

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You're making this whole line of argument, only it sounds from other elements of your debating that you don't actually believe that there's such a thing as any culture without civilization?  Do you believe that everything is just civilization, and equally good? Do you think that people wearing a leather thong, shitting in the field and ritually cannibalizing their neighbours are identical in value as a civilization that built the Louvre, the Statue of Liberty or wrote War and Peace or invented the internet? Just checking...


What a bizarre reading of my replies. Do you think it’s just and fair for a so-called civilized Nation to invade another country, steal their resources, treat the natives worse than animals, carve up territories , create racial strife, introduce religion as a means of control, create territorial boundaries where none existed before, use the colonies as proxies in wars with other so-called civilized Nations, all of this under the cloak of altruism and the expansion of their superior civilization ? Just checking….

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Which others? What other countries that were colonized by the west can you claim were on-par with India as a civilization?


Nice try. Anyone reading my posts would understand (hopefully) I don’t perceive countries or civilizations as superior or inferior. I understand what you are trying to do here. Show how these countires were Savages (not on par with India….which was apparently decadent) and this makes it ok for them to be colonized (and let's not dwell on the messy aspects of Imperialism). Well I promised a shout out to some of my other Asian brothers and sisters in two countries, so I would say Indonasia and Vietnam, the latter which went through it’s Civilizational process ( which should make you happy) by China, if I’m not mistaken.

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 04, 2010, 11:33:50 PM
Quote from: David R;353003
Um, you do understand that the main reason why the film is so popular is because of it’s special effects and the fact it’s a very populist genre. You do know this, right ? And if some do agree with the premises of the film, it’s not because they think Cameron is anti civilization and anti humanist (and if anyone is interested in what I think of this film and Cameron’s films in general, just let me know) I disagree with your assessment as to why the West is falling into decadence but it’s not a discussion I want to have.


I do absolutely understand what you're saying here; the vast majority of people who are watching this film and enjoying it are not doing so because they're thinking "This film is awesome because its anti-humanity!! Woo!", and when they cheer as human soldiers are massacred, they aren't doing it because they think "shit, I hate humanity" or "civilization sucks ass!".
The place where I think that the response (or rather, LACK of response) to this film highlights the decadence of our civilization is in the way that people are doing this, and NOT asking questions about those underlying messages the film sends. The fact that they don't even consider the question of whether savagery is a better, "purer" state than civilized development, but tend to just take it as a given part of the post-modernist paradigm of society is what disturbs me so much.   If this movie's reception was more controversial, I'd be much less disturbed.

 
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Well of course your examples were more convenient and less messy. We were talking about spreading civilization (amongst other goals) by force, in other words Imperialism. Real world examples other than yours needed to be introduced.


Are you suggesting that the expansion of Roman Civilization, which was, after all, the beginning of the Western World, was not real?
I mean, I understand that just as it is inconvenient for my argument to have to deal with racism-tinged 19th century colonialism, it is it utterly and totally inconvenient for you to have to deal with other examples where the stain of racism cannot be transplanted into the debate as a way to de-legitimize my argument.  But that really is just a weak spot in your argument, isn't it? I mean, you can try to argue that all efforts to expand civlization are racist; but then you pretty much have to talk about the Romans. Or you can try to argue about the point itself without bringing racism into things, but then you're playing with a far weaker hand.
Either way it kind of sucks for you, but that's the reality of what you face. I don't see why I have to tie my own hands by playing by your rules and not talking about the Romans.

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 If you believe that Imperialism brought civilization to the savages, then why are you bothered by the examples of the British Empire in India or the Dutch in Indonasia or the French in Vietnam. Apparently you think they were savages (even though they had civilizations of their own) and needed to be saved. Of course there was racism was involved. The Imperialists certainly made it clear that they felt the natives were inferior.


Well, I'm completely willing to stipulate to the position that 19th century european colonialism was tainted by racism inherent in european culture of the times. And that really sucks.
But really, now what? Let's agree that just about ANYTHING when it gets tainted by racism, from baby showers to basketball games, ends up getting fucked up and complicated. But that doesn't really do anything to win an argument about baby showers themselves being evil, does it?


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What a bizarre reading of my replies. Do you think it’s just and fair for a so-called civilized Nation to invade another country, steal their resources, treat the natives worse than animals, carve up territories , create racial strife, introduce religion as a means of control, create territorial boundaries where none existed before, use the colonies as proxies in wars with other so-called civilized Nations, all of this under the cloak of altruism and the expansion of their superior civilization ? Just checking….


No. No I don't. And that's not what I'm talking about. Using the sharing of civilization as an excuse to commit atrocities is bad; which does not make civilization itself or the effort to bring civilization to savage peoples bad.
There; I answered your question, now you please answer mine: "Do you believe that everything is just civilization, and equally good? Do you think that people wearing a leather thong, shitting in the field and ritually cannibalizing their neighbours are identical in value as a civilization that built the Louvre, the Statue of Liberty or wrote War and Peace or invented the internet?"


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Nice try. Anyone reading my posts would understand (hopefully) I don’t perceive countries or civilizations as superior or inferior. I understand what you are trying to do here. Show how these countires were Savages (not on par with India….which was apparently decadent) and this makes it ok for them to be colonized (and let's not dwell on the messy aspects of Imperialism). Well I promised a shout out to some of my other Asian brothers and sisters in two countries, so I would say Indonasia and Vietnam, the latter which went through it’s Civilizational process ( which should make you happy) by China, if I’m not mistaken.


Hmm. That's curious. So first you say that you don't believe that any civilization is superior or inferior to any other. But now you've named three particular peoples: India, Indonesia and Vietnam. That would imply that all the other nations which the European nations colonized were in fact not in the same class as those three, which would imply that in fact, despite your attempt at PC-ness, you DO in fact believe that some civilizations were inferior to others.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 04, 2010, 11:34:51 PM
Quote from: Imperator;352998
I wouldn't delve too much in the alleged message of the movie, as it is just an enormous crock of stupid shit, IMO. I'm sad that I wasted 12 € in that crap.


Hmm. Interesting; what was it that you didn't like about the movie then?

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on January 05, 2010, 04:22:58 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;353106

The place where I think that the response (or rather, LACK of response) to this film highlights the decadence of our civilization is in the way that people are doing this, and NOT asking questions about those underlying messages the film sends. The fact that they don't even consider the question of whether savagery is a better, "purer" state than civilized development, but tend to just take it as a given part of the post-modernist paradigm of society is what disturbs me so much.   If this movie's reception was more controversial, I'd be much less disturbed.


Well I don’t get this civilization vs savagery nonsense of yours at all. I don’t think they question if savagery is better because they know savagery sucks. The major themes are the environment , Imperialism, greed and heroism. Cameron has often placed warriors in a position where they save or redeem humanity. In Aliens they defied their corporate overlords and destroyed an alien race. Here, they defy their corporate overlords and save an alien race. The Abyss, his best film IMO, kind of muddies the water. Of course saving or redeeming sometimes means going against your own. I keep thinking of that line in T2, where Arnold goes, “it’s in your nature to destroy yourselves” Humans fighting humans. At the end of the day, it's not really anticivilization but rather about the kind of civilization you want.

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Are you suggesting that the expansion of Roman Civilization, which was, after all, the beginning of the Western World, was not real?


Now you are just being silly. I specifically said “real world examples other than yours need to be introduced”.

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I mean, I understand that just as it is inconvenient for my argument to have to deal with racism-tinged 19th century colonialism, it is it utterly and totally inconvenient for you to have to deal with other examples where the stain of racism cannot be transplanted into the debate as a way to de-legitimize my argument.


Again your reading of my replies is bizarre. Every country I mentioned, I acknowledged went through a process of “civilization”. India with it’s various invaders, Vietnam with the Chinese, Malaya with India and China. The “process” sometimes were not as violent as your Roman example but I did recognize them in my replies to you.

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But that really is just a weak spot in your argument, isn't it? I mean, you can try to argue that all efforts to expand civlization are racist; but then you pretty much have to talk about the Romans. Or you can try to argue about the point itself without bringing racism into things, but then you're playing with a far weaker hand.
Either way it kind of sucks for you, but that's the reality of what you face. I don't see why I have to tie my own hands by playing by your rules and not talking about the Romans.


Brother, talk about the Romans all you like. But the reason why you are having a problem in this discussion is that your Roman example relies on the conquered being savages and the Romans bestowing civilization on them. But the reality of 19th Century Imperialism, is much different. You can’t go around claiming that the Imperialist were bringing civilization to savages because they weren’t. These socalled savages had thriving civilizations of their own. That’s what you get when you argue 19th century Imperialism was merely bringing light to the dark world of savages.

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Well, I'm completely willing to stipulate to the position that 19th century european colonialism was tainted by racism inherent in european culture of the times. And that really sucks.
But really, now what? Let's agree that just about ANYTHING when it gets tainted by racism, from baby showers to basketball games, ends up getting fucked up and complicated. But that doesn't really do anything to win an argument about baby showers themselves being evil, does it?


I have no idea what you are talking about here. C'mon, you made the claim that 19th century Imperilism brought civilization to the savages. I disagreed and gave my reasons. You can either concede that your claim was wrong or carry on presenting arguments as to why I am wrong.  

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No. No I don't. And that's not what I'm talking about. Using the sharing of civilization as an excuse to commit atrocities is bad; which does not make civilization itself or the effort to bring civilization to savage peoples bad.


I never once argued that civilization was bad or that it was wrong to bring civilization to anyone. In fact I talked about how China and India brought and enhanced the culture/civilization of early Malaya. What I disagreed with, was your contention that the countries that the Imperialists conquered were nations of savages in need of saving.

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There; I answered your question, now you please answer mine: "Do you believe that everything is just civilization, and equally good? Do you think that people wearing a leather thong, shitting in the field and ritually cannibalizing their neighbours are identical in value as a civilization that built the Louvre, the Statue of Liberty or wrote War and Peace or invented the internet?"


No. I think some civilizations contribute more to the world in terms of technology, the arts and the progress of humanity. Now before I answer the second part.... who are these thong wearing cannibalistic field shitters ? Are they the savages of your Roman times ? Or do you mean, a native of wherever, living an agragrian lifesytyle and looking after her family is of equal value to some yuppie working the mean streets Hong Kong ? If it's the latter, then yes, I think they are of equal value.

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Hmm. That's curious. So first you say that you don't believe that any civilization is superior or inferior to any other. But now you've named three particular peoples: India, Indonesia and Vietnam. That would imply that all the other nations which the European nations colonized were in fact not in the same class as those three, which would imply that in fact, despite your attempt at PC-ness, you DO in fact believe that some civilizations were inferior to others.


Brother, didn’t I say, this was your cunning plan ? Didn’t you just say everything I said you would say ? Am I good or what? Look, these three countries that I named had the most influence in terms of culture/history in my country. See, unlike you, I don’t need to read about this shit from history books. I can go around my country and see how other civilizations have influence my homeland. I could have just avoided your obvious trap, but what the hell, you need to be reminded that those colonized countries were not a bunch of savages.

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Imperator on January 05, 2010, 07:33:28 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;353107
Hmm. Interesting; what was it that you didn't like about the movie then?

RPGPundit


The short answer:

I liked the 3D, I think it was convincing and well done. Design and visuals were excellent. I enjoyed the soundtrack. That's about it, and beyond that there's simply nothing. It's just a big balloon full of vapid air.

The story is so trite that it becomes simply nonexistent. Avatar should have been a documentary on a fictional world, that way it would have been half the length and I would have praised Cameron as a great creator. But then they try to tell you the story, and it fucking sucks.

The movie was so predictable that I found myself correctly guessing every line of dialogue for the most part of the movie. Every. Fucking. Line. Dialogues are also not only predictable, but retarded, and acting is wooden. CGI people acts as well as real life actors.

There are many things that make no sense at all. Why did the Na'vi develop a verbal language if they're able to interface via the USB port in their fucking ponytails?
Why do they have to hunt at all? Because the food could just be ordered to allow them to eat it, if everyone's so connected.
If the planet is a sentient entity who can crush so easily the human expedition, why didn't it do it the first time humans started shooting aliens around?
Why the fuck is that shitty mineral so important?
Why are there flying mountains that magically interfere with bad guy's radars?
Why the hell the combat robots carry around giant combat knifes, maybe that way they will be able to make giant salami slices or what?

It was annoying. And it was even more annoying to think that Cameron spent 13 years to develop this retarded film. One incoherent thing after other, all wrapped in the nicest visuals ever seen, I admit it. But a big pile of shit at the end of the day.

If you want the long answer, as you can read Spanish, you can read it here (http://elblogdelemperador.wordpress.com/2010/01/03/avatar-que-trunazo-mas-grande/).
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: GameDaddy on January 05, 2010, 10:26:36 AM
Quote from: Imperator;353130


But then they try to tell you the story, and it sucks.

The movie was so predictable that I found myself correctly guessing every line of dialogue for the most part of the movie.


Ok, rewrite the script then. Make sure it has a convoluted plot so no one can anticipate the outcome in advance. What would such a movie look like? More importantly, Who exactly would like it, and what percentage of the actual moviegoing population does that represent?

Quote from: Imperator;353130

There are many things that make no sense at all. Why did the Na'vi develop a verbal language if they're able to interface via the USB port in their fucking ponytails?


This is a perfect example of cultural bias, In this case presuming that the biocommunications technology of the aliens is in any way similar to what serves us today as information systems technology. This bias interrupts the comprehension of, and understanding of, the Ehwha civilization.

Quote from: Imperator;353130

Why do they have to hunt at all? Because the food could just be ordered to allow them to eat it, if everyone's so connected.


And again, presuming that the shared emotional and spiritual values of the various alien subraces is the same thing as a fully conscious mindlink.
 
Quote from: Imperator;353130

If the planet is a sentient entity who can crush so easily the human expedition, why didn't it do it the first time humans started shooting aliens around?


This is an extremely good question that can easily be applied to our own planet and our existence now. If you consider any planet as a sentient entity there's the matter of scale and time to consider. Just like our bodies have developed millions and millions of specialized cells to fight off infections and diseases so too planets have specialized micro-defenses to protect the planet, but it takes time to adapt to the new disease. If it can't adapt it dies. People get fevers, where their temperatures run high when they are fighting off an infection (An invasion of hostile micro organisms.) Perhaps planets do as well. (Global warming anyone?)  

Quote from: Imperator;353130

Why the fuck is that shitty mineral so important?


There is a reference about this, but it's not directly stated until nearly the end of the movie. Humanity has killed all the plant life on Earth and stripped the resources. Unobtanium is the magical mineral that earthlings use to synthesize and maintain their high tech civilized lifestyle.

Quote from: Imperator;353130

Why are there flying mountains that magically interfere with bad guy's radars?


Scientifically speaking, if Pandora is not particulary dense as moons go, then it could easily have flying mountains of rock that orbit the Gas Giant core, just like the rings of Saturn are chunks of rock orbiting Saturn with some very large mountain sized rocks that react in a complex manner, so too with Pandora.

I would expect that the gravitional pull of various other rocks would jostle the rocks about grinding them up into each other, but the plant life anchors them big rocks into fixed locations allowing them to slowly aggregate. Eventually I would expect the rocks to grow larger and larger and eventually sink down to, and become one with Pandora, but that process could take Millenia, even eons. And then again, maybe not, depending on how the tidal forces of the Gas Giant and other orbital bodies affect Pandora.

Reference:
http://www.universetoday.com/2006/04/06/how-prometheus-pulls-on-saturns-f-ring/    (http://www.universetoday.com/2006/04/06/how-prometheus-pulls-on-saturns-f-ring/)

FWIW: Pandora is one of Saturns moons.

The Interference part was not caused by the mountains, it was clearly explained as a side effect of the Ehwa Biolife node which the natives considered a sacred site.

Quote from: Imperator;353130

Why the hell the combat robots carry around giant combat knifes, maybe that way they will be able to make giant salami slices or what?


I'd call it a pure Intimidation factor. Then again, maybe the colonists had an irrational Na'vi Bow envy, after all, the natives arrows were actually spear sized projectiles.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Imperator on January 05, 2010, 01:47:16 PM
Hey, excellent post :) Now, let me add a detail.

Quote from: GameDaddy;353147
Ok, rewrite the script then. Make sure it has a convoluted plot so no one can anticipate the outcome in advance. What would such a movie look like? More importantly, Who exactly would like it, and what percentage of the actual moviegoing population does that represent?

See, I'm not asking for a movie so convoluted that no one but a few chosen could be able to understand it. It's not a black or white question: see, in Willow you find a really typical story, that's been told a thousand times, with a cast of archetypal characters. But I found the dialogue to be quite witty, characters were nicely portrayed, and best of all, you are not correctly guessing where is the camera going to point now, and what will be the next line of dialogue down to the last word. And the prophecy has a fun and unexpected way of getting solved, which is cool.

Is Willow the greatest masterpiece in the fantasy genre? Probably no, but it's a fun movie, really well done, that plays well the strong points of a classic story and manages to surprise you from time to time. IMO, Avatar does nothing of that, apart from the really stunning visuals (that are really really similar to Ferngully, by the way, and the story is almost the same).

The rest of explanations you provide are simply awesome, but the movie doesn't provide them. If someone had explained that during the movie, I would have found it far more interesting. Even the Bow Envy. Well done, sir.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 05, 2010, 04:31:33 PM
Quote from: David R;353122
Well I don’t get this civilization vs savagery nonsense of yours at all. I don’t think they question if savagery is better because they know savagery sucks. The major themes are the environment , Imperialism, greed and heroism. Cameron has often placed warriors in a position where they save or redeem humanity. In Aliens they defied their corporate overlords and destroyed an alien race. Here, they defy their corporate overlords and save an alien race. The Abyss, his best film IMO, kind of muddies the water. Of course saving or redeeming sometimes means going against your own. I keep thinking of that line in T2, where Arnold goes, “it’s in your nature to destroy yourselves” Humans fighting humans. At the end of the day, it's not really anticivilization but rather about the kind of civilization you want.


And yet, there are some people living in civilization who (at least, in their in their claims) do not want civilization at all.



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Again your reading of my replies is bizarre. Every country I mentioned, I acknowledged went through a process of “civilization”. India with it’s various invaders, Vietnam with the Chinese, Malaya with India and China. The “process” sometimes were not as violent as your Roman example but I did recognize them in my replies to you.


Well then, I'd just have to say what the fuck are you arguing with me about? If you recognize the value of civilization, and your recognize the value of the civilizing process, and I am in agreement with you that racism sucks and fucks up that process just as it would fuck up any other process, then where exactly is your point of disagreement with me?


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Brother, talk about the Romans all you like. But the reason why you are having a problem in this discussion is that your Roman example relies on the conquered being savages and the Romans bestowing civilization on them. But the reality of 19th Century Imperialism, is much different. You can’t go around claiming that the Imperialist were bringing civilization to savages because they weren’t. These socalled savages had thriving civilizations of their own. That’s what you get when you argue 19th century Imperialism was merely bringing light to the dark world of savages.


And I think you're making a bit of a blanket statement there. To be fair, I did too earlier on in the discussion, so I can't exactly blame you for that now. But the reality of the thing is a bit more complex than that. Some areas that were colonized were already influenced by (or in India's case, initiator of) previous civilizations. But of course, many other areas (particularly sub-saharan africa) were not. You've highlighted India, Indonesia, and Vietnam as places that had previous civilizations.
What I am arguing is that western european civilization had certain concepts, knowledge and values that were very much worth transmitting to these nations as well as to the primitive cultures they colonized, and that the world on the whole is much better off for it than if they hadn't bothered.
I have enormous respect for India's accomplishments prior to the time of European imperialism; as eastern religion is one of my areas of specialty I'm very familiar with some of them, and they are deeply impressive. And for the record, I would so much rather have seen a colonialism where Britain welcomed India and its people into a true commonwealth, where you'd have that British Empire still around today, where Delhi benefited as much as Liverpool, where everyone was an equal citizen with equal rights, common currency and freedom to travel and to work in any part of 30% (or more) of the globe, and the honorable MPs from Toronto and Allahabad and Aden and Pune sat next to the MP from Manchester or Cardiff.
But we got what we got, and despite its flaws I'm still completely convinced that it was better than if the whole thing hadn't been attempted in the first place. For all those who suffered in various ways, there are untold millions in the colonies themselves who continue benefiting from what european civlization brought, and who's lives would be worse and not better in comparison had that been absent.


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I never once argued that civilization was bad or that it was wrong to bring civilization to anyone. In fact I talked about how China and India brought and enhanced the culture/civilization of early Malaya. What I disagreed with, was your contention that the countries that the Imperialists conquered were nations of savages in need of saving.


The countries that were colonized all benefited from european civilization's spread. Those that benefited the least are those who threw out the most of those benefits in ill-considered acts of anti-colonial zeal or marxist social experiments. Many of the places that were colonized were essentially savage, some had always been so others had fallen back into barbarism after previous civilization. Some had extant civilizations that were not as developed as western civilization in many respects (though they might have been equally or more developed in a minority of respects). That is my position.
Now feel free to try to address that position again, ideally by arguing the position itself and not peripherals that don't actually make my position any less sound.


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No. I think some civilizations contribute more to the world in terms of technology, the arts and the progress of humanity. Now before I answer the second part.... who are these thong wearing cannibalistic field shitters ? Are they the savages of your Roman times ? Or do you mean, a native of wherever, living an agragrian lifesytyle and looking after her family is of equal value to some yuppie working the mean streets Hong Kong ? If it's the latter, then yes, I think they are of equal value.


Individuals are of equal value as human beings, but societies are not of equal value. The life of an agrarian-society farmer or even a cannibal (like the ones that were present in oceania and in africa in the time of western expansion, to answer your question), is equal in worth as a human individual to that of Thomas Jefferson; but the value of a civilization that can produce a Thomas Jefferson is greater than that of a society that cannot, where someone of equal talents would be doomed to a life of field-shitting and brain-eating.


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Brother, didn’t I say, this was your cunning plan ? Didn’t you just say everything I said you would say ? Am I good or what?


The fact that you could see the flaws in your own statements and predict that I would point them out doesn't make them any less flawed.

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Look, these three countries that I named had the most influence in terms of culture/history in my country. See, unlike you, I don’t need to read about this shit from history books. I can go around my country and see how other civilizations have influence my homeland. I could have just avoided your obvious trap, but what the hell, you need to be reminded that those colonized countries were not a bunch of savages.


Ok, now what about my point? What about all those other societies? You are still basically admitting here that some civilizations and societies are in fact inferior to others.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 05, 2010, 04:33:01 PM
To take a little break from my ongoing debate with David; over on a thread in another forum, someone quoted Cameron as saying this about his own story:

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"the Na'vi represent something that is our higher selves, or our aspirational selves, what we would like to think we are" and that even though there are good humans within the film, the humans "represent what we know to be the parts of ourselves that are trashing our world and maybe condemning ourselves to a grim future".


That pretty much proves that I was spot on in my analysis of the message he was trying to impart.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Ian Absentia on January 05, 2010, 06:56:28 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;353234
That pretty much proves that I was spot on in my analysis of the message he was trying to impart.
That we as a (Western European/American) society are in conflict between our drive to progress and multiply and the desire to live in a peaceful and sustainable environment?  That hasn't been the thrust of your analysis.

!i!
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Machinegun Blue on January 05, 2010, 07:54:28 PM
Quote from: Ian Absentia;353264
That we as a (Western European/American) society are in conflict between our drive to progress and multiply and the desire to live in a peaceful and sustainable environment?  That hasn't been the thrust of your analysis.

!i!


Hey, call me stupid but that's all I ever saw it being about.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 05, 2010, 10:49:42 PM
Quote from: Ian Absentia;353264
That we as a (Western European/American) society are in conflict between our drive to progress and multiply and the desire to live in a peaceful and sustainable environment?  That hasn't been the thrust of your analysis.

!i!


That Cameron doesn't really believe in humanity, presents civilization as representing the worst parts of humanity, and made this movie to pretty well say as much.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Ian Absentia on January 05, 2010, 11:12:06 PM
Quote from: Machinegun Blue;353281
Hey, call me stupid but that's all I ever saw it being about.
Stupid.

But, of course, you're right.  All of this "anti-human", "anti-civilisation" "Hollywood Religion" business is just sophomore year Film Critique 101 over-examination and inference.  From someone who hasn't even seen the film*, so it's second hand at best.

!i!

(*Or have you now?  I haven't kept track.)
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Machinegun Blue on January 05, 2010, 11:28:38 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;353334
That Cameron doesn't really believe in humanity, presents civilization as representing the worst parts of humanity, and made this movie to pretty well say as much.

RPGPundit


You truly are either a big assed troll or completely deranged.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 06, 2010, 12:29:25 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;353334
That Cameron doesn't really believe in humanity, presents civilization as representing the worst parts of humanity, and made this movie to pretty well say as much.

RPGPundit
So, pretty much the same movie as District 9.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on January 06, 2010, 09:21:47 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;353233
And yet, there are some people living in civilization who (at least, in their in their claims) do not want civilization at all.


Sure but Cameron isn't one of these people.

The Aliens may represent our better natures (the fact that Cameron thinks so highly of what we could be is just further evidence that his films and this film in particular are not ant humanism) but it is the nature of the Humans who see value is not destroying another culture, not engaging in genocide, even though their corporate masters would want them to, which is the major theme of the film. We may be a corrupt greedy culture but there are people who fight against this, these people represent the best of what Human civilization is.

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Well then, I'd just have to say what the fuck are you arguing with me about? If you recognize the value of civilization, and your recognize the value of the civilizing process, and I am in agreement with you that racism sucks and fucks up that process just as it would fuck up any other process, then where exactly is your point of disagreement with me?


My point of disagreement was that you thought that 19th century Imperialism was about civilizing the savages. I disagree that those they civilized were savages. I disagree that they were bringing light to the dark world of savages.

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And I think you're making a bit of a blanket statement there. To be fair, I did too earlier on in the discussion, so I can't exactly blame you for that now. But the reality of the thing is a bit more complex than that. Some areas that were colonized were already influenced by (or in India's case, initiator of) previous civilizations. But of course, many other areas (particularly sub-saharan africa) were not. You've highlighted India, Indonesia, and Vietnam as places that had previous civilizations.


Agreed. But then we have to go into detail about those "uncivilized" areas. Who did they civilize? What resources if any brought them there? Was the place of strategic importance in a larger conflict? What and where is the evidence of this "civilization" process? Does civilization (of any kind) exist today in these places?

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What I am arguing is that western european civilization had certain concepts, knowledge and values that were very much worth transmitting to these nations as well as to the primitive cultures they colonized, and that the world on the whole is much better off for it than if they hadn't bothered.
I have enormous respect for India's accomplishments prior to the time of European imperialism; as eastern religion is one of my areas of specialty I'm very familiar with some of them, and they are deeply impressive.


Of course I agree that they are many Western European concepts, knowledge and values that were (and STILL ARE) worth transmitting but what I disagree with, is your contention that this was the motivating factor of 19th century Imperialism and that the people who they were attempting to pass these onto were savages. I think the world is a better place because what Imperialism did was provide an opportunity for certain ideas to be born out of struggle for independence. Furthermore I think that Imperialism allowed people to reconsider how they viewed each other and what their views were based on.

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And for the record, I would so much rather have seen a colonialism where Britain welcomed India and its people into a true commonwealth, where you'd have that British Empire still around today, where Delhi benefited as much as Liverpool, where everyone was an equal citizen with equal rights, common currency and freedom to travel and to work in any part of 30% (or more) of the globe, and the honorable MPs from Toronto and Allahabad and Aden and Pune sat next to the MP from Manchester or Cardiff.


Brother, this could have been. I am (much to the scorn of some of my more rattled post colonial brothers and sisters) a firm believer in the concept of The Commonwealth. Britain already had relationships with most of the countries they eventually colonized. Imagine how it would have been if they transmitted all their great civilized ideas through trade and dialogue instead of the boot. Imagine what both sides would have learnt from each other. Imagine how it would have been if they looked at each other as equals instead of oppressor and oppressed. Like I said, it was easier to control than to negotiate.

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But we got what we got, and despite its flaws I'm still completely convinced that it was better than if the whole thing hadn't been attempted in the first place. For all those who suffered in various ways, there are untold millions in the colonies themselves who continue benefiting from what european civlization brought, and who's lives would be worse and not better in comparison had that been absent.


I am not so convinced. Firstly, millions suffered and still do today as a result of the mischief committed during the era of colonialism and by their own greedy corrupt people post liberation. I think certain fell powers took root because of Imperialism, which continue to threaten all that we hold to be good and true today - I'm looking at you, you fuking Wahhabis. And all those great Western European concepts have not taken root because of the way how they were delivered. Post colonial meddling (and meddling of other world powers with Imperialistic and neo imperialistic motives, America, Russia, and China) has further made matters worse, in some former colonies. Let's just say, I think some places are better of than others. I know you will disagree but have at it.

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The countries that were colonized all benefited from european civilization's spread. Those that benefited the least are those who threw out the most of those benefits in ill-considered acts of anti-colonial zeal or marxist social experiments.


We covered this already. My position is that we have to examine how the colony was ruled. How the colony gained independence and the events leading up to independence and post liberation relationship with their colonial masters.

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Many of the places that were colonized were essentially savage, some had always been so others had fallen back into barbarism after previous civilization. Some had extant civilizations that were not as developed as western civilization in many respects (though they might have been equally or more developed in a minority of respects). That is my position.


Well, what colonies are you talking about then? I don’t think these people were savages (or posed a threat to western Civilization) - India, Africa, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines....I mean what colonies were savages and ripe for civilizing. Name them, please. And was civilizing actually going on or was it oppression and greed for resources. Remember, most often, the Great Empires just didn't invade. They traded first and after a while decided that conquering was just more effective and profitable.

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Now feel free to try to address that position again, ideally by arguing the position itself and not peripherals that don't actually make my position any less sound.


Brother, it is you who have been arguing the peripherals. I've made my stand very clear. I have engaged your points and demonstrated why I disagree with them.

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Individuals are of equal value as human beings, but societies are not of equal value. The life of an agrarian-society farmer or even a cannibal (like the ones that were present in oceania and in africa in the time of western expansion, to answer your question), is equal in worth as a human individual to that of Thomas Jefferson;


People make up societies. This is often forgotten when one neatly makes the distinction between individuals and society. It makes it easier to think the latter as inferior. When you say that a society is inferior what you are basically saying is that the way how the people live, what they believe, their hopes and aspirations are inferior. Now what are people but the way how they live, what they believe and their hopes and aspirations? Now, my question is?  What countries/societies/cultures existing today, do you think are inferior? Do you think they need civilizing? How do you think this process should be carried out? And by who? Or do you think that all societies and cultures are equal now?

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....but the value of a civilization that can produce a Thomas Jefferson is greater than that of a society that cannot, where someone of equal talents would be doomed to a life of field-shitting and brain-eating.


Ghandi was produced by the turmoil of Imperialism. Buddha rejected the trappings of his Civilization. Martin Luther King was anathema to the society he was born into. Any civilization is capable of producing great individuals in times of need. Civilizations are influential or they are not. So, you may think, that the culture/society/civilization of the indigenous peoples of the world today are inferior and they need to be civilized, but my thinking is, it is up to them if they want to assimilate into our cultures and societies.

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The fact that you could see the flaws in your own statements and predict that I would point them out doesn't make them any less flawed.


Actually what I predicted was your usual attempts at rhetorical trickery in the hopes that it would detract from the flaws of your argument.

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Ok, now what about my point? What about all those other societies? You are still basically admitting here that some civilizations and societies are in fact inferior to others.


I named the societies I was familiar with and germane to the discussion. I already said I don't view societies as inferior or superior. Sure there are some aspects of some societies I don't agree with but this does mean I think they are inferior.

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 06, 2010, 11:03:51 AM
Quote from: David R;353425
Sure but Cameron isn't one of these people.

The Aliens may represent our better natures (the fact that Cameron thinks so highly of what we could be is just further evidence that his films and this film in particular are not ant humanism)

Why don't the HUMANS represent our better natures? Why do the humans all have to become Navi to be better? Why is their make-believe culture the one that is presented as being so much better than Not Living In Trees?

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My point of disagreement was that you thought that 19th century Imperialism was about civilizing the savages. I disagree that those they civilized were savages. I disagree that they were bringing light to the dark world of savages.

And the only thing that you've done that has been directly related to that has been your defense of India as a civilization. You are right, India was a civilization; one that had fallen into a long decadence compared to its golden age, so that by the 19th century it was quite the shithole, but it was a civilization. The other two countries you added to that list were peripheral colonies of earlier civilizations. You've failed utterly to try to explain how the African Bushmen or half-insane polynesian cannibals were as much of a "civilization" as the guys who built the Taj Mahal, much less the guys who wrote the Declaration of Independence.

And you have failed utterly in the main respect of the point: you've essentially admitted that ALL of these places desperately needed Western Civilization, and what's more that HUMANITY as a whole desperately needed some of the values of Western Civilization to reach these places.


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Agreed. But then we have to go into detail about those "uncivilized" areas. Who did they civilize? What resources if any brought them there? Was the place of strategic importance in a larger conflict? What and where is the evidence of this "civilization" process? Does civilization (of any kind) exist today in these places?

Yes, we could, but that would end up being more effort than I would really be willing to put into a fucking thread about a movie I hated. None of that matters in the long run, if we both know what the RESULTS were, both good and bad ones. You keep looking at "motives" trying to find sinister reasoning in imperialism, as if that will ultimately have any significance in what the ultimate purpose of spreading civilization achieved.
You can maybe, after a great deal of research, show me thousands of people who were doing evil things during colonialism. My answer would be "SO the fuck WHAT?"
Unless you want to claim that there weren't also MILLIONS of people who believed in the idea of spreading civilization (yes, yes, I know "RACISM--booooo"), unless you really want to try to claim that MILLIONS of people back in Europe, the regular populations, actually thought "hooray for exploitation and abuse" instead of "thank god we are helping the savage peoples and spreading the light of education/health/christianity/music/philosophy/art/trade/etc." your whole line of argument is ultimately irrelevant even in the question of motives, and certainly in the question of results.



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I think the world is a better place because what Imperialism did was provide an opportunity for certain ideas to be born out of struggle for independence.

Ideas that were the PRODUCT OF western civilization, not a reaction to it, and certainly not something that came out of native cultures.
The whole idea of "All men are created equal" and "Inalienable Rights" are something that only western civilization could produce.

 
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Brother, this could have been. I am (much to the scorn of some of my more rattled post colonial brothers and sisters) a firm believer in the concept of The Commonwealth. Britain already had relationships with most of the countries they eventually colonized. Imagine how it would have been if they transmitted all their great civilized ideas through trade and dialogue instead of the boot. Imagine what both sides would have learnt from each other. Imagine how it would have been if they looked at each other as equals instead of oppressor and oppressed. Like I said, it was easier to control than to negotiate.

What you are painting here is a fairy tale; it was as much impossible due to the racism of western europe as to the barbarism and intransigence of many of the colonized areas. You make it sound like:
a) all these people were willing to understand the Ideas of western civilization
b) none of them (say, the powerful Maharajas in India, the local Chieftan, the Witch Doctor, etc) had a vested interest in keeping existing power structures and rejecting any and all education that might give his people dangerous ideas.
c)all of these people were intellectually equipped already to even understand many of these complex ideas.

It was a combination of these three factors that made imperialism necessary, not racism. Racism was only what fucked it up later, that once we had in fact westernized these people, we refused to give them the Rights of Man we'd been waxing on so eloquently about now that they were capable of understanding these rights and wanting them.

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I am not so convinced. Firstly, millions suffered and still do today as a result of the mischief committed during the era of colonialism and by their own greedy corrupt people post liberation.

And how do you measure the "suffering" that millions or even billions would have had, over the course of generations, had the British (or some other colonial power) not come along and teach them how to read?
How many would have starved to death before their 10th birthday because of a lack of advanced agrarian methods?
How many millions of people would have suffered and died from a lack of say, penicillin?
How many people would still be virtual serfs living under a fat Maharajah, who instead today get to vote and run for office?
Take away absolutely everything that the West gave to these people, and then imagine the difference, the damage that this absence would have wrought. The reduction in lifestyle and lifespan alike. The way people have suffered under strict colonial regimes, post-colonial dictators, or greedy entrepeneurs is a fucking drop in the bucket compared to the amount of sheer misery that has been averted through the betterment of everyday details in people's lives, and changes in people's thinking.



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Now what are people but the way how they live, what they believe and their hopes and aspirations?

Their potential. What they COULD BE. That is what people are.

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Now, my question is?  What countries/societies/cultures existing today, do you think are inferior? Do you think they need civilizing? How do you think this process should be carried out? And by who? Or do you think that all societies and cultures are equal now?

Societies and cultures are most certainly not equal now. You are not going to tell me that the Afghani Pashtun, and how they treat not just women but men and children too, and everything; the fucked up culture of tribal primitives that could blow those two magnificent Buddhas to bits, that murder little girls for wanting to learn to read, and who only know squalor and constant war, are in any way the equal of western civilization, even today. Great chunks of Africa slid right back down into barbarism. And in Europe, everything east of the Vistula has pretty much always been barbaric with only the thinnest veneer of civilized behaviour.

The problem is that the West, Europe and America has slid into this steep decadence, a decadence of post-modernism, of utter intellectual and ethical bankruptcy.  It has been so thoroughly infected by Marxism and Relativism to the point that the vast majority of people in the west not only do not believe in Western Civilization anymore, they couldn't actually even understand what Western Civilization is. They can't get the basic ideas. "Man is endowed with inalienable rights from his creator" would be responded to with "Cool opinion, bro" or "yes!...as long as we don't offend anyone" or "you aren't better than me" or "why "MAN""?

So the answer to the second part of your question is that basically, right now, there is no one who can take up the mantle of civilization; at least, no civilization I'd want to be associated with. Communist China, for example, has none of the culture-bankruptcy we have; but I wouldn't want to imagine what China's world would end up looking like (though the food would be good, at least).
At this point, I think India might be our best bet, but it looks like the underdog in this fight. Maybe if what bits of the West that still have some kind of backbone were to help it along, it might just pull it off. But in all likelihood we'll just end up cowarding up and selling out to the Chinese.


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Ghandi was produced by the turmoil of Imperialism. Buddha rejected the trappings of his Civilization. Martin Luther King was anathema to the society he was born into. Any civilization is capable of producing great individuals in times of need.

Except that they're really not. There is NO way that an India free of western civilization could have produced Ghandi. No way. Ghandi the man could have existed, but he likely would have lacked the kind of education to be able to even conceive of the ideas that he came up with in our reality, what things he would have come up with as ideas would have ended up ramming straight into the rigidity of the Caste structure and the absolute authoritarianism of the ruling class, or he would simply have been ignored as a madman saying things no one could understand.
Possibly, his intelligence would have been re-routed into something fitting the cultural paradigm, he might have become a traditional scholar or a guru.  Maybe he'd have become a moderately-competent advisor to some potentate.
But that's the point. You can only accomplish what your civilization is enabled to allow you to accomplish. If Ghandi had been born as a yanomami indian in the jungles of south america, all he'd have ended up being is a shitty hunter, to starve to death or be murdered in battle (or out of it). So would Jefferson, so would Martin Luther King. If Luther King hadn't had the cultural background of the Enlightenment, and the moral principles of his Christian faith, if he'd been born in some african tribe ruled by a chief and a witch doctor, how could he have done what he did?

 
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Civilizations are influential or they are not. So, you may think, that the culture/society/civilization of the indigenous peoples of the world today are inferior and they need to be civilized, but my thinking is, it is up to them if they want to assimilate into our cultures and societies.

And I say, that is an intellectual cowardice condemning millions to suffering and squandered potential. Because it is not "up to them", the individuals in any given society are not capable of making the choice for themselves. So what you are really doing there, if you say "It is up to the mountain tribesmen if they want to learn how to be civilized", then you've just ended up dooming generation upon generation of, for example, little girls to being married off at 12 (if they've lived that long and haven't died of some easily-curable disease first), then forced to drop out 7-10 babies in the next ten years (only half of which, if that many, will survive to their 10th birthday), all while doing unspeakably backbreaking manual labour just to subsist, never learn how to read, never even imagine the possibilities of what human beings have achieved in music, art, literature, philosophy; never even question that she is not in any way the equal of her husband (who is 30 years older than she is and has five other wives), and to die before her 40th birthday of some horrific, easily curable disease.

That's what you've just done, with your "all civilizations are equally good" bullshit.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: beejazz on January 06, 2010, 12:19:07 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit
Yes, we could, but that would end up being more effort than I would really be willing to put into a fucking thread about a movie I hated. None of that matters in the long run, if we both know what the RESULTS were, both good and bad ones. You keep looking at "motives" trying to find sinister reasoning in imperialism, as if that will ultimately have any significance in what the ultimate purpose of spreading civilization achieved.
You can maybe, after a great deal of research, show me thousands of people who were doing evil things during colonialism. My answer would be "SO the fuck WHAT?"
Unless you want to claim that there weren't also MILLIONS of people who believed in the idea of spreading civilization (yes, yes, I know "RACISM--booooo"), unless you really want to try to claim that MILLIONS of people back in Europe, the regular populations, actually thought "hooray for exploitation and abuse" instead of "thank god we are helping the savage peoples and spreading the light of education/health/christianity/music/philosophy/art/trade/etc." your whole line of argument is ultimately irrelevant even in the question of motives, and certainly in the question of results.

Just a quibble maybe, but I think the motives of the people doing the colonising, "civilising," etc. might be more relevant than those of the people who stayed at home and only heard about it in letters. Apparently a pretty large portion of America believed the whole WMD bit... doesn't mean there actually were any. I think in general there's nothing cynical about saying that colonisation is more often motivated by monetary gain than humanitarian aid... it's easy to see that damn near every act of colonisation (including ostensibly altruistic ones) was profitable (or was supposed to be) and that damn few of them were actually altruistic.





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Ideas that were the PRODUCT OF western civilization, not a reaction to it, and certainly not something that came out of native cultures.
The whole idea of "All men are created equal" and "Inalienable Rights" are something that only western civilization could produce.

This isn't demonstrable is it? We don't exactly have access to alternate timelines where the west didn't interfere with everything do we. Who thought of it first is no indicator of who could have thought of it independently. There are plenty of examples of cultures producing similar advances despite an utter lack of contact in the ancient world. So tell us... how are equality and inalienable rights things that only the west could have conceivably come up with?

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What you are painting here is a fairy tale; it was as much impossible due to the racism of western europe as to the barbarism and intransigence of many of the colonized areas. You make it sound like:
a) all these people were willing to understand the Ideas of western civilization
b) none of them (say, the powerful Maharajas in India, the local Chieftan, the Witch Doctor, etc) had a vested interest in keeping existing power structures and rejecting any and all education that might give his people dangerous ideas.
c)all of these people were intellectually equipped already to even understand many of these complex ideas.

It was a combination of these three factors that made imperialism necessary, not racism. Racism was only what fucked it up later, that once we had in fact westernized these people, we refused to give them the Rights of Man we'd been waxing on so eloquently about now that they were capable of understanding these rights and wanting them.

So it was social advances imposed from the outside that were needed. Tell me how well trying to impose social/political change by invading a country works in the modern day.

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And how do you measure the "suffering" that millions or even billions would have had, over the course of generations, had the British (or some other colonial power) not come along and teach them how to read?
How many would have starved to death before their 10th birthday because of a lack of advanced agrarian methods?
How many millions of people would have suffered and died from a lack of say, penicillin?
How many people would still be virtual serfs living under a fat Maharajah, who instead today get to vote and run for office?
Take away absolutely everything that the West gave to these people, and then imagine the difference, the damage that this absence would have wrought. The reduction in lifestyle and lifespan alike. The way people have suffered under strict colonial regimes, post-colonial dictators, or greedy entrepeneurs is a fucking drop in the bucket compared to the amount of sheer misery that has been averted through the betterment of everyday details in people's lives, and changes in people's thinking.

Advanced agrarian methods could have been traded. I don't think the fat Maharajah would mind a higher yield in his crops, do you? The better agriculture gets, the more people get to do other things, and the more social change can potentially occur spurred by a growing middle class. All without invading a country and treating its natives as second class citizens or (as in the case of the Native Americans) driving them to the brink of extinction and pretty much leaving them there or (as with Africa) enslaving them and letting so many die in piles of their own shit on the way across the ocean.

Instead of breaking this down into a quote by quote, let me just say that you present a false dichotomy in general. It isn't barbarism vs imperialism. Civilisation can be spread by other methods than war. Medicine and agriculture in particular can be traded. And if guns are easy to produce and obtain that will go a long way towards getting the majority the government they want (if not the one you want for them).
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: estar on January 06, 2010, 01:24:35 PM
Your comments bring this quote by British General Charles Napier on Sutee (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutee)

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You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours


My opinion is that the situation is complicated. Interference with other cultures can and has lead to more grief and suffering for both sides. But also there are things that humans do to other humans that can't be tolerated under any circumstances. The best solution is to be aware of the problem, muddle along as best as you can, and know where to draw the line at abhorrent practices.

Quote from: RPGPundit;353445

And I say, that is an intellectual cowardice condemning millions to suffering and squandered potential.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: One Horse Town on January 06, 2010, 02:35:06 PM
I have nothing to add to the debate, but would like to thank the Pundit and David R for a fascinating and entertaining read. :)
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: JongWK on January 06, 2010, 05:24:17 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;353234

That pretty much proves that I was spot on in my analysis of the message he was trying to impart.


Nope. You didn't include the full quote: (http://carpetbagger.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/21/a-few-questions-for-james-cameron/)

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Q.

Have you gotten any criticism that the film might be perceived as anti-American?

A.

It’s something that I’ve anticipated the possibility of because people will misinterpret things in certain ways. You can almost count on people misinterpreting things. The film is definitely not anti-American. It’s not anti-human either. My perception of the film is that the N’avi represent that sort of aspirational part of ourselves that wants to be better, that wants to respect nature. And the humans in the movie represent the more venal versions of ourselves, the banality of evil that comes with corporate decisions that are made out of remove of the consequences.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: JongWK on January 06, 2010, 05:56:24 PM
While we are at it, this is from the official Pandorapedia:

The Avatar Program (http://www.pandorapedia.com/doku.php/the_avatar_program)

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Origins

Under strong pressure from the UN, scientists and the general public, the RDA agreed to set up a program to enhance communications between humans and Na’vi. At first, this consisted solely of an Indigenous Terrain program to study Na’vi culture and language and to attempt to establish communication between man and Na’vi.

Practical difficulties soon showed a need for a more profound means of communication between the human and Na’vi species.



The RDA (http://www.pandorapedia.com/doku.php/the_rda)

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Controversy

Illegal Practice / Violations

Recent Interplanetary Commerce Administration (ICA) investigations suggest that the RDA may have violated ICA and United Nations (UN) sanctions on multiple separate occasions, specifically those relating to certain high-powered projectiles authorized only for use in self defense or emergency situations.

Environmental

Many environmental organizations and leading scientists have protested the RDA's unrestricted mining of unobtanium, calling it reckless and irreversibly damaging to Pandora's ecosystem. Countless appeals made to the Interplanetary Commerce Administration (ICA) to revoke the RDA's exclusive licenses have been dismissed.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on January 06, 2010, 07:24:24 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;353445
Why don't the HUMANS represent our better natures? Why do the humans all have to become Navi to be better? Why is their make-believe culture the one that is presented as being so much better than Not Living In Trees?


The main Human protaganists in the movie do represent our better natures. Humans don't have to become Navi to be better, going against their genocidal Corporate Overlords makes them better. As for make belive cultures...why do filmmakers/writers create make believe cultures in the first place ?

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And the only thing that you've done that has been directly related to that has been your defense of India as a civilization. You are right, India was a civilization; one that had fallen into a long decadence compared to its golden age, so that by the 19th century it was quite the shithole, but it was a civilization.


You make this claim that India was a shithole. This goes against everything the British Empire encountered when they first arrived there in the form of traders. It goes against historical records. The wars that were fought, the alliances made than broken, the trade which went on, all point to a civilization anything but in decline.

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The other two countries you added to that list were peripheral colonies of earlier civilizations. You've failed utterly to try to explain how the African Bushmen or half-insane polynesian cannibals were as much of a "civilization" as the guys who built the Taj Mahal, much less the guys who wrote the Declaration of Independence.


The two other countries I described were not really peripheral colonies - the French didn't think so and neither did the Dutch. Both Vietnam (fought of her Chinese ovelords and begun asseritng itself for some time before the French and others came) and Indonesia was a thriving civilization whose presence was felt in South East Asia. I don't have to explain how the African Bushmen or half insane polynesian cannibals were as much a civilization as the guys who built the Taj Mahal or wrote the declaration of independence, because what I said was that I don't view civilizations/cultures/socities as inferior or superior but rather those who have contributed more to the progress of mankind.

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And you have failed utterly in the main respect of the point: you've essentially admitted that ALL of these places desperately needed Western Civilization, and what's more that HUMANITY as a whole desperately needed some of the values of Western Civilization to reach these places.


Now you're just making shit up. Please point out where I essentially admitted that all those other places needed Western Civilization. I mean, you don't have to lie.

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Yes, we could, but that would end up being more effort than I would really be willing to put into a fucking thread about a movie I hated. None of that matters in the long run, if we both know what the RESULTS were, both good and bad ones.


Hey, you raised the point about "uncivilized" places. Seeing as how you seemed to lump every non Western country in that definition, I thought it only be fair, to discover exactly which place was uncivilized and not merely decadent or as I now discover, peripheral.

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You keep looking at "motives" trying to find sinister reasoning in imperialism, as if that will ultimately have any significance in what the ultimate purpose of spreading civilization achieved.


Of course because it's your contention that they spread their civilization to bring light to the savages. That's not a motive which I think is historically accurate, never mind the fact that they did very little enlightentment and a lot of looting.

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You can maybe, after a great deal of research, show me thousands of people who were doing evil things during colonialism. My answer would be "SO the fuck WHAT?"


Of course this is your answer. You have a very unrealistic view of what Imperiliasm was about and what it achieved.

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Unless you want to claim that there weren't also MILLIONS of people who believed in the idea of spreading civilization (yes, yes, I know "RACISM--booooo"), unless you really want to try to claim that MILLIONS of people back in Europe, the regular populations, actually thought "hooray for exploitation and abuse" instead of "thank god we are helping the savage peoples and spreading the light of education/health/christianity/music/philosophy/art/trade/etc." your whole line of argument is ultimately irrelevant even in the question of motives, and certainly in the question of results.


Now it's my turn to say "Who the fuck Cares" what the millions of people who thought they were spreading civilization cared. I doubt very much they knew exactly what spreading civilization meant in terms of what their goverments were really doing or even if they did get pass the propaganda, would be bothered when their lives were so miserable (not as miserable as the "savage natives" , though) to do anyhting about it. There's a reason they all wished to escape their countries and be somebody in the Colonies, you know.

Seriously when Bush declared that God told him to spread democracy to the Arab world, don't you think there were some who actually believed in this cause but were unaware of what this really meant or their country's history in the Middle East.

And my line of argument is extremely relevent because unlike you I question the motives of Imperialism and those who support it, esp since the results of Imperialism is so damaging in many ways.

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Ideas that were the PRODUCT OF western civilization, not a reaction to it, and certainly not something that came out of native cultures.
The whole idea of "All men are created equal" and "Inalienable Rights" are something that only western civilization could produce.


Bullshit. Ghandi's ideas of nonviolent resistance was not a product of Western Civilization. If anything it was a product of his native culture. Many of the ideas behind the concept of human Rights today are a reaction against Imperialism which although not product of Western Civilization, was certainly an Ideology that was refined by Western Civilization.

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What you are painting here is a fairy tale; it was as much impossible due to the racism of western europe as to the barbarism and intransigence of many of the colonized areas.


Wait, wanting to hold on to your freedom, culture and autonomy is barbarism and intransigence ?

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You make it sound like:
a) all these people were willing to understand the Ideas of western civilization
b) none of them (say, the powerful Maharajas in India, the local Chieftan, the Witch Doctor, etc) had a vested interest in keeping existing power structures and rejecting any and all education that might give his people dangerous ideas.
c)all of these people were intellectually equipped already to even understand many of these complex ideas.


a) Of course people were often unwilling to listen to Ideas of western Civilization. They had their own damn ideas about their civilization. And judging by the way how the Western powers conducted themselves, they weren't much different in some respects from their own civilization.

b)Of course they had a vested interet in keeping their powers, much like the Imperialists who had an interest in relieving them of their power.

c) Complex ideas like what. "Me Want. You Give. Or else". These uncivilized natives had a education and literature that goes back hundreds of years. They had a rich written and oral history. I'm sure they were intellectually equiped to deal with these complex ideas.

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It was a combination of these three factors that made imperialism necessary, not racism. Racism was only what fucked it up later, that once we had in fact westernized these people, we refused to give them the Rights of Man we'd been waxing on so eloquently about now that they were capable of understanding these rights and wanting them.


Bullshit. What it did was to ensure that control not negotiation was the solution to the problem. There was never any intention of giving them Rights because they were only westernized to make it easier to administer the colony. Racism was always part of the equation. People don't magically start believing people are inferior. It's a process.

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And how do you measure the "suffering" that millions or even billions would have had, over the course of generations, had the British (or some other colonial power) not come along and teach them how to read?
How many would have starved to death before their 10th birthday because of a lack of advanced agrarian methods?
How many millions of people would have suffered and died from a lack of say, penicillin? How many people would still be virtual serfs living under a fat Maharajah, who instead today get to vote and run for office?


Did the the Colonial powers teach them how to read ? How many Colonial powers actually did this ?

How many starved to death because they were denied treatment because they were merely native and as such, inferior ?

Wait, what has this got to do with Imperialism. If you want to talk about how Western Civilization introduced this, great, because I have no issue with western Civilization.

How many people were sefs under the Queen ? Who knows how India would have turned out without Imperialism. I know you think only white civilzations are capable of evolving. But I'm sure that country which could produce a religion like Buddhism would be capable of evolving .

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Their potential. What they COULD BE. That is what people are.


Exactly. What they COULD BE means different things and FOR THEM to decide .  

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Societies and cultures are most certainly not equal now. You are not going to tell me that the Afghani Pashtun, and how they treat not just women but men and children too, and everything; the fucked up culture of tribal primitives that could blow those two magnificent Buddhas to bits, that murder little girls for wanting to learn to read, and who only know squalor and constant war, are in any way the equal of western civilization, even today. Great chunks of Africa slid right back down into barbarism. And in Europe, everything east of the Vistula has pretty much always been barbaric with only the thinnest veneer of civilized behaviour.


Of course I'm not going to tell you that the Afghan Pashtun culture is equal to not only western Civilization but ALSO ASIAN CIVILIZATIONS. But then again I never said all Cultures/Sociieties are equal. What I said was that some cultures are more influential in promoting human progress, this culture obviously isn't one of them.

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The problem is that the West, Europe and America has slid into this steep decadence, a decadence of post-modernism, of utter intellectual and ethical bankruptcy.  It has been so thoroughly infected by Marxism and Relativism to the point that the vast majority of people in the west not only do not believe in Western Civilization anymore, they couldn't actually even understand what Western Civilization is. They can't get the basic ideas. "Man is endowed with inalienable rights from his creator" would be responded to with "Cool opinion, bro" or "yes!...as long as we don't offend anyone" or "you aren't better than me" or "why "MAN""?

So the answer to the second part of your question is that basically, right now, there is no one who can take up the mantle of civilization; at least, no civilization I'd want to be associated with. Communist China, for example, has none of the culture-bankruptcy we have; but I wouldn't want to imagine what China's world would end up looking like (though the food would be good, at least).

At this point, I think India might be our best bet, but it looks like the underdog in this fight. Maybe if what bits of the West that still have some kind of backbone were to help it along, it might just pull it off. But in all likelihood we'll just end up cowarding up and selling out to the Chinese.


I'm not going to respond to this part because I said, the issue of Western decadence is not something I want to discuss. Thanks for answering my question, though.

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Except that they're really not. There is NO way that an India free of western civilization could have produced Ghandi.


Ghandi was a reaction against Western Imperialism, so of course he would not have existed without Imperilism but....

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No way. Ghandi the man could have existed, but he likely would have lacked the kind of education to be able to even conceive of the ideas that he came up with in our reality, what things he would have come up with as ideas would have ended up ramming straight into the rigidity of the Caste structure and the absolute authoritarianism of the ruling class, or he would simply have been ignored as a madman saying things no one could understand.


Rubbish. Now you are just resorting to some bigoted fantasy. Indian education has produced many renowed thinkers in the Indian continent. Buddha was a reaction against the practises of the Civilization. Your understanding of the caste system is incomplete. There is more to the caste system than just the dalits. They are traders farmers etc and within these stratas there is a form of social moblity. In spite of the caste system, India became a great civilization because of it's fluency in the arts and sciences - astronomy, botany etc. And you would be surprised how many "madmen" were advisors to Kings and Queens.

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You can only accomplish what your civilization is enabled to allow you to accomplish. If Ghandi had been born as a yanomami indian in the jungles of south america, all he'd have ended up being is a shitty hunter, to starve to death or be murdered in battle (or out of it). So would Jefferson, so would Martin Luther King. If Luther King hadn't had the cultural background of the Enlightenment, and the moral principles of his Christian faith, if he'd been born in some african tribe ruled by a chief and a witch doctor, how could he have done what he did?


You are really not reading my replies are you? Ghandi was a reaction to Imperialism. Martin Luther King was a reaction against the oppresion of his society.  Their civilizations did not enable them to become what they were in fact it tried to restrain them. What they did was bend Civlization to allow them to exist. As I said in trubulent times in any Civilization great people are created. . If Martin Luther King was born to a African Tribe ruled by a chief and witch doctor why would he need to do what he had did ? It all boils down where you are born and when. I'm not seeing your point here. Well he may have been a Jomo Kenyatta....
 
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That's what you've just done, with your "all civilizations are equally good" bullshit


Again with the lie. I never said all civilizations are equal. I said I don't perceive civilizations as superior or inferior. I see some practises of socities which I despise, one is the Pasthun example and another is Imperialism.

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And I say, that is an intellectual cowardice condemning millions to suffering and squandered potential. Because it is not "up to them", the individuals in any given society are not capable of making the choice for themselves. So what you are really doing there, if you say "It is up to the mountain tribesmen if they want to learn how to be civilized", then you've just ended up dooming generation upon generation of, for example, little girls to being married off at 12 (if they've lived that long and haven't died of some easily-curable disease first), then forced to drop out 7-10 babies in the next ten years (only half of which, if that many, will survive to their 10th birthday), all while doing unspeakably backbreaking manual labour just to subsist, never learn how to read, never even imagine the possibilities of what human beings have achieved in music, art, literature, philosophy; never even question that she is not in any way the equal of her husband (who is 30 years older than she is and has five other wives), and to die before her 40th birthday of some horrific, easily curable disease.
RPGPundit


And this is why you are intellectually dishonest. You are implying because I disagree with Imperialism and the reuslts of such an ideology means that I am anti civilizational or uninterested in the welfare of these so called "savages". And yes it is Up To Them. What we can do (depending on where we live), is ensure that healthcare is provided. What we can do ensure that they are well compensated for their labour and not taken advantage off. What we can do, is introduce technologies which would make their lives easier or introduce new avenues for them to make a living. We can ensure that the laws of the land are fairly applied to them and that women and children understand their rights. We can do all this without stepping on them or dominating them or making them our slaves, which is what your grand ideas of Imeprialism did when they supposedly brought civilization to the savages.

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Ian Absentia on January 06, 2010, 07:58:12 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;353445
Why don't the HUMANS represent our better natures?
Because that's been done elsewhere?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...

(http://topidol.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/battlefield_earth_01.jpg)

Battlefield Earth!

!i!
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on January 06, 2010, 08:15:02 PM
Quote from: One Horse Town;353501
I have nothing to add to the debate, but would like to thank the Pundit and David R for a fascinating and entertaining read. :)


Thanks but I think I'll just stop now. Pontificating about Imperialism on a gaming board. I'm the site's NBNG but even I have my limits.

Edit: Again I apologize to all for this derail. I sometimes lose the plot when it comes to certain issues.

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 06, 2010, 08:17:48 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;353445
The whole idea of "All men are created equal" and "Inalienable Rights" are something that only western civilization could produce.
Utter bullshit, bordering on bigotry.  "Those darkies aren't nearly smart enough to think like that!"  is a pretty accurate translation of that sentence.

 
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And how do you measure the "suffering" that millions or even billions would have had, over the course of generations, had the British (or some other colonial power) not come along and teach them how to read?
You mean, teach them to read English.  Because, last I checked, one of the basic skills inherent any culture or civilization is language, and in the vast majority of cases, a written language.  Some few didn't have writing, but they are the exception.  In this case, that proves the rule.

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How many would have starved to death before their 10th birthday because of a lack of advanced agrarian methods?
How many did starve to death before their 10th birthday prior to these Western Super Farming methods?  You speak as though no one anywhere outside of Europe had any notion of how to grow crops, and yet they survived quite nicely for tens of thousands of years, like everywhere else.

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How many millions of people would have suffered and died from a lack of say, penicillin?
Would it be beneficial to list all the medical achievements of Western and non-Western doctors since 1928, when penicillin was discovered?  Or just a quick survey of the advanced medical techniques of the ancient Egyptians at a time when the Western world thought that fevers were caused by vapours and ghosts?

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How many people would still be virtual serfs living under a fat Maharajah, who instead today get to vote and run for office?
How many people today still live as virtual serfs under a fat Corporation, whose voting doesn't matter and will never be able to afford running for office?

I guess I am just wholly baffled at the idea of Western Exceptionalism/Nationalism/Jingoism.  The Taj Mahal was built in the mid 1600s.  The ancient Egyptians had algebra, which was refined in the 9th century in Arabia.  Buddhism was spread in the 6th century BCE, and Taoism has been around for at least that long; Hinduism started out four or five millennia before either of them.  All utilizing written language.  Hardly the work of 'savages' or an 'inferior civilization', wouldn't you say?  Or are you sticking to the 'iPod = civilized' reasoning?

I am totally unable to wrap my head around the idea that none of these people were able to accomplish anything before the West came along, and would still be 'savages' were it not for the Great White West.  If anything, your argument supports the very thing you claim to despise about Avatar; characterizing a civilization as hopelessly corrupt and evil.  Or do you only take offence when it is your own civilization?
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 06, 2010, 08:54:12 PM
Quote from: David R;353629
Thanks but I think I'll just stop now. Pontificating about Imperialism on a gaming board. I'm the site's NBNG but even I have my limits.

Edit: Again I apologize to all for this derail. I sometimes lose the plot when it comes to certain issues.

Regards,
David R
No apologies necessary.  As Jong says, a fascinating discussion; a treasure whose value far exceeds any diversion.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Kyle Aaron on January 06, 2010, 10:28:18 PM
All this White Man's Burden nonsense reminds me of a passage in Arthur Conan Doyle's Lost World.

   We had hardly closed the thornbush door of our zareba, clasped each other's hands, and thrown ourselves panting upon the ground beside our spring, when we heard a patter of feet and then a gentle, plaintive crying from outside our entrance. Lord Roxton rushed forward, rifle in hand, and threw it open. There, prostrate upon their faces, lay the little red figures of the four surviving Indians, trembling with fear of us and yet imploring our protection. With an expressive sweep of his hands one of them pointed to the woods around them, and indicated that they were full of danger. Then, darting forward, he threw his arms round Lord John's legs, and rested his face upon them.

"By George!" cried our peer, pulling at his moustache in great perplexity, "I say—what the deuce are we to do with these people? Get up, little chappie, and take your face off my boots."

"prostrate upon their faces [...] trembling with fear of us and yet imploring our protection" really epitomises the self-serving worldview of the imperialist towards the locals. And really it's a total wank. Countries conquer other lands to exploit them, not out of the generosity of their own hearts.

Later on in the book the party helps the local Indians exterminate the race of ape-men, killing all the males and enslaving the women and children. The ape-men had displayed their savagery by human sacrifice, so of course they deserved it. Professor Challenger brings civilisation! Well, the genocidal part, anyway.

Look, Pundit is the guy who has on numerous occasions told other people of European heritage to come and live Uruguay because, he tells us, light-skinned Europeans get preferential treatment, for example not having to wait in queues at the bank. So it's not surprising he'd have this kind of worldview.

It's just a wank.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 06, 2010, 11:15:07 PM
First, let me say Estar wins this thread!

Now:

Quote from: David R;353615

Now you're just making shit up. Please point out where I essentially admitted that all those other places needed Western Civilization. I mean, you don't have to lie.


You've repeatedly either conceded the point or failed to argue the point that without Western Civilization having spread to the world, the situation for human rights in the world would be atrocious compared to what it is now.


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Bullshit. Ghandi's ideas of nonviolent resistance was not a product of Western Civilization.


Riiiight.. because certainly nothing that came out of western civilization ever suggested one should "turn the other cheek" or produced martyrs willing to die for their beliefs, but not kill for them.  :rolleyes:

Seriously, dude, India does of course have a great tradition of Nonviolence, dating back to Mahavira and Buddha (and possibly earlier), but this is a non-violent separation from world affairs, not a concept of world-changing non-violence.


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Many of the ideas behind the concept of human Rights today are a reaction against Imperialism which although not product of Western Civilization, was certainly an Ideology that was refined by Western Civilization.


Dude, human rights came into being as a reaction against absolute monarchy, not imperialism.

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Did the the Colonial powers teach them how to read ? How many Colonial powers actually did this ?


Dude, how many British and British missionary schools are there in the developing world today?
The entire Indian educational system is based on that mission of spreading education to the entire world.
And the actions of countless thousands of missionaries and civil servants in the fields of education and medicine are among the best pieces of evidence against your whole line of "self-serving motives" argument.

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How many starved to death because they were denied treatment because they were merely native and as such, inferior ?


Sad, but irrelevant, isn't it? Without that medical treatment being available in the first place, they would ALL have died.

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Wait, what has this got to do with Imperialism. If you want to talk about how Western Civilization introduced this, great, because I have no issue with western Civilization.


So you keep saying, and yet you have created a special place for Western Civilization in your whole line of argument. I haven't seen you shitting on the Mughals or any number of Chinese dynasties, or ancient Persia.

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But I'm sure that country which could produce a religion like Buddhism would be capable of evolving .


Hmm, yes, and how was Buddhism doing in india up till the 20th century, by the way?
What's that? Entirely wiped out by reactionary forces in Indian society, you say? Oh, bother.


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Of course I'm not going to tell you that the Afghan Pashtun culture is equal to not only western Civilization but ALSO ASIAN CIVILIZATIONS. But then again I never said all Cultures/Sociieties are equal. What I said was that some cultures are more influential in promoting human progress, this culture obviously isn't one of them.


So you're playing word games now, are you? If some cultures have done more to promote human progress wouldn't that make certain cultures SUPERIOR to those others in that respect, at the very least?
For fuck's sake, you can't just use that word? Are you afraid that you'll get your Groovy Card taken away from you or something? WTF?

 
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Buddha was a reaction against the practises of the Civilization.


You say this like it actually makes some kind of a point for you, or something. You also tend to use this statement "X was a reaction against civilization Y" as though that means X couldn't also be entirely a product of intellectual processes that exist thanks to that selfsame civilization.
Also, note that one of the Buddha's chief issues with his civilization was the caste system; and that this was one of the big reasons, also, why Buddhism was ultimately chased out of India.

 

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You are really not reading my replies are you? Ghandi was a reaction to Imperialism. Martin Luther King was a reaction against the oppresion of his society.  Their civilizations did not enable them to become what they were in fact it tried to restrain them.


Philosophically, and intellectually, their civilizations absolutely DID allow them to become what they were. And it was western civilization's amazing tolerance for free speech and human rights that allowed them to get that message out and not get crushed like bugs.


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And this is why you are intellectually dishonest. You are implying because I disagree with Imperialism and the reuslts of such an ideology means that I am anti civilizational or uninterested in the welfare of these so called "savages". And yes it is Up To Them.



"Up to them" in what way? In what sense does a 12 year old Afghani tribal girl have a choice of what her civilization does? In most cases, she can't even really conceive of a society where it wouldn't be normal for her to marry the 30 year old shepherd who gave her father a goat, or where she could have a say in the matter, or stand up for herself. These things won't even enter into her consciousness. To say its "up to her" is a Pilate-level washing-of-hands of the highest order.

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What we can do (depending on where we live), is ensure that healthcare is provided. What we can do ensure that they are well compensated for their labour and not taken advantage off. What we can do, is introduce technologies which would make their lives easier or introduce new avenues for them to make a living. We can ensure that the laws of the land are fairly applied to them and that women and children understand their rights.


And how exactly do you fucking hope to do those things? How can you "make sure of these things"? The international community's Tut-tutting sure worked wonders to stop the Taliban from blowing up the Buddhas, didn't it? How exactly do you hope to "ensure" that the "laws of the land are applied fairly" without interfering in any way with the culture?

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 06, 2010, 11:28:24 PM
Quote from: StormBringer;353632
Utter bullshit, bordering on bigotry.  "Those darkies aren't nearly smart enough to think like that!"  is a pretty accurate translation of that sentence.


No. Its not even close. There's nothing special about white skin. What I'm talking about is the weight of historical developments; you could have had people with black, yellow or green skin, and had they been the ones to develop the greek concept of the polis, Roman Republicanism, the Roman Imperial concept of citizenship, Christianity, the Magna Carta, Renaissance Humanism, and the Enlightenment and its concepts of the Rights of Man, then the result would have been just the same. Any race could have followed this philosophical/intellectual track.

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You mean, teach them to read English.  Because, last I checked, one of the basic skills inherent any culture or civilization is language, and in the vast majority of cases, a written language.  Some few didn't have writing, but they are the exception.  In this case, that proves the rule.


Dude, in most societies, literacy was a privilege restricted to only the highest levels of the upper classes. Even in western europe up to the 19th century, this was the case. That's what I mean, teach them as in EVERYONE regardless of class how to read.

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How many did starve to death before their 10th birthday prior to these Western Super Farming methods?  You speak as though no one anywhere outside of Europe had any notion of how to grow crops, and yet they survived quite nicely for tens of thousands of years, like everywhere else.


Famine was a regular occurrence pretty much everywhere in the world, again including europe, right up until the last few centuries. So the answer to your first question is MILLIONS AND MILLIONS, at the very least, starved prior to their 10th birthdays.
And if by "survived quite nicely" you mean child mortality rates of 50% or more, then you have a very different concept of "nice" than I do.

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Would it be beneficial to list all the medical achievements of Western and non-Western doctors since 1928, when penicillin was discovered?  Or just a quick survey of the advanced medical techniques of the ancient Egyptians at a time when the Western world thought that fevers were caused by vapours and ghosts?


First, I'm beginning to think you haven't actually studied much history. Second, your last question there kind of supports my point about civilization vs. barbarism.

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How many people today still live as virtual serfs under a fat Corporation, whose voting doesn't matter and will never be able to afford running for office?


If you think working for Wal-mart is the same as serfdom, you clearly have a very serious gap of education to make up for.

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I guess I am just wholly baffled at the idea of Western Exceptionalism/Nationalism/Jingoism.  The Taj Mahal was built in the mid 1600s.  The ancient Egyptians had algebra, which was refined in the 9th century in Arabia.  Buddhism was spread in the 6th century BCE, and Taoism has been around for at least that long; Hinduism started out four or five millennia before either of them.  All utilizing written language.  Hardly the work of 'savages' or an 'inferior civilization', wouldn't you say?  Or are you sticking to the 'iPod = civilized' reasoning?

I am totally unable to wrap my head around the idea that none of these people were able to accomplish anything before the West came along, and would still be 'savages' were it not for the Great White West.  If anything, your argument supports the very thing you claim to despise about Avatar; characterizing a civilization as hopelessly corrupt and evil.  Or do you only take offence when it is your own civilization?


You either haven't actually read my arguments, or haven't shown the capacity to understand them even a little bit.

Sorry, but at least David R is actually trying to argue from the perspective of having some kind of fucking clue about the things he's saying.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 07, 2010, 12:19:52 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;353694
No. Its not even close. There's nothing special about white skin. What I'm talking about is the weight of historical developments; you could have had people with black, yellow or green skin, and had they been the ones to develop the greek concept of the polis, Roman Republicanism, the Roman Imperial concept of citizenship, Christianity, the Magna Carta, Renaissance Humanism, and the Enlightenment and its concepts of the Rights of Man, then the result would have been just the same. Any race could have followed this philosophical/intellectual track.
Ah, so before the Greeks, there was no concept of citizenship.  Ok.  Along with the Roman version, this included that most enlightened of institutions, slavery.  Because, that really was the 'concept' of citizenship; a method of discerning the Civilized from the Savage.  I mean, the Latin root still resides in the word.  The witty, urbane, cosmopolitan as distinct (and superior) to the unwashed, uncouth, uncivilized barbarian who doesn't know their Beluga from their fois gras.

Only now, your argument seems to have transformed into 'anyone could have done it, but it was the West that actually did it'.  Which really isn't any different than 'only the West could have done it'.

Clearly, Asia needed Western assistance before completely imploding (http://india_resource.tripod.com/eastindia.html):
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"In the middle of the seventeenth century, Asia still had a far more  important place in the world than Europe." So wrote J. Pirenne in his  'History of the Universe', published in Paris in 1950. He added, "The riches of Asia were incomparably greater than those of the European states. Her industrial techniques showed a subtlety and a tradition that the European handicrafts did not possess. And there was nothing in the more modern methods used by the traders of the Western countries that Asian trade had to envy. In matters of credit, transfer of funds, insurance, and cartels, neither India, Persia, nor China had anything to learn from Europe."
On the verge of collapse.

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Dude, in most societies, literacy was a privilege restricted to only the highest levels of the upper classes. Even in western europe up to the 19th century, this was the case. That's what I mean, teach them as in EVERYONE regardless of class how to read.
Ah, so that is what the East India Company was doing while the locals were on copious breaks from harvesting tea.  Teaching them to read.

Seriously,  even you don't believe that bullshit, do you?  I mean, really?  You even admit that your vaunted Western Europe didn't teach everyone to read until the 19th Century.

Oh, wait, it wasn't reading they were teaching them (http://india_resource.tripod.com/eastindia.html):
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And finally, (and perhaps, most significantly), as Veronica Murphy reports  in 'Europeans and the Textile Trade' (Arts of India 1550-1900), "although  the East India Company was not itself engaged in the transatlantic slave trade, the link was very close and highly profitable." In fact, in the 18th century, the British dominated the Atlantic slave trade transporting more slaves than all the other European  powers combined. In 1853, Henry Carey - author of  'The Slave Trade, Domestic and Foreign' wrote: "It (the British System) is the most gigantic system of slavery the world has yet seen, and therefore it is that freedom gradually disappears from every country over which England is enabled to gain control." The Atlantic slave trade was hence, a vital contributor to the financial strength of the East Indian Trading Companies.
You are in academia.  You ought to register a complaint about the lack of research integrity these two exhibit.

Clearly, the British were teaching the natives to read, even though they would not avail themselves of this until two centuries later.  Interesting thought process, there.
 

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Famine was a regular occurrence pretty much everywhere in the world, again including europe, right up until the last few centuries. So the answer to your first question is MILLIONS AND MILLIONS, at the very least, starved prior to their 10th birthdays.
And if by "survived quite nicely" you mean child mortality rates of 50% or more, then you have a very different concept of "nice" than I do.
So, wait, everyone had the same problem with food production?  And yet, no civilization died out for lack Western assistance for thousands and thousands of years.  That is the weirdest thing.  It's almost as though they were doing no better or worse than anyone else, despite a lack of interest by the Western powers.

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First, I'm beginning to think you haven't actually studied much history. Second, your last question there kind of supports my point about civilization vs. barbarism.
Well, I have been pretty sure for a while now that you haven't learned much history, so we seem to be on even ground.

On the second point, are you agreeing that the ancient Egyptians had a superior civilization, and would have been justified in marching north to colonize the European barbarians to 'enlighten' them.

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If you think working for Wal-mart is the same as serfdom, you clearly have a very serious gap of education to make up for.
Clearly, you haven't worked for Wal-mart.

But I was more referring to the middle class, or the median to upper middle class.  You know, the ones being squeezed by the owners of capital so they know who is in charge.  The people who are being evicted from their homes by a local baron...  errr...  bank, I mean.  The ones who relinquish the majority of their income to the consumer exchequer.

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You either haven't actually read my arguments, or haven't shown the capacity to understand them even a little bit.
Oh, no, I understand your arguments very well.  They are a shallow jingoism that promotes Western Exceptionalism, hence, they are bullshit.  Pointing out the obvious flaws and extreme biases in your posts is not the same thing as a lack of understanding.

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Sorry, but at least David R is actually trying to argue from the perspective of having some kind of fucking clue about the things he's saying.
Which puts him at least one leg up on your blind worship of Western Civilization.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on January 07, 2010, 12:23:44 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;353690
Now:
You've repeatedly either conceded the point or failed to argue the point that without Western Civilization having spread to the world, the situation for human rights in the world would be atrocious compared to what it is now.


Ah, so I see it is a lie on your part. Numerous times I have made the distinction between Western Civilization and Western Imperialism. What you have failed to do is make your case for the benefits of the barbarity of Imperialism besides saying, who the fuck cares.

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Riiiight.. because certainly nothing that came out of western civilization ever suggested one should "turn the other cheek" or produced martyrs willing to die for their beliefs, but not kill for them.  :rolleyes:


No it was a response against your assumption that nothing like this could ever come out from a non Western civilization. And you will note that this form of nonviolent movement predates "turn the other cheek"

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Seriously, dude, India does of course have a great tradition of Nonviolence, dating back to Mahavira and Buddha (and possibly earlier), but this is a non-violent separation from world affairs, not a concept of world-changing non-violence.


What a silly misconception. You are assuming that spiritual ideas do not seep into political ones. But since you think so lowly of Eastern cultures, you would of course have this misconception.

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Dude, human rights came into being as a reaction against absolute monarchy, not imperialism.


Why don't you read what I wrote? I said Human Rights today. This encompasses a whole range of issues from the rights of indigenous people, the rights of companies, the issue of territorial boundaries and the effects of populations etc.

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Dude, how many British and British missionary schools are there in the developing world today?
The entire Indian educational system is based on that mission of spreading education to the entire world.
And the actions of countless thousands of missionaries and civil servants in the fields of education and medicine are among the best pieces of evidence against your whole line of "self-serving motives" argument.


How convenient. Now you are claiming this is a form of Imperialism. Firstly, this was exactly how the Indians spread their culture around the world and specifically in South East Asia. Secondly, I don't view this as a form of imperialism, something which I mentioned in one of my many responses to you. Furthermore, the fact that you want to throw this in as "evidence" of the benefits of Imperialism, shows how tenuous your position is considering your three point response as to why the British Empire had to move in with force in India. There was of course altruism mixed up with Imperialism (and this sort of missionary work predates Imperialism) but those poor souls were unfortunately overrun by those who were greedy and racists.

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Sad, but irrelevant, isn't it? Without that medical treatment being available in the first place, they would ALL have died.


Yes but not the Superior culture. Who cares about the inferior natives?

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So you keep saying, and yet you have created a special place for Western Civilization in your whole line of argument. I haven't seen you shitting on the Mughals or any number of Chinese dynasties, or ancient Persia.


Because this discussion is about 19 century Western Imperialism. As a more recent example and one which has had a far-reaching impact in the world, of course it is more relevant. If you want me to shit on the Chinese or Mughals, they were bad too I guess, and the next time someone argues otherwise, I'll be sure to speak up.

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Hmm, yes, and how was Buddhism doing in india up till the 20th century, by the way?
What's that? Entirely wiped out by reactionary forces in Indian society, you say? Oh, bother.


You mean those reactionary forces that also included the British Empire? Yeah it's a shame when a possible potent social movement is cut off by reactionary forces which included a very dominant Imperial power.

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So you're playing word games now, are you? If some cultures have done more to promote human progress wouldn't that make certain cultures SUPERIOR to those others in that respect, at the very least?


Not at all. And I’m not talking about just Western Culture. There are many things that non western Culture has done to promote Human Progress but that does not make them Superior. Superior and inferior are not merely word games but a dangerous, duality to subscribe to when discussing human beings.

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For fuck's sake, you can't just use that word? Are you afraid that you'll get your Groovy Card taken away from you or something? WTF?


Nah, it's just that I have no interest in joining the HipEdgyInternetCoolCats, who think bigotry is the new Hotness.

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You say this like it actually makes some kind of a point for you, or something. You also tend to use this statement "X was a reaction against civilization Y" as though that means X couldn't also be entirely a product of intellectual processes that exist thanks to that selfsame civilization.


Well yes of course civilizations tend to share similar intellectual processes but it’s not something you subscribe to, seeing as how you view civilizations as superior (western) and any other civilizations as inferior.

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Also, note that one of the Buddha's chief issues with his civilization was the caste system; and that this was one of the big reasons, also, why Buddhism was ultimately chased out of India.


Which makes your whole “non-violent separation from world affairs, not a concept of world-changing non-violence” seem rather ridiculous. Of course Buddhism was a threat to the established order at the time. Of course it was changing things. This also shows how Indian society was capable of changing and it really didn’t need Imperialism to change it.

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Philosophically, and intellectually, their civilizations absolutely DID allow them to become what they were. And it was western civilization's amazing tolerance for free speech and human rights that allowed them to get that message out and not get crushed like bugs.


What the fuck are you talking about here? Both King and Gandhi were products of their civilizations. The difference between King and Ghandi was that Western Civilization's amazing tolerance for Free Speech obviously did not extend to Ghandi. Even King had a horrendous time. How did Indian civilization stop Ghandi from becoming who he was?  It was Western Imperialism that stopped him or attempted to stop him from becoming who he was.

What the fuck is your point. The commonality between both men was they were fighting against oppression. And King was extremely influenced by Ghandi. That’s right, a man from a shithole civilization actually influenced one of Western Civilization’s greatest thinkers.

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"Up to them" in what way? In what sense does a 12 year old Afghani tribal girl have a choice of what her civilization does? In most cases, she can't even really conceive of a society where it wouldn't be normal for her to marry the 30 year old shepherd who gave her father a goat, or where she could have a say in the matter, or stand up for herself. These things won't even enter into her consciousness. To say its "up to her" is a Pilate-level washing-of-hands of the highest order.


Yes, yes the feigned outrage for the 12 year old Afghani girl that Imperialistic types throw about when they don’t really give a shit about her but just need a convenient example to show why their culture is superior. (Of course this is what you say, don’t you, when arguing against anyone who disagrees with you. But, I’ll try to be more honest than you.) When I said up to them I meant, it's not really construtive bombing them back to the Stone Age, which is your Imperialistic, Superior culture way. Of course part of the reason why this poor Afghani girl is in the situiaon she is in is because of the colonial history of the place – the creation of Pakistan and the war with Russia etc.

Of course I don’t advocate washing off hands of any kind. I think there are many parts of the world were help is needed. Child prostitution in Asia and Europe. Famine and War in Africa.  The list is endless. And we don’t need another fucking Empire to save us, esp not the kind that you think of as the Great Altruistic Changer of Nations. It’s a global effort and not something one country can handle but itself. I certainly don’t think we need another Empire in a place often referred to as the Graveyards of Empires.

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And how exactly do you fucking hope to do those things? How can you "make sure of these things"? The international community's Tut-tutting sure worked wonders to stop the Taliban from blowing up the Buddhas, didn't it? How exactly do you hope to "ensure" that the "laws of the land are applied fairly" without interfering in any way with the culture?


Don’t you even read what I write? Did I not say depending on where you live? Stop thinking so narrowly about just Imperial conquest and the Superiority of Western Civilization and those poor Afghans. All over the world there are indigenous communities (or savages to you) that need the help of those of us who are in cultures that are better of terms of our lifestyle. A lot of this work should be done by the countries themselves which would ease up on the western powers having to invade the country and spreading their superior civilization.

Of course globally we should strengthen our international institutions and act militarily when the need arises as a global force instead of saying we are promoting freedom and democracy but instead have eyes on the resources of the country. Imperialism by its nature is self serving that’s why bad shit happens and nothing is done where there is nothing to gain. Well, we have to change  That/Our mindset, and this means everyone, Western and non Western cultures working together, which seems more feasible than your idea of waiting for a Western culture to rise up out of decadence and lead us out of Darkness or maybe India, which really does not give a shit about anything beyond her own interest much like the Western Superpowers before her.

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 07, 2010, 04:57:34 PM
Quote from: StormBringer;353710
Ah, so before the Greeks, there was no concept of citizenship.


Not in any way that was even remotely similar, no. Citizenship is something taken for granted today, but it was an extremely radical idea at the time, a huge leap in thought from previous tribalism.

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 Ok.  Along with the Roman version, this included that most enlightened of institutions, slavery.


Wow, the Romans had slaves so they must be uniformly bad!! Thanks for clearing that up for us. :rolleyes:

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Clearly, Asia needed Western assistance before completely imploding (http://india_resource.tripod.com/eastindia.html):


Yes, in the 1650s, Asia was more advanced than Europe. By the late 18th century, you couldn't really say that anymore.
What you're doing here is the equivalent of trying to say that clearly Austria had better disco music because it produced Mozart.

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Oh, wait, it wasn't reading they were teaching them (http://india_resource.tripod.com/eastindia.html):


And you seem to forget which civilization it was that did more than any other to make the concept of Slavery completely anathema to modern thinking.

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So, wait, everyone had the same problem with food production?  And yet, no civilization died out for lack Western assistance for thousands and thousands of years.  That is the weirdest thing.  It's almost as though they were doing no better or worse than anyone else, despite a lack of interest by the Western powers.


Actually, there were probably quite a few civilizations that died out due to inadequate agrarian technology; but that's beside the point. The point is that right up until the agrarian revolutions of the 18th century, starvation was an everyday fact of life for huge numbers of people throughout the world (including Europe), and that when the West developed its agrarian reforms, it was a huge leap of humanitarian progress for the entire world, that would be irresponsible not to have been shared.

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On the second point, are you agreeing that the ancient Egyptians had a superior civilization, and would have been justified in marching north to colonize the European barbarians to 'enlighten' them.


As a matter of fact, the Egyptian civilization had a very significant influence on a great deal of more primitive cultures around them (take note, for example, in how the original Temple at Jerusalem, among others, was pretty much modeled on Egyptian structures and architectural techniques). And yes, had the Egyptians held the capacity and the will to expand their civilization all the way to northern Europe, that would have been a good thing. I don't get why, given my line of argument until now, you'd think I wouldn't think so.

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Clearly, you haven't worked for Wal-mart.


Clearly, you have no idea how good modern human beings have it compared to indentured serfs in a pre-industrial society.

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But I was more referring to the middle class, or the median to upper middle class.  You know, the ones being squeezed by the owners of capital so they know who is in charge.  The people who are being evicted from their homes by a local baron...  errr...  bank, I mean.  The ones who relinquish the majority of their income to the consumer exchequer.


Members of the middle class in western society today have a quality of life that would utterly eclipse that of the highest members of the medieval nobility.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 07, 2010, 05:32:42 PM
Quote from: David R;353776

What a silly misconception. You are assuming that spiritual ideas do not seep into political ones. But since you think so lowly of Eastern cultures, you would of course have this misconception.


Well, then please show me an example where this sort of nonviolent resistance met with success in a historical case, in a non-western society.


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How convenient. Now you are claiming this is a form of Imperialism.


Dude, how can you possibly try to divorce this from Imperialism? "Onward Christian Soldiers"?

 
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Secondly, I don't view this as a form of imperialism, something which I mentioned in one of my many responses to you.


So in essence, the only single thing you are arguing with me against my original point is that you reject military colonialism, but you believe in every other kind of method of spreading civilization, including what is often termed "cultural imperialism"? Is that it? I'm just trying to understand, because from this side of the argument it seems like you're claiming to argue a very narrow range of criticisms when it suits you, and turning it around into a broad condemnation of my entire argument when it doesn't.

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There was of course altruism mixed up with Imperialism (and this sort of missionary work predates Imperialism) but those poor souls were unfortunately overrun by those who were greedy and racists.


And it seems that this is the central point on which we differ. Because my position is that the altruism was far more prevalent as a motive than the exploitation and that the overall results of 19th century imperialism, while no doubt a mixed bag, ended up doing far more good than harm for humanity as a whole.


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Yes but not the Superior culture. Who cares about the inferior natives?


Way to dodge my point. I guess it was irrefutable, huh? Recapping: with imperialism, some people might have (due to racism or other motives) been denied life-saving medical treatment, while others lived. Without imperialism, and thus without any of said life-saving medical treatment, they all would have died. Is a 100% mortality rate better than a 50% mortality rate because of a matter of ideological principle?


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Because this discussion is about 19 century Western Imperialism.


Only because you've decided that this is the one and only example of spread-of-civilization that is convenient for you to argue.


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You mean those reactionary forces that also included the British Empire? Yeah it's a shame when a possible potent social movement is cut off by reactionary forces which included a very dominant Imperial power.


What?! Dude, Buddhism was wiped out from India at least 500 years before the English ever took over.


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Not at all. And I’m not talking about just Western Culture. There are many things that non western Culture has done to promote Human Progress but that does not make them Superior. Superior and inferior are not merely word games but a dangerous, duality to subscribe to when discussing human beings.


Good thing I'm attributing them to ideas, and not to individual human beings, then.


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Which makes your whole “non-violent separation from world affairs, not a concept of world-changing non-violence” seem rather ridiculous. Of course Buddhism was a threat to the established order at the time. Of course it was changing things. This also shows how Indian society was capable of changing and it really didn’t need Imperialism to change it.


Except of course when you consider that Buddhism failed, because Indian Society refused to permit that kind of change.


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What the fuck are you talking about here? Both King and Gandhi were products of their civilizations. The difference between King and Ghandi was that Western Civilization's amazing tolerance for Free Speech obviously did not extend to Ghandi.


Really? I don't recall Ghandi having been shot by a British Firing Squad...

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Even King had a horrendous time. How did Indian civilization stop Ghandi from becoming who he was?


Its not a question having stopped him, its a matter of how he never would have become that man in the first place, with those ideas, which he gained courtesy of his exposure to ideas that had been germinating in the West.

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What the fuck is your point. The commonality between both men was they were fighting against oppression. And King was extremely influenced by Ghandi. That’s right, a man from a shithole civilization actually influenced one of Western Civilization’s greatest thinkers.


Actually, while King was a really great man, I would certainly not qualify him as one of western civilization's great thinkers. I might give that credit to Ghandi, though. King's ideas were basically derivative of Ghandi's, as you said.


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Yes, yes the feigned outrage for the 12 year old Afghani girl that Imperialistic types throw about when they don’t really give a shit about her but just need a convenient example to show why their culture is superior. (Of course this is what you say, don’t you, when arguing against anyone who disagrees with you. But, I’ll try to be more honest than you.) When I said up to them I meant, it's not really construtive bombing them back to the Stone Age, which is your Imperialistic, Superior culture way


If you follow my blog regularly, you'd know that I've been extremely critical of how the Americans have handled the wars in Afghanistan and especially Iraq.

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. Of course part of the reason why this poor Afghani girl is in the situiaon she is in is because of the colonial history of the place – the creation of Pakistan and the war with Russia etc.


Nonsense. Her life 300 years ago would have been almost exactly the same as it is today. Ironically, her life some 40 years ago might have been quite different, filled with more opportunities than it has today, because of western civilization. Afghanistan made a great effort for modernization, that has sadly been lost into history for now.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 07, 2010, 06:10:18 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;353870
And you seem to forget which civilization it was that did more than any other to make the concept of Slavery completely anathema to modern thinking.
16th century Japan, where they outlawed it?  Or did you mean the joint efforts of the League of Nations in the 20s, and later the United Nations in the 50s and 60s?

This is getting pretty pointless.  For you, there is no history outside of the West prior to the late 1700s.

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Clearly, you have no idea how good modern human beings have it compared to indentured serfs in a pre-industrial society.

Members of the middle class in western society today have a quality of life that would utterly eclipse that of the highest members of the medieval nobility.
Yes, 'technology = civilization', we get it.  Ask the millions of unemployed in this country how comforting that is when their lives have utterly collapsed and will likely not recover because they were fired on a whim.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Ian Absentia on January 07, 2010, 06:54:35 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;353870
Members of the middle class in western society today have a quality of life that would utterly eclipse that of the highest members of the medieval nobility.
Standard of living wasn't the comparison that StormBringer was making, though, was it?

!i!

[Edit:  Oh'p.  Looks like Stormy already fielded this one.]
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on January 07, 2010, 07:04:42 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;353881
Well, then please show me an example where this sort of nonviolent resistance met with success in a historical case, in a non-western society.


Why is an example important ? My contention was that spiritual ideas infect political ones, not wether the nonviolent resistances were successful or not.

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Dude, how can you possibly try to divorce this from Imperialism? "Onward Christian Soldiers"?


Wait, you mean to say, that you think Cultural expansion if a form of Imperialism ? That's very liberal wussy of you. Look, people get to choose if they want to accept  a foreign culture or not when it's promoted this way. And "Onwards Christian Soldiers", really ? Like I said tenuous arguments for Imperialism......

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So in essence, the only single thing you are arguing with me against my original point is that you reject military colonialism, but you believe in every other kind of method of spreading civilization, including what is often termed "cultural imperialism"? Is that it?


Well duh. Didn't I say Civilization was a good thing. Didn't I give examples of Indian, Chinese and Western nonmilitary Cultural expansion as something worthwhile ? Wasn't my whole point that precolonial history The British had with India, something that was mutually beneficial to both sides ?

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I'm just trying to understand, because from this side of the argument it seems like you're claiming to argue a very narrow range of criticisms when it suits you, and turning it around into a broad condemnation of my entire argument when it doesn't.


If that's the case it's because you have made some pretty damning statements about entire Civilizations. I mean, I have always maintained that Civilization is a good thing and that Civilizations/Cultures though not equal in their contributions to the progress of Mankind should not be classified as inferior or superior because that kind of thinking leads to the abuses Military Imperialsim is famous for. I also think it has a detrimental effect behind Civilization Rebuilding if and when military force becomes neccessary when dealing with some of the Fucked Up Cultural shit you talked about in your replies.

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And it seems that this is the central point on which we differ. Because my position is that the altruism was far more prevalent as a motive than the exploitation and that the overall results of 19th century imperialism, while no doubt a mixed bag, ended up doing far more good than harm for humanity as a whole.


Then we will just have to carry on "differing". Both of us are guilty of playing a "what if game" - the game of What if 19 Century Imperialism did not exist ? We both come to different conclusions. I maintain that superficilly it looks like more Good than Harm, came out of it. I can say this because I come form a colony which had it relatively easy. But if we look at the bigger picture it gets a more confusing. All I can say is, 19 century Imperialism was a dodgy Enterprise to begin with, best not attempted again and we (both sides) are lucky enough to remain standing.

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Way to dodge my point. I guess it was irrefutable, huh? Recapping: with imperialism, some people might have (due to racism or other motives) been denied life-saving medical treatment, while others lived. Without imperialism, and thus without any of said life-saving medical treatment, they all would have died. Is a 100% mortality rate better than a 50% mortality rate because of a matter of ideological principle?


You don't need to have Imperialism to save lives. If you think altrusim was a defining motive, then lives would have been saved even without Imperialism. Also I don't have examples with me at the moment but there were many instances where the natives stole medicine from their Colonial masters and spread it though the population. And in some cases they were helped by Chritian Missionaries - which is the kind of altruism that maybe goes a little way in making up for the Barbarity of Imperialism.

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Only because you've decided that this is the one and only example of spread-of-civilization that is convenient for you to argue.


Brother, IT is the most relevent example. The World changed because of it. New territories were created that still function today. New Groups and Ideologies were forged. And belive me, my position is not convenient. I have had to make a distinction between Western Civilization and Western Imperialism. I think I have remaind relatively calm, in the face of you calling my Civilization a shithole and my people incapable of amounting to anything much without The Great White Help.

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What?! Dude, Buddhism was wiped out from India at least 500 years before the English ever took over.


Yes but it's influence was still there. One of the more prominent anti caste parties in Tamil Nadu has it's spiritual and intelectual roots in the movement that came about as a quasi religious order just before colonialism. This movement itself was influenced by Buddhist thinking (but not neccessarily "pure" Buddhism) of an older movement. Indian scholars and anthropolgist also point out that although Buddhism was not represented in the County offically, there is evidence that other spiritual and political movements had adopted some of it's positions. This is not counting art and literature.

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Good thing I'm attributing them to ideas, and not to individual human beings, then.


When you talk of cultures being inferior or superior, you are talking about human beings. But yes, you have made refences to ideas and to be fair to me, I have acknowledged that those ideas were useful and important to the concept of Human Progress.

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Except of course when you consider that Buddhism failed, because Indian Society refused to permit that kind of change.


So what. It didn't stop India from becoming a Great Civilization. The Great Idea of Buddhism may not have played much of a role in india (besides the subtle role I mentioned earlier) but it did make an impact on the rest of the World. Indian culture changed because of it's cultural expansion. It changed because of elements that were introduced to it from other countries it came into contact with.

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Really? I don't recall Ghandi having been shot by a British Firing Squad...


Yes not him but thousand of others were. Thousands of others were imprisoned and tortured.

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Its not a question having stopped him, its a matter of how he never would have become that man in the first place, with those ideas, which he gained courtesy of his exposure to ideas that had been germinating in the West.


Bullshit. You think the concept of "wanting to be free" is a purely Western Idea ? "Those ideas" he had of the type of resistance were most probably a combination of Western and Non western ideas. The fact that he used the "intelectuall weapons" of his Colonial Overlords against them is hardly evidence that he could not have come into being without Western Civilization only that he used concepts that they would understand.  

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Actually, while King was a really great man, I would certainly not qualify him as one of western civilization's great thinkers. I might give that credit to Ghandi, though. King's ideas were basically derivative of Ghandi's, as you said.


Of course you would like to claim Ghandi on behalf of western Civilization. The reality is, that it took a Great Thinker like King to see the Wisdom in Ghandi's rather impractical method of resistance. King could be considered lucky. I don't think it worked in the dramatic and overt way it did in America, around the rest of the World.

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If you follow my blog regularly, you'd know that I've been extremely critical of how the Americans have handled the wars in Afghanistan and especially Iraq.


Okay, so we are in agreement then. We both believe force is sometimes necessary (to promote a greater good) but Imperialistic ideas should be rejected. Are we in agreement ?

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Nonsense. Her life 300 years ago would have been almost exactly the same as it is today. Ironically, her life some 40 years ago might have been quite different, filled with more opportunities than it has today, because of western civilization. Afghanistan made a great effort for modernization, that has sadly been lost into history for now.


Nonsense. The creation of Pakistan, The Great Game, the War with Russia and Colonial meddling impeded any form of Civilization from ever taking root, for long periods of time. What is now known as Afghanistan had a Culture and Civilization that was closley linked with India at one time. Historical events did play a part in how this country turned out and you ignore it at your own peril.

Now, are we done here ?

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 07, 2010, 08:19:55 PM
Quote from: Ian Absentia;353907
Standard of living wasn't the comparison that StormBringer was making, though, was it?

!i!

[Edit:  Oh'p.  Looks like Stormy already fielded this one.]
No problem, it's a good indicator that I didn't mangle the point, and Pundit is just being wilfully obtuse.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: David R on January 07, 2010, 08:26:20 PM
Quote from: StormBringer;353926
No problem, it's a good indicator that I didn't mangle the point, and Pundit is just being wilfully obtuse.


And you have been far better at articulating your position(s) than me.

Regards,
David R
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: JongWK on January 07, 2010, 09:08:05 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;353881

Really? I don't recall Ghandi having been shot by a British Firing Squad...


Government advocate: General Dyer, is it correct that you ordered your troops to fire at the thickest part of the crowd?
Gen. Dyer: [righteous tone] That is so.
Government advocate: One thousand five hundred and sixteen casualties with one thousand six hundred and fifty bullets.
Gen. Dyer: My intention was to inflict a lesson that would have an impact throughout all India.
Indian barrister: General, had you been able to take in the armored car, would you have opened fire with the machine gun?
Gen. Dyer: I think, probably, yes.
Lord Hunter: General, did you realize there were children, and women, in the crowd?
Gen. Dyer: I did.
Government advocate: But that was irrelevant to the point you were making?
Gen. Dyer: That is correct!
Government advocate: Could I ask you what provision you made for the wounded?
Gen. Dyer: I was ready to help any who applied.
Government advocate: General, how does a child shot with a 303 Lee-Enfield "apply" for help?
Gen. Dyer: [silence] (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hgRLqBZuMQ)
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 07, 2010, 09:51:26 PM
In real life, Dyer was condemned, demoted, and dismissed by the British Government. Winston Churchill called it "monstrous".

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: JongWK on January 07, 2010, 10:26:06 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;353933
In real life, Dyer was condemned, demoted, and dismissed by the British Government. Winston Churchill called it "monstrous".

RPGPundit


Churchill's words and the House of Commons' censure of Dyer honour them.

It is also true, though, that the House of Lords passed a measure commending Dyer, that the British media raised a "sympathy fund" for him, and that he never spent a single day in jail for this atrocity.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 07, 2010, 10:43:19 PM
Quote from: David R;353927
And you have been far better at articulating your position(s) than me.

Regards,
David R
Your kind words honour me.

:hatsoff:
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Hairfoot on January 08, 2010, 12:47:24 AM
Quote from: RPGPundit;353881
Really? I don't recall Ghandi having been shot by a British Firing Squad...


Ho, ho, ho. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sO9cV4ZlqkM&feature=related)
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 08, 2010, 12:58:44 PM
Quote from: Ian Absentia;353907
Standard of living wasn't the comparison that StormBringer was making, though, was it?

!i!

[Edit:  Oh'p.  Looks like Stormy already fielded this one.]


What comparison was he making, then? Because it sure sounds to me like he's suggesting that middle-class people who work for big companies are equal or superior in suffering to medieval indentured serfs.

By ANY comparison of pretty well anything positive, Serfs come up losing by orders of magnitude to modern people in western civilization, and CERTAINLY to the motherfucking middle class. I suppose you could maybe say "Job security", if by job security you meant "the serf would be trapped working the same shit plot of land for his lord until he starves or dies of dysentery".

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 08, 2010, 01:02:12 PM
Quote from: JongWK;353943
Churchill's words and the House of Commons' censure of Dyer honour them.

It is also true, though, that the House of Lords passed a measure commending Dyer, that the British media raised a "sympathy fund" for him, and that he never spent a single day in jail for this atrocity.


Again, so what? If this was presented as an example of "imperialism" you are supposing this is a "routine" event in 19th century british imperialism, when clearly it is not. It stands out for its brutality and stood out in its own time.

Using that to condemn the efforts of civilization to spread itself is like using the Joker to condemn clowns.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: JongWK on January 08, 2010, 01:25:34 PM
From the BBC: (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/8414223.stm)

Quote from: James Cameron, to the BBC's Tim Masters

"The film espouses this love/hate relationship with technology," says Cameron. "Obviously we use technology to tell this story that's a celebration of nature, which is an irony in itself.

"It's not that technology is bad, it's not that technological civilization is bad, it's just that we need to be in control of the technical process.

"We're not going to be able to just rip our clothes off and run back into the wilderness - first of all, there's not a whole lot of it left, secondly, that's not going to work for eight billion people.

"So we're going to have to think our way out of this, we'll have to do it using technology and using science, but we're also going to have to be very, very human about it."

Cameron adds: "One of the themes of the film is symbolised by the fact that it begins and ends with the main character's eyes opening - it's about a change of perception, and about choices that are made once our perceptions change."



So: Not anti-human, not anti-civilization, not anti-technology.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 08, 2010, 01:42:50 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;354058
By ANY comparison of pretty well anything positive, Serfs come up losing by orders of magnitude to modern people in western civilization, and CERTAINLY to the motherfucking middle class. I suppose you could maybe say "Job security", if by job security you meant "the serf would be trapped working the same shit plot of land for his lord until he starves or dies of dysentery".

RPGPundit
By job security, I mean "the white-collar worker is trapped working the same shit cubicle for his corporation until he is fired or bankrupted by serious illness".

Being fired isn't the exact analogue to starving, of course, but somehow 'food insecurity' has been on a sharp increase with the dramatic rise in unemployment lately.  American workers have been one medical incident from financial ruin for a number of years, which all but locks them into their job; employees almost never recover their previous level of wages after an extended period of unemployment.

But, why let nuance get in the way of your diatribe?  I mean, technically, a serf really could just pack up and leave to find another...  well, another landlord that would have no better terms than the last one, really.  It's not like they had extensive data networks to keep track of them.

The parallels are there, when you aren't frantically spinning everything the West has done into manna from heaven.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Edsan on January 08, 2010, 01:51:51 PM
Quote from: JongWK;354077
So: Not anti-human, not anti-civilization, not anti-technology.


Er...no.

Cameron is simply stating (assuming he is being honest and not just full of BS) what he attempted to express with this movie.

Wether he succeeded at it or not is a matter of personal opinion.

Just because an author says "This is what my work means", that on itself does not mean people can't feel it means something else. And doing so does not mean one is "wrong" or just "doesn't get it".


In my humble opinion he failed miserably.

Seeing human soldiers getting slaughtered by primitive blue ninja commandos is not my idea of accurately expressing "A love/hate relationship with technology".

Seeing human technology defeated hands-down by stampeding animals under the total control of an alien entity does not make me think "Gee, we'd better control our technological progress"


Abandoning your family, your home planet, your entire race and betraying and killing an honorable man that stood true to his word and helped you; just so you can fuck an alien being is definitively not my idea of being "Very, very human about..." well, anything really.

The fate of 20 billions beings flushed down the toilet due to selfish choices of one man, denies those billions any real chance for "A change of perception" and making any "Choices accordingly".
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Ian Absentia on January 08, 2010, 01:59:45 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;354058
What comparison was he making, then? Because it sure sounds to me like he's suggesting that middle-class people who work for big companies are equal or superior in suffering to medieval indentured serfs.
Don't be daft, man.  The comparison that he was making related directly to the issue of capital-holders essentially holding their debtors ransom.  He's referring to banks -- specifically lending banks, creditors -- that have created an environment where they have attracted a vast sector of the middle-class to extend themselves with easy credit, are now squeezing their debtors in the fashion that medieval landholders squeezed their serfs, or Antebellum landholders squeezed their sharecroppers, or 19th century Robber Barons squeezed their frontier employees with "company stores".

You're the one demanding that an index of suffering displays a level of suffering equal to or exceeding that of medieval serfs.  The rest of us understand that it's the strategy that's at issue.

!i!
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Ian Absentia on January 08, 2010, 02:02:27 PM
Quote from: StormBringer;354084
But, why let nuance get in the way of your diatribe?  I mean, technically, a serf really could just pack up and leave to find another...  well, another landlord that would have no better terms than the last one, really.  It's not like they had extensive data networks to keep track of them.
Well, technically, they couldn't leave their fief without the landlord's permission.  But maybe that's what you were driving at.

!i!
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: JongWK on January 08, 2010, 02:08:57 PM
Nice cherrypicking, Edsan. :rolleyes:
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 08, 2010, 02:51:58 PM
Quote from: Ian Absentia;354087
Well, technically, they couldn't leave their fief without the landlord's permission.  But maybe that's what you were driving at.

!i!
Certainly, they were legally and financially bound to the landholder.  What I meant was that they didn't have extensive identification and tracking mechanisms, so they could feasibly pack up and leave.  It was usually just a really, really bad idea.  The new landlord would likely become instantly suspicious and would hear about their 'defection' soon enough if they didn't move far away; a further complication to an already daunting task at the time.

Which also has a parallel.  I can pack up and leave ConglomCoSprockets, Inc. any time I want.  I would be giving up income and health benefits, of course, at least.  But trying to find further employment would subject me to other companies in the sprocket industry questioning my move, and calls to my former employer who would be unlikely to provide a glowing review had I just started not showing up for work.

Excellent analysis and explanation of my point, though.  Thanks for clarifying that.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 08, 2010, 03:03:57 PM
Quote from: Edsan;354085
...killing an honorable man that stood true to his word and helped you...
He wasn't particularly honourable, actually.  While the previous negotiation breakdowns may have warranted a bit more aggressive posture, rolling in and nuking their home isn't really 'honourable'.  Plus, he perverted Jake's entire mission into one of covert intel rather than good faith cultural exchange with the natives.

Additionally, the movie indicates the source of unobtanium below their tree wasn't the only vein of the mineral, just the largest.  They could have spent their resources much more efficiently locating and gathering the other deposits instead of focussing on the one motherlode and their pursuit of running the natives off at any cost.

An honourable soldier would have said:
"This is an entire fucking planet with other deposits.  We will continue to protect the workers from the hostile environment while they mine those resources.  We can continue to negotiate with the Na'vi here in the meantime.  We are not, however, in the business of butchering natives to make things easier for you."

In fact, the narrative requires him to be almost dis-honourable to provide the contrast for Jake's actions.  Sipping coffee with a grin while your troops slaughter an unarmed village is a fairly standard description of 'not honourable'.

Quote
Just because an author says "This is what my work means", that on itself does not mean people can't feel it means something else. And doing so does not mean one is "wrong" or just "doesn't get it".
I just wanted to touch on this briefly.  If Dali says melting clocks speak of the unsubstantial nature of time, but someone comes along and states his intentions are not important because the clocks really illustrate man's inhumanity to man, to whose interpretation are you more likely to give weight?  One can certainly make the argument that an artist's intent was poorly executed.  Personally, I would assume that when the artist's intent is different than my interpretation, I am missing some subtlety or nuance.  That doesn't negate my interpretation, of course, but I would first ascertain that the expression has been successfully executed before proclaiming that Dali is a hack and my interpretation is more accurate.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Edsan on January 08, 2010, 04:01:22 PM
Quote from: StormBringer;354095
He wasn't particularly honourable, actually.  While the previous negotiation breakdowns may have warranted a bit more aggressive posture, rolling in and nuking their home isn't really 'honourable'.
 

Irrelevant, he was a mercenary and had made no agreements or even contacts with the Na'vi. Besides I was merely refering to his honor in dealing with fellow humans, not aliens.

Quote from: StormBringer;354095

Plus, he perverted Jake's entire mission into one of covert intel rather than good faith cultural exchange with the natives.


To which Jake agreed readily until he decided to betray him for a piece of alien ass.

Another way to put it would be that he found a way to gather intel easier, faster and without risking the lives of his men.

That's pretty damn honorable for a military leader. Get the job done, take care of your own.

And he DID get Jake a means to get his legs back as he had promissed, but the lure of having a giant blue dick was too strong, I guess.

Quote from: StormBringer;354095
Additionally, the movie indicates the source of unobtanium below their tree wasn't the only vein of the mineral, just the largest.  They could have spent their resources much more efficiently locating and gathering the other deposits instead of focussing on the one motherlode and their pursuit of running the natives off at any cost.
 

Indeed, one of the many plotholes and inconsistecies of the movie. We all know Cameron had them make a bee-line for the tree just to show how "evil" they are.

There is a huge invisible Deux ex Machina along the entire lenght of the movie which, "just because", seems to prevent otherwise fully-functional characters from noticing things even a 12-year old would consider.

Quote from: StormBringer;354095

An honourable soldier would have said:
"This is an entire fucking planet with other deposits.  We will continue to protect the workers from the hostile environment while they mine those resources.  We can continue to negotiate with the Na'vi here in the meantime.  We are not, however, in the business of butchering natives to make things easier for you."
 

See? Even you can come up with a better plot than Cameron. :)

I again point to the giant invisible Deux ex Machina.

Quote from: StormBringer;354095
In fact, the narrative requires him to be almost dis-honourable to provide the contrast for Jake's actions.  Sipping coffee with a grin while your troops slaughter an unarmed village is a fairly standard description of 'not honourable'.
 

Look lets get one thing straight. The movie is a mess, the plot makes no sense, characters are cardboard figures and cliches, etc, etc.

When I say that consider Colonel Quaritch "honorable" It means I think that within the awful, biased, contrived mess that is "Avatar" he comes out as a character that abides to a personal code of honor, EVEN with the invisible, giant DeM preassuring him all along to make him the bad guy.

His code of honor might not be something you would agree with personaly, but the fact remains he has one.

He does have some odd, unexplained near-psychotic failings of character which crop up for no apparent reason, as does 99% of the human population of Pandora, aparently.
For that I can offer no excuse or explanation because there is none. It's up to Cameron to justify for his own sloppy writting and bad characterization, not me.

Quote from: StormBringer;354095
I just wanted to touch on this briefly.  If Dali says (...)
 

You are comparing two different artistic mediums. Painting is not the same as the movies

Please tell me what the similarity is between interpreting the paintings of a master of Surrealism and a B-grade Sci-Fi movie with flashy effects.

In fact I would go further and say that your whole argument is flawed because the classification of "Avatar" as a work of "art" is higly debatable in the first place.


Quote from: StormBringer;354095
One can certainly make the argument that an artist's intent was poorly executed.
   

In the case of Avatar you are right on the money.

Or maybe not, because "Avatar" is not the work of an artist. It is a corporate fabrication.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 08, 2010, 04:04:07 PM
Quote from: StormBringer;354084
I mean, technically, a serf really could just pack up and leave to find another...  well, another landlord that would have no better terms than the last one, really.  It's not like they had extensive data networks to keep track of them.


So, apparently, you also aren't quite aware of the definition of "Serf", then?

The idea that your life, or anyone's in western civilization today, is anywhere near as horrible as a Serf's was is just so profoundly absurd, I don't know what to make of it. That you can seriously compare the hardship of the American Middle Class to the hardship of being a powerless, optionless indentured serf bound to the land and living in absolute squalor without access to education, medicine, justice, or even the guarantee of enough food to eat, is just so bizarre that I don't know what else to say to you.

I mean why don't you go ahead and say that South African blacks under apartheid had it better than the American Middle Class too, while you're at it??!

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 08, 2010, 04:06:43 PM
Quote from: Ian Absentia;354086
Don't be daft, man.  The comparison that he was making related directly to the issue of capital-holders essentially holding their debtors ransom.  He's referring to banks -- specifically lending banks, creditors -- that have created an environment where they have attracted a vast sector of the middle-class to extend themselves with easy credit, are now squeezing their debtors in the fashion that medieval landholders squeezed their serfs, or Antebellum landholders squeezed their sharecroppers, or 19th century Robber Barons squeezed their frontier employees with "company stores".

You're the one demanding that an index of suffering displays a level of suffering equal to or exceeding that of medieval serfs.  The rest of us understand that it's the strategy that's at issue.

!i!


And the strategy fails, in any way, to make any meaningful points toward his original intention. The very best he can say is that the situation is somewhat similar but sucks much less. So what?

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 08, 2010, 04:08:09 PM
Quote from: StormBringer;354094
Certainly, they were legally and financially bound to the landholder.  What I meant was that they didn't have extensive identification and tracking mechanisms, so they could feasibly pack up and leave.  It was usually just a really, really bad idea.  The new landlord would likely become instantly suspicious and would hear about their 'defection' soon enough if they didn't move far away; a further complication to an already daunting task at the time.

Which also has a parallel.  I can pack up and leave ConglomCoSprockets, Inc. any time I want.  I would be giving up income and health benefits, of course, at least.  But trying to find further employment would subject me to other companies in the sprocket industry questioning my move, and calls to my former employer who would be unlikely to provide a glowing review had I just started not showing up for work.

Excellent analysis and explanation of my point, though.  Thanks for clarifying that.


I am honestly flabbergasted that you would be seriously, with a straight face, trying to claim that the latter is the same as the former.

Come on.. admit that you're putting us all on. No one could be that stupid.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Spike on January 08, 2010, 04:31:10 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;354109

Come on.. admit that you're putting us all on. No one could be that stupid.

RPGPundit


You have no idea how this internet thing works, do you?
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 08, 2010, 05:08:10 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;354109
I am honestly flabbergasted that you would be seriously, with a straight face, trying to claim that the latter is the same as the former.
You should be, as it is quite clear that I am not doing so.  While it may help bolster your flagging arguments, it is pretty obvious I made no such correlation.

Quote
Come on.. admit that you're putting us all on. No one could be that stupid.
Well, you have been going on for several pages now, so I don't see how you can be surprised.

On the other hand, you must be wilfully missing the point by now.  Ian explained it very clearly.  No, serfs did not up and leave their landholders, but you failed to show that there was some divine force that absolutely prevented them from doing so.  Did it happen very often?  I doubt there are any recorded instances.  Were they physically able to?  Of course, no landholder could afford to station a guard or two outside of every hovel.  Was it practically a self-imposed death penalty?  No doubts there.  All that is really missing currently is a push to dismantle Unemployment Insurance.  Once that is gone, or seriously curtailed, it will be looking like 9th century Europe all over again.

But your insistence that it absolutely couldn't (or didn't happen) is bizarre, to say the least.  It's as though your version of history has serfs as mindless drones without so much as a single thought towards revolt until about 1500 (or much later in some places).

So, serfs had virtually no mobility, which is where current income inequality is headed in this country, as explained by Ian.  I also fail to believe you can be that stupid, so I have to attribute that to intentional obtuseness and your highly selective interpretation of history.

For example: "Serfdom, indeed, was an institution that reflected a fairly common practice whereby great landlords were assured that others worked to feed them and were held down, legally and economically, while doing so".  Which falls quite in line with many current working conditions for Americans, at least, in the middle class.  If the health care reform makes it mandatory to purchase insurance and doesn't provide subsidies, then it is de facto illegal to be unemployed, isn't it?  Because you will be fined by the government for not paying your tithe to the insurance barons; failure to pay that tithe is a penalty to your taxes, which carries a possibility of prison if those are not paid.  Even moreso for blue collar workers and those that are below them on the pay scale.

It's really not hard to see the parallels when you take your fingers out of your ears and stop shouting.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 08, 2010, 05:19:08 PM
What you are doing, sir, is engaging in the kind of asinine hyperbolic self-pitying baloney that is far too typical of the bourgeoisie.

I mean seriously, "wahh boo hoo, we're stuck in jobs that afford us the greatest average quality of life that any group of people have ever had in the history of man, because the alternative would be to inconvenience ourselves and not get to buy stuff! We're just like the serfs!!!"
That's you.

Could the people my ancestors used to own hear you now, they would want to set fire to you, and I would be of a mind not to stop them.

And no, nothing right now is "Looking like 9th century europe". Nothing is even looking like 19th century europe right now. To believe that they are is to have an utterly twisted conception of historical reality.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 08, 2010, 05:42:11 PM
Quote from: Edsan;354105
Irrelevant, he was a mercenary and had made no agreements or even contacts with the Na'vi. Besides I was merely refering to his honor in dealing with fellow humans, not aliens.
Wait, you just said he was honourable, but now the evidence of his dis-honesty is irrelevant?

Quote
To which Jake agreed readily until he decided to betray him for a piece of alien ass.
Or, you know, to prevent genocide.

Quote
Another way to put it would be that he found a way to gather intel easier, faster and without risking the lives of his men.

That's pretty damn honorable for a military leader. Get the job done, take care of your own.
There is more to honour and leadership than that, actually.

Quote
And he DID get Jake a means to get his legs back as he had promissed, but the lure of having a giant blue dick was too strong, I guess.
No, he merely stated that he could.  We have no idea whether or not it was actually possible, or that he intended to do so.  Assuming the general could actually deliver on that promise, Jake took actions to prevent an entire group of people from getting wiped out in preference to walking again.  I will leave it to the reader to decide which is more honourable.

 
Quote
Indeed, one of the many plotholes and inconsistecies of the movie. We all know Cameron had them make a bee-line for the tree just to show how "evil" they are.
Or, it's a narrative device.  What reasons do you imagine for them not exploiting the other resources instead of that specific vein?

Quote
There is a huge invisible Deux ex Machina along the entire lenght of the movie which, "just because", seems to prevent otherwise fully-functional characters from noticing things even a 12-year old would consider.
Such as?

 
Quote
See? Even you can come up with a better plot than Cameron. :)

I again point to the giant invisible Deux ex Machina.
And why wasn't that plot explored, do you think?

 
Quote
Look lets get one thing straight. The movie is a mess, the plot makes no sense, characters are cardboard figures and cliches, etc, etc.
That is your claim.  You haven't listed any specific examples.

Quote
When I say that consider Colonel Quaritch "honorable" It means I think that within the awful, biased, contrived mess that is "Avatar" he comes out as a character that abides to a personal code of honor, EVEN with the invisible, giant DeM preassuring him all along to make him the bad guy.
Or, it could be that his personal code of honour was wrong.  Which might even be the point, there.

Quote
His code of honor might not be something you would agree with personaly, but the fact remains he has one.
Meaningless.  All manner of atrocity has been committed by people with a strong code of honour.  Tom Cruise even starred in a movie which demonstrated the differences.

Quote
He does have some odd, unexplained near-psychotic failings of character which crop up for no apparent reason...
Because he was near-psychotic.  The reason is right there in your description.

Quote
For that I can offer no excuse or explanation because there is none. It's up to Cameron to justify for his own sloppy writting and bad characterization, not me.
It's not up to the director to cater to your tastes, unless you are willing to pony up over a billion dollars to pay him.

 
Quote
You are comparing two different artistic mediums. Painting is not the same as the movies
I didn't say they were.  I said the interpretation of an artist's work is not automatically correct by the reviewer, especially when the artist states their intent in clear terms.

Quote
Please tell me what the similarity is between interpreting the paintings of a master of Surrealism and a B-grade Sci-Fi movie with flashy effects.
They both require critical thinking processes.  Other than that, I made no other correllation.

Quote
In fact I would go further and say that your whole argument is flawed because the classification of "Avatar" as a work of "art" is higly debatable in the first place.
Only when you use 'art' in a qualitative sense.  Categorically, a movie is 'art', regardless of your opinion of it, and the producer of such is an 'artist'.

Quote
In the case of Avatar you are right on the money.
Again, you have yet to demonstrate that.

Quote
Or maybe not, because "Avatar" is not the work of an artist. It is a corporate fabrication.
And again, this must be demonstrated.  I honestly have no idea what you would consider 'art' in this case.  The Sistine Chapel?  Commissioned.  Any composition of classical music?  Patronage.  Da Vinci's works?  Bought and paid for.  I guess that only leaves ancient cave paintings in France wholly free from the 'taint' of interference.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 08, 2010, 05:47:47 PM
Yeah, sorry Edsan, this movie strikes me as many shades of wrong, but one thing that it doesn't strike me as is a movie made in Corporate Committee.  It is very much the vision of one artist. That its "art" doesn't mean it can't suck, though. Lots of art sucks.  

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 08, 2010, 05:55:09 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;354124
What you are doing, sir, is engaging in the kind of asinine hyperbolic self-pitying baloney that is far too typical of the bourgeoisie.
Your "rebuttal" entirely depends on your two well worn viewpoints:

1) Technology = Civilization
And by extension, quality of life and culture.

2) Academia/Uruguay
It's different out here in the real world, where most people don't live in the #1 third world nation (by your own admission).

For example, I don't have a maid.  Nor could I afford one in this country.  You play the part of the genteel landowner, showering the peasants with your generosity while making sure they are out of the house before the dinner guests arrive.  Relieved of the pressures that others endure at regular jobs, you have lulled yourself into believing you have a sense of aloof analysis, cool judgment, and calm assessment.  All of which is utterly distorted by your complete lack of contact with the very middle and lower class you claim is incredibly well off.

A direct contradiction to just about every objective analysis in this country.  But don't let the weight of statistics and specialists throw you with their pesky 'evidence' or 'facts'.  Much like your participation in this entire discussion, your confirmation bias is all that is needed to assure you have the truth of the matter.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 08, 2010, 06:03:58 PM
Quote from: StormBringer;354136
Your "rebuttal" entirely depends on your two well worn viewpoints:

1) Technology = Civilization
And by extension, quality of life and culture.


No. Not dying of Cholera at age 30 or watching 7 of your 14 children die before adolescence = Civilization, in this case.

Quote

2) Academia/Uruguay
It's different out here in the real world, where most people don't live in the #1 third world nation (by your own admission).


Dude, are you serious? Listen to yourself. Uruguay is wonderful, but its still a third world nation. I probably see more REAL poverty on any given Tuesday than you have your entire fucking life. In fact, I'm sure of it since you don't seem to even understand what real poverty actually is.

Quote

For example, I don't have a maid.  Nor could I afford one in this country.  You play the part of the genteel landowner, showering the peasants with your generosity while making sure they are out of the house before the dinner guests arrive.  Relieved of the pressures that others endure at regular jobs, you have lulled yourself into believing you have a sense of aloof analysis, cool judgment, and calm assessment.  All of which is utterly distorted by your complete lack of contact with the very middle and lower class you claim is incredibly well off.


What the fuck are you talking about?!
I mean fuck, Jong is going to be downright pleased as punch to hear that he's not middle class, apparently. And Sunboy is the very epitome of an genteel oligarch.
You fucking dumbass, I'm surrounded by people who work 40-hour weeks for $200-$600 per month and are unbelievably fucking grateful to have it. Because they too, unlike you, have seen what the alternatives are.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Aos on January 08, 2010, 06:12:02 PM
everybody take a deep breath and think of bunnies.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Ian Absentia on January 08, 2010, 06:31:09 PM
Quote from: Aos;354147
everybody take a deep breath and think of bunnies.
Oh, I see.  Thinking of humans isn't good enough for you.  Simple animals are somehow preferable to civilised society, eh?

Why do you hate Humanity, Aos?

!i!
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Aos on January 08, 2010, 06:37:07 PM
Quote from: Ian Absentia;354155
Oh, I see.  Thinking of humans isn't good enough for you.  Simple animals are somehow preferable to civilised society, eh?

Why do you hate Humanity, Aos?

!i!


Gilman, Antonio
1981
The Development of Social Stratification in Bronze Age Europe
Current Anthropology, 22: 1-23

Gomi, Taro
1977 Everybody Poops

Marx, Karl
1848 The Communist Manifesto




That should get you started, check back with me later if you have any questions.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 08, 2010, 07:00:18 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;354143
No. Not dying of Cholera at age 30 or watching 7 of your 14 children die before adolescence = Civilization, in this case.
So, the numerous cholera outbreaks in Europe and North America between 1830 and 1900 were because they hadn't gotten the benefits of civilization yet?  The American/Canadian infant mortality rate is below South Korea's because they need to provide us with the know-how to keep babies alive?

You realize that even with your self-selecting version of 'civilization', there are numerous Western countries still afflicted with those problems you cite as having been corrected?  And countless non-Western nations that suffer even more, despite your claims that Western colonialism efforts set them on the road to prosperity?

Quote
Dude, are you serious? Listen to yourself. Uruguay is wonderful, but its still a third world nation. I probably see more REAL poverty on any given Tuesday than you have your entire fucking life. In fact, I'm sure of it since you don't seem to even understand what real poverty actually is.
Yes, hence, why I said it was the #1 third world nation, by your own admission.  Most of us live elsewhere, places where we can't afford to hire a maid for pesos a day by exploiting poor indigenous labour, because our cost of living is tied to a more expensive economy.  You are in a perfect position to incorrectly judge the middle class in America while you sit in a nation where $600 a month is considered a livable wage, and people feel lucky to get that much.  Guess what?  You can't make a living on that outside of the third world.  Surprising, I know, but it demonstrates how out-of-touch you are with the rest of the world.  Which carries over into your views of other topics, obviously.

As has been pointed out to you several times now, I made no mention of poverty.  You can keep bringing it up, but it will continue to be irrelevant.

Quote
What the fuck are you talking about?!
Wait for it...

Quote
I mean fuck, Jong is going to be downright pleased as punch to hear that he's not middle class, apparently. And Sunboy is the very epitome of an genteel oligarch.
What the fuck are you talking about?!

I have no idea how Jong and Sunboy managed to get dragged into this.  I was only referring to your situation.  As far as I can tell, Jong understands you don't have to win the pot at misery poker to make some parallels, and I don't recall ever carrying on a conversation with Sunboy, so I have no idea what his thoughts are.

Quote
You fucking dumbass, I'm surrounded by people who work 40-hour weeks for $200-$600 per month and are unbelievably fucking grateful to have it. Because they too, unlike you, have seen what the alternatives are.
And, if you needed further demonstration as to the nature of many economies sliding back into feudalism, you need look no further than your own statements:
"I'm surrounded by people who work 40-hour weeks for $200-$600 per month and are unbelievably fucking grateful to have it."
"I probably see more REAL poverty on any given Tuesday than you have your entire fucking life."
In other words, if they get all uppity and want some basic rights, get the fuck out of my factory and starve in the streets.  Heaven forfend if you simply want to find a new job, or take some time to go to school to get a better job.

You have no concept of what a Western middle class life entails, and yet go to great lengths to defend it as the nirvana of existence.  Of course you think Western colonialism is fantastic, you are a direct beneficiary of it!  Other people have to struggle through the day worrying if this is the last week we are on the job and lose health benefits, homes, cars, and possibly families.  The reality for the Western middle class (and especially American middle class) worker is that their economic fate is no more in their own hands than it was a millennium ago.

David R showed your argument lacked any real cohesion very neatly; I am now seeing your statements starting to lack coherence.  As Ian clearly discerned my point about middle class workers, I can't take the blame for you digressing into some comparison between the current middle class and medieval serfs based on economic health.  Your other claims are only viable when ignoring vast swaths of non-Western history, and a good deal of Western history besides.

Which is the long way of saying that I have no idea where you are going with this discussion anymore.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 08, 2010, 07:01:50 PM
Quote from: Aos;354158
Gomi, Taro
1977 Everybody Poops
What if I haven't pooped in a couple of days?
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 08, 2010, 07:19:02 PM
Quote from: StormBringer;354172
What if I haven't pooped in a couple of days?


That might go a long way to explaining your intellectual constipation .

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Machinegun Blue on January 08, 2010, 07:24:15 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;354181
That might go a long way to explaining your intellectual constipation .

RPGPundit


Ha ha and your intellectual diarrhea. :teehee:
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 08, 2010, 07:31:06 PM
Quote from: StormBringer;354168
So, the numerous cholera outbreaks in Europe and North America between 1830 and 1900 were because they hadn't gotten the benefits of civilization yet?  


Civilization is a process, and we're better both at it and for it than we were 100 years ago; even in our own backyards.

Quote
You realize that even with your self-selecting version of 'civilization', there are numerous Western countries still afflicted with those problems you cite as having been corrected?  


And you realize that the relative improvement over the past two centuries has been nothing short of astounding?

Quote
And countless non-Western nations that suffer even more, despite your claims that Western colonialism efforts set them on the road to prosperity?


What I actually claimed is that it provided them with significant improvements in their lives, and that the level to which they have sustained and built on those improvements is directly related to how much of western civilization they chose to throw out after independence.

Quote

Yes, hence, why I said it was the #1 third world nation, by your own admission.  Most of us live elsewhere, places where we can't afford to hire a maid for pesos a day by exploiting poor indigenous labour, because our cost of living is tied to a more expensive economy.  You are in a perfect position to incorrectly judge the middle class in America


You're in a perfect position to not have a fucking clue what you're talking about, apparently. If we could just reverse-engineer the process that led you to your current level of dumbfuck ignorance about the world in general, we might be able to make great strides in assuring it wasn't repeated in future generations.

Quote

As has been pointed out to you several times now, I made no mention of poverty.  You can keep bringing it up, but it will continue to be irrelevant.


But you should be mentioning poverty... well, really you shouldn't because as soon as it comes up  your argument is revealed for the absurd ridiculousness that it is.

Quote

What the fuck are you talking about?!

I have no idea how Jong and Sunboy managed to get dragged into this.


You suggested that I live "in complete lack of contact with the middle and lower class". Well, my regular contact is with, among others, Jong and Sunboy, who are most definitely not the ultra-rich landowning oligarchs you seem to think I while away my days with.

Quote

And, if you needed further demonstration as to the nature of many economies sliding back into feudalism, you need look no further than your own statements:
"I'm surrounded by people who work 40-hour weeks for $200-$600 per month and are unbelievably fucking grateful to have it."
"I probably see more REAL poverty on any given Tuesday than you have your entire fucking life."


I see, so now you've switched from the whole "you're a rich guy who can't possibly know what's going on" to "your statements prove what's going on"? Its hard to keep things straight with you...


Quote

You have no concept of what a Western middle class life entails, and yet go to great lengths to defend it as the nirvana of existence.


Dude; I grew up surrounded by the western middle class; and a rudimentary knowledge of history reveals it to be a pretty fucking spectacular existence compared to what 99.99% of humanity before us and to this day get to live.

Quote
The reality for the Western middle class (and especially American middle class) worker is that their economic fate is no more in their own hands than it was a millennium ago.


Yes, I get that this is the crux of what you're trying to argue. Unfortunately, you are in fact laughably, ridiculously WRONG.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Edsan on January 08, 2010, 07:55:16 PM
Quote from: StormBringer;354130
Wait, you just said he was honourable, but now the evidence of his dis-honesty is irrelevant?

What dis-honesty? Did he break any word given or failed to abide a contract?

Quote from: StormBringer;354130
Or, you know, to prevent genocide.

Or, you know, to get a piece of alien ass.

Quote from: StormBringer;354130
There is more to honour and leadership than that, actually.

Yes there is...your point being?

Quote from: StormBringer;354130
No, he merely stated that he could.  We have no idea whether or not it was actually possible, or that he intended to do so.
 

We obviously haven't seen the same movie then...possible since we live in different countries and might have gotten different cuts/versions.

Quote from: StormBringer;354130
Assuming the general could actually deliver on that promise, Jake took actions to prevent an entire group of people from getting wiped out in preference to walking again.
 

Ok, now I know we haven't seen the same movie.

Quote from: StormBringer;354130
I will leave it to the reader to decide which is more honourable.

This reader disagrees with you.

Quote from: StormBringer;354130
Or, it's a narrative device.  What reasons do you imagine for them not exploiting the other resources instead of that specific vein?

What? You're asking me to explain the nonsensical bits of Cameron's movie to you?

Quote from: StormBringer;354130
And why wasn't that plot explored, do you think?

Ask Cameron. I don't know and I don't really care. Movie's done, over.  

Quote from: StormBringer;354130
Or, it could be that his personal code of honour was wrong.  Which might even be the point, there.

That is your personal opinion and you are entitled to it.

Quote from: StormBringer;354130
Meaningless.  All manner of atrocity has been committed by people with a strong code of honour.  Tom Cruise even starred in a movie which demonstrated the differences.

Yes. The Colonel did his share of atrocity in the movie, so did Jake, so did the Na'avi, so did the animals, so did the Goddess (through more animals), even the geek scientist guy took lives. At the end of the day all were assassins. Take your pick, I just happen to like my assassin of choice...he was cool.

Quote from: StormBringer;354130
They both require critical thinking processes.  Other than that, I made no other correllation.

So it was a useless comparison then?

Quote from: StormBringer;354130
Only when you use 'art' in a qualitative sense.  Categorically, a movie is 'art', regardless of your opinion of it, and the producer of such is an 'artist'.

I concede.

Quote from: StormBringer;354130
Again, you have yet to demonstrate that.

You haven't demonstrated anything much either. I tyre of your demands to be spoon-feed a justification for every line I write. Learn to think on your own for a bit.

Quote from: StormBringer;354130
And again, this must be demonstrated.
 

No it doesn't. Spoon-feeding is over.

Quote from: RPGPundit;354132
Yeah, sorry Edsan, this movie strikes me as many shades of wrong, but one thing that it doesn't strike me as is a movie made in Corporate Committee.  It is very much the vision of one artist. That its "art" doesn't mean it can't suck, though. Lots of art sucks.  

Again, I concede.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 08, 2010, 08:43:54 PM
Quote from: Edsan;354209
What dis-honesty? Did he break any word given or failed to abide a contract?
I hope that isn't the sum-total of what you consider 'honourable'.

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Or, you know, to get a piece of alien ass.
Well, you can keep repeating it, but you will continue to re-inforce your complete lack of understanding.

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Yes there is...your point being?
That you have failed to notice the ways in which that character utterly failed to uphold those?

 
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We obviously haven't seen the same movie then...possible since we live in different countries and might have gotten different cuts/versions.
Aside from a few idioms here and there, I have serious doubts the movie was drastically different.

 
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Ok, now I know we haven't seen the same movie.
Only because you were not watching the important parts in your quest to ferret out the race traitors.

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This reader disagrees with you.
Which, without any supporting argument, is meaningless.

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What? You're asking me to explain the nonsensical bits of Cameron's movie to you?
Well, it works like this.

"That is a stupid colour to paint the walls."
"I like that colour, it matches the carpet."
"It's stupid."
"What colour do you think is better?"
"You're asking me to explain the nonsensical bits of the wall colour to you?"

If you take the effort to point out how poorly something is done, one expects you to have some kind of reasoning behind the criticism.  Absent that, your role in a discussion becomes pointless.

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Ask Cameron. I don't know and I don't really care. Movie's done, over.  
And making over a billion dollars.  I will trust the general public and Mr Cameron's judgment in this case, as you decline to offer any reason for your disagreement.

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That is your personal opinion and you are entitled to it.
So, you have nothing, then?

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Yes. The Colonel did his share of atrocity in the movie, so did Jake, so did the Na'avi, so did the animals, so did the Goddess (through more animals), even the geek scientist guy took lives. At the end of the day all were assassins. Take your pick, I just happen to like my assassin of choice...he was cool.
Which does nothing to show he was an honourable character and refute that he was simply a sadistic killer.

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So it was a useless comparison then?
Not really, but it may be lost on you.

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You haven't demonstrated anything much either. I tyre of your demands to be spoon-feed a justification for every line I write. Learn to think on your own for a bit.
Wait, you are claiming the sadistic general is an honourable man because you think he's cool, and then proceed to advise me to think on my own?

Clearly, you are trolling at this point.

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No it doesn't. Spoon-feeding is over.
Yes, it is.  You have no concept of cinematic or literary devices, characterization, or pacing.  Your opinion regarding this movie, to which you are certainly entitled,  has no validity.  I'm not going to walk you through the steps to demonstrating a supported point any longer.

Simply, you are wrong in every way possible about your interpretation of this movie.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 08, 2010, 09:15:30 PM
Quote from: RPGPundit;354194
Civilization is a process, and we're better both at it and for it than we were 100 years ago; even in our own backyards.
Is this meant to be some kind of thundering epiphany?  We are better at progress because of progress.  Good eye.

However, you don't seem to have a response to all those savages that die from cholera outbreaks.  Did you have a specific outbreak in mind?

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And you realize that the relative improvement over the past two centuries has been nothing short of astounding?
Relative to...?

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What I actually claimed is that it provided them with significant improvements in their lives, and that the level to which they have sustained and built on those improvements is directly related to how much of western civilization they chose to throw out after independence.
Really?  You are really saying that?  In other words, as they throw off the enlightenment of the West, the regress again into savagery.  Like the Chinese.  Or the Egyptians.  Or the Middle East.

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You're in a perfect position to not have a fucking clue what you're talking about, apparently. If we could just reverse-engineer the process that led you to your current level of dumbfuck ignorance about the world in general, we might be able to make great strides in assuring it wasn't repeated in future generations.
Says the man in the ivory tower who can't figure out a simple analogy regarding feudalism.

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But you should be mentioning poverty... well, really you shouldn't because as soon as it comes up  your argument is revealed for the absurd ridiculousness that it is.
Oh?  Do tell how this sweeping Western civilization has eradicated poverty and enhanced every nation where its boot has trod.  Why don't you start with South America, perhaps Uruguay specifically?

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You suggested that I live "in complete lack of contact with the middle and lower class". Well, my regular contact is with, among others, Jong and Sunboy, who are most definitely not the ultra-rich landowning oligarchs you seem to think I while away my days with.
Not even remotely what I said.  You might want to apply a bit of the reading comprehension you developed at university.  I said you like to play the part of the genteel, sophisticate landowner, replete with servants and the patriarch's pipe.

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I see, so now you've switched from the whole "you're a rich guy who can't possibly know what's going on" to "your statements prove what's going on"? Its hard to keep things straight with you...
Again, with just a modicum of comprehension, you will notice that is actually the same thing.  The biggest barrier is your obliviousness.  You see no disparity in playing the jaded ex-pat with some extra coin, lecturing people on cultural issues and at the same time exploiting the effects of a depressed economy on the locals to your advantage.  As I said, I can't afford a maid; nor can the vast majority of people in America.  You are able to afford one by exploiting the poverty of the indigenous people, which is exactly how colonialism operates.

Despite your claims of the opulence and erudition of the West descending on those poor benighted savages (if only they would accept it!), it is simply nothing more than your current living arrangement.

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Dude; I grew up surrounded by the western middle class; and a rudimentary knowledge of history reveals it to be a pretty fucking spectacular existence compared to what 99.99% of humanity before us and to this day get to live.
Only from the 'technology = civilized' perspective.  Regardless of your obstinate refusal to acknowledge it, there are other perspectives that don't place quite the emphasis on technology for its own sake as a requisite for civilization.

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Yes, I get that this is the crux of what you're trying to argue. Unfortunately, you are in fact laughably, ridiculously WRONG.
A claim which, had you anything besides your wilful misinterpretations and strawman arguments to back up, I might take under consideration.

As it stands, I don't make this up whole cloth.  There are any number of articles from the recent past that correctly predicted this trend, or the acceleration of this trend.  Current articles re-inforce many of the concepts with any number of reports and statistics.

Hence, I am impressed by your confidence, but much like our friend Amir (http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1772856), confidence and a quick response do not a valid answer make.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Edsan on January 08, 2010, 11:13:13 PM
Stormbringer, seriously.

You can drop the holier-than-thou attitude now. I was trying to have a meaningful discussion but you limited yourself to ask justifications about every sentence I wrote, going as far as entering into semantic games.

But I'll play your game...you rogue. Let's have fun!


Well, you can keep repeating it, but you will continue to re-statement your complete lack of understanding.


"Your lack of understanding was demonstrated beforehand when you choose to counter my statement with a variation of itself lacking any supporting arguments."

 
Only because you were not watching the important parts in your quest to ferret out the race traitors.


"I went to the movie with an open mind and only at the end did I reach my conclusions. Your assumptions about my mind-set and your persistence in equating me with xenophobia are somewhat disturbing, due to what they indicate about your own persona."


Which, without any supporting argument, is meaningless.


"Indeed. Likewise, you have failed to provide any meaning or support to your discourse. It is curious, however, that you notice the imperfections of my writing with such vehement zeal while ignoring your own."


Well, it works like this.

"That is a stupid colour to paint the walls."
"I like that colour, it matches the carpet."
"It's stupid."
"What colour do you think is better?"
"You're asking me to explain the nonsensical bits of the wall colour to you?"


"I would detail and explain if I felt there was any use in a continued dialogue. Your discourse being limited to variations of "I do not agree with you" and obtuse questions focusing on semantics, denies any possible utility in said dialogue."



If you take the effort to point out how poorly something is done, one expects you to have some kind of reasoning behind the criticism.  Absent that, your role in a discussion becomes pointless.


"If you take the effort to point out how goodly something is done or express your total disagreement with someone, one expects you to have some kind of reasoning behind the criticism.  Absent that, your role in a discussion becomes pointless."


This is some nice shit! :)

Storm, honestly. What did you study? This is genius! Tearing someone's opinions and arguments apart with such ease while maintaining a veneer of petulant civility and at the same avoiding to commit any real opinions about the subject matter. Where did you learn this?!


And making over a billion dollars.  I will trust the general public and Mr Cameron's judgment in this case, as you decline to offer any reason for your disagreement.


"Russel's Teapot as long ago invalidated that train of thought; it is therefore meaningless and devoid of any value."

 
or...

"The celebration of the intrinsic artistic value of something based on a combination of blind capitalist results, the opinion of the masses and the opinion of the creator, is so riddled with bias that it is unusable as a logical argument."

Not really, but it may be lost on you.


Calling someone stupid with pretty euphemisms: Check. Worth remembering for future use. :p

Wait, you are claiming the sadistic general is an honorable man because you think he's cool, and then proceed to advise me to think on my own?

Clearly, you are trolling at this point.


Indeed I am, but you where trolling well before (albeit very politely and deceitfully) ;)  That one was just to see your reaction. I'm on to your game and this one caught you open.



You have no concept of cinematic or literary devices, characterization, or pacing.  


"You have shown no qualification to judge someone on their level of familiarity with any of those concepts; neither have you shown any evidence you are familiarized yourself with them beyond knowing they exist"
 

Man, this shit really, really works. :eek:

Let's try some more...

Your opinion regarding this movie, to which you are certainly entitled,  has no validity.  

"Your opinion regarding my opinion, to which you are certainly entitled,  has no validity."


Or...

"Even if your mistaken assumption that the validity of my option is zero proved somehow to be correct, it would still be numerically superior to yours, which can be resumed to a total contradiction of all I have opinionated."


I'm not going to walk you through the steps to demonstrating a supported point any longer.


"You phrase is a fallacy, you provided neither statement of intent nor indication that you where guiding me through an educational path."

Or...

"Your offer of help is as welcome as it is useless since I already master the process you intended to tutor me in. "



Simply, you are wrong in every way possible about your interpretation of this movie.

"To put it plainly, your conclusion regarding my thoughts on this movie, to which you are certainly entitled, is erroneous, totally lacking in support, and demonstrates a failure to grasp my arguments; therefore it has no validity."


:rotfl::rotfl::rotfl::rotfl:


Now, in all honesty. I am gladly willing to learn anything you want to teach me, cinema or otherwise, as long as you come clean on your offer and drop the BS coffe-shop semantics line.

Peace. ;)

And thanks for teaching me something today.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: StormBringer on January 09, 2010, 01:57:50 AM
Quote from: Edsan;354239
Stormbringer, seriously.

You can drop the holier-than-thou attitude now. I was trying to have a meaningful discussion but you limited yourself to ask justifications about every sentence I wrote, going as far as entering into semantic games.

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

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Well, you can keep repeating it...

Hollow mimicking without understanding does not make you look better.

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Storm, honestly. What did you study? This is genius! Tearing someone's opinions and arguments apart with such ease while maintaining a veneer of petulant civility and at the same avoiding to commit any real opinions about the subject matter. Where did you learn this?!

My opinions on this matter are perfectly clear, actually, I have made no attempt to hide them.  That you are unable to discern them is not my responsibility.


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Russel's Teapot as long ago invalidated that train of thought; it is therefore meaningless and devoid of any value.

Russell's teapot was fairly specifically in regards to demonstration of the unprovable not having to fall on the one expressing disbelief.  Essentially, you undermine your own position by mentioning it.  It can be summarized as 'those that assert assume the burden of proof'.


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The celebration of the intrinsic artistic value of something based on a combination of blind capitalist results, the opinion of the masses and the opinion of the creator, is so riddled with bias that it is unusable as a logical argument."

I'm suggesting your unsupported opinion is diametrically opposed to the general consensus, and you might want to consider why that is.  A gigantic number of people seem to think there is some worthwhile story in there.

Hence, when you are discussing that 'race traitor movie with the virtuous general getting killed in the end', don't be too surprised when others give you a funny look.

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Indeed I am, but you where trolling well before (albeit very politely and deceitfully) ;)  That one was just to see your reaction. I'm on to your game and this one caught you open.

Reflexively casting the same arguments back is not the height of cleverness, and you really didn't 'catch' me at anything.

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You have shown no qualification to judge someone on their level of familiarity with any of those concepts; neither have you shown any evidence you are familiarized yourself with them beyond knowing they exist

Really?  Because you think the general was the honourable character, and don't understand the motivations for Jake or any of the other characters.  Are you really sure you want to point out that someone else doesn't understand characterization?  

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Your opinion regarding my opinion...

Well, ok...  It's your choice, really.  You have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that you had no valid premise going into this.  You have removed any lingering doubt whatsoever that your opinion merited any serious consideration.  The results are yours to enjoy.

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Now, in all honesty. I am gladly willing to learn anything you want to teach me, cinema or otherwise, as long as you come clean on your offer and drop the BS coffe-shop semantics line.

Indiscriminately placing value in any statement that is an 'opinion' is the highest form of what you call 'coffee-shop' discourse.  Your refusal to provide any kind of reasoning for your opinion is the aberration, not my insistence on it.

Quote
And thanks for teaching me something today.

Anytime.
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 09, 2010, 11:04:46 AM
Quote from: StormBringer;354225
Relative to...?

The previous 2 millions years of human existence. In the entirety of known human history, there was never a time when the human race as a whole was doing as well, living as well, thinking as much, knowing as much, learning as much, living as long, feeling as healthy, caring as much for one another, or growing as much in general as it is today.

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 Like the Chinese.  

The Chinese are their own Civilization, which never really got a profound contact with western civilization. They have their own virtues and values, some of them magnificent, others rather lamentable.
Again, all told, if one of the two are going to be our future Overlords, I'd much rather it be India with its relatively profound western influence, than China with its relative shallow western influence.

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Oh?  Do tell how this sweeping Western civilization has eradicated poverty and enhanced every nation where its boot has trod.  Why don't you start with South America, perhaps Uruguay specifically?

Sure. Uruguay in the 19th century was known as "the Purple Land" because its green fields were stained with blood until they turned purple. Travelogues of the time detail how its people massacred themselves in the internecine warfare known as the "Guerra Grande", the people lived in an abject and miserable poverty, and general backwardness.
Then along came the great reformers: Varela and Rodo, who transformed the education system, making it "free, secular and obligatory" for everyone, modeling it in the continental european model.  Battle did the same with government, modeling the Uruguayan state after the French welfare state. Within 50 years of it having been known as the "Purple Lands" and being one of the most violent, insecure and unstable parts of South America, Uruguay came to be known as the "Switzerland of South America", one of the wealthiest, most prosperous, most stable, and most peaceful countries in South America.
THAT, sir, is what Civilization does for people.


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Only from the 'technology = civilized' perspective.  Regardless of your obstinate refusal to acknowledge it, there are other perspectives that don't place quite the emphasis on technology for its own sake as a requisite for civilization.

And you like to lecture me on reading comprehension. I was NEVER arguing that it was technology that equals civilization. That is just your plan of attack. Ok, so its not lack of reading comprehension as it is outright dishonesty.
It isn't about technology, its about a framework of civil ethics, that leads to progress, that leads to an improvement in quality of life.
The Romans had very little technology compared to us but they had a spectacular sense of  civil ethics, and had a correspondingly high quality of life.


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confidence and a quick response do not a valid answer make.

How does one really validly "answer" someone suggesting something as atrocious as that the modern middle class have it as bad as the Serfs? It is a class-based blindness combined with historical ignorance to form the Perfect Storm of offensiveness.

I'm sorry you don't like your job at Wal-mart, or wherever. But seriously, even in this economy, even with declining job prospects, if you were to change places for one fucking day with a peasant from medieval europe, assuming you survived to see the next sunrise, you'd be fucking begging to return to this society.  And the fact that you seriously try to assert otherwise just makes you look like such an utterly small-minded, utterly self-absorb pig-idiot who really believes "no one has it as bad as we do" when he's getting to live better than fucking monarchs did, with far more freedoms of both the abstract and the downright pragmatic than almost any other human being who ever lived has gotten to have, and you're fucking COMPLAINING. How blindingly willfully ignorant you are is only believable compared to how incredibly fucking spoiled you are.

There is no society in the history of man which has been better for the general commonwealth of its people than our own.

RPGPundit
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: JongWK on January 09, 2010, 11:13:29 AM
Does this thread have anything to do with the OP at this point? Or are we back to mindless king-of-the-forum-hill behaviour?
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: Aos on January 09, 2010, 12:27:02 PM
/kicks Jong in face/beats chest!
Title: Avatar: Anti-humanism, Anti-civilization and Empty-headed Holywood Religion?
Post by: RPGPundit on January 09, 2010, 01:17:03 PM
Quote from: JongWK;354305
Does this thread have anything to do with the OP at this point? Or are we back to mindless king-of-the-forum-hill behaviour?


That's fair enough. If someone wants to start another thread about Avatar here, or about my social views on my subforum, feel free.

RPGPundit