I really liked this insight over at The American Scene:
That the distinct virtues that he imparts to the N’avi really are both distinct and virtuous. They are not ours. They are theirs. Sitting in the audience, we’re not secretly thinking, Goddamn primitives. Good thing Jake Sully’s around to help them overcome their lack of technology. We’re thinking, They don’t even need cars. This whole theme reminds me of Jonah Goldberg’s sound criticism of the tendency to find racism in movie portraits like that of the Orcs in Lord of the Rings, which is basically, wait, who’s looking at the Orcs and seeing black people? In this case, if when you see blue aliens on screen you think “black people” or “Native Americans,” why is that James Cameron’s fault? Why is your itch to protect people of color from condescension via a movie portrait of aliens from an alien planet (that people of color are digging in movie theaters worldwide) not itself condescending?
I saw Avatar and loved it, even as I anticipated every single complaint I heard from conservatives, progressives, and the movie critics. And it’s far from being a perfect movie, or even a great movie, but it was a heck of a good time and doesn’t deserve half of the mud that’s been flung at it.