Shown to UN Forum by Cameron, White Messiah Alleged, "We're
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, April 24 -- Avatar was screened by its director James
Cameron for the UN Permanent
Forum on Indigenous Issues on Saturday
night in Manhattan. Afterwards Cameron was asked why the hero had to
be a white male, in the tradition of Dances with Wolves and before
that Little Big Man.
Cameron replied that he was trying to "wake
up Caucasians." He said both that "we are all indigenous"
and that he wants "everyone to be a white Messiah." While
unclear it was heartfelt. At the end an indigenous legislator from
Peru stepped forward to give him her business card. It's 2010 and
networking is everything.
fact in the
film, networking is central. The enormous trees which the U.S.
corporate invaders are seeking to fell have "roots which
interconnect," Signourey Weaver informs us, making up a network.
The invaders are not impressed. Echoing Iraq, pointing at a book
about the Na'vi, it is said that "when people are sitting on
[stuff] that you want, you make them your enemy."
another echo of
the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and post 9/11/01 war, the military villain
vows "we'll fight terror with terror." He has looked at
the protagonist's file - "I see you were in Venezuela." One
wonders, is Cameron predicting a US assault on Hugo Chavez, before
the time frame of the film?
the movie was
being screened, Cameron did fast one on one interviews with
reporters. Inner City Press didn't ask for one, but heard about at
least two. The "we are all White Messiahs" line was said
both in private and in public: it is a talking point, for better or
Press asked the UN how the screening came about and was told
- The idea for the screening came about as the Secretariat for the
Permanent Forum had heard many positive reactions from indigenous
representatives on the film and how it was echoing their own stories.
Through personal contacts of the Secretariat and the NGO
co-sponsors, they contacted James Cameron re the possibility of a
screening and it went from there."
Cameron (per Broddi) at
UNPFII screening: White Messiah?
put it, the movie made "$2.7 billion for Rupert Murdoch,"
clearly he doesn't need the publicity. It seems he consented to the
event in order to put to rest the residual criticism of the movie as
racist -- although the "White Messiah" critique has been
raised mostly by, well, white Messiahs -- and to show that his motives
support to a protest of a project in Brazil. One wonders what Cameron
thinks of President Lula's policies on the indigenous. Or of Evo
Morales' recent comment that Western food, genetically engineers,
leads to "baldness and homosexuality."
that he opposed the invasion of Iraq -- very courageous, at this
point -- and that corporate interests are "plundering if you
will." Yes, they will, including the financiers of the studios
distributing Avatar. But if enough business cards are passed, perhaps
there will be justice. At least, there will be a sequel. Watch this
footnote -- and the United Nations is increasingly often only a
footnote -- one wanted to ask Cameron where he thought the UN would
be in the conflict he depicted. But the public Q&A session was
too short and smacked of pre-determined. If reality's any guide, the
UN would be offering humanitarian assistance on behalf of the
invaders, after the invasion.
* * *
UN, Ban Chooses Limousines Over Indigenous Drums, NGOs Complain of
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, April 21 -- It was a tale of two UNs on Tuesday night: there
was drumming and dancing in the General Assembly lobby as the
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues began, while in the roped off
elite area of the cafeteria, Israel sponsored a high security
reception. Inner City Press was asked, which one did Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon attend? The latter, was the answer, sending not
an Under but Assistant Secretary General to address the assembled
the drumming, despite many registrants being absent due to flights
canceled by the Iceland's volcano's ash, were a range of what's called
civil society and that
stratum of the UN staff which serve them. Nearly uniformly there was
dissatisfaction with Ban Ki-moon's lack of engagement with non
governmental organizations and "regular people," and about
the increasingly lack of access to the UN by civil society.
the place back thirty years," a UN staffer said. Another
wondered, even with the General Assembly building to remain open for
the next two years, how long groups like the indigenous would be
allowed to use the lobby. The Ban administration, an involved staffer
disclosed, has asked that the exhibition walls in the lobby be
removed so he can host a high level luncheon during this year's
General Debate. The walls would not be reinstalled, and thus public
exhibitions would cease.
NGOs recently wrote to Ban to complain about deceasing access and got
back what they called a mere form letter.
The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Ban
Ki-moon not shown
Ban, pays lip service to the value of civil society. But for the past
three years, representatives say, it has been implemented less and
less. For how much longer, they wondered Tuesday night, will this UN
allow the drums to beat? Watch this space.
the head of the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous
Issues, Inner City Press learned on Tuesday night, will be leaving
the post this summer. The new chairman of the Forum, for the first
time, was chosen by a government rather than civil society within his
country. Things are changing at the UN, including at the Forum.
Nothing, it seems clear, is Permanent. Reforms can be turned back as
much as thirty years.