People = Men, a passing example.

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Over at Alternet Vanessa Richmond asks: “Why Do People Want to Have Sex with the 9-Foot Tall Natives in ‘Avatar’?” But by “people” she clearly means men. Here is an excerpt:

James Cameron’s comments in interviews suggest the reaction is actually pretty vanilla, and by design.

Early designs for the Na’vi”were much more alien,” according to Cameron, the creator and director of the movie. In the early drawings of Neytiri, the young female love interest,”she had fins on her back and gills and all kinds of weird protuberances and so on in odd places.”

The beta testing went  something like this:”We just kept asking ourselves:basically, the crude version is: ‘Well, would you wanna do it?’ And our all-male crew of artists would basically say, ‘Nope, take the gills out.’ It was pretty simple.”

In other words, Neytiri was created to be a sex fantasy. As one of my male friends said, it’s as if they took Gisele Bundchen and made her even taller with longer legs, and elongated her already slim waist, which is a super signal to the male, of fertility.

Any similar effort to make any of the characters appeal to women? Did Richmond even care enough to ask?   She does quote a couple of women in the piece, as follows:

“The only thing i can think of after seeing Avatar is ‘when are they gonna make avatar porn?’ wrote  one person on Texts From Last Night.”Is it weird that I found myself thinking of that blue chick from Avatar while [my girlfriend] gave me head after the movie?”wrote another.”lol. im a girl and i agree. i would les out for Neytiri, but i want Jake :)” responded another.

The gender of “one person”? Not clear, though statistically one might assume male, as I suspect the reader is supposed to do. Is “im a girl” really female?   Who knows.

Richmond also informs us that the big eyes are sexy because remind folks of babies:

Even the blue part isn’t so strange. As a female friend of mine said, blue is everyone’s favorite color. It’s like water. It would be different if they were diarrhea-colored or yellow or something. That smart friend also said the eyes are key:the Na’vi have big eyes like a baby’s, a creature we’re programmed to find irresistible.

Why does she point out the gender of the source of the observation, her “female friend”? Is it because if she just said “a friend” we would assume she meant a man?

–Ann Bartow

ETA: On a related note, if the “aliens” are not mammals, why do the females have breasts? Rhetorical query, obviously. It is addressed in this essay as follows:

But then, on the absolute other side of the coin is Playboy’s interview with Cameron, which delves into the hotness of the movie’s female stars. And breasts. When asked whether he designed Neytiri specifically to appeal to guys, Cameron replies,”And they won’t be able to control themselves.”(I guess that means yes.) A lot of that appeal, according to Cameron, started with the decision to give the character breasts : even though the Na’vi aren’t mammals.

It’s a tiny passage in a very long interview, but it struck me, I’m sure in part because I’ve read”The Cancer Journals”by American poet Audre Lorde. In it, Lorde writes about undergoing a modified radical mastectomy and how doctors, therapists and random people changed their attitudes toward her when she refused to undergo reconstructive surgery or wear a prosthesis. Cameron’s decision to put breasts on non-mammals makes me wonder : in modern film, does a character have to have breasts to be a woman? Does a woman have to have breasts to be beautiful?

ETA Part II, from here:

So, I am sorry to keep going back to the sex thing, but the second that our hero, Jake, finally gets around to doing it with Space Zoe Saldana, she utters the words – with no small amount of seriousness, might I add –”we are mated for life now.”The VERY MOMENT HE GETS IT IN, she says this. Ladies: do you date dudes? Do any of these dudes like Avatar? Do you think that, at any point, you might have sex with a dude who likes Avatar? Because, if so, you need to say this shit during sex. I know I’m going to. I’ll adopt the deep, tranquil, stalkerly tones of mystical communion, give him the zonked-out blue-person googly-eye, all of it. Just to see how quickly he flies screaming out of the apartment, and whether he bothers to put on pants.

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One Response to People = Men, a passing example.

  1. bob coley jr says:

    If we look like Lemmings, think like Lemmings, and act like Lemmings, (and spend like Lemmings!) then we’re Lemmings. It is no surprise we are treated as Lemmings. We need to give OURSELVES good taking to, doncha think?

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