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Sky People Bad, Na’Vi Good

January 5, 2010
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Patrick Goldstein thinks that conservatives hate Avatar because of its politically liberal undertones.  Well, it’s either that or the fact that James Cameron clearly wrote the script on the back of a napkin:

“Avatar” has, of course, far more on its mind than its politics. It’s a triumph of visual imagination and the world’s first great 3-D movie. But it is fascinating to see how today’s ideology-obsessed conservatives have managed to walk away from such a crowd-pleasing triumph and only see the film’s political subtext, not the groundbreaking artistry that’s staring them right in the face.

Okay, whatever.  Even conservative pundits have noted that the technical brilliance is this movie is breathtaking, ya-di-ya-di-ya.  That’s not the point.  Hell, Wanted had good slow-motion action scenes.  Sure, the film is overtly left wing, but Cameron’s movie isn’t just your garden-variety liberal soapbox—it’s more than that, as Ross Douthat explains:

“…the problem is what Cameron pilfers, and then what he leaves out.  He’s taken every left-wing cliché—about politics, religion, the environment, the military, imperialism, big business, Vietnam, George W. Bush, you name it—from a generation’s worth of preachy Hollywood movies, and crammed them all into a single teeming blockbuster.”

And that certainly contributes to atrociousness of the film, but that hardly tells the whole tale.  I may be just one of few here, but I was unable to enjoy the “groundbreaking artistry” because the script was so unbelievably bad.  Literally awful.  It won’t turn out to be this generation’s Star Wars because it adds all these terrible clichés to the fact that, borrowing again from Douthat, “the dialogue is risible and the characters are paper-thin”.  It’s the combination of everything that makes it “deeply stupid.  Relentlessly stupid.  Occasionally mindbogglingly stupid”—not just its political message.

And as far as “ideology-obsessed conservatives” go, they weren’t the ones who invented “The Politics of Meaning”.

UPDATE:  I thought I’d mention, since this could have been misleading, that Douthat emphasized in his piece that the problem with Cameron’s script was indeed the laundry list of theatrical clichés rather than the dullness of the of the dialogue and characters.  I happen to believe the opposite–it would have been a lot better if there had been any depth at all to the writing, with or sans the liberal talking points.  I wasn’t trying to twist his words, I just thought his descriptions were apt.

UPDATE II: There was an interesting discussion of the film, including Goldstein’s piece, over at The Corner yesterday.

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