- Orbital Bombardment
- Earth Needs Unobtanium
- Na'vi aggression forced human hands.
- Jake Sully should have negotiated a peaceful settlement.
- Jake Sully is a traitor.
- The RDA's Gear was stupidly designed
- The bow and arrow guys beat the army guys
- The Na'vi don't declare their borders thus they don't have any property claims
- Humans need the Unobtanium, to regenerate Earth.
I'm open to covering other topics here if PMed suggestions, or see any that need to be added.
Avatar Human-Wank Argument #1: Nuke the Site From Orbit, It’s the Only Way to be Sure
Why can’t The Military nuke the Na’vi from orbit?
Firstly, yes, of course you can blow them up from orbit. There are many ways to do so.
But… there is no human military involved in Avatar – yes, there are people with military experience there, but they are there as the private security forces of the Resources Development Administration, an international company, not a government.
It’s hard to believe people can watch the film without quite parsing what this means. Although it is given monopolistic rights on developments and is rich, and powerful, but in the end, it is not a sovereign entity. It is fully subject to real nations’ laws, at least in theory.
And the treaty that grants it this access?
Pandorapedia wrote:More powerful than most Earth governments. The Resources Development Administration (RDA) has monopoly rights to all products shipped, derived or developed from Pandora and any other off-Earth location. These rights were granted to RDA in perpetuity by the Interplanetary Commerce Administration (ICA), with the stipulation that they abide by a treaty that prohibits weapons of mass destruction and limits military power in space.
More powerful than most, one may object, but most is not all. Given the prominence of Americans in the film, one can safely assume that the United States of America remains a dominant nation on Earth in this fictional setting, at least, and its military power Furthermore, without substantial military power in space, they cannot win a fight against such a government; for the same logic as this argument itself uses – space is the ultimate high ground. And it does not belong to the RDA, but to the USA.
Use of weapons of mass destruction of any type on the Na’vi would nullify the RDA’s treaty, and presumably render its personnel subject to arrest, trial, imprisonment and quite possibly execution. Unless they want to be given the lethal injection when they get home, the RDA personnel would never try and drop antimatter on the Na’vi or anything similar.
If one rejects the Pandorapedia, then the RDA is still just a company, and not even one that can be said to rival Earth governments, it is even more subject to international law.
But people on Earth don’t care about the Na’vi. So no one would consider it murder.
What made you think that? It’s enormously expensive to ship people out there, but Pandora is at least famous, “The Legendary Floating Mountains of Pandora”and there is no inkling that they’re unpopular on Earth in the film.
The Pandorapedia elaborates considerably.
The existence of the Na’vi was the most surprising discovery on Pandora. For theoretical reasons, intelligent life was not expected to be found here. Given the known age of the galaxy and the relatively brief period since the evolution of man, it was assumed that any alien intelligence would be far older and more sophisticated than us, would have an advanced technological civilization and probably not be humanoid. Thus the discovery of jungle-dwelling neolithic humanoids was not anticipated.
Under strong pressure from the UN, scientists and the general public, the RDA agreed to set up a program to enhance communications between humans and Na’vi. At first this consisted solely of an Indigenous Terrain program to study Na’vi culture and language and to attempt to establish communication between man and Na’vi.
Strong pressure from the UN and general public just to communicate with them! Imagine what the response would be to just plain nuking them. (Frankly, even gunning them down in droves would provoke a shitstorm, though Quarich at least pretended to be aiming for minimal casualties, rather than simply nuking them.)
Many religious leaders have used the Na’vi similarity to humans as a demonstration of “intelligent design” but this of course has triggered its own controversy as to whether Na’vi should be considered “human” and if they have an immortal soul, and should therefore be accorded the protection and recognition of the church. That debate is outside the scope of this introductory document.
If that’s to be believed, it even implies at least some of the dreaded religious conservatives like them. Large scale murder of the Na’vi would doubtless turn this debate into an epic shitstorm.
The RDA wouldn’t have to tell them.
It’s set in Alpha Centauri. It is almost certain that there are real and radio telescopes pointed at Pandora all the time; as soon as the electromagnetic radiation arrives at Earth, they’ll know about any large scale explosions, or movements of asteroids etc.
There is no stealth in space, there is also no setting off large explosions or diverting asteroids without it becoming known.
Furthermore, they would also have to then have perfect control over all their staff, and not one of them would think of going to future-wikileaks or the press, either due to ethical concerns or simply for profit.
They couldn’t function without the RDA
The treaty granted to the RDA could easily be reallocated to another multinational, who could be kept on a much tighter leash.
But the guys in the film get off scott free!
What makes you think they were not punished when they returned to Earth?
The film’s last scene, filmed in the abandoned RDA outpost, implies that Jake Sully (and the surviving scientists) transmitted a message to Earth, which was certainly the intent in earlier script treatments. Such a message would arrive at Earth before the ISV Venture Star did.
For all we know, Selfridge and the other leaders of the RDA expedition were immediately arrested upon arriving at Earth, and duly imprisoned/executed.
Avatar Human-Wank Argument #2: Earth needs the resources/Earth is Dying
We’ll just take that as read, there’s some strange ideas about the economics and need. I’ll compare this logic with another species.
The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells 
At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.
The secular cooling that must someday overtake our planet has already gone far indeed with our neighbour. Its physical condition is still largely a mystery, but we know now that even in its equatorial region the midday temperature barely approaches that of our coldest winter. Its air is much more attenuated than ours, its oceans have shrunk until they cover but a third of its surface, and as its slow seasons change huge snowcaps gather and melt about either pole and periodically inundate its temperate zones. That last stage of exhaustion, which to us is still incredibly remote, has become a present-day problem for the inhabitants of Mars. The immediate pressure of necessity has brightened their intellects, enlarged their powers, and hardened their hearts. And looking across space with instruments, and intelligences such as we have scarcely dreamed of, they see, at its nearest distance only 35,000,000 of miles sunward of them, a morning star of hope, our own warmer planet, green with vegetation and grey with water, with a cloudy atmosphere eloquent of fertility, with glimpses through its drifting cloud wisps of broad stretches of populous country and narrow, navy-crowded seas.
And yet, no one justifies the Martians’ intention to seize the Earth due to their own planet dying (in this case, through no fault of their own). Murderously stealing other people’s land does not become okay just because you’re fucked up at home.
The rebuttal to this particular argument is simple. The land of the Ometicaya clan of Na’vi belongs to them. Not to the humans. There is no ethical mechanism except fair exchange, by which it can be acquired. Being there without their approval is trespass, taking control of that land is theft, and killing for it is murder.
Avatar Human-Wank Argument #3: The Na’vi Started It, Savages!
This one has more basis than the others; the first hint of the Na’vi we see is evidence that they’ve been attacking the humans, and later, it’s revealed that they’ve a kill on sight order for avatars.
This implies that they must simply be brutes, and sure enough there’s plenty of characters in the film that express that opinion.
So, clearly, the Na’vi must have always been hostile.
Wait… That doesn’t look very hostile.
As mentioned above, the Na'vi were sending their children to a human-run school prior to the incident where the RDA started shooting said children as collective punishment for the crimes of a small group. The first killing we hear about is an act of massive assholishness by the RDA, not the Na'vi.
Avatar Human-Wank Argument #4: Jake Sully is responsible for RDA aggression.
Okay, now our little laugh’s over… let’s look at this, because people take it seriously:
Less than fifteen minutes into the film, Selfridge says ‘We’re at the brink of war’ and demands Grace come up with a diplomatic solution.
Later on, Jake Sully says he thinks he can talk the Na’vi into surrendering their land to the company.
Despite this, for most of the film, he’s not given that task early on, and is indeed given the job of reporting to Col. Quaritch about Na’vi weaknesses.
Quaritch wrote:I want you to learn these savages from the inside, I want you to gain their trust, I need to know how to force their cooperation or hammer them hard if they won’t.
Which of course, he does – he does tell Quarich how to hammer them hard, because they won’t cooperate.
That was his job, which he did.
Quaritch wrote:You gave me good, usable intel, about this tree of souls place. Yeah, I got them by the balls with that when this turns into a shit-fight, which it will.
Only at this point did he want to try and convince the Na’vi to accept a peaceful shafting, and that is because he knew full well that they would be slaughtered horribly, when Quaritch starts a shit-fight. He wanted to complete the manhood ritual before attempting to bring the Na’vi around to this course of action; the sex happened exactly after the manhood ritual.
It was clear that Jake didn’t know where the bulldozers were precisely, or he wouldn’t have gone to sleep in their path. It can be safely assumed he didn’t know it was so urgent.
Jake Sully is not meant to be a professional diplomat, and blaming him for the aggression of the humans and saying he is at fault for being unable to make a settlement that forces people from their land within a day is unfair and unrealistic. He offers to “negotiate the terms of their relocation”he doesn’t say it’s going to be done inside a day or anything like that.
If the RDA truly wanted a negotiated settlement to happen, then they would certainly at least give a reasonable time for that. They did not, because they were not especially serious about that goal, which was only introduced very late.
Jake Sully does try and get the RDA to stop demolishing one set of sacred trees, and only resorts to violence to stop them when they try to run him and his new wife over - when they attempt murder her, let's get that right. Murder.
Moving on, both Grace and Jake Sully try and persuade the Ometicaya not to react aggressively to this.
To the RDA's credit in a small way, Selfridge allows Grace and Jake to try further negotiation after this, but he doesn't recall the gunships, which shows just how serious he is about that. They're still out to steal and willing to murder anyone in their way, and that's the bottom line.
Avatar Human-Wank Argument #5: The protagonists are traitors to humanity.
Firstly, of course, the RDA is not humanity, and does not represent all of humanity, instead it represents a corporate interest.
Technically, of course, Jake, Grace and the others do betray the RDA. Given the RDA's behavior, I would contend that it is morally justifiable to betray them.
Avatar Human-Wank Argument #6: Stupid Glass Canopies, If only the humans had used fixed-wing aircraft/tanks/etc etc etc...
I'm covering this here because it crops up with others.
A lot of people complain about the design of the vehicles in Avatar, and then describe scenarios where the humans would do better. No doubt.
And well, I've got nothing against calling fictional bad guys cool; look at my username, but the implication often seems to be that the humans ought to have won on moral grounds. Certainly not, see above.
Fairly obviously, a few hundred necrons would easily exterminate the Na'vi forces in the film.
But that wouldn't stop it being wrong to do so.
Complaining about technical aspects is fine, but sympathizing with one faction because of their technology doesn't make any kind of valid argument on the morals. No matter how cool or otherwise the bad guys are, they're still bad.
In defense of the overall film's engineering credibility, this topic is gone into in some detail on Pandorapedia, and the ISV Venture Star is one of the most realistic hypothetical spaceships ever displayed on film. Atomic Rocket has an excellent analysis of the Venture Star
Avatar Human-Wank Argument #7: The Na'Vi won! They overcome a superior military force, that's stupid! (Guest-Written by Zixinus!)
Answer: They did not overcome anything. Before the VERY PLANET intervened, the Na'Vi were about to be slaughtered by the very-real superior military power they were faced. That's actually part of the tragedy implied in the film.
If it weren't for the massive wave of animals attacking the RDA troops, the Na'Vi would have had their Holy Tree bombed, despite their immense resistance.
The Na'Vi are not a superior military force, nor were they depicted as such. Yes, they brought down SOME losses on the the RDA, but more out of surprise and trying to use the terrain to their advantage than by their own military strength. And this military strength was not half-assed either, they were called to arms with essentially their equivalent of Jesus (or at least, a Messiah), fifteen tribes have gathered and joined the fighting, easily outnumbering not only the military forces of the RDA but the RDA itself.
Yet the RDA would have still won if it weren't for the foreshadowed Deus Ex Machinaca. Even with all the "flaws" of the equipment they had, even with gaps in their equipment (no artillery, no anti-air emplacements, no heavy armour, etc), even being greatly outnumbered, the the RDA would have won.
Avatar Human-Wank Argument #8: The Na'Vi didn't declare they owned the land!
Apples and oranges. Russians took and held onto the huge territory they call their own. They have formally declared a border and guard that border zealously.
The Navi have done none of that. They have never declared how much land they own or even how much territory belongs to which tribes. As seen in the official video game tie in the RDA are polite enough to at least fence the area they consider their own. They rarely venture outside or bother anyone save for scientific or diplomatic expedition.
That's the logic of a Vogon Destructor Fleet, whose response before destroying the Earth to construct a hyperspace bypass was to tut that (modern) humans hadn't even gone to the local planning office at Alpha Centauri to lodge a protest, despite the evident lack of spaceflight.
To take it apart piece by piece:
- We don't know what territory they claim, it was not explored in the movie.
- We don't have any reason to believe the RDA knows either.
- The site in contention in the film is very clearly the property of the Ometicaya tribe; they live on it, demonstrating both usage and ownership.
- This also ignores any claims of ownership by the planet, which at least in wooded areas, have unquestionable validity, as they form the entity's brain.
Avatar Human-Wank Argument #9: The humans need the Unobtanium, to regenerate Earth.
Perhaps; it is implied that the material is used for making transport easier and for meeting energy needs (how this is a requirement when they had a giant solar laser array in the first place is another matter) and thus that it might be essential; but they don't need this unobtanium. The film outright states there are other deposits of the material:
Their damn village is sitting right over the richest unobtanium deposit for a hundred klicks in any direction. Which sucks -- for them -- because they need to relocate.
Selfridge then goes on to mention:
Killing the indigenous looks bad, but there’s one thing shareholders hate more than bad press -- and that’s a bad quarterly statement. Find me a carrot to get them to move, or it’s going to have to be all stick.
Note how he doesn't mention the idea that saving Earth is the goal, or that they need to access this particular unobtanium deposit or they'll stop production, go under, or have anything but a bad quarterly statement. The choice of that particular site can only be motivated by profit. Profit is irrelevant to helping earth; only bulk output matters there, even if the mission runs at a loss.
But are there any others?
Closer inspection by an orbiting ISV revealed that there are many deposits of unobtanium on Pandora, some of which are even richer than that at ESM 01. It is expected that further exploitation of Pandora’s unobtanium deposits will eventually result in construction of further mines, with at least twenty-five potential sites already located. Plans are already underway to develop a substantial deposit within a few miles of ESM 01.