On Wednesday I saw Avatar, the highly successful science fiction movie featuring computer-generated creatures adapted from actual actors. It deals with forces from Earth invading another planet. This makes my third movie in maybe three years.
As I recently noted concerning the eradication of Christmas symbols from shopping malls, infrequent exposure sharpens observation. Avatar is spectacularly beautiful and technologically extraordinary. The visual details are tremendously imaginative. Film-making has come a long way in recent years. I can see why my children, fairly recently, laughed themselves speechless when I admitted withholding Jaws from them thinking it too scary.
Unfortunately Avatar from a plot standpoint is painfully derivative. Add the Star Wars Primitives-versus-Modern Technology war to the Harry Potter Hippogriff scenes, throw in some Pocahontas and season with a bit of Lion King Nature worship, and there is not much else. I am surprised this does not upset the reviewers more. Perhaps this is because Avatar benefits from the Obama effect.
Stripped of its technological camouflage, the film is quite blatantly the celebration of a victory of Coloreds over Whites. Who would dare criticize such a wonderful thing? Of the ten named stars on the film web site, one is an American Indian, two are black, and the two young female stars Zoe Saldana (above left)and Michelle Rodriguez (right)are both Dominican/Puerto Rican crosses. Two other characters named in the current Wikipedia essay on the movie ("Dr. Max Patel" and ”Akwey” are an (east) Indian and Ghanaian black (a third is white). The Good Guy/Bad Guy breakdown is extreme. Half the six whites are Black Hats. The least important white Good Guy is ”Norm Spellman” — clearly intended to be Jewish. All the coloreds are Goodies. Although the wide shots of the Earth forces initially show some diversity I believe in the final battle scenes all the fighting men were white.
Something of a consolation prize for founding-stock Americans is the classic Gotdammerung performance by the Bad Guy leader, played by Stephen Lang, equipped (of course) with startling blue eyes and a Southern accent. He fights to the last in approved Viking fashion.
On the other hand Evil WASP Corporate Executive Parker Selfridge turns out to be an actor with an Italian name and a Sicilian grandfather. (American Actors of any race have some reason to complain to Canadian-born Cameron. Of the 13 actors, five were born abroad or have foreign parentage. And surely a film where the hero group is clearly modeled on American Indians (North or South) more than one Native American could have been cast?) Without the magnificent technology, Avatar is simply another anti-white diatribe, with actors generally so alien in appearance that it would have flopped amongst the general audience. Cameron could have employed his magic on any story line (even, possibly, a new one). What is it about the Hollywood financing/scripting process which makes majority-bashing so congenial? The Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series show it is not box-office necessity.