My paper “Rooting for the Fascists in James Cameron’s Avatar” appears in the latest volume (#16) of the journal Film and Philosophy, which is available at:
Conservative critics have united in attacking James Cameron’s newest blockbuster Avatar for its “liberal” political message. But underneath all of the manifest liberalism of Avatar there is also a latent message. In his valorization of the organic, primal, interconnectedness of Na’vi culture and his denigration of the mechanical, modern, disconnectedness of human culture, Cameron runs very close to advocating a form of fascism.
In this paper I describe the overarching philosophical perspective of fascism, and then I draw on the work of Jay Y. Gonen, who, in his book The Roots of Nazi Psychology, has distilled Hitler’s foundational ideological values to nine basic principles. I demonstrate how greatly these principles overlap with the ideals that Cameron attributes to the culture of the Na’vi in his film Avatar.