Avatar: Tradition Vs Science | Which one holds the high ground?

Does the progress of science overshadow the need for morality?

· 3 min read
Neytiri observes a local creature in Avatar

Which one holds the high ground?

The film that revolutionized animation within Hollywood not only opened the eyes of animation studios to what they are truly capable of (for context Avatar is one of the first few movies that aimed at making a hyper-realistic animated film by creating their own animation software for the same and then there is Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore which was released one year after), but the film also provided its audience with a hard-hitting question. Does the progress of science overshadow the need for morality?

Everyone loves a shift in perspective within films, however, Avatar was the first to do it with a shift in species. The theme of the movie was perfectly handled with respect to how war is truly a loss for any party involved and how morality would always exist in the gray until a truly evil character comes along and makes things more black and white.

Genocide aided with cold hard facts

Miles Quaritch in AMP suit

Avatar starts off by showing the side of humans and how resources and science have made traveling in space possible. Not only that but the fact that actual mechs exist within the space military shows us that science would truly provide humanity with the greatest of machinery.

However, the twist that comes along with great science is the lack of responsibility. As science progresses humanity further into the future, it lays a path of waste and under-utilized resources that may or may not be able to be recovered. The consequences can be seen in our day-to-day life, with one of the best examples being Chernobyl.

Connect with nature with the help of traditional bondage

A tall blue-skinned alien, with long black hair and wearing a gold circlet on her head, crouches down on an ivy-covered rock, ready to fight.

Avatar's direct connection to nature is a perfect representation of how nature and nurture can coexist with the existence of the Na'vi. Their roots in tradition and their progress without technology do not push them behind in times but far ahead. The tradition was shown to be a key feature of the movie and the foundation of the aliens. While on the one hand they were easily connected to their own world, their resources were thriving better without the presence of technology.

According to the movie, their culture, awareness, and ability to understand each other beyond words, something humans are limited to, makes them a more peaceful society to exist in. The intricate details such as the strands of their hair and the plants, so visibly full of life, all create a world where the people understand their planet just as much as the planet understands them.

Morality versus progress

Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington in Avatar, 2009

Thus the movie begs the question of whether progress should be made without paying heed to the potential of destruction that it holds if rushed, or should we leave progress altogether since life has become more than survivable already?

Socialising and networking will always exist even without the use of science. However, the answer may lie between the lines rather than just a black-and-white side.

Humans as a species grow more careful about the way they approach and achieve progress with the planet they live on and how it benefits them, the carbon footprint that at first had been an overlooked concept has now become the main focus for environmentalists; proving that day by day, humans choose to evolve.