Avatar’s a film, not a call to take up arms
With nothing coming out of Copenhagen to rile the world’s anti-green conservatives, they’re aiming their Hummers at Avatar, James Cameron’s decade-later follow-up to Titanic.
For his right-of-centre critics, Cameron is a new Michael Moore; a manifestation elitist Hollywood whose 3D spectacular is filling kids’ minds with terrible ideas like greed is bad and green is good.
Miranda Devine wrote a few days ago in The Sydney Morning Herald that Avatar is infused with “Cameron’s sanctimonious hippie sensibility.” That’s right, the bloke who made Terminator and T2 – movies in which explosions and a Republican Governor save the day – is a hippie. It’s not hard to see why Devine et. al. are going after Cameron.
It’s January, blogs need to be posted, column inches need to be filled and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is a bitch of a name to spell. Worse still, Avatar was the holiday film of choice for Socialist In Chief Barack Obama and his family.
Devine writes: “The snarling vipers of left-wing Hollywood have been let off the leash in a way previously unmatched in a high-priced blockbuster.”
Sigh. Honestly guys, pour yourself a whisky, open the latest Matthew Reilly and relax. Avatar is, as Nile Gardiner wrote in the UK Telegraph, “cynical and deeply unpatriotic propaganda.” But… who cares?
Filmmakers have a right to preach whatever they want; we have a right not to listen. Didn’t we go through all this with those tree-hugging penguins in Happy Feet?
Directors aren’t page one journalists and viewers have ample time to choose between Avatar and something more neutral in those half-hour ticket lines at the local Event cinema complex.
I won’t deny Cameron wields a a heavy, expensive, ideological hammer, as Devine calls it, in Avatar. It’s Pocahontas – the Disney version – in space.
American boy (Sam Worthington) comes to help colonise-slash-destroy new land (the planet Pandora) and eliminate the natives (the giant blue Na’vi). Then, like John Smith before him, he hooks up with the chief’s daughter (Neytiri, played by Zoe Saldana using motion capture technology) and switches teams.
There’s even a magic tree; though, unlike in Pocahontas, this one doesn’t sing.
Avatar’s American marines are cartoonishly cruel, the savages are beyond noble and the GI Joe villain says things like “shock and awe”, “fight terror with terror”, yadda yadda yadda.
There’s not a lot of grey in the black and white of Cameron’s vision. It’s the kind of clear divide between good and evil a former President often referred to. And yes, the US does cop a hiding – the soundbyte-spitting bad guy is about as American as apple pie covered in pepperjack cheese, dipped in syrup and served with slaw.
Then again, the villain in Cameron’s last film was an iceberg. Does this mean he’s against the ETS?
One could take issue with several of Devine’s claims about the film. That it celebrates the murder of US troops at a time when the US is at war – Avatar’s troops are private contractors. Plus, the hero is a marine; a US marine.
That there is “blissful irony” in Cameron using expensive technology to make an anti-technology point – the movie isn’t so much anti-technology as against the misuse of it. The most advanced science in Avatar, after all, is the avatar program itself, and it is used to understand the Na’vi.
The greater irony might be that a film with an anti-capitalist message is about to make US$1 billion in less than three weeks.
But Avatar’s critics are essentially right. Cameron has madeover the “bitch” extraterristial of his early film, Aliens, and birthed an outer space race straight from the hearts and minds of leftist hippies everywhere.
As a (skim) latte-sipping leftie and current resident of New York, a place that makes Sodom and Gomorrah look like Amish villages, I’m delighted with the result.
And so should you be, whether you vote Liberal or Labor.
As even its critics attest, Avatar is a great entertainment. If there’s an ideological undertone – or overtone – so what? Just slap on your 3D glasses, sit back and… disagree.
In her article, Devine is thankful for more “human-affirming” movies, citing Juno and Knocked Up as examples. Leftist critics have cried foul at both of those, reading into them a strong anti-abortion message. It’s been argued that the one says it’s better for pregnant teens to keep their babies while the other says career women should not abort theirs.
I don’t disagree with those sentiments, but I am pro choice. I didn’t feel the need to decry the hissing pythons of the right once the credits had rolled on either of those films.
I also tune in weekly to watch 24’s Jack Bauer save the world from extremists one mode of torture at a time.
Hollywood’s entertainments are driven by ideologies right and left – okay, mostly left – that we mightn’t like. Pointing them out is merely acknowledging the obvious. Avatar’s a big expensive ad for the green lobby. Okay, then what?
Does that discredit the entertainment?
Do we really need to waste any more time writing about it? Or for that matter, responding to those who do.
In my defence, they started it.
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@Kittu64 That's true. Pretty sure I referred to "high salaried" women.
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