Avatar Racist?

Avatar MovieA series of short clips in which the actors introduce the characters they’re playing in James Cameron’s Avatar have been released. And I start wondering about something: in Avatar it seems most humans are played by white people and there are only black people and Native people playing as aliens (as the Na’vi from the planet Pandora)? Check for yourself:

Update: following this post (?), those official videos have been tagged as private by Fox in their youtube account…

Avatar Trailer

Avatar – Sam Worthington as Jake Sully (Human, White)
Sam Worthington talks about portraying Jake Sully, and his character’s motivation to explore the world of Pandora in James Cameron’s Avatar.

Avatar – Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Grace Augustine (Human, White)
Sigourney Weaver discusses portraying the no-nonsense scientist Dr. Grace Augustine in James Cameron’s Avatar.

Avatar – Zoe Saldana as Neytiri (Alien, Black Latina)
Actress Zoe Saldana talks about playing the royal-blooded warrior Neytiri in James Cameron’s Avatar.

Avatar – Stephen Lang as Col. Quaritch (Human, White)
Actor Stephen Lang talks about playing the chief of security on Pandora in James Cameron’s Avatar.

Avatar – Michelle Rodriguez as Trudy (Human, White Latina)
Michelle Rodriguez talks about playing laid-back pilot Trudy in James Cameron’s Avatar.

Avatar – Joel David Moore as Norm (Human, White)
Actor Joel David Moore talks about his character Norm’s desire to finally land on the planet of Pandora after a prolonged arrival.

Avatar – Giovanni Ribisi as Selfridge (Human, White)
Giovanni Ribisi talk about playing the corporate head of the company RDA in James Cameron’s Avatar.

Avatar – Laz Alonso as Tsu Tey (Alien, Black)
Actor Laz Alonso talks about portraying the prince-like Tsu Tey in James Cameron’s Avatar.

Avatar – Wes Studi as Aytucan (Alien, Native)
Actor Wes Studi discusses his character Aytucan, and the respect he receives from his people in James Cameron’s Avatar.

Avatar – CCH Pounder as Mo’at (Alien, Black)
Actress CCH Pounder discusses her character Mo’at’s feelings about the human visitors inhabiting her home planet in James Cameron’s Avatar.

We probably need to check the full cast to get a broader picture, but one can but wonder about the way the roles were assigned in Avatar…


29 Responses - “Avatar Racist?”

  1. xino

    Oh great, another racist sh*.

    Yes now that you’ve pointed it out, I do think it’s aimed towards the skin!

    because if they are gonna add black people to act, why are they freaking aliens eh? It’s like Avatar humans has no black people, but the black people are aliens.

    If people are gonna be adding more white people to media, it will just brainwash other white people who watch media. Because when they see other skin colours they start judging them.

    How many blacks do you see in governments, fashion magazines, adverts on tv. Mainly whites all the time. That is why I don’t watch tv anymore because you’ll get brain washed!

  2. Conner

    Michelle Rodriguez, White Latino LOL!

  3. Thomas

    He was inspired by the ‘new’ star wars trilogy…

  4. janie

    Duuuuuude I JUST saw the movie last night. And the moment they showed the scene with the natives I was like, hmmmm, WOW okay.

    ALL the natives were either of African descent or Indian. While ALL the humans were white, and OF COURSE the savior of the movie was white as well…. the movie is VERY racist. Because of course the “savages” are of color while the “advanced people” are white, but moreover the main thing that got me was that the “savior” of the avatar people was…. yea you guessed it “WHITE”!

  5. xino

    i knew it….mother farking racist piece of sh*. Didn’t the white saviour tried to turn black..I mean blue like the aliens?

  6. david pavlov

    I thought it was racist, not only were all the humans white and the na’vi were played by the characters you’ve shown. But the white characters are all evil except the white hero and his allies who are only good because they fight against the other white people.

    What does this say?? White people are bad. Non-white people are good. White people can only be good if they help other non-white people kill whites. What would everyone think if the roles were reversed?

  7. Krisp

    I personally think that racism is a bit of an over-exaggeration. In fact, in this movie, humans are to be seen as the colonials, the bad people in other words. What Cameron had in mind was to portray history through his film. te, the establishment of colonies by the white people( English colonies in india, america,…. French colonies in Vietnam,….). If we go along this idea, then it is most obvious that humans in avatar are to be white people, hence white actors.

  8. kiri

    i dont think they were trying to be racist. i reckon they just wanted the actors’ accents for the natives, so they don’t speak like the humans in this movie. Anyway Krisp is right, the white people are being protrayed as bad. whats to argue about? They acknowledge that the Na’vi are much better people then the humans!

  9. pertyful09

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and all i have to say is History is History people deal with it.

  10. Zaza Mozambezi

    Well. Up to me story line is simple….
    South African Republic.
    I agree, it is very racist movie, and very against white people.
    Last thing to tell… white on Pandora were Christians.

  11. Mike

    What ever happened to watching a movie and enjoying it for what it is? It is Cameron’s movie after all. Also how the hell does someone tell that the white people on Pandora was christian? I don’t remember seeing a church.

    Should the new movie “book of eli” also be considered racist as the only good main character is black and it seems all the white people are bad?

  12. Kralj

    Look guys i don’t think that movie is racist! Americans see racism in everything i watched the movie and its ok! the reason why are the natives blue is because whole Pandora f***ed up
    Europeans have learned to forget nasty stuff in history! slavery is 400 years old! if you search racism in everything you will find “it”. i understand that black people can’t forget what happened to them in the past! we Bosnian people had a lot of crap and i’m talking just the past century! but we are trying to put that in the past! You have to admit that there a lot of jokes in movies pointed to offend white people and nobody tells that that’s racist so chill out and enjoy the movie.

  13. Gillie da Kid

    Avatar is a Good movie who cares if it is a little racist its not like The Whites ever did anything, Oh wait They Did over 400 years of slavery and racism.

  14. Steve

    Slavery has been around a lot longer than 400 years. To as far back as the Egyptians. Blacks slaved blacks and whites slaved whites. Its not like the history books are not filled of pages of this stuff. The Europeans were just as brutal to their fellow people as they were to anyone else.

  15. Bruce

    Don’t be stupid Steve. Yeah the Egyptians had slaves but the difference is how the Europeans raped Africa and tore the collective cultures apart. There is no comparison there.

    BTW, I frowned at the racist overtones in the movie but I must say that I did enjoy the story line for the most part.

  16. Dkelsmith

    Would it be possible to watch a movie and enjoy it?

  17. Nigro

    Just to make it clear, both Michelle Rodriguez & Zoe Saldaña are Dominicans…and around it would still be the same thing, if they had their roles reversed

  18. ygvihyvkugtfv

    im not really sure, you could look at this 2 diff ways; the savages are all black, the more powerful and developed race is white. however the natives won and kicked the whites asses and there were several points in this movie that the whites were bashed. then again the movie is saying whites are evil and your only good if you help blacks kill whites. all in all i personally thought it was a good movie, politically and socially edgy with mixed messages but still a good movie. maybe we are all just blowing this out of proportion. who knows?

  19. Aazari

    Okay, if we’re playing the race card, you can slap that sticker on just about every bit of media out there. Hmmm. Dances with Wolves. I don’t remember anybody pointing fingers there. And, in case you’re too damned stupid to notice, Avatar is pretty much Dances With Wolves in space, but a LOT more stunning and FUN! (Sorry, Mr. Costner, you were putting me to sleep in places….) The casting was done to achieve a particular flow to the voices. So, yes, some of them were probably picked for ethnicity because they had the SOUND that was wanted, that particular tonal lilt that white people generally just don’t have and sound fake if they try to “put it on”. It’s called production value and it was spot on!

    People need to get over the need to play the race card on every little thing and just grow up. I’m Hispanic. I don’t feel like this movie was any more racist than anything else in the movies or on television.

  20. marlow

    AVATAR is definitely “racist”, but not in the sentimental “black & white” simplicity of post-Obama politics. It is flat out an anti-human-race movie, with special emphasis on white male fundamentalist macho war mongers.

    The filmmaker’s sympathy is unmistakably with the Na’vi, and for that reason Jim Cameron cast the most sympathetic “people-of-color” he could find as the primary actors for the spiritual inhabitants of Pandora. Even Michelle Rodriguez is a sympathizer and sides with the “natives.”

    If you look at the group shots of the troops that mercenary Col. Quaritch assembled, there is a representative mix of human races present.

    The racist archetypes underpinning the movie are: greedy soulless white corporate mercenaries vs. spiritual Native Americans. But these are cliches.

    Any sensitive viewer, who looks deeply at their own emotional responses to the movie itself (vs. to the promo hype), will see that the film is clearly anti-racist and pro people-of-soul.

  21. James Hall

    First and foremost, only the director knows what his intentions were for voice overs and such. I do agree that it was most likely for the dialect. It was a good movie.
    As for people worried about the race thing…….. Deal with it! Those who find things racist usually are the poor souls with nothing better to do with their sad little lives than to do just that, find something they can cry about. The Natives in this land were slaves a good while before African slaves were introduced to the “white man” . By the way, It was rivaling tribes that tore families apart and enslaved their own to sell to the french who in turn sold them to the english. (study facts, not what you think you know.)
    I am of Native decent and yes I saw a strong link to what happened to my own people. However, there’s a great deal of people from many cultures that can say the same thing.
    Please, grow up, and stop casting stones into the past. And look at your own culture(s) before you start blaming others.

  22. Ken / San Jose

    Almost every great work of art is created to work on multiple levels, including an “actual” story or theme and also a subtext. This movie falls into that category. Here’s my reaction:

    Writer/Director James Cameron shows old school racist colors as well as extreme hypocrisy way in this admittedly visually spectacular film.

    1. White man saves primitive species–PLEASE, James, not this pat Hollywood formula AGAIN. I know it makes money but give me a break–I threw up a little in my mouth when I saw this coming one more time. (please note – I’m white).

    2. White man flips seamlessly between his white world and the more compelling primitive world (Cameron living vicariously through the Na’vi (NBA?), as he no doubt wishes that he, like many white libs, were black). OK man, got it, but the expiration date on that one was about 1989 and now it’s really starting to stink up the place.

    3. I loved the makeup of the military defectors–a Latino dude, a handicapped white dude, two white academics, and a probable Lesbian. Man, I dig that Democratic party! James, do you have any other paint by numbers coloring books you can share?

    4. Closing scenes show almost every single bad human to be white men. Certainly no women, and few if any Latinos, Asians or Blacks. Hmmm.

    5. Worst of all, the real story of the film is not the taking of the precious metal from the Na’vi, or about the taking of oil from Iraq, or about the stripping of the the rain forest. It’s about the James Cameron mining our uncertainties about race in order to make an insane amount of money. This kind of maneuver will blow up your emotional Hometree whether you realize it or not, and most people will never how completely they have been manipulated by this film.

    James Cameron creates racial tension by splitting the cast and audience into moral liberals vs. mean white conservatives, take your pick. He then exploits that tension to obtain one of the biggest financial paydays in human history. This is a film which attempts to expose greed and exploitation, while at the same time is itself almost unthinkably greedy and exploitative. Whew. This world never ceases to amaze.

    I prefer to live in a post-racial world where I don’t really give a damn about anyone’s race. I don’t care if you are white, brown, green, black, purple or see-through, if you’re a good person I’m going to like you, and if not then I’ll be seeing you later.

    That’s my take, Happy Holidays and God Bless.

  23. James Hall

    Very well said Ken. Happy holidays to all. May they be fun, safe and memorable.

  24. DS

    You people are so ridiculous. Can’t you just watch a movie and stop thinking it’s aimed at a race. Get a life. And so what if a movie did single out a race who cares. Why don’t we just say football is racist. The qb position only has white players and the rb position has only black players. I’m real tired of hearing about this issue being brought up over and over in our society. Get over it!

  25. xino


    I don’t think you’ve been a victim of racism, because if you have in your past life, you should know it’s something to be taken seriously!

  26. Me

    I love when white people get upset about the blacks being discriminated against? It’s like you’re trying to make up for something you didn’t even experience. I bet you would all hire a Mexican to fix your roof any day. Oh, and I bet all of you still buy crap from China everyday. So shut the hell up and stay at home. The movie was religiously and environmentally centered.

  27. Joshua

    Politics, racism, religon, oh my!

    And that’s these posts I’m talking about, not the movie.

    Avatar is the best movie I have every seen. My entire family enjoyed it, including my mom, aunt, uncle, AND grandma (all of whom are major plot-people). James Cameron is a freaking GENIUS! And to all of the nit-pickers out there, I will now destroy your arguments.

    Point A: Rascism
    1. The reasons that the aliens were all played by black actors were: the difference in accent and the different racial characteristics. The animated characters were created using the actor’s faces and since the Na’vi were humaNIOD, not human, there needed to be a contrast between the features of the people and the features of the aliens.
    2. The reason that the soldiers were predominatly white was that these men were mercenaries, hired from the American Marine Corps several hundred years from now. The Marine Corps is a statistically white-majority organization. Also, as stated above, there needed to be a noticable contrast between the human characters and the alien characters.

    I have to go to sleep now. I will be back tommorow to dismantle the rest of your complaints. Feel free to think of more.

  28. Hope I'm a Pentagon

    Never wrote this before, always thought it was stupid, but now i see the relevance.
    To Joshua and your rationalisation:

  29. xino


    I’ve finally watched this movie and it is racist in some way!

    Here’s why (no spoiler).
    Man who is savaging the planet land is a business man and said
    *”Blue Monkeys” (referring to the Aliens as black people monkeys, though since their skins are blue, then blue monkeys)
    *”We try to teach them, feed them, cloth them but they don’t get it” (referring to Oxfam and other people helping the poverty and third world side of Africa.)

    They said something about demolish by using Gas.
    That was a reference to the Holocaust, when they used the gas chambers to kill people.

    And also at the end of the movie, when those “Sky people were leaving the planet” That was a brief reference to show that those Aliens turn the white people to slaves.

    Also no black people in the marine, just 1 black guy who appeared all the time. (well certain times)

    The general was too awesome, he should be Duke Nukem.

    In all, the movie was definitely not my type, too sci-fi. It was rated 12 and so much swearing and violence:/

    Story was cliche, same thing we know about:
    outcast joins a group, falls in love with the girl, boy relating to the girl who wants to marry her hates the outcast. Outcast must try and be better. In the end falls in love with girl:/

    But graphics was perfect. Please no Avatar 2.

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