Blue (Skin) State

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Blue (Skin) State

How did Avatar become a political firestorm?

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Well, while I certainly noticed the not so subtle environmental message, I still loved the film as a whole.

People should stop equating politics into these things and just enjoy it for what it is.
Once you begin overanylyzing, everything turns to shit.

Also, he wrote it when he was 14, do you know any subtle 14 year olds?

Furburt:

People should stop equating politics into these things and just enjoy it for what it is.
Once you begin overanylyzing, everything turns to shit.

Very, very true.

People will see what they want in anything they look at, and, at the end of the day all it will do is ruin the whole ethos.

It was a great film, yes, it has alot of messages behind it. See what you want in them but dont ruin it for everyone else.

do they have to bring politics into everything?

Monkeytacoz:
do they have to bring politics into everything?

Until "they" "win".

think about it.

Do people still applaud in Cinemas where you live? I don't think I have ever heard people clap at a screen before...

Or was it just a metaphor?

Great analysis. But people takes movie seriously though much of the likes of District 9 - xenophobia, anti corporation and forced evictions.

An excellent read, and one that really forwards an excellent argument: people do not go to the movies to be a captive audience for political soapboxing. They go to be entertained. Even as a moderate conservative, I thought Avatar was a damn entertaining film and I'd readily see it again.

Nimbus:
Do people still applaud in Cinemas where you live? I don't think I have ever heard people clap at a screen before...

Or was it just a metaphor?

It happens once in a great while. I think the last time I saw it happen when I was in a theater was during Pitch Black when Riddik finally kills one of the aliens. It's a rare occurance but will happen given the right story telling.

Over thinking ANYTHING equals arguements and general annoyance.

Nimbus:
Do people still applaud in Cinemas where you live? I don't think I have ever heard people clap at a screen before...

I've seen Avatar three times so far in theaters, and the audience (full theatre each time) has applauded without pause. I live in a Canadian city of nearly a million people, so we're by no means a village.

Avatar is just one of those movies that you want to applaud. Hell, I know I did. It's illogical, yes.

Bob, I'm impressed. While you seem to be overtly liberal (or maybe I'm viewing this through my left-leaning lenses), you look at the issue pretty fairly. I agree that both parties are applying too much political spin to the movie, though.

Now that I think about it, one could say that the whole subtle and not-so-subtle messages about the world today in Avatar were put there intentionally by Cameron as a marketing strategy.
Come on, like he actually needs it.
But seriously, regardless of the message of the whole movie, I agree that people that take this way too seriously are way in over their head and just use it as an excuse to start a flame war with anyone that looks at them funny.

300? Fascist? I didnt see that in the film. Ok they were a bunch of macho semi-psychotic jarheads but boiled down they were protecting their homeland and Ideals from an invading slave army and being betrayed from behind by their slimy greedy government, with a little hidden message about acceptance and loyalty. Not that I saw any of that at the time I just saw a kick ass war film done frank miller style...

Good points though. get a feeling a lot of this is knee jerk reactions by people who probably have'nt seen the movies in the first place

People apllaud in cinemas where I live. Other than Avatar, a recent example would be 2012.

really interesting article Bob, I can see the political allegories you have made to Avatar and 300 being liberal and conservative respectively (and I do remember people discussing them) but I never thought it was important. As you said, as a film goer I do not see films based on my politics. I saw both of the above movies and enjoyed each one thoroughly (neither is perfect, but their both nonetheless fun to watch).

Ps: love the modern warfare comment at the end

Oh come on, Bob. The 'they're mercenaries' excuse is a paper-thin cop-out and you know it. If Cameron really wanted to hammer home that specific fact, he would have actually gone into some detail as to what the hell said corporation actually does, how it amassed enough money to create its own space armada, and where the bulk of their mercs actually came from. I'm assuming that the majority were former soldiers.

Granted, the Na'vi were made out to be pretty aggressive when necessary too, but it just seemed that Cameron was weakly trying to cover up the anti-military message with his even stronger anti-corporation message.

That's the thing that pained me most about Avatar. It had the potential to be the perfect moviegoing experience. The visuals, setting, and CGI were all absolutely stunning, but I hated the story and the characters so much that it got in the way of me truly enjoying it. You said a more involved story would distract from the overall experience, but I strongly disagree. How it looks is important, but unless the story's good and/or the characters are well characterized, I just can't get into it.

So... it can't just be a good movie?

In my experience nobody (including most people who benefit from racism) thinks they are racists, and there's a great deal of current history/sociology literature which indicates why. Most Americans of all political stripes like to believe they would have been the heroes who stood on principle, and fought oppression (it was *really* bad back then, after all, but we've ended racismlookblackpresidentandstuff!) and contemporary Hollywood filmmaking is all to eager to indulge this desire. The Shoah (Schindler's List), Civil Rights Movement (Mississippi Burning), even the Blind Side become tales not of exploitation but about how that one cracker (or Kraut) who was genuinely a *good* person fought evil....

A thrilling and intruiging read

Avatar didn't have a message, however. Beating someone over the head with political commentary wrapped around a large, CGI rock is not a message, it is assault.

Meh film on the whole. Graphics were pretty but pretty overhyped as well (see what I did there? Hurr Hurr)

Why would people clap when the best character in the movie got killed? I was quite disappointed...

If I could telepathically commune with trees and animals on this planet then I could see some liberal tendencies to the film. As it is I can't and I don't.

Dudeakoff:
Why would people clap when the best character in the movie got killed? I was quite disappointed...

Yeah why would anyone clap when the colonel died :( I was rooting for him.

My theater clapped when that traitorous Spartan died in 300.

One guy yelled "Thank God!"

Good point there - Avatar is, first and foremost, Indians vs. Settlers. Pro-environment, anti-military undertones may be there, but so is the notion that Na'vi maintain a culture of honor and traditionalism and fight against pragmatic mercenaries.

Postscriptum: where's the significant plot spoilers you promised, eh?

Let me utter the rarest words of them all: I agree.

Expecting ordinary (or even a lot of extra-ordinary) people to be aware of political messages is like getting them to remember what they had for dinner last week.

TBF, no-one cares about politics except for what it means to them in the immediate future or whether they get taxed.

Starship Troopers, Catch-22, Platoon and Good Morning Vietnam could be running in a marathon and people would still want to watch American Gladiators next.

The one thing the public will watch for is a Turkey, and that's why Battlefield Earth, Sarah Palin and Ian Duncan Smith crashed and burned.

Equally, Supersize Me was a massive hit, but has Maccy Ds been brought crumbling to the ground? Or is it still selling plastic burgers to hyperactive kids everywhere?

Well stated Bob, well stated.

Great critique Bob.

But unfortunately I have the terrible feeling that it is too late, I am already seeing the right universally come to hate this film and even worse the most stuck up lefties are holding this film up as an example of "changing beliefs". They hijacked my favourite film of the year! And all my conservative friends refuse to even watch the film! Now these commentators and politicians have got this view stuck in their head it seems it will never shift.

I fucking hate this manipulating, tunnel vision, politicising commentators who twist whatever there is to suit what they want it to be.

It's so much bullshit I can't stand it.

Fantastic article moviebob, Intermission is definitely my favorite feature on the escapist.

I find this article quite timely, as I recently read a number of the sort of articles you talk about; politicizing the movie.

I usually stay moderately attentive to politics myself but Bob's definetly right on this one. I didn't go to this movie to feel good about my own political opinions I went to see a damn good movie, which it was.

Kollega:
Good point there - Avatar is, first and foremost, Indians vs. Settlers. Pro-environment, anti-military undertones may be there, but so is the notion that Na'vi maintain a culture of honor and traditionalism and fight against pragmatic mercenaries.

Postscriptum: where's the significant plot spoilers you promised, eh?

The very end, how Colonel Quaritch was killed. Also many lines of dialogue.

With spoilers it's better to be safe than sorry.

I definitely noticed the allegory in the movie. It didn't keep me from enjoying it (although I did find it really cliched. And while it didn't keep me from enjoying the movie, I did root for the military much of the time, on general principles, because it got a little preachy at times.
And if there is one thing I hate, its when things get preachy.

Satosuke:
Oh come on, Bob. The 'they're mercenaries' excuse is a paper-thin cop-out and you know it. If Cameron really wanted to hammer home that specific fact, he would have actually gone into some detail as to what the hell said corporation actually does, how it amassed enough money to create its own space armada, and where the bulk of their mercs actually came from. I'm assuming that the majority were former soldiers.

You can read them as basically an energy company. The unobtanium is some kind of important energy source, so they're essentially Exxon IN SPACE.

And most mercs/PMC grunts in real life are vets from one nation's armies or another (e.g., a significant number of Blackwater operatives were former Chilean Special Forces). Pretty rational career choice for a soldier: you have some skills you learned fighting under a flag that some suits are willing to pay you 10x your old salary for--sign me up! How is that important?

Also, for better or for worse, it seems like Avatar is one of those properties where you need to RTFM to understand half of what's going on: http://james-camerons-avatar.wikia.com/wiki/Resources_Development_Administration

For the record, I found the story painfully derivative too, but a few things made it tolerable. Although I'm all for sustainable development and environmental responsibility, I'm not for tree-hugging for tree-hugging's sake. I like living in an industrial society with the internet, phones, cars, and antibiotics, thank you very much. (A friend of mine used to say, every modern Western city is two weeks away from being the Third World: just cut off running water and sewage.)

I accepted it from the Na'vi because they could actually neurologically interface with the lifeforms on their planet, and use trees as computer databases of their memories. So it wasn't as simple as moving to a different copse of trees on the other side of the forest. When the humans destroyed Hometree, it was the equivalent of burning down the Library of Alexandria, and as a librarian, I consider that a horrendous act. You're not just burning down someone's house, you're eradicating their culture.

The rest of the story was pretty pedestrian, but the acting, visuals and action elevated it quite a bit. It was really the main character who pissed me off. He was sent among the Na'vi to try and get them to leave their home, and he didn't even try. He knew he was the last hope for a diplomatic solution before Colonel Hardass brought down the hammer, and he was the one person whom the Colonel, Dr. Augustine and the Na'vi could respect. If anyone could have brokered a compromise, it was him. And he pissed away all his time flirting with the chief's daughter and going native until the very moment the bulldozers rolled in! It's hardly the first time I've enjoyed a sci-fi/fantasy story despite the annoying messianic hero, but I still hate it when it happens.

Avatar to me was just Pocahontas meets Fern's Gully but a whole lot more badass. I completely agree I wasn't thinking about any real political aspects of the movie.

I left the theatre thinking about three things:

1) What a great movie and time I had with my friends
2) A sickly feeling that some one choose to actually abandoned his own species turned "hopeless" (Yeah his old body sucked, I give it that much. I'd probably make the same choice)
3) How the fuck can people live on a planet they can't even breathe in. Your skin breathes too. Poison gets in pores, easily.

Either way, the last gripe aside. I enjoyed it.

<-- is more right then left, and yes, I can see the various ways this movie can be interpreted, but all in all, its easy to enjoy story with tons of special effects. That is as far as I care to read into it.

Though it is interesting, its an anti-corporation movie being supported by multiple corporations, guess their marketing groups just know that its popular and haven't seen the movie. McDonalds burger any one? its made from beef raised on burned down rain forest. =D

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