Avatar: James Cameron Apologizes
Robleh Wais 3/19/10
I went to see Avatar not because I was interested in the story itself, but I had never seen a 3-D film, and since the media hype was touting it as being such a wonderful display of technical elegance in 2010, I felt I had to experience 3-D. This 3-D thing is not so great to me. I was not as impressed as I should have been. Of course the close-up shots do give a viewer a sense of depth perception, but that very sensation fades when panoramic scenes are displayed. I didn't think that tacking on $3.00 to the ticket price was worth it. Besides, I had a problem buying the 3-D effect whenever I scratched my eyebrow or had to clear something from my eye. You do have a minimal impression of looking through a window at the actors in real dimensional space, but not much better than the stereoscopic projection from the 19th century. That's how it appeared to me. However, this review not to deride 3-D special effects. What makes this a film one I can't recommend is the story itself.
James Cameron uses this film to put forth his take on European world domination or to be more specific, the near genocidal ravage of native peoples in America. The resemblance to native peoples on the American continent is unmistakable, in the animated characters. He mimics everything from the chants and war cries, to facial structure and hair texture of Native Americans. He does this quite intentionally. He wants the audience to be reminded of American Indians (I know this term is incorrect, but it's well-known and used by native peoples themselves). So, here's the plan in short. Cameron couldn't make a film indicting European invaders to the lands of Earthly peoples and seeking to exploit them for their resources--oh no!I mean what Hollywood producer or multinational firm would finance such a project? In fact, even a Japanese film making company like Sony wouldn't support that, they make money from the American movie viewers too. Besides their people did a some invading native people's lands too, so their hands aren't clean. No topic too socio-political they'd say. So, Jimmy baby comes up with the idea of depicting the same pillage, ravage and destruction story that happened in the making of the American nation, but cleverly puts it in on another PLANET!With blue-skinned natives not brown ones! And and, get this, there will be a happy ending where the conquered peoples take their revenge and the invading peoples go back to their world.What is it that we Americans say: Gimme a break. Who would buy that load of --excuse me. We all know what really happened to the Indians in this hemisphere and still is going on in places like Brazil and Columbia. They were ravaged, pillaged, near exterminated and in the end completely conquered. So, that happy ending finale was purely to satisfy his producers, I imagine.
It was clear from the opening sequences of Avatar, that Cameron had an agenda to follow and a moralistic message to deliver through it. I was just amused and a little amazed it was so ostentatious. What he wants to say through the blockbuster action and veiled love story of this film is the following:
See what we power-craving, depraved, murderous white people did to an innocent, nature-loving brown people on this our dear Earth?Aren't we some heartless, cruel, psychotic bastards? Let's hang our collective heads in shame for our worldwide crime against our human siblings.
Being a proud man of color (I think that's current phrase for anybody not of European stock), you'd think I could actually get a charge out of this kind of bleeding heart apologist stuff. Well, I don't! It sickens me more than the racist movie-making of the 1930s, 40s, 50s and succeeding decades.It is a little psychotherapy directed at a white audience, and the cinematic equivalent of affirmative action (AA). Remember how AA was and still is, white America saying to itself, damn we were some sonabitches to black and brown peoples and some of those other non-white peoples too. But, this was when we were drunk with racist power, we've sobered up these days, so let's give them a chance now. Let's do penance, hire more of them and educate more of them, even get more of them into business and politics, etc. Well, Cameron is doing the same thing cinematically. He's trying to get the white American movie-going public to do penance. I just haven't figured out what their penance is to be? He wants them to see how cruel, racist, vile and genocidal they were in the tragic story of conquering this country. He does it by proxy as to not really offend his target audience. I can almost see the guy's mind at work. During a phase in the movie when the muscle-bound Colonel decides to launch an all out military attack on those blue-skinned savages, he has a BLACK actor shout loudest his agreement. Thereby reinforcing in the audience's mind, this isn't a whites against well in this case blues thing. It's we Earthlings invading another world repeating what we did on Earth. Oh boy, no don''t gimme a break, let me break his scrawny little neck! He never stopped to think what a Native American would think of this film.Ironically, he didn't because far fewer of them would see it than their white counterparts. This is not the first time Native American peoples have been casted in a romantic noble vein, only to be used to assuage the guilt felt on the part of their conquerors.
If all this moralizing wasn't enough to make you roll your eyes, the story is so predictable; I saw everything he threw coming 5 minutes in advance. So, there is no real suspense in the movie. I care so little about the content of this film I won't even bother to name the actors. Who couldn't tell that Muscles the colonel and the projected Avatar for the Wheelchair guy were going to have a final duel? Doesn't every Hollywood blockbuster have this?You need examples: Neo and Agent Smith, Superman and God knows who not, Spiderman and several, the Hulk and several. Who didn't see that blue-woman native was going save blue-man native from the vicious dog pack?Wasn't it clear that the animals that were impervious to metal projectiles would have a role to play later, since invasion by an formidable human army was hinted at over and over?
This film should be quickly forgotten. One definite thumbs down for this trash.
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