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Friday, December 18, 2009

Avatar: Braveheart on Another Planet

'Just watched James Cameron's Avatar.

Initial impressions

The special effects are wonderful to behold, but it's the even more wonderful ironies that I appreciate more:

The film was conceived, shot, and/or produced in America and New Zealand: 2 countries where an alien race / culture colonized, driven out or subjugated the indigenous race / culture;

The people / culture / race that's profiteering off this film (about colonizers and imperialism) are descendants or socio-historical beneficiaries of such colonialism / imperialism.

The film also re-affirms my view that some liberals out there like to take on or borrow the mantle of others' oppression as a license to feel indignant — and either profit from it, restrict the freedom of others with it, or engage in ultimately self-serving, self-glorifying, pseudo-intellectual, tautalogical acts of punitive pedagogy with it.

Jake Sully returning on the back of a Leonopteryx (a red dragon-like-creature), as the newly crowned leader of the Na'vi (i.e. "Blue Monkeys") to rouse the natives to fight against the evil imperialists is nothing but a CGI rehash of Tom Cruise in his red samurai armor leading the charge in "The Last Samurai."

And, oh yes, Jake, like Tom, got a bit of native "tail" on his extra-terrestrial safari as well. Damn! I guess there are SPGs in every country, continent, island, city, and planet, eh?

Don't miss Armond White's review, "Blue In the Face."

Blaming "The White Man" is so passé, Mr Cameron. May I suggest a new meme: "Blame the Bankers"? Hell, toss them to the bottom of the ocean along with the lawyers. (Then you can film The Abyss 2: The Dead Rejected, where the ocean hurls forth their carcasses back on land.)


Blogger Jeremy said...

Everybody reads too much into this stuff. Go enjoy the damn movie for what it is.

Anyway, I love Western imperial culture, bankers, and lawyers. Without all this we'd be shooting bows & arrows, chucking spears, and being pillaged and raped every other weekend.

God bless Pax Americana.

December 20, 2009 9:54 AM  
Blogger -ben said...

Well, reading into it is part of the process. The lead antagonist, Stephen Lang, probably did a lot of it pursuing his degree in English at Swarthmore College. It definitely helped when James Cameron directed him to act in an empty black room — only adding the computer generated characters and landscape later :-D

Everybody reads too much into this stuff. Go enjoy the damn movie for what it is.

You miss the point: among the multiple themes of the 2 hour 41 minute movie are anti-colonization, and anti-imperialism. To have champagne liberals profiting off such tripe is the height of hypocrisy. [Cue Al Gore.] To pretend otherwise would be to join the Sarah Palin's sister troupe of intellectual midgets.

December 23, 2009 9:05 AM  
Blogger -ben said...

Further reading

An excerpt from Brett Michael Dykes' "Does 'Avatar' Contain Hidden Messages?"

James Cameron himself hasn't been shy in publicly proclaiming the fact that he's an environmental activist who believes that humans and "industrial society" are "causing a global climate change" and "destroying species faster than we can classify them." In a recent interview with PBS' Tavis Smiley, Cameron admitted that he made "obvious" references in the film to Iraq, Vietnam and the American colonial period to emphasize the fact that humans have a "terrible history" of "entitlement" in which we "take what we need" from nature and indigenous peoples "and don't give back."

Further, one of the film's stars Stephen Lang told CNN that he is "not surprised at all" that some people have taken note of the film's political messages, mainly because the central theme of humans "destroying" a "pristine world" out of "blindness and greed" is so "overt."

Despite the obvious political undertones in "Avatar," at least one right-leaning critic doesn't think people who disagree with the film's ideology should totally dismiss it. In his review on the website Hot Air, Ed Morrissey writes, "Conservatives have more or less primed themselves to hate this film because of the presumed anti-war politics of the movie. It's there -- in fact, it's unmistakable -- but it's not as bad as one might presume." He goes on to note that "Avatar" is "entertaining" though "hardly a deep intellectual exercise."


Keyword: the prefix, "anti-"

December 24, 2009 3:44 PM  
Blogger -ben said...

More fun:

Another variant of the "noble savage" is the "magic negro."

Meanwhile, the Ogieks are still waiting for their George of the Jungle, Tarzan, Dr. Robert Campbell — or is it Dr. Paul Moreau?

But I guess the legion of goody-two-shoes are still too busy collectively whining for their COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference: Copenhhagen 2009 memorabilia and stockpiling their energy-efficient refrigerators with organic, sustainably farmed, fair trade soy milk for their morning triple decafe, non-processed brown sugar, no-dairy, CFC-free whipped cream, tall lattes with a touch (just a touch!) of hand-grated, organic, child-labor-free, handpicked, sundried, cotton bagged, biodiesel-vehicle-delivered, nutmeg.

Just a thought: perhaps the Ogieks could offer a free ethnic tie-dyed "Che" T-shirt to the first 10 activists who show up?

Heck, if Erik Cartman could get it on with Smurfette, rescue the Smurfs, and their Smurfberries without someone holding his hand, singing "Kumbaya" in a pow-wow around a tree, having universal healthcare, or quasi-legal assistance from ACORN, I don't see why anyone else can't.


January 04, 2010 6:38 PM  

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