When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like "Avatar"?

93 posts / 0 new
Last post
500_Apples
When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like "Avatar"?

When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like "Avatar"?

Annalee Newitz

http://io9.com/5422666/when-will-white-people-stop-making-movies-like-avatar?skyline=true&s=x

This is the best literary review of a science fiction movie I've ever read.

****************

****************

Quote:
Critics have called alien epic Avatar a version of Dances With Wolves because it's about a white guy going native and becoming a great leader. But Avatar is just the latest scifi rehash of an old white guilt fantasy. Spoilers...

Whether Avatar is racist is a matter for debate. Regardless of where you come down on that question, it's undeniable that the film - like alien apartheid flick District 9, released earlier this year - is emphatically a fantasy about race. Specifically, it's a fantasy about race told from the point of view of white people. Avatar and scifi films like it give us the opportunity to answer the question: What do white people fantasize about when they fantasize about racial identity?

Avatar imaginatively revisits the crime scene of white America's foundational act of genocide, in which entire native tribes and civilizations were wiped out by European immigrants to the American continent. In the film, a group of soldiers and scientists have set up shop on the verdant moon Pandora, whose landscapes look like a cross between Northern California's redwood cathedrals and Brazil's tropical rainforest. The moon's inhabitants, the Na'vi, are blue, catlike versions of native people: They wear feathers in their hair, worship nature gods, paint their faces for war, use bows and arrows, and live in tribes. Watching the movie, there is really no mistake that these are alien versions of stereotypical native peoples that we've seen in Hollywood movies for decades.

500_Apples

That said, while I have some race-based and scientific objections to the movie, overall James Cameron put his ass on the line to develop new technologies, tell a relatively original story in the era of reboots and sequels, and write a tale which deviates from the standard hollywood - bruckheimer cannonization of militarism. He deserves to be celebrated as a hero of culture and people should watch the movie.

It is, by the way, a fun movie, with some creativity particularly biologically, and for that alone it should be watched. It wasn't excellent, but it was good.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

The Unrepentant Marxist has some discussion of this as well, although he seems to demand less from films he reviews. There are other reviews there as well ... and some discussion on his blog. Fill your boots.

Le T Le T's picture

Quote:

That said, while I have some race-based and scientific objections to the movie, overall James Cameron put his ass on the line to develop new technologies, tell a relatively original story in the era of reboots and sequels, and write a tale which deviates from the standard hollywood - bruckheimer cannonization of militarism. He deserves to be celebrated as a hero of culture and people should watch the movie.

It is, by the way, a fun movie, with some creativity particularly biologically, and for that alone it should be watched. It wasn't excellent, but it was good.

 

This reminds me of a review that Now! Magazine did of The Jersey Boys. The review essentially said that the music was "so fun" that it made it easy for one (white, straight man) to look past blatent homophobia, sexism and racism throughout the play.

Another question could be "when will white people place as much importance on racist, colonialist, homophobic content as they do eye candy when reviewing films and other art?"

sandstone

anyone who pays attention to what hollywood generates, deserve what they get.. unfortunately hollywood is such a central part of much of western culture that one is constantly reminded of something some of us don't need any reminders on... consider supporting local culture in the form of small events put on by local groups etc, instead of ''chain'' type culture from hollywood....feeding off hollywood is like feeding off the walmarts of the world... one big box type nightmare coming to a theatre close to you...

CMOT Dibbler

Why did the main character need to be given a new body?  Can't someone be a quad and be a hero at the same time?

Le T Le T's picture

Quote:
Why did the main character need to be given a new body?  Can't someone be a quad and be a hero at the same time?

 

Great point. From the same webpage as the article in the opening post. An interesting article:

Quote:
Chances are, you've come across lots of SF stories where a disabled person regains the ability to walk in some fantastical way. Usually it's a guy, and his ability to stand up on his two legs is portrayed as a reclaiming of his virility and power.

CMOT Dibbler

Well, we do have gimpy heroes, unfortunatley the media portayals of both men are as one dimensional as Jake Sully.

Tommy_Paine

sandstone wrote:

anyone who pays attention to what hollywood generates, deserve what they get.. unfortunately hollywood is such a central part of much of western culture that one is constantly reminded of something some of us don't need any reminders on... consider supporting local culture in the form of small events put on by local groups etc, instead of ''chain'' type culture from hollywood....feeding off hollywood is like feeding off the walmarts of the world... one big box type nightmare coming to a theatre close to you...

 

I've gone that way with music, but I've yet to break my movie habit.  I find Cameron,  and particularly Costner message movies insultingly unsubtle.  

 

takeitslowly

Yes it is very obvious, but at the same time, the message is still pretty political, given the fact that its a mainstrema movie..its better than nothing..

 

of course this reminds me of the John Smith/Pocahontas, where a white man is here to save the day..and get with a native girl.

 

the main character is very hot though...i have to say.. hum and i enjoy it.

ceti ceti's picture

I commented on this at io9 and basically stated it is fairly obvious that Avatar follows some very common tropes in Hollywood depictions of colonial struggles. Add to this, Gandhi where white actors played a disproportionately large role, or Waltz with Bashir which is told through the eyes of Israeli soldiers as opposed to Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila, and many other examples. The expiation of guilt is a common theme, as is transgressing the boundary between oppressor and oppressed. Even the assumption of leadership is quite common. Just watch The Mission.

However, so have these hand-wringing commentaries about white guilt become fairly predictable. They come out after every film in this genre. Not to say they are unwarranted, but they have also become part of the dialectic of this type of filmmaking.

What I find uncharitable though is that these films are indeed difficult to get past Hollywood's ideological filters. Cameron's reputation guaranteed that he'd be able to work on this film for four years with wads of cash. Additionally, Cameron's use of new CGI tech allowed him to bypass the one big controlling factor in films of this magnitude and with this many battle scenes -- the fact that the US military is often involved one way or another and thus massages the message so to speak. In Avatar, the US Marines really do get their asses handed to them which would have been impossible if the Defense Department was consulted.

As for Cameron, Avatar marks a very interesting evolution. In fact, Avatar plays as the inverse of Aliens, as well as serves as his damning comment on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Western civilization as a whole. While the spoken references are fairly obvious there are also some no less unsubtle visual cues from Vietnam to Native American cultures. The female Na'vi even ululate when going into battle. Some other clues abound -- the Colonel mentions he is a veteran of campaigns in Venezuela and Nigeria, which points to continual 21st and 22nd century resource wars that eventually wreck the planet.

And it's true that Jake Sully represents and relates to the average boy gamer/grunt who the US Army today wants to enlist as their future soldiers. The technical wizardry of the film is for this demographic, but the storyline intends to lead them away from their technological terror to embracing an indigenous/treehugger perspective. Hokey and cliched as it might seem at first, I think Cameron's intention is to subvert this very militaristic segment of the population and invert they way they see their world. I think there is strong evidence for this intent other than serving as a lame explanation for why Avatar's plot is so contrived. Rather than catering to the more sophisticated crowd which could probably take offense as the unsubtle script, it is the former group that needs the most enlightening before they march off to another colonial war.

Fidel

It's more engrained in us all than perhaps we realize, this view that we alone are masters of the universe. Well, at least our banking and financier elite can think it. The Ptolemaic earth centric assumption was replaced by a Copernican sun-centric assumption, and that assumption was replaced before it ripened. How would a civilization thousands or even millions of years more technologically advanced than our own approach us? Would they wait for a more evolved version of us to arise before making contact?  Would they see us through James Cameron's(from Kapuskasing, ON) camera lens? Would they check us out first using von Neumann-ish probes? A monolith planted somewhere in our solar system? And, how would the most powerful countries on earth react to being probed or even contacted by a more advanced civilization? Would they consider weaponizing space?

500_Apples

Aside from being a left-wing fantasy on racism, it's also an environmental fantasy.

The biology/ecology on Pandora is much more interesting than that on Earth. The animals are more intelligent, and there really are communications with animals and with the dead, unlike on Earth where people imagine these things.

Later on in the big battle, when the Na'Vi want to protect their planet from the sky people, they get help from ... the animals. Sounds like a modern leftist fantasy of wildlife running over Exxon Mobile oil fields like it could if it were coordinated, or whales attacking submarines, etc.

Additionally, it's quite a message that the atmosphere there is toxic to humans. Humans are from the destroyed planet and cannot breathe the atmosphere there, of that pristine world. They have to stay within machines. Hint hint hint.

500_Apples

ceti wrote:

I commented on this at io9 and basically stated it is fairly obvious that Avatar follows some very common tropes in Hollywood depictions of colonial struggles. Add to this, Gandhi where white actors played a disproportionately large role, or Waltz with Bashir which is told through the eyes of Israeli soldiers as opposed to Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila, and many other examples. The expiation of guilt is a common theme, as is transgressing the boundary between oppressor and oppressed. Even the assumption of leadership is quite common. Just watch The Mission.

However, so have these hand-wringing commentaries about white guilt become fairly predictable. They come out after every film in this genre. Not to say they are unwarranted, but they have also become part of the dialectic of this type of filmmaking.

What I find uncharitable though is that these films are indeed difficult to get past Hollywood's ideological filters. Cameron's reputation guaranteed that he'd be able to work on this film for four years with wads of cash. Additionally, Cameron's use of new CGI tech allowed him to bypass the one big controlling factor in films of this magnitude and with this many battle scenes -- the fact that the US military is often involved one way or another and thus massages the message so to speak. In Avatar, the US Marines really do get their asses handed to them which would have been impossible if the Defense Department was consulted.

As for Cameron, Avatar marks a very interesting evolution. In fact, Avatar plays as the inverse of Aliens, as well as serves as his damning comment on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Western civilization as a whole. While the spoken references are fairly obvious there are also some no less unsubtle visual cues from Vietnam to Native American cultures. The female Na'vi even ululate when going into battle. Some other clues abound -- the Colonel mentions he is a veteran of campaigns in Venezuela and Nigeria, which points to continual 21st and 22nd century resource wars that eventually wreck the planet.

And it's true that Jake Sully represents and relates to the average boy gamer/grunt who the US Army today wants to enlist as their future soldiers. The technical wizardry of the film is for this demographic, but the storyline intends to lead them away from their technological terror to embracing an indigenous/treehugger perspective. Hokey and cliched as it might seem at first, I think Cameron's intention is to subvert this very militaristic segment of the population and invert they way they see their world. I think there is strong evidence for this intent other than serving as a lame explanation for why Avatar's plot is so contrived. Rather than catering to the more sophisticated crowd which could probably take offense as the unsubtle script, it is the former group that needs the most enlightening before they march off to another colonial war.

Wow - Excellent post !

G. Muffin

How am I supposed to know what colour I am?  The terms are so loosey goosey, I could be any number of colours.  Just call me Rainbow.

500_Apples

Le T wrote:

Quote:

That said, while I have some race-based and scientific objections to the movie, overall James Cameron put his ass on the line to develop new technologies, tell a relatively original story in the era of reboots and sequels, and write a tale which deviates from the standard hollywood - bruckheimer cannonization of militarism. He deserves to be celebrated as a hero of culture and people should watch the movie.

It is, by the way, a fun movie, with some creativity particularly biologically, and for that alone it should be watched. It wasn't excellent, but it was good.

 

This reminds me of a review that Now! Magazine did of The Jersey Boys. The review essentially said that the music was "so fun" that it made it easy for one (white, straight man) to look past blatent homophobia, sexism and racism throughout the play.

Another question could be "when will white people place as much importance on racist, colonialist, homophobic content as they do eye candy when reviewing films and other art?"

The fact it's fun is merely one of a few reasons I gave for seeing the movie.

I don't think the politics are perfect, however I think they're petty good and above the norm. Most people are not as informed as you are, and a movie targeted towards your type would just fall on deaf ears and be regarded as crackpottery. I don't mean to offend, but you, in terms of what you know, are not normal. There is a value in reaching out to the norm even if it means leaving some stuff out.

A lot of people are sdaying Avatar contributes nothing that Dances With Wolves didn't, and are calling it Dancing with Smurfs. At a bare minimum, it is being watched by a far greater number of people.

I don't think there was any homophobia in Avatar. As far as the viewer is concerned only two of the characters had any sexuality, so that's hardly heternormative. If we saw lots of people shacking up and none were gay, *that* would be heteronormative.

Le T wrote:
Great point. From the same webpage as the article in the opening post. An interesting article:

Quote:
Chances are, you've come across lots of SF stories where a disabled person regains the ability to walk in some fantastical way. Usually it's a guy, and his ability to stand up on his two legs is portrayed as a reclaiming of his virility and power.

I don't see what's wrong about acknowledging that our society isn't structured in a manner that helps handicapped people. Missing 2 legs would be a huge pain, and yeah of course he's excited at being able to run.

Speaking from personal experience, I've been losing weight recently and I love that I can now run faster and longer. I don't see how that makes me a horible person.

G. Muffin

500_Apples wrote:
I don't see how that makes me a horible person.

Person? No.  Speller?  Um.

Merry Christmas 500A!!!

500_Apples

One last thing for now,

Apparently Cameron now wants to make sequels

http://io9.com/5431490/what-comes-after-avatar-more-avatar

I wonder what the plot is going to be?

Avatar ends with the Na'Vi and human sympathizers chasing the corporation off Pandora following a military victory. No doubt in reality humans would come back and do a bombing run, from orbit where they can't be attacked.

I think a good idea for a sequel would be to go back to Pandora, but 100 years or 200 years in the future, to see the prolonged sociological ramifications.

G. Muffin

This is why I don't own a TV.  I just can't watch all the crap that's been produced.  It's hard enough for me just sweeping the Internet. 

Polunatic2

SEMI-SPOILER ALERT - I saw Avatar (3D) and concur with Ceti's analysis and some of the other comments.

The visual effects, particularly in 3D (imax was sold out) take you to places you actually believe you could be.  Shades of Jurassic Park at times. Star Trek at others. At heart, Avatar is a love story. Like Titanic, the lovebirds cross gargantuan chasms of class, now species, to fulfill their mutual destinies. The theme song was Celinish. 

I thought that the way in which Cameron explored the natural relationships between living things on Pandora was quite original, fascinating and plausible. These relationships were essential to the final battle and outcome. 

Politically, the film is expressly and unequivocally anti-imperialist. There's no couching the ideology, language and tactics of colonial theft, brutality and genocide. The protagonists could be any people or culture who were living close to the land in sustainable ways who were invaded and resisted. The antagonist is "the company". It's a good message for people to hear.  

Having said that, Avatar is very formulaic at times. Like almost every action film, it came down to a fist fight at the end between good and evil. The love story. The white, male American hero. I agree with the review's analysis

Quote:
This is the essence of the white guilt fantasy, laid bare. It's not just a wish to be absolved of the crimes whites have committed against people of color; it's not just a wish to join the side of moral justice in battle. It's a wish to lead people of color from the inside rather than from the (oppressive, white) outside.
Sad, but I don't really expect more from Cameron or from Hollywood. I imagine that Cameron's going with "what works", what will have the broadest appeal in order to make as much money as possible. 

N.R.KISSED

"The biology/ecology on Pandora is much more interesting than that on Earth. The animals are more intelligent, and there really are communications with animals and with the dead, unlike on Earth where people imagine these things."

 

Funny there are some cultures on this planet that belief they can communicate with the spirits of animals and the dead but of course they are quite cleary primitive and backwards. Just as well we are doing are best to get rid of them and make use of their land in more rational and responsible ways.

N.R.KISSED

I also can't help wondering what the carbon footprint for the production of this movie must have been.

 

It is also interesting to see the anti-corporate anti-imperialist Cameron and the Mcdonald's tie-in

 

http://promomagazine.com/contests/news/mcdonalds-avatar-campaign-1215/

 

"Director Cameron agreed that the tech-heavy nature of the McDonald's "Avatar" campaign was suited to the movie's rich computer-generated look, years in development.

"When I set out to write this movie [in 2005], I knew that the [computer generated imagery] was about to create a situation where we could do anything that we could imagine," he said. "McDonald's has stepped up and met that same level. I don't think anyone has seen anything like what they're doing with these tie-ins, the McD vision augmented reality in particular."

and let's not forget that profits from this film will be going to that other renowned anti-imperialist Rupert Murdoch.

If Cameron really gave a shit maybe he might have tried to raise a fraction of the production cost to actually help campaigns to assist indigenous people from being disenfranchised from their land.

Fidel

[url=http://www.nowpublic.com/culture/hidden-message-avatar-protect-indigenou... Hidden Message in Avatar: Protect Indigenous Cultures[/url]

 

Quote:
...There is nothing hidden in the brutal treatment of the Na'vi, the indigenous peoples at the center of the film, at the hands of a corporate backed paramilitary brigade hell bent on drastic "eradication efforts" to make a profit. The beauty of the planet, Pandora, and the connection that the Na'vi have with it as their home are also not at all hidden.

 

Indigenous peoples around the planet continue to be threatened and harassed by giant multi-national corporations, many of which are US backed, who use the very same tactics portrayed in Avatar to make money and please their Boards. The (not-so) hidden message in Avatar is simple: It has to stop...

 

N.R.KISSED

"Indigenous peoples around the planet continue to be threatened and harrassed by giant multinational corporations" that will likely profit from the making of this film.

Fidel

N.R.KISSED wrote:

"Indigenous peoples around the planet continue to be threatened and harrassed by giant multinational corporations" that will likely profit from the making of this film.

My neighbor, for example, is an idiot when it comes to knowing anything outside his inner circle of control, or about a six foot radius around him at any given time of the day. Good guy in most every aspect of his life. But if you asked him what he knew of the US-sponsored holocaust of indigenous people in Central and South America just since Monroe Doctrine, he would not have a clue. And I think there are very many people around the world who have nil next to no real idea of the genocides perpetrated against induigenous peoples in this same hemisphere, or that it is ongoing. And the genocides have taken many forms, from expropriation of indigenous lands by US-backed militaries and paramilitaries to actual physical elimination. I think attention does need focussing on the plight of indigenous people all over this hemisphere and around the world. Any attention is good. People need to know more and to raise hell about it. And I think that if Hollywood can introduce people around the world to the issue, then it might be a good thing.

500_Apples

N.R. Kissed,

You're upset this movie is profitable?

That's what happens when people want to see a movie. BTW Blackwater doesn't have a filmmaking division.

You completely miss the point. It's not the act of work that's evil, it's the act of exploitation and pillage that's evil. One thing implied in the film is that there's a ton they could be doing on that planet without destroying everything.

LoL @ the ecological footprint. You're actually incorrect anyhow. They pioneered technological strategies to make this film, which will be used in future films. They genereated the forests via CGI rather than razing some rainforests for filming like other movies have done. That will now be possible for other movies to do as well.

N.R.KISSED

The intent of the film is not to mobilize action through recognition of white people complicity with the ongoing history of colonial exploitation but an attempt to process the guilt via a  symbolic working through. This is not acknowledgement but avoidance and denial.  

White audiences(like the hero) are able to project their sympathies onto exploited people while there bodies remain comfortably immersed, fetus like in the amniotic fluid of cultural supremacy and privilege.Naturally audiences are expected to identify with the hero of the story who has sympathy with the aliens rather than identifying in any way with the aggressors and oppressors. No expectation that we support our troops here. In no way are white people led to connect their experiences with those who are committing the atrocities. This just sets up the predictable good white person/bad white person dichotomy in which white people dissociate from all the horrors committed by our culture and maintain an identity of a kind compassionate people. This leaves privilege unchallenged and intact, while claiming that their hearts go out to the exploited. The idea that the white hero will join the exploited and rescue them is something that is played out constantly amongst liberal anti-racists, never acknowledging that such rescuing is a continuation of oppression. It is not surprising that such a story would be written by a Canadian since Canada has always portrayed itself as the global good guy in contrast to the U.S. despite continuously profiting from American colonial actions.

Through watching such a film audience can experience a cathartic cleansing of any association with the ongoing genocidal acts of our culture towards others and the planets. Surely we are on the side of the angels or at least the avatars. No concrete action or change is required. Predictably the culture history of the other is appropriated once more in the service of the psychological needs of the oppressor.

 

N.R.KISSED

"You're upset this movie is profitable?"

No I am pointing out that those whose activities are built upon the ongoing exploitation of indigenous peoples and the destruction of the planet are profiting. I didn't spend a great deal of time to find out McDonald's and Rupert Murdoch are major beneficeries. I'm sure the landless peasants movements in Latin america aren't getting a cut.

N.R.KISSED

Fidel wrote:

N.R.KISSED wrote:

"Indigenous peoples around the planet continue to be threatened and harrassed by giant multinational corporations" that will likely profit from the making of this film.

My neighbor, for example, is an idiot when it comes to knowing anything outside his inner circle of control, or about a six foot radius around him at any given time of the day. Good guy in most every aspect of his life. But if you asked him what he knew of the US-sponsored holocaust of indigenous people in Central and South America just since Monroe Doctrine, he would not have a clue. And I think there are very many people around the world who have nil next to no real idea of the genocides perpetrated against induigenous peoples in this same hemisphere, or that it is ongoing. And the genocides have taken many forms, from expropriation of indigenous lands by US-backed militaries and paramilitaries to actual physical elimination. I think attention does need focussing on the plight of indigenous people all over this hemisphere and around the world. Any attention is good. People need to know more and to raise hell about it. And I think that if Hollywood can introduce people around the world to the issue, then it might be a good thing.

If he's that dumb Fidel I'm not sure a watching a film about big blue aliens is going to do a great deal to inform him.

Fidel

N.R.KISSED wrote:
If he's that dumb Fidel I'm not sure a watching a film about big blue aliens is going to do a great deal to inform him.

You sound cynical of our bullshit democracy in North America and its surrounding colonial outposts. I can't say as I blame you.

[url=[/url] ">http://www.soaw.org][IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v697/rabblera...

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

:)

N.R.KISSED

"LoL @ the ecological footprint. You're actually incorrect anyhow. They pioneered technological strategies to make this film, which will be used in future films. They genereated the forests via CGI rather than razing some rainforests for filming like other movies have done. That will now be possible for other movies to do as well."

I'm not sure what I'm incorrect about I merely asked a question about the ecological impact of a producing a blockbuster film with a budget of 300 million. I'm sure that cost went to more than just powering a couple of Macs and powering the computer nerds on Nachos and Redbull. Naturally the production is only the beginning followed by distribuiton and millions of North Americans driving to surburban Multi-plexes. Not to mention all the offshoots including Mcdonald corporate tie-ins, video games, action figures etc.

Here is James Cameron's deep philosophical musings on the subject

“I see it as a broader metaphor, not so intensely politicised as some would make it, but rather that’s how we treat the natural world as well,” the Canadian-born filmmaker said.

“There’s a sense of entitlement — ‘We’re here, we’re big, we’ve got the guns, we’ve got the technology, we’ve got the brains, we therefore are entitled to every damn thing on this planet’,” he said.

“That’s not how it works and we’re going to find out the hard way if we don’t wise up and start seeking a life that’s in balance with the natural cycles of life on earth.”

I'm not sure who is meant by "we" but producing block buster films of dubious artistic or social value certainly have a greater impact on the environment than me taking a little too long in the shower. I'm glad that  a multi-millionaire deeply immersed in corporate culture sees fit to lecture me about entitlement and my impact on the planet. Maybe he was using the Royal "we" since he is king of the world.

ceti ceti's picture

N.R. Kissed, you are not just being cynical, but aggressively anti this film. Have you seen it?

So you think Cameron is lecturing you personally? Wow, you have a thin skin.

I feel that this is the world we live in, these are the things people go to watch, not just in North America, but all over the world. There are different ways to express ideas. Cameron is certainly not the worst (and indeed, his documentary work is interesting), and Hollywood is not completely evil, unless you believe in completely unplugging from movie viewing of any kind (for which you will have few takers, even amongst the most holier-than-thou activists). Hypocrisy is everywhere, but some hypocrisies (like that of the current resident of the White House) are far more lethal.

It's easy to be damning, and indeed there are more interesting and far less expensive films with important social commentary out there. But you know what? This is the biggest Hollywood film ever made that does not even flinch from expressing a strong pro-ecological, pro-indigenous, and anti-colonial message. Despite some possibly offensive and cliched plot elements, it got through the studio system with this message intact.  I for one am interested in whether it will make an impact.

SparkyOne

Avatar racist? YES! My neice who I seen it with called the blue aliens monkeys. She's white. This movie taught her to view any race other than white to be monkeys or animals. I'm sure it had nothng to do with them having a tail and jumping through the trees either.

ceti wrote:

But you know what? This is the biggest Hollywood film ever made that does not even flinch from expressing a strong pro-ecological, pro-indigenous, and anti-colonial message. Despite some possibly offensive and cliched plot elements, it got through the studio system with this message intact.  I for one am interested in whether it will make an impact.

That's what I felt too. It was a great movie.  Then again so was the new startrek but that didn't stop people from complaining and finding a million faults with it.

Why couldn't the white guy in wheelchair be a hero and kick alien ass from his wheelchair?

Why did he have to be a soldier? Heros can be scientists too. Most of the soldiers were white too.  Truth is most of them should be black and hispanic because that's where the US likes to recruit it's soldiers.

PETA should get involved too.  Looks like lots of animals were hurt in the filming of this movie!  Alien or otherwise.

Wait what am I saying?  I liked this movie, my neice liked the movie. She wanted to go to the Biodome in Monteral after seeing it. The real tragedy is that 2 tickets cost me $19 and a popcorn and drink and bag of M&Ms cost be about $15.

 

Doug

N.R.KISSED wrote:

I also can't help wondering what the carbon footprint for the production of this movie must have been.

 

Probably less than that of movies that involve a lot of location filming, helicopters and such. Depends mostly on how their electricity was generated, I suppose.

500_Apples

N.R.KISSED wrote:
I'm not sure what I'm incorrect about I merely asked a question about the ecological impact of a producing a blockbuster film with a budget of 300 million. I'm sure that cost went to more than just powering a couple of Macs and powering the computer nerds on Nachos and Redbull. Naturally the production is only the beginning followed by distribuiton and millions of North Americans driving to surburban Multi-plexes. Not to mention all the offshoots including Mcdonald corporate tie-ins, video games, action figures etc.

I get it - you're unhappy with the film because of the ecological impact of people driving to multiplexes.

Certainly nobody drove to watch inconvenient truth or fahrenheit 9/11.

You're of course focused on legitimate criticism rather than whining for the sake of whining.

And btw the cost of CGI is largely equipment and labour. They also had to pay the salary of the actors, some big names like Sigourney Weaver. Maybe you can look up if she drives an SUV, and then you can blame James Cameron for her carbon footprint as he helped launch her career.

Fidel

So it's not about brutal colonialism perpetrated on indigenous people around the world, and mainly by the imperialist USA and helper nations over the last 100 years or so. Apparently some of us are off of this cinematic theme altogether.

It's about Canadian film directors in Hollywood destroying the environment!!

N.R.KISSED

ceti wrote:

N.R. Kissed, you are not just being cynical, but aggressively anti this film. Have you seen it?

So you think Cameron is lecturing you personally? Wow, you have a thin skin.

I feel that this is the world we live in, these are the things people go to watch, not just in North America, but all over the world. There are different ways to express ideas. Cameron is certainly not the worst (and indeed, his documentary work is interesting), and Hollywood is not completely evil, unless you believe in completely unplugging from movie viewing of any kind (for which you will have few takers, even amongst the most holier-than-thou activists). Hypocrisy is everywhere, but some hypocrisies (like that of the current resident of the White House) are far more lethal.

It's easy to be damning, and indeed there are more interesting and far less expensive films with important social commentary out there. But you know what? This is the biggest Hollywood film ever made that does not even flinch from expressing a strong pro-ecological, pro-indigenous, and anti-colonial message. Despite some possibly offensive and cliched plot elements, it got through the studio system with this message intact.  I for one am interested in whether it will make an impact.

Yes I am anti this film because I am anti-Rupert Murdoch, Hollywood block busters, anti believing visual effects are an effective replacement for engaging narrative and dialogue. Perhaps in your eyes this makes me holier than though due to the fact that mass corporate media constructions happen to make me sick to the soul and worthy of avoidance for that reason. I also don't look to hollywood to enlighten the masses or get excited if a hollywood film somehow validates what I already know about colonial atrocities. I don't really need help from Cameron here than I need Al gore to tell me that human activity is destroying the planet.

It also seems apparent at least from the quote I posted above that Cameron is discouraging any deeper political meaning to his little take. Perhaps I am wrong and he is really being subversive and believes that if he ascribes any political meaning to it than the public will not watch it and therefore destroy his over arching radical plan to transform passive consumers into eco-warriors.

I did not take the quote by Cameron personally but was using myself in a general sense of question why we should take lessons on ecological responsibility for someone so deeply embedded and rewarded by corporate culture. I question the general use of "we" if he means north americans or western culture than why not saying if rather than generalizing it to all of humanity.

I really doubt this film will have any greater impact than making Rupert Murdoch and Mcdonald's and various structures of corporate culture richer and more powerful. Apparently questioning the ecological impact of a mass consumer product is problematic to some.

Mostly what made me respond to this thread was the rather ridiculous statement that James Cameron be hailed as a cultural hero.But 500apple utilizes the rightwing tactic of claiming any critique of dominant culture constitutes "whining"

but hell maybe I'm wrong perhaps when Global Capitalism is brought to it's knees Jamer Cameron will be cited as the ultimate inspiration.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

I'm going to play the diplomat and agree with everyone.

Ya it's nice the mainstream movies are doing things they never did before. I was happy too to see that robot cartoon about how people are lazy and plants are cool.

But does it actually contribute to social change and any meaningful way?

I'm still somewhat of the medium is message camp.  It might be the reality that hollywood is able to communicate to more people than a nature walk through your own community would be able to reach, many of the people who go see the movie may very well have good hearts and be sympathetic towards ecological concepts but when the next weekend roles around and these sympathetic and kind people are bored and wondering what to do with themselves will they be any more prepared to deal with their own reality or will they give into tempation and the simplicity of social entertainment norms and just head out to see the next movie of the week? 

"The biology/ecology on Pandora is much more interesting than that on Earth."

I find this comment particulary disturbing.  After 30 years of exposure to media I have yet to see anything that even begins to capture how interesting even something as common as say a goldenrod plant is to experience first-hand.

Fidel

ebodyknows wrote:
I find this comment particulary disturbing.  After 30 years of exposure to media I have yet to see anything that even begins to capture how interesting even something as common as say a goldenrod plant is to experience first-hand.

Cry Freedom starring Denzel Washington as Dr Steven Biko wasn't viewed in South Africa until 1991. No ban on the film in S. Afreeka, but there were bomb threats made against cinemas.

Steinbeck was listed as one of the most often banned authors in the US. The Soviets liked to show the film version of Grapes of Wrath to citizens in those countries during the cold war era. Of Mice and Men was another one.

I think that the US Military has learned since the VietNam war to disallow news journalists from the US and its partner countries to go into these countries they target for warfiteering or colonialism in general. Panama and Grenada were good examples. One US news journalist said they newsies for any major US newspaper were in greatest danger of all international newspaper reps in Chile during the years of US-backed fascism in that country, from 1973 to 1989. Pinochet's killers knew that people are more likely to read the NY Times and Chicago Tribune than the Montreal Gazette as an example. While preferred journalists like Conrad Black were given privileges of reporting from the frontlines in Vietnam, independent news reporters like John Pilger were also there and reporting on the carnage and human interest stories that differed greatly from the US military propaganda reported on by the likes of Black.

I think that in dangerous times, artists have often dared to go against predominant political winds with painting the truth about local life into their productions. I think this film will not win James Cameron new friends or influence enemies in powerful political circles.

I'm not exactly sure why Last Tango in Paris was banned, but I think if movies like Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket were produced when the VietNam war was on, then it probably would have been. The Killing Fields was another movie that was produced and released almost too late to have been controversial in the US to an extent that it might have mattered politically.

I think it's possible Cameron is appealing to a younger generation with this colourful film. Young people like movies and especially fantasy based movies. Perhaps Cameron is planting the seeds of hope for younger generations who will have an opportunity to perhaps change the world in their life times.

 

DaveW

speaking of District 9, was there ever a thread on that ?

far more transparent a blurring of history/politics and science fiction than this, I would think

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

Fidel wrote:

I think it's possible Cameron is appealing to a younger generation with this colourful film. Young people like movies and especially fantasy based movies. Perhaps Cameron is planting the seeds of hope for younger generations who will have an opportunity to perhaps change the world in their life times.

 

That's all well and good to plant hope, it might even germinate in a dark cinema, but to grow, thrive and live these kids are going to need some exposure to real sun light at some point.  My fear with giving too much praise to media(even when it's super progressive and deserving of it) stems from my feeling that too much of my own generation live there lives through media. There comes a point where it doesn't matter if you have many good ideas, if too much of your lifes experience has to do with passively consuming media how are you going to obtain the skills and the love to put your good ideas in motion? 

"I think that in dangerous times, artists have often dared to go against predominant political winds with painting the truth about local life into their productions." 

In my opinion watching movies is more effective at developing affection for the experience of going to the movies and for actors/actresses (regardless of the content) than it is in inspiring people to care for the people and places around them.  It might not be the case if you only watched a couple movies a year and had time to digest the ideas, think about how they apply to your own life and consider how you might change your behaviour accordingly.  My  belief is the people we are hoping might be changed by watching this movie will at best be changed on a level that is far too absract for it to be useful, a great deal of personal initiative and cooperation is still going to be required for these changed people to move away from the consumption and commodities culture that has resulted in the 'dangers' being discussed in this film.

As important as 'truth' and radical politics in art can be, one must also recognize the potential for this kind intention in art to be counter-productive if it is only to be commodified and injested like any other piece of hollywood candy.

I honestly beliece it is more progressive in 2009 in canada to get a group of people together in a non-commercial space engaging each other with non-political entertainment than it is to go see political entertainment in a commercial space.

500_Apples

N.R.KISSED wrote:

but hell maybe I'm wrong perhaps when Global Capitalism is brought to it's knees Jamer Cameron will be cited as the ultimate inspiration.

OK - Avatar on its own won`t end all the world`s problems. Ergo, the movie sucks.

You need to learn the difference between criticism and whining. It`s much deeper than a left/right thing like you made it out to be.

500_Apples

ebodyknows wrote:
"The biology/ecology on Pandora is much more interesting than that on Earth."

I find this comment particulary disturbing. 

¨

You should watch the movie.

Basically, they had more evolved communication skills, by merging tails and that sort of thing. Very neat.

Magog45 Magog45's picture

Damn, powerful societies have always exploited weaker societies, just look at the migrations that took place in Europe after the iceage and up to and including the Norman conquest of Britain. The natives of North America may have been the last major group to have been displaced by immigration, it in no way makes them any different than those displaced before them. None of it is right its just the way mankind has expanded and when we venture into space the same will happem or it may happen to us. What Avatar was, was only the first battle, the weaker society either adapts and assimilates or disappears, but most of all it was only a movie.

Polunatic2

Quote:
 consider supporting local culture in the form of small events put on by local groups etc, instead of ''chain'' type culture from hollywood....
It's not an either/or. (Unintended?) repercussions of this approach would mean the end of film-making although stage theatre and local musicians would undoubtedly benefit. 

clandestiny

Magog45 wrote:

Damn, powerful societies have always exploited weaker societies, just look at the migrations that took place in Europe after the iceage and up to and including the Norman conquest of Britain. The natives of North America may have been the last major group to have been displaced by immigration, it in no way makes them any different than those displaced before them. None of it is right its just the way mankind has expanded and when we venture into space the same will happem or it may happen to us. What Avatar was, was only the first battle, the weaker society either adapts and assimilates or disappears, but most of all it was only a movie.

Then Christ died in vain, you're saying? The christian message, insofar as it applies to humanity, has always been debated, but NO ONE can deny the fact religion was used to foist the fraud that european (white) imperalism was, and is, and will always be. If brute force is the only measure of success, then screw that- bring on the apocalypse! Cheer for manmade global warming/climate change. Let's hurry and get this over with. Flatlines forever.

Is it possible that Jesus was who he said? And that controlling the brute instinct was not only rewarding but necessary to the survival of whales, elephants, gorrillas kittens sharks etc, not to mention the neat people of the jungle, besides the conqueror species? When europeans visited the Americas, they took over fully developed lands, with few mysteries since hundred generations of 1st nations had been there already- but was it shame that made necessary the big lie that the land was empty (for a people w/out land) that we're taught about today? The more one knows about history, even common history such as WW2, the more it's obvious that it was WE who were unknowingly often the bad guys all the time (geebush's grannydad preskot supposedly brought $50 million(?) to hitler in late 20's, which saved the german fascists from extinction; the reactionaries also secretly  funded mussilini and Chaing KaiChek in China etc.) In other words, the 'history' we're spoon fed is a fukking lie. For example, it was the allies, not the USSR, who made Germany partitioned in 1945! (Stalin was betrayed by the west powers by the deceit, and also felt threatened by the unnecessary nuking of Japanese cities, so he tried to keep Red Army up close to western armies, so the west couldn't use nukes, which explains the 'Cold War'. How many people even know this?) Yet the USSR was blamed for foisting an 'iron curtain' across europe - the same USSR that lost 25 million people and was reparated only $20 billion though it lost $128 billion for a war it barely survived? And even guys like I who read lots of history HAD NO IDEA about this until recently! Yet we celebrate the fall of the berlin wall! Shame on us

Fidel

That's a good idea, too. Jaime Cameron tends to want to do it the Hollywood way though. It's his way. And besides, non-commercial story teller gatherings tend not to produce the same opportunities for commercial [url=http://www.shopzilla.com/avatar-toys/search]marketing extravaganzas[/url] What kid who sees the movie can do without a Na'vi Leonopteryx collectible figure, or the Appa plush toy for just $99.95? Will this stuff teach kids to collect monuments to plastic widget capitalism?

 

Or will the movie figurines, and anti-corporate message associated with the storyline, be etched in their minds for the rest of their lives? Is it ideology wrapped in an enigma and fed to those who represent the future of the world? Only time will tell.

ceti ceti's picture

A very interesting article about the role of the scientists in Avatar, and real life anthropologists working for the US military: http://counterpunch.org/price12232009.html

It's true perhaps that a lot of us would be better off doing something more productive than sitting three hours in a cinema (as well as endlessly surfing the internet), or God forbid, buying Avatar action figures. However, I see Avatar in the same vein as The Mission or Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind (down to the bioluminescent wildlife), two very beautiful films with powerful themes. And indeed, Avatar is weaker than the two in terms of plot and dialogue, but is outstanding visually and its blunt allusions of contemporary political themes are quite refreshing. 

Check this short documentary out: http://www.survivalinternational.org/films/mine

Interestingly, the same thing happens again at the end, where jarring pop music is laid over the interview subjects. Ugh.

 

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

I recorded The Bicycle Thief last night. It's an Italian neo-realist film that will never be out of date. On Friday I will be watching Lonely Are The Brave. This latter film examines the individual versus society from a left wing view. Both of these films are hopelessly technologically backwards in comparison to the film being discussed in this thread.However, feeding my desire to be entertained is not the only factor for me in choosing a film to watch. Have a good one.

SparkyOne

I watched about 18 minutes of District 9 before getting a headache and turning it off. Horrible filiming.

Pages

Topic locked