Avatar: The Way Of Water Accused Of Being ‘Racist’ As People Urged To Boycott Movie

Avatar: The Way of Water has been accused of being 'racist' and people are being urged to boycott the movie. Read more here...
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Avatar: The Way of Water has been accused of being ‘racist’ and people have been urged to boycott the film.

The highly-anticipated sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time finally dropped in December after fans waited 12 years to return to Pandora.

The movie has already proven a commercial success, having grossed $1 billion at the box office, and a critical success, with a 78% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 92% audience score.

However, the film has been criticised for being ‘tone-deaf and racist’.

Watch the trailer for Avatar: The Way Of Water below…

Since Avatar: The Way of Water dropped in cinemas, people have been calling it out on social media.

Some have criticised it for promoting a white saviour narrative while others are not happy with casting non-indigenous actors as the Na’vi.

Meanwhile, director James Cameron’s comments about the inspiration for the story have caused people to boycott the movie.

“Hey y’all, Avatar is terrible. Racist, cliché, half a plot yet still full of holes and dangling threads, and entirely too long,” claimed one person.

Another expressed their anger as they wrote: “Avatar 2 was f****** trash. It was super racist. Super cringy. Way too long. It’s full of stereotypical bulls***.”

Many fans are unhappy with the franchise for seemingly promoting the white saviour narrative.

The white saviour is a cinematic trope in which a white main character rescues non-white characters from unfortunate circumstances.

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The white saviour is often a character who feels out of place in their own society and who assumes leadership of non-white minorities to rescue them from their suffering.

In Avatar, the main character Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is a combat-wounded veteran who is confined to a wheelchair before joining the Avatar Program for the RDA.

Jake later defects to the Na’vi after witnessing the RDA’s greed and brutality on Pandora and he rallies the natives and leads them to victory against the humans.

In the sequel, Jake has become the chief of the Omaticaya clan and the RDA has returned to prepare Pandora for human colonisation, as Earth is dying.

The fate of the Na’vi once again rests on his shoulders.

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Avatar: The Way of Water boasts a predominately non-indigenous or white cast playing the fictional Na’vi aliens, which is something else that critics are not happy with.

One fan explained: “I am still flabbergasted at the overwhelmingly white cast for Avatar 2 like…

“It’s not unexpected but it’s just so tone-deaf and racist that I can’t NOT be appalled like Kate Winslet, what the f*** are you doing over there?”

Meanwhile, a resurfaced interview with director James Cameron from 2010 about the first movie is also sparking outrage.

Speaking about his inspiration for the movie, Cameron told The Guardian: “I felt like I was 130 years back in time watching what the Lakota Sioux [Native American people] might have been saying at a point when they were being pushed and they were being killed and they were being asked to displace and they were being given some form of compensation.

Avatar: The Way Of Water
Avatar: The Way Of Water has been branded racist by viewers for its representation of indigenous cultures. Credit: 20th Century Studios

“This was a driving force for me in the writing of Avatar— I couldn’t help but think that if [the Lakota Sioux] had had a time-window and they could see the future… and they could see their kids committing suicide at the highest suicide rates in the nation.

“Because they were hopeless and they were a dead-end society—which is what is happening now—they would have fought a lot harder.”

Cameron’s comments were not well received and have led to people calling out the film on social media.

One person shared: Do NOT watch Avatar: The Way of Water

“Join Natives and other Indigenous groups around the world in boycotting this horrible and racist film.

“Our cultures were appropriated in a harmful manner to satisfy some man’s [white] saviour complex.

“No more Blueface! Lakota people are powerful!”

Cameron has now addressed the backlash and says that he understands the ‘validity’ of why people are upset with the Avatar movies.

He told UNILAD: “I think the important thing is to listen and to be sensitive to issues that people have.

“The people who have been victimised historically are always right. It’s not up to me, speaking from a perspective of white privilege, if you will, to tell them that they’re wrong.

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“I have to listen. I have to say, ‘Okay, if that’s what you’re feeling, that’s what you’re feeling.’ And it has validity. It’s pointless for me to say, ‘Well, that was never my intention’.”

Despite the backlash, three more Avatar movies are set to come out, with the fifth and final film in the franchise expected to come out in 2028.

Cameron has also told Entertainment Weekly that he has already shot scenes for the third and fourth Avatar films as he doesn’t want the franchise’s younger character to age between movies.

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Written by Rosario Monachino

Rosario is a content editor at IGV who specialises in film, TV and entertainment news. He has a degree in English and Film from the University of Salford and a masters in Journalism from Liverpool John Moores University.