Annalee Newitz breaks down the Magical White Boy genre on io9.
It’s one of the secret genres of American movie culture. You’ve seen them. To name a few, Avatar, Pocahontas, The Last Samurai, Dances With Wolves, Ferngully, even District 9 to some degree. The list goes on and on. Heck, some of these are even good. I’ll let you decide which ones for yourself.
Basically any movie where the helpless but noble savages have to be saved from the rapacious and evil minded white invaders, and their only hope is the Magical White Boy who comes to understand their simple ways and lead them against his own kind. Nearly every version includes the native woman who teaches the MWB said simple ways and wins his heart, as well as the angry native warrior who hates the MWB. Usually the MWB will defeat this person to prove themselves to the tribe, or alternatively will prove themselves through other means, thus guaranteeing that the angry warrior will make a heroic sacrifice to help the MWB.
To these, Annalee has one question: When will white people stop making movies like Avatar?