“How does it feel to betray your own race?” These are the infamous last words of the mercenary colonel Miles Quartrich, snarled at the hero Jake Sully in the final minutes of James Cameron’s Avatar; set a century and a half into the future and 25 trillion miles from our planet. But Sully and the tiny minority of humans who change sides to fight alongside the Na’vi people in the 3D sci-fi epic were far from being the only ones who became traitors.
In the here and now of Earth in 2010, in the darkness of thousands of movie theaters, though purely passively and for the brief period of two and a half hours, more than one hundred and fifty million people (so far) have enthusiastically betrayed their ‘own race’, cheering on in their hearts- and often out loud- the defensive war of the imaginary blue-skinned Na’vi of the planet Pandora against the predatory corporate, militaristic, and environmentally destructive forces of homo sapiens.
And how did that feel? It felt very good; even, apparently, for the millions of people in the USA who have watched the movie. Under the headline ‘Avatar: the most expensive piece of anti-American propaganda ever made’, Dr Nile Gardiner wrote in the Daily Telegraph, a British Conservative newspaper:
When I saw the movie last night in a packed theater, I was disturbed by the cheering from the audience towards the end when the humans – US soldiers fighting on behalf of an American corporation – were being wiped out by the Na’vi. Washington is one of the most liberal cities in America and you come to expect almost anything here – but still the roars of approval which greeted the on-screen killing of US military personnel were a shock to the system, especially at a time when the United States is engaged in a major war in Afghanistan.