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|Title:||Seeing blue: negotiating the politics of Avatar media activism|
Department of Gender and Cultural Studies
|Abstract:||This thesis examines how the Hollywood blockbuster Avatar (2009) has been taken-up in media activism directed towards Indigenous struggles against imperialism. It assumes the importance of locating this phenomenon within the discursive and material regimes that mediate, enable, and constrain it. I therefore offer a contextualised analysis of the film and media relating to its appropriation, which focuses on the representational practices and structural mechanisms that inform the production, circulation, and reception of the texts. This approach emphasises the tensions and contradictions that underpin activists’ relationship to the media they mobilise. Such contradictions are particularly apparent in relation to the politics of race that shape Avatar, the Indigenous activism that references it, and the media regimes that make this possible. The very forces that marginalise Indigenous voices empower auteur James Cameron to speak on their behalf and to be heard. Activists must also negotiate the tension between co-opting media spectacle and being commercialised as spectacle. However, refusing a simple critique of the representations activists deploy as media spectacles, I argue for a model that foregrounds the alliances that they seek to engender. Drawing on the work of feminist scholars Oliver (2001) and Deslandes (2010), I signal a theoretical approach that focuses on how the mediated spectator relates to such representations and insists on the spectator’s responsibility to respond. Acknowledging that the tensions that animate Avatar media activism can be both constrictive and creative, this project seeks a model that maximises the potential for the latter. It thus resists the paralysis of activism that can come with critiquing how we fight for the world we imagine.|
|Department/Unit/Centre:||Department of Gender and Cultural Studies|
|Appears in Collections:||Honours Theses - Department of Gender and Cultural Studies|
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