The King of the World is having a hard week.
James Cameron, who playfully dubbed himself that after his “Titanic” won 11 Academy Awards in 1998, just released his first major film in 13 years.
“Avatar: The Way of Water” continues the saga he started in 2009, a parable for man’s mistreatment of Mother Earth.
Cameron is one of Hollywood’s most eco-aware celebrities, and he’s putting millions into that sentiment. He made his “Way of Water” cast go vegan, invested in plant-based food initiatives and is spending his Hollywood capital on message projects like “The Game Changers.”
Respect the environment … or else. Except he hasn’t stopped there.
Recently, Cameron extolled the pregnant female warriors in “The Way of Water,” saying they trump the Marvel Cinematic Universe when it comes to female empowerment. Next, he blasted male testosterone, calling it a “toxin” that needs to be purged from the body.
None of that woke messaging protected him from even more woke critics.
First, some chastised Cameron for an “Avatar”-themed spectacle including dolphins. The Japanese event found Cameron, along with the film’s stars including Sigourney Weaver and Zoe Saldana, joined by a dolphin presentation.
The reaction was swift and furious, with animal activists enraged at Cameron’s so-called betrayal.
Cameron later said he wasn’t aware of the dolphin part of the presentation and was angry about it but decided not to object mid-show. The director apologized to several of his critics via email.
“So, if people really want to save the dolphins, they should put down the damn tuna melt … in fact, stop eating fish altogether and stick to plant-based proteins, as I have for the last 10 years. I wanted you to know this was a faux pas outside my ability to foresee or prevent, and that I’m sorry about it.”
Next, a single film critic suggested “Avatar: The Way of Water” amounts to little more than a White Savior film riddled with cultural appropriation.
At some point we gotta talk about the cultural appropriation of Avatar and white actors are cos playing as poc. It’s just a mess and so not necessary & no amount of visual effects/CGI is gonna erase that. Bad Lace fronts/Dry synthetic braids. Jesus fix it pic.twitter.com/VcNkSlvRTp
— Kathia Woods (@kathia_woods) December 18, 2022
Woods wasn’t alone.
Others weighed in, blasting Cameron’s film on similar grounds.
…the new Avatar film is being accused of using an amalgamation of the histories of various Indigenous cultures for a film that features a largely white cast. (Notable exceptions in the casting include Zoe Saldaña, a Black Latina actress, and Cliff Curtis, who is of Maori descent.)
Autumn Asher BlackDeer, an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver, shared her critiques on social media.
“Why watch a ridiculous movie about blue aliens when you could just support actual Indigenous people and our struggle for clean water here on Earth? Yes, we do exist.”
Cameron is Hollywood royalty, an Oscar winner with a celebrated film resume including “Aliens” and “The Terminator.” He’s a King in the industry, and deservedly so given his box office success.
He still didn’t realize an artist can never be woke enough in today’s society. He’s learning that lesson the hard way.