Alien Couture

Na’vi Dances With Wolves

I sacrificed precious hours of sleep and rest to catch the IMAX 3D showing of Avatar at 10:30pm this past Friday evening. Finally. I’d been wanting to watch it ever since I glimpsed a trailer of the curious blue bodies of the Na’vi flitting gracefully across the screen.

*SPOILERS BEGIN* One of my favorite bloggers posted various entries and discussions on the inherent message of the film, which is actually what got me up off my booty to watch it at such an ungodly hour (the movie ended around 1:30 the following morning, and even though I’m a self-proclaimed night-owl, I admit, I love sleep even more). She compared Avatar to the likes of Dances With Wolves in which the film is more about white guilt than anything else. The hero, who is inevitably male and white and western, saves the savages from colonization by his own western people.

A lot of readers opposed the blogger, saying that the movie could not have been racist because it’s about aliens. But that’s what made it even more uncomfortable for me, watching the Na’vi, who were obviously modeled after indigenous people, being portrayed as aliens. It was xenophobia in actual form.

I guess I can see what James Cameron was trying to do, but it’s not an original story. It brought back images of Disney’s Pocahontas, except the hero in Avatar actually becomes one of the Na’vi. Cameron claims that he was trying to “open people’s eyes.” It’s pretty sad when a nation still doesn’t have their eyes open to postcolonial issues, even those as basic as white guilt.

The annoyance for me lies in the fact that once again, people of color are used as a backdrop for the white man’s story. Avatar is a white fantasy in which the indigenous people forgive their oppressors for centuries of colonization, genocide, slavery, you name it, that have been committed against them. If Cameron wanted to really send a message, he should’ve done Avatar from the Na’vi persepctive. But those don’t sell tickets, unfortunately. No one wants salt to be rubbed in the wound on the part of both the oppressor and the oppressed. Avatar is about relieving oppressors of their guilt, not rectifying the wrongs that they have done to others.

Back in the day when I first began wrestling with postcolonial issues of my heritage, I was so blind with rage that it was difficult to wrench me away from online chat rooms discussing the devil that is the Bush administration. It was hard for me to step back from all that pain in realizing that I am a product of centuries of colonization. Luckily, I was able to get that all out of my system before watching Avatar when I was able to suspend some of the postcolonial shit…

…and focus on all the pretty colors!

Pocahontas Meets McQueen

Postcolonial drama aside, Avatar is visually stunning. Once I skimmed over the sad and empty storyline, I spotted trends that are cropping up more and more on the internet waves. For example, I’m completely captivated by Alexander McQueen’s Spring/Summer ready-to-wear line.

Then the models came out, dressed in short, reptile-patterned, digitally printed dresses, their gangly legs sunk in grotesque shoes that looked like the armored heads of a fantastical breed of antediluvian sea monster. McQueen, according to an internal logic detailed in a press release, was casting an apocalyptic forecast of the future ecological meltdown of the world: Humankind is made up of creatures that evolved from the sea, and we may be heading back to an underwater future as the ice cap dissolves.”

McQueen conveys his vision of the future of mankind both conceptually and literally. When camouflaged in digitally printed lizard patterns and hair coifs that highly resemble those horned plates on various reptiles, the models seriously look like another form of species not from Earth, much like the Na’vi in Avatar. Don’t they look alike???

I love costumes.

Will Mutate for Heels

A much more literal portrayal of human-to-reptile evolution can be found on the website for Anastasia Radevich footwear.

And have you seen her shoes?? The Na’vi can use them as weapons. I’m reminded of sea barnacles and lethal antennae on those deep-sea horned monster bugs (can you tell I’m not physical science-minded at all?)

I find it ironic that I love looking at heels, but I can’t stand wearing them unless they have specially patented padded soles. I don’t understand why fashion has to be so painful…

But I can’t even imagine what’d it’d be like to wear these Alexander McQueen’s:

Hmmm, would I rather wear Radevich’s barnacle heels or McQueen’s globe stilts? At least the barnacle heels resemble  feet! If the globe stilts weren’t attached to the ends of legs, I would’ve thought they were some kind of decorative vase for the mantel. But truth be told, the crazier the shoe, the more fun it is. Besides, I’d love to imagine wearing these to work!

Speaking of outrageous fashion statements, there’s been talk of Avatar possibly taking on Star Wars proportions with the (supposedly) epic story and mind-blasting special effects. And Cameron had confirmed future releases of Avatar 2 and 3. Can you imagine how many people would show up to the midnight showings sporting blue alien garb? Haha! If it means I can go tweaked out in Alexander McQueen, that’s definitely one convention I’d be crashing!

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