I really hate the movie “Avatar” for several reasons. I recognize that it was a landmark in computer generated (CG) movies and that it looked pretty. But I also know that it was a boring story that manipulated emotions to make people root for one side using a combination of white guilt, forced romance, and the seemingly perfect Na’Vis. But, the story-line is something we see in fiction a lot. If you are part of two cultures, where you do you side with?
In “Avatar,” the humans are clearly seen as the immoral corporate, anti-environment, technology obsessed antagonists who take over native land because of “Unobtanium.” But as I was watching the main character bond with the Natives and ultimately siding with the Na’Vi, it struck something in me. Maybe it’s because I am also someone with dual identities; I was born in South Korea but moved to USA when I was 6. Now, I mostly speak English; I speak Korean barely, but can understand most of it.
The reason why I’m telling you this is because sometimes I wonder whether I am really Korean. I don’t speak Korean, nor do I participate in Korean culture, but I do appreciate Korean food and values. However, I main identify myself as an American. My question is: Is there something wrong with changing yourself to the other side?
I still identify myself as a Korean, but it’s not because I hate Korea. I just lived in America longer. However, does that make me less of a Korean because I don’t participate in Korean culture or speak Korean? And is that a bad thing if I didn’t? Honestly, I just prefer speaking English, but sometimes I wonder if I should make an active effort to accommodate both sides.
I brought in “Avatar” as the example because it was clear that the humans in the story (frustratingly) were the bad guys and the main protagonists should side with the Natives. But I was wondering: is he doing this because this is right, or because it seems right? For example, what if the Na’vi in the story were savage cannibals who ate human beings, yet still maintained a culture? Or what if they weren’t a culture at all, but lived around a tree and killed each other? Would that make it any less wrong to invade the tree as humans? You would probably root for humans more, but as you can clearly see, the identity that one sides with is primarily because of how much one side is seen as good compared to the one on the other side.
So if changing your identity to another side based on whether side is good or bad is that arbitrary, what if both sides are just as good, or just as evil? Who do you side with, and is it just solely based on what you identify with more? There would be a moral conflict for sure, but then what would you do? Is there anything that can be defined as the right side if a person has allegiance to two sides that are not clearly good or bad?