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How might an anthropologist analyse a mainstream film - Essay Example

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How might an anthropologist analyse a mainstream film

The depiction of the characters in the movie is not only racist in more ways than one, it is also extremely sexist. It takes historically inaccurate facts and places the burden of a sexist society upon the tribes of America. The vision that the director and the makers of the movie endorse is extremely problematic and make for disturbing viewing when looked through with a postcolonial and feminist approach. The dissection of the movie in this paper shall then proceed with the gaze of an anthropologist. Another factor that shall be looked into is the fact that Gibson’s movie was a mainstream one and hence factors in popular notions regarding other cultures. This then brings in the elements of reception and the cultural attitudes that are prevalent in the American and also global population. What sections of the population are targeted is also something that needs to be discussed here. This paper shall seek to look at these elements of the debate and also a psychoanalytic approach into the understanding of why certain races are depicted as they are in popular culture. However, there is another side to this debate. The changes that are introduced into the idea of the Mayans represent the idea of difference between the city and the forest within Mayan culture. The movie is then an indictment of Mayan elite culture that according to Gibson had degenerated into a set of mindless rituals. The city becomes the center of all forms of evil that Gibson associates with Mayan culture. This is then contrasted with the culture that is prevalent within the geographical confines of the village. This village is then the site of family and bonding between different members of the same society. It is a self-sufficient unit that is understood to be a space where traditional aspects of Mayan life are followed without there being a corruption of these ways. There is however, also the presence of technology in the form of traps and other devices that smoothen the life of the people in the villages. There is thus, an endorsement of the idea of the “noble savage” as Jean Jacques Rousseau thought of it. It discussed the idea of man in a pure state which made him not merely a savage but also a noble one that was purer than the man who had been corrupted by civilization (Basic Concept: Primitivism and the Noble Savage). Throughout the movie, aspects of Mayan culture are denigrated and the only character whose perspective is taken for a large part of the movie is that of the protagonist, Jaguar Paw. The movie traces the life that this character leads where a process of colonization takes place between different tribes within America. The fickleness of power is made clear in this kind of transfer of power takes place very frequently. One of the people who were met by Jaguar Paw is later seen as a captive within a matter of a few days. All of this leads to the series of human sacrifices that take place at the Mayan temple in an effort to appease the Mayan god Kukulkan. The degeneration of the culture of the elite and those that live in the city are talked of in this movie. The connection between Jaguar Paw and the nature of his homeland is repeatedly stressed. This can also be seen in the way in which the forest decimates the people of the city who seek to kill Jaguar Paw. The connection between Jaguar Paw and his homeland’ ...Show more
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Summary

Your Name Name of of Professor Anthropological Analysis of Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto Apocalypto by Mel Gibson remains one of the finest examples of a lack of cultural relativism while dealing with subjects that are outside the pale of the understanding of western rational thought…
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