Do we need another movie about a self-centered Westerner squeezing one-dimensional natives for exotic food, wisdom, and spirituality?
By Sandip Roy
But all through the film this is what I was wondering. Why was she drawn to those three countries? Why Italy, India and Indonesia?
Is it because they all start with I?
I, I, and I.
Not inappropriate for a film that is ultimately about Me, Myself, and I. I travel therefore I am.
1) From the original Last of the Mohicans to Dances with Wolves to Avatar, this is what happens when you see exotic people and lands through white eyes. The "others" become supporting players or guest stars in their own stories.
In this case the fortune-cookie wisdom came from India. But it could just as easily have come from Mr. Miyagi, a magical Negro, or a mystical Indian. These characters exist to serve the white protagonist's needs.
2) This is also what happens when wannabes try to emulate a Native culture or religion. Even if they're sincere, their efforts are likely to be superficial.
This effort may work in movies, but it doesn't in real life. Whether you're learning from a Native elder or a Buddhist monk, a culture or religion isn't something you pick up casually in a few weeks or months. It takes years of rigorous study, not a fly-by vacation.
3) Whether we're talking about a fictional character a real-life wannabe, it isn't about showcasing the indigenous culture. It's about "I, I, I." "Look at me," the person is saying, "I can be sensitive, compassionate, and wise too. By caring about others like an indigenous person, I can prove how great I am. Isn't my humility amazing?!"
For more on the subject, see Indian Wannabes = Celebrity Wannabes.