Though lauded for its groundbreaking special effects, the narrative of James Cameron’s popular motion picture Avatar (2009) was criticized for being similar to the 1995 Walt Disney animated feature Pocahontas and Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves (1990). Reflecting a convergence of the western and science fiction genres, Avatar used “Hollywood Indian” conventions to explore cultural assimilation and ecological awareness in ways that these previous films did not. This study considers how Frederick Jackson Turner’s 1893 “frontier thesis”, the philosophy of Manifest Destiny, and attitudes towards Native Americans expressed in political mandate and popular culture can be used to investigate Avatar as a “Hollywood Indian film”.
|Keywords:||Film Criticism and History, Avatar (2009), Frederick Jackson Turner, Frontier Thesis, Science Fiction and Western Genre, American Identity|
Professor, Department of Communication, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA
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