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Oh, I Didn’t Realize

February 5, 2010
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Wait, so we’re taking Avatar seriously?  I had assumed, since it’s such an awful movie, that we were just chalking it up to the loss column along with Taken and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.  Apparently, people actually want to have real discussions about it:

Politically speaking, “Avatar” offers plenty to chew on, including China’s recent decision to pull the blockbuster from most theaters (allegedly to boost box office for the government-sanctioned “Confucius”), and some conservatives’ gripes about the film’s pro-environment, anti-war, anti-corporate stance. But I keep returning to the criticism that surprised me most:

“Avatar” is racist.

This charge frankly stunned me; I’d found the movie an indictment of intolerance. Yes, Pandora’s willowy blue inhabitants, the Na’vi, wore dreadlocks, were played by minority actors (including Dominican-Puerto Rican actress Zoe Saldana and Cherokee actor Wes Studi), had tails, and were demeaned as “monkeys” by their contemptuous human adversaries, but I never saw these graceful creatures as being “black” nor considered the movie racist — although many of the humans intent on destroying the Na’vi couldn’t have been more prejudiced.

You see, she thought the movie was “an indictment of intolerance”!  Gosh, coming to that conclusion must have been tough, considering Avatar beats you over the head with a bloody two-by-four with its tolerance message for three hours.  We have got to stop talking about this movie like it has any depth to speak of.  It’s not fair to movies like The Godfather and Blade Runner, which are thought-provoking films, to discuss something as dumb and one-dimensional as Avatar at length.  Seriously, it’s not that deep.  As a matter of fact, you’d die if you dove into it.

“Politically speaking”, Avatar offers nothing to chew on.  It’s just an allegedly adult version of FernGully that fails to offer anything in the way of post-viewing discussion besides “How long do you think our most out-of-shape friend would survive on Pandora?  Over-under five minutes” and “Do you think they have sex by joining pony tails to each other?”.  I can’t believe there’s been as much discussion of this movie as there’s actually been.  I guess I share part of the blame; just look at my Category Cloud—I’ve been talking about it as much as anyone, except that I’ve assigned myself the task of refuting all the good things that people have been saying about it.  It’s about as sophisticated as Teletubbies, folks.  We have to quit acting like this is a well-written film.  For the good of the republic.

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