With that in mind, Black people find movies with a mystical white messiah to be repulsive and incredibly repugnant. Even if that white messiah is Leigh Anne Tuohy and the character being saved is Michael Oher, Black people still find the notion that it takes a white person to lead colored people like themselves to salvation an undeniably anachronistic notion.
What is the “white messiah”?:
“Near the end of the hit film “Avatar,” the villain snarls at the hero, “How does it feel to betray your own race?” Both men are white — although the hero is inhabiting a blue-skinned, 9-foot-tall, long-tailed alien.
Strange as it may seem for a film that pits greedy, immoral humans against noble denizens of a faraway moon, “Avatar” is being criticized by a small but vocal group of people who allege it contains racist themes — the white hero once again saving the primitive natives. Since the film opened to widespread critical acclaim three weeks ago, hundreds of blog posts, newspaper articles, tweets and YouTube videos have made claims such as that the film is “a fantasy about race told from the point of view of white people” and reinforces “the white Messiah fable.”Like Kevin Costner in “Dances with Wolves” and Tom Cruise in “The Last Samurai” or as far back as Jimmy Stewart in the 1950 Western “Broken Arrow,” Sully finds his allegiances soon change. He falls in love with the Na’vi princess and leads the bird-riding, bow-and-arrow-shooting aliens to victory over the white men’s spaceships and mega-robots.”
Since we are discussing Avatar, a film that has grossed more that $1.3 billion worldwide since its release a mere 24 days ago, it is obvious that movie-goers find the idea of the white messiah appealing, even if Black people find it disconcerting:
“Robinne Lee, an actress in such recent films as “Seven Pounds” and “Hotel for Dogs,” said that “Avatar” was “beautiful” and that she understood the economic logic of casting a white lead if most of the audience is white. But she said the film, which remained No. 1 at the box office domestically for the fourth straight weekend with $48.5 million and is second among all-time top-grossing films worldwide, still reminded her of Hollywood’s “Pocahontas” story — “the Indian woman leads the white man into the wilderness, and he learns the way of the people and becomes the savior.”
The characteristics of the “great” white messiah, as described above, appear to be a combination of the disingenuous white liberal and the crusading white pedagogue taken to the extreme, for they inherently understand the porous state of the non-white civilization they hope to liberate, yet reject the notion that their civilization is superior due to the abundance of white people while seriously entertaining the thought that if white people lead the non-white society, they can be as great as the white society.
Convoluted? Yes. Part of the SBPDL. Absolutely. Thankfully, other movies showcase the erroneous view that a white messiah is needed to save the world:
“Although the “Avatar” debate springs from Hollywood’s historical difficulties with race, Will Smith recently saved the planet in “I Am Legend,” and Denzel Washington appears ready to do the same in the forthcoming “Book of Eli.”
“While Mandela attempts to tackle the country’s largest problems—including crime and unemployment—he attends a game of the Springboks, the country’s rugby union team. Blacks in the stadium cheer against their home squad, as the Springboks (their history, players and even their colors) represent prejudice and apartheid in their mind.
Knowing that South Africa is set to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup in one year’s time, Mandela convinces the South African rugby board to keep the Springbok team, name and colors the same. He then meets with Springboks captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon). Though Mandela never verbalizes his true meaning during their meeting, Francois understands the message below the surface: if the Springboks can gain the support of black South Africans and succeed in the upcoming World Cup, the country will be unified and inspired.”
The white messiah in South Africa was their invention – rugby – and the desire to play internationally by the whites meant the peaceful handing over of power to the Black populace would finally occur.
Now-a-days, South Africa is a peaceful land reminiscent of Pandora, the home of the Na’vi in Avatar. Right?
David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, writes this about the white messiah:
“Every age produces its own sort of fables, and our age seems to have produced The White Messiah fable. This is the oft-repeated story about a manly young adventurer who goes into the wilderness in search of thrills and profit. But, once there, he meets the native people and finds that they are noble and spiritual and pure. And so he emerges as their Messiah, leading them on a righteous crusade against his own rotten civilization.Avatar is a racial fantasy par excellence. The hero is a white former Marine who is adrift in his civilization. He ends up working with a giant corporation and flies through space to help plunder the environment of a pristine planet and displace its natives. The peace-loving natives — compiled from a melange of Native American, African, Vietnamese, Iraqi and other cultural fragments — are like the peace-loving natives you’ve seen in a hundred other movies. They’re tall, muscular and admirably slender. They walk around nearly naked. They are phenomenal athletes and pretty good singers and dancers.”
“But it’s in line with those who think of Obama as a messiah who can give black people some manners, a God-child descending from the heavens to teacheth benighted African Americans the virtues of books and proper English and the evils of Pacman Jones and blaming the white man. It pains me to deliver this sobering news to those who think Obama will wave his hand and erase whole ghettos: Barack Obama is a black President, not black Jesus.”
Perhaps the most intriguing view taken on the white messiah and Avatar comes courtesy of Will Heaven, who writes:
“But the Na’vi aren’t your average extra-terrestrials. Blue skin aside, they’re essentially a childish pastiche of the “ethnic”, with recognisably human features. They wear Maasai-style necklaces and beaded jewellery which Cameron has borrowed from tribal East Africa. Their long, dark hair is dreadlocked.
Their clothes are apparently Amerindian. They are armed with bows and poisoned arrows, and wear facepaint into battle. The main Na’vi characters are voiced by four black actors: Zoë Saldaña, C. C. H. Pounder, Laz Alonso and Peter Mensah; as well as one Cherokee, Wes Studi. The evil humans, needless to say, are white, male and middle-aged.”
Where else have dreadlocked, humanoid featured, muscular aliens appeared? How about the 1987 film Predator, where a multi-ethnic search and recovery Army Unit is slaughtered by an alien that resembles a Rastafarian? The only survivor and eventually vanquisher of the eponymous predator? Arnold schwarzenegger, one of the science fiction genres go-to white messiah’s.
Stuff Black People Don’t Like includes the usage of the white messiah in Avatar and any other film ever made, including Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Unfortunately, most of Black history is clouded with the murky reality of white messiah’s constantly lending a hand to Black people, in an effort to improve their collective lot in not only Africa, but America.
Most interesting though, Black people find those callous Black individuals who stray from the flock to try and enter the ranks of white civilization much worse than the idea of a white messiah. They call these lost Black souls Uncle Tom’s.