Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Avatar remixed

So, there's this mainstream media trope, Mighty Whitey, where a white guy rescues the hapless natives from the other, bad white guys. At Political Remix Video, Jonathan McIntosh collects remixes that demonstrate the existence of this trope by matching video from Avatar with audio from Pocahontas, and vice versa, with bonus appearance from Dances with Wolves. It's ... pretty embarrassing, and I don't mean for the remixers.

Warning: if you follow the TV Tropes link, I am not responsible for how many hours you spend on the site.


David Coale said...

I've been posting this week about the days leading to the battle of the Alamo. The true military power lurking behind that battle - the Comanche - would have roasted this trope for dinner. Its limited interest as a dramatic tool is balanced by its general corniness, and outweighed by its attractiveness as a dinner option in an disapproving culture. But the clips are well-made.

Bruce Boyden said...

Interesting. I think the problem is that the Mighty Whitey trope is actually part of much larger trope that goes beyond racist confines. Ordinary guy (who looks like Tom Cruise) starts driving in NASCAR, confounds the experts, and wins. Stereotypical sorority girl goes to Harvard Law School and shows up the rest of the students. Captain Kirk beams down to a planet and within a few hours resolves a war that had been raging for 200 years. The Man With No Name rides into a town and expertly plays two feuding families against each other (for a while anyway).

I think there's a general underestimation of expertise and experience in movie and TV plots.

RT said...

True enough, Bruce, though it's not at all accidental that the guy with the natural talent to do it better than the indigenes who have years of experience is white in this trope. We just don't notice it in the scenarios you describe because it's all white-dominated. (Though as I recall there was definite racial coding in The Omega Glory. And who can forget For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky, with the faux-Native Americans complete with fringed buckskins who Kirk also manages to dominate? That's an actual question, because if there's someone out there who's managed the trick, I'd love a few hints.)

Sisyphus Jones said...

Professor Tushnet,
You couldn't be more right about TV Tropes.

Bruce Boyden said...

You're thinking of "Paradise Syndrome." For the World Is Hollow was the one inside the asteroid, possibly the most unwatchable Star Trek episode ever, although Paradise Syndrome comes close, and also features a big asteroid threatening a planet, which is probably the source of your confusion.

But overall I absolutely don't disagree. (Also: How bout them Klingons?) I'm just saying that the phenomenon of treating indigenous people as incompetent idiots is an easier trap to fall into than it might otherwise be because it's a subset of treating all locals as idiots.

popculturepirate said...

Hey Rebecca, Thanks for checking out our PoliticalRemixVideo blog! We are big fans of yours and appreciate your contribute to the collective discourse on the topic. Keep checking in and feel free to send along any thought provoking remixes you find. -Elisa -