Parallels Of Imperialism In The Film Avatar

Imperialism was born in the 19th Century as a method to expand the territory and continue industrial revolution. The United States, Britain and other powerful nations took over the less developed regions for a variety of reasons. Imperialism is responsible for the modern world. We can only afford to buy goods from other countries today because of this age. As it’s still prevalent in certain places, novels and movies about the topic have been produced. Avatar is a James Cameron film that uses the medium of film to illustrate the effects and motives of Imperialism. It is about Earth people colonizing Na’Vi worlds, which parallels Imperialism of a century back. The Sky People and European nations both had similar motives in their imperialism. The Europeans were looking for rubber, gold, and timber to fuel the industrial revolution of their nations, while Sky peoples were searching for unobtanium. Moreover, they are racist. Imperialism’s most significant result was colonization, as reflected both in Avatar and history. Indigenous people were pushed out of the land they inhabited and many were murdered.

Jake Sully’s first introduction to the show reveals that the colonization of the alien planet will be based on the harvesting of a resource called unobtainium. The Na’Vi’s homes are destroyed because the resource, unobtainium, has abundant energy. Parker Selfridge is one of the Avatar mission’s head directors. He is arguing against Dr. Augustine. It’s only for that reason. It’s the only reason. It’s the money you spend on your science”(Cameron). The European empire was also largely based on acquiring resources which were unavailable to them at home. Rubber, gold, tin, copper and other resources were among the expensive ones that could be used to continue the industrialization of the nation.

Africa was considered inferior to the Na’Vi and was therefore a continent where they obtained these resources. The expeditions in Africa led to the discovery of raw materials. Dr. Livingstone wrote in his journal entitled “Missionary Travels and Research in South Africa” that his observations made him “extremely desirous” to promote the preparations of raw materials in Africa for European manufacturing. The evidence suggests that raw materials were a key factor in imperialism, both in Avatar, and in European imperialism. The Sky People tried to gain control of the Na’Vi land by stealing the raw material that was found under them.

People in imperialist countries do not see indigenous people as being on the same level with colonizers. Both in European imperialism as well as the colonization of Na’Vi by the Europeans, the dominant nations see the Na’Vi peoples as savages. They have therefore the right to use violence and kill them. They are without remorse. During the imperial period, Social Darwinism was a popular belief. It was the idea that the western civilization was superior to all other civilizations.

It became known as “The White Man’s load” as the Europeans thought of the natives like children who were uncivilized. They felt it their duty, therefore, to educate the natives. Sky People lack knowledge about the Na’Vi’s culture, and think that because they’re inferior, they’re entitled to do anything, including kill, take or destroy. This racism is what allows them to slaughter natives, burn down their homes and destroy their connection with the forest. Jake Sully & Dr. Augustine recognize the Na’Vi as a people and not a race inferior after seeing their rich culture & life. Parker, however, does not share this view and wants only the resources that the planet offers. “No!” They’re flies-bitten savages, who live in an oak tree. Look around. I don’t see as many trees as you do. They are able to move!” (Cameron). Sky People’s ideas and those of Europeans are similar, despite natives having a completely different culture. The feelings of superiority towards natives and racism were a result of ignorance and a feeling of inferiority. Sky People as well Europeans held racist ideas about the native peoples’ way of living and culture. White Man’s Blessing and the savage view of the Na’Vi in Avatar are similar.

For the imperialists, the result was a positive one, as they received land, power and resources. But for the natives, the outcome was usually detrimental. Their culture had been destroyed, their leaders killed, and homes taken from them. Both Avatar and history are full of this. Jake accidentally reveals the Na’Vi are not interested in anything humans can offer them and will do nothing to make the Sky People move. When Jake reveals this, the colonel declares total war, destroying the home of the Sky People. We will destroy their home and leave such a deep mark on the racial memory of these people that they won’t return to this area within 1,000 kilometers. That’s also a proven fact” (Cameron). European imperialism, which had full-auto guns at their disposal to decimate natives that refused to cooperate to the British’s needs, was brutal. Imperialism’s history is often filled with bloodshed and brutality. Cantonians did not want assimilation and revolted. However, their results were catastrophic. One report stated that the English barbarians murdered all Cantonians they could. The English are like dogs who will never satisfy their desires.

The peace that they now claim to have achieved is not real. We must all unite and raise our arms to fight them. This evidence shows how refusing to assimilate has devastating effects and imperialism always results in bad outcomes for natives. The impact on the Avatar people is similar to European imperialism. The superior technology destroyed the natives, killing thousands in one battle. They were forced into assimilation when they refused.

Avatar’s parallels with European imperialism are many. They include the motivation for raw materials, use of force to assimilate natives, and its impact on the indigenous population. Avatar’s purpose was to provide a humorous satire about European imperialism. Even today, these practices continue. Imperialism and the Western nations’ actions that shaped today’s world were inhuman.

In the absence of consideration for these natives, their lands, natural resources, and even lives were taken. James Cameron tries to convince his audience that technology shouldn’t influence the way people perceive others, but culture should. Avatar shows that life is valuable and should not be wasted for material resources, or because one group wants it. It is crucial to select a leader who has values that do not support the killing and dominance of natives. It is important to support leaders who have the qualities that will be selected. This can help prevent more imperialism.


  • treyknox

    I am Trey Knox, 26 years old, and I'm a education blogger and teacher. I blog about various subjects in education, and I also teach high school English and writing.