Avatar: Racism and prejudice on pandora

Damian Cox, Michael P. Levine

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review


Wouldn’t it be nice if Orson Welles was right? More on this later. Science ction is a promising way to explore the nature of various preju-

dices. It seems that by distancing oneself from the prejudices as found in “real life,” or one’s own backyard, a useful perspective might be obtained. In science ction, one tends to explore familiar themes in unfamiliar settings: the distant future, strange imagined environments, societies in the grip of imagined technologies. The point of much science ction is not merely to gape at the strangeness of an imagined future but to use this strangeness to look at familiar themes from a new perspective. A familiar theme, obviously well suited to this strategy, is the encounter with Otherness and the way prejudice shapes and distorts this encounter. The strategy is really not too different from travel to distant, albeit earthly places, to see how others live. This chapter focuses on racism and religion (although speciesism is also relevant) and offers an account of prejudice through an examination of the 3D futuristic sci- thriller Avatar (James Cameron, 2009). The chapter has three objectives: rst, to examine and test the coherence of a framework for understanding racist and religious prejudices; second, to use this framework to discuss the nature of the moral failings of such prejudices; third, to discuss how such an understanding is related to proposed ways of dealing with problems generated by racist and religious prejudice, including violence.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRace, Philosophy, and Film
EditorsM K Bloodsworth-Lugo, D Flory
Place of PublicationUntied Kingdom
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9780203104637
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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