The argument that I will be talking about in my essay is how the themes inclusion, otherness and social solidarity take place in the movie avatar. All these three themes relate in many different ways to Jake and the atmosphere in the movie itself. The three philosophers that will be discussed are Durkheim, Goffman and Mead. The concepts that are used in this essay are to argue the thesis. Front stage and back stage, self, presentation of self, me and I (the diagram), social inclusion, organic solidarity, mechanical solidarity are the concepts that are argued in this essay.
The film avatar is based on a character named Jake who is paralyzed from the waist down, he agrees to be sent on a mission to a whole new different world called Pandora where he is known to get a healthy body. Avatar is a film that after analyzing it can be related to the philosophers and their concepts Mead, Goffman and Durkheim. Durkheim mentions the notion of social inclusion in his work. The concept notion of social inclusion looks at how one lives in a society; this concept relates directly to the character of Jake since he enters a totally different world called Pandora where he feels different from the rest.
Jake makes many efforts to get close to the avatars and to feel included; this is where social solidarity also takes place. The transformation that takes place in the film from a human to an avatar can convey to the concepts of Mead and Goffman’s “The self and the presentation of self. ” These three sociologists’ theories can also relate to Avatar since Jake also witnesses two different cultures and the dissimilarities and similarities. The main character Jake, also experiences the sense of developing and living in such a community where he gains his sense of self.
Through an examination of the movie avatar from a sociological perspective, it is evident that Mead, Durkheim and Goffman’s ideas can relate to the movie avatar through social solidarity, otherness and inclusion. George Herbert Mead the American philosopher talked about and looked at the concept of ‘self’. What is the concept of ‘self’? According to the mead, the concept of self is “something which has a development, it is not initially there, at birth but arises in the process of social experience and activity, that is, develops in the given individual as a result of his relations to hat process was a whole and to other individuals within that process, (Mead, 1959:23)” Mead’s concept of ‘self’ relates to the film when avatar is sent to Pandora and he meets Neytiri, and as they start to get know each other better she describes him in way which he is like a baby who is making noises but doesn’t know what to do. The character of Neytiri relates to the concept of the self because Mead says that the self is something that is a development and arises in experiences and activity.
In this case Neytiri, is trying to express that Jake is similar to a baby and has no sense of “me” and needs to experience living in the world of avatar’s to get a good sense of “me,” and ‘self’. However, Jake is trying to develop and get used to in a world, which is totally different from him; he faces many self-conflicts. The diagram “Fred and the personality structure” can narrate Jake and Neytiri and there conflicts. The diagram looks at the self conflict between the I and me. Throughout the movie the audience realize that Jake is narrating the plot and questions himself before making any decisions.
This is an example of conflict between Me and I. What Jake is going through and his determination to do, which is to complete his mission, is the I and what he ends up doing is the Me. For example, when Jake falls in love with Neytiri that would be considered the Me. He had no self control or self conscious of falling in love with Neytiri and faced consequences with his people from earth. Lastly, the ‘generalized other’ that mead talks about in his work can also relate with the film. Jake is sent to Pandora with expectations to follow.
He has to follow the rules in order to complete the mission. To generalized other is something we all look up to and try to obey. However, sometimes the situation can effect our interpretations of it. Jake falls in love with an Avatar Neytiri when he is sent on the mission. This shows that at one point Jake stops following the rules and his norms take over. Mead and his concepts can be highly influenced and indicated in the film avatar. Durkheim one of the first philosophers that were looked at in class is the philosopher who looks at balance.
Durkheim talked about social solidarity and looks at two forms, mechanical solidarity and Organic solidarity. There needs to be a balance of both. In Durkheim’s view, Mechanical solidarity is repressive laws for example; mechanical solidarity is known to be small and regulated by system of beliefs, which in other worlds can be called the common conscience. Organic solidarity looks at restitute laws. In this film both forms take place. Social solidarity is something that is shown throughout almost the whole film. The film avatar is based on a very high-regulated society.
It is an advanced society and science based which we can call more organic solidarity. The naive society is more mechanical because in this society lives an indigenous population with only certain numbers of people. This society is very isolated and the community has different values and beliefs than Jake and his people back on earth. In the world of Pandora Jake has a problem adapting. As watching the film avatar one can come into conclusion that social solidarity is portrayed in this film. Both societies have social orders and different morals.
For example, Jake is just gone on a mission to find resources but when he steps into the Pandora world he has to obey the rules. This is when the theme inclusion is looked in more thought. In this totally different world Jake can only exist as an avatar. He faces struggles and looses trusts with the one he loves, due to him being from earth and having similarities. The presentation of self is something that is looked in the film avatar throughout it. Goffman a Canadian born sociologist talks about the presentation of self in his work.
According to Goffman the presentation of self can be described as “when an individual enters the presence of others, they commonly seek to acquire information about him or to bring into play information about him already possessed. ”(Goffman, 1959:23) This can relate to when Jake turns into an avatar because he is not in his body anymore, which means, he had to put on a presentation with can relate to self. Front stage and back stage another concept of Goffman can come into role here. Jake acts one way when he’s with the avatars and another when he’s with his coworkers.
The front stage is when Jake arrives to Pandora and the back stage is, him being on a mission to look for resources. The reason that the front stage is when Jake arrives to Pandora is because that’s where the audience is and he has to play a certain role. However, Jake has his own beliefs and values back on earth that he continues to carry when he enters a whole different value. The back stage is earth, where he belongs, because his audience which are members from the naive are absent here and are not aware of what is going on back at earth.
To conclude it is evident that the movie avatar can relate to the themes social solidarity, otherness and inclusion. The three philosophers and there concepts relate directly with the movie as well. Throughout through the film we see the concepts and theme of self and community also being expressed. Jake turning into an avatar and going to a new world shows how self and community can relate. There are two types of communities in this film with two different values and beliefs. There cultures in both societies are different from one another.
While Jake is putting on a presentation of self when he enters the world Pandora at one point he gets so enchanted into his mission that he gave up on it. Presentation of self was overpowered by Meads concept of ‘self’ In this case. He felt more attracted to the Pandora community due to his norms and intentions. The transformation from a human to an avatar shows all three themes and how they can relate. Besides the fact that the themes can relate to the movie, the concepts that are created talked about by philosophers relate to the characters in the film.