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Discussing the ways that ‘nature’ and ‘natural’ are represented in the film Avatar (2009

For this assignment, please write (1250-1500 words) essay discussing the ways that ‘nature’ and ‘natural’ are represented in the film Avatar (2009). In your response, be sure to describe the film and cite specific scenes and images that are relevant to your discussion. Consider the following questions as you formulate a perspective and a thesis:

  • What is at stake for the protagonists and antagonists in the film? How does the film depict good and bad?
  • How are the stakes framed by the plot, and represented by the characters, and images of the film? How do relationships help show the stakes for the main characters?
  • What are some examples of real-life environmental conflicts? Describe some of the parallels and similarities between the film and your example. What are some differences?
  • Using a specific example (#NoDAPL, for example), describe the real-world stakes and explain who the stakeholders are.
  • How does Justine Fritz’s concept of the “ecological Indian” contribute to our understanding of the real-world lives and perspective of Indigenous and Native people?
  • In what ways is the film’s environmental message persuasive? In what ways could that message be more persuasive? What are some possible oppositional or negotiated responses to the dominant position (see Encoding/Decoding Environmental Media, pgs. 67-70 in Pezzullo and Cox).
  • What kinds of images and stories will be effective for environmental communication and advocacy in the future? Will green marketing become more or less influential? Which places, cultures, people, and technologies will come to represent global warming, sea level rise, species extinctions, pandemics, and other environmental crises?

In this assignment you will examine the 2009 science fiction film Avatar as a text and cultural artifact. The film is epic in both the literary sense and in its seamless visual design and effects made possible by the very high production budget. It was a critical and box-office success and is considered a classic of sci-fi alien movies. The franchise includes video games, collectables, comic book series, and has a thriving fan culture.

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