We are all Pandorans now

Daniel Larison has an interesting take on the neocons’ inexplicable War Against Avatar (Bobo; J-Pod). I don’t agree with all of it, but as usual, he makes some interesting points:

Brooks is right when he says the story teaches that, “Natives can either have their history shaped by cruel imperialists or benevolent ones, but either way, they are going to be supporting actors in our journey to self-admiration.” What he fails to do is connect this to the urges of our own liberal imperialists and humanitarian interventionists, who are constantly warning against leaving other nations to their own devices and who are frequently complaining about our boundless benevolence that is repaid with contempt or indifference. He might consult his colleague Thomas Friedman on this point, since Friedman seems to think that most Muslims worldwide are “holding our coats” while we do all the heavy lifting on their behalf and that Afghanistan can be likened to a “special needs baby” that we as a country have just adopted.

[…..]

Even though Serbia had been on the Allied side in both world wars, and therefore had been as much on “our” side as any nation in Europe, it became the enemy in the eyes of most right-thinking Westerners, and it was the Serbs’ status as European Christians that made them ideal as a target of intervention. In other words, a version of the fable Brooks described became official policy. The truly offensive thing about all this is that Brooks will safely deride the fable and its assumptions when it appears in a meaningless blockbuster film, but he isn’t going to challenge or reject those assumptions when they inform real and destructive policies around the world.

I don’t agree at all about intervention in Serbia, which I think had nothing to do with the fact some Bosnians are Muslim (I also believe that the United States helped avert tens or hundreds of thousands of more deaths by intervening, I know not everyone agrees). But Larison is right that it is interesting to see one hawk prattle about “special needs babies” while another screams about a movie preaching a message that is condescending to people in other countries.

What Larison doesn’t get to, and what I’m curious about, is why the neocons are going all out against Avatar. The last time I remember them going nuts about a movie was “Munich” and the motivation there seemed a lot more obvious.

I like that Larison also discussed Avatar in a separate post without having seen it. That’s something I enjoy doing too.

185 replies
  1. 1
    Darryl says:

    I just read a profile of James Cameron in a New Yorker from last November. Didn’t realize what a capable control freak he is. He knows how to do basically every job on set.

  2. 2
    gizmo says:

    Even stranger is the fact that Avatar is a Rupert Murdoch production. He owns the film company.

  3. 3
    matoko_chan says:

    It is not just because of our liking for the Pandorans that we cheer when the military—engaged in a mission that is specifically linked to Iraq by Quaritch’s “shock and awe” language—gets its collective arse kicked. Quaritch is specifically seen as demonic in that he tempts Jake with the restoration of his legs. The battle in which he is defeated, and the fight in which he is killed, are also set pieces full of money shots; this is an American film in which we cheer the defeat of a U.S.-style military machine by armed insurgents. The progressive intelligentsia should remember how deeply the film is hated by the Christian and neo-conservative right in America.

    <3 strangehorizons

  4. 4
    Brachiator says:

    So Bobo thinks that Avatar’s worldwide appeal can be explained by this:

    The plotline gives global audiences a chance to see American troops get killed.

    And Titanic was a hit because global audiences love to see white people drown.

    Moran.

  5. 5
  6. 6
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    What Larison doesn’t get to, and what I’m curious about, is why the neocons are going all out against Avatar.

    If the movie were about Christianity instead of some new agey-seeming thing then Brooks or Douthat would have none of the same criticisms.

    That’s pretty much what it’s all about.

    They’re basically another form of DFH, to them.

  7. 7
    RobW says:

    I thought it was Serbia’s attempted genocide that made them “the enemy in the eyes of most right-thinking Westerners.”

    Having shared a common enemy in the ’40s or being on our side of the trenches in the ’10s doesn’t excuse slaughtering your neighbors in the ’90s, does it?

  8. 8

    Only when every movie, every tv show, every product, every book, every newspaper, every website, every personal association, everything we wear, eat, listen to, watch, pet, and consume is a political statement either made or received … will we be truly free.

    God damn(tm) the Modern World!

  9. 9
    matoko_chan says:

    well…libruuls hates it too.

    Only us 13 yr old warcrack addicts like Avatar.
    Pandora is Nagrand painted blue.

  10. 10
    MacsenMifune says:

    The marines in avatar are not US soldiers, they are mercenaries working for some mega corporation. Its a similar idea to aliens franchise, also James Cameron alien and aliens, giant faceless mega conglomerate pulling all the strings and playing with the characters lives. Its similar to Blackwater and other mercenaries.

  11. 11
    inkadu says:

    Liberal motivations for wars are mostly cover for naked aggression. I think it’s safe to discount them as a bonafide cause for foreign invasions.

    I’ve also stopped paying attention when the right gets upset about movies. If I had to hazzard a guess, the right worships the military. Avatar is blasphemy.

  12. 12

    It’s pretty amazing that “Avatar” has already grossed over $1 billion, 70 percent of it outside the U.S. But “Titanic” had a similar split in revenues. Given that “Avatar” has only been out 3 weeks, it seems pretty obvious it will far outstrip Titanic in gross receipts. How that works adjusted for inflation is going to be interesting.

  13. 13
    DougJ says:

    Only when every movie, every tv show, every product, every book, every newspaper, every website, every personal association, everything we wear, eat, listen to, watch, pet, and consume is a political statement either made or received … will we be truly free.

    I actually don’t think we’re headed there. It’s just neocons and the Malkinites who are really interested in this.

  14. 14
    inkadu says:

    @RobW: I found that whole paragraph about Serbia completely nonsensical. “Serbs’ status as European Christians[ …] made them ideal as a target of intervention.” What?

  15. 15
    Lev says:

    Yeah, the Serbia thing is wrong, and I think that the reason why noninterventionism isn’t popular is because they generally don’t rule out exemptions for stopping genocide and things like it. The argument against stuff like Iraq–that it’s impossible to predict how it will turn out, that we had no right to intervene and we shouldn’t play God–is strong. But that reasoning doesn’t really apply to genocide in the same way.

  16. 16
    Osprey says:

    @Brachiator:

    Just have to say that was a classic line. LoL indeed.

    Considering a certain rage-a-holic unleashed her legion of spittle-spraying keyboard kommandos over somebody wearing a patterned scarf, it’s tough to be surprised when some self-fellating blowhard gets his pubes forcefully extracted over a movie that goes against his idea of white supremacy.

  17. 17
    Jody says:

    They hate it because the central premise of the movie is that people being occupied by force might not appreciate it, particularly if they are being occupied for the purposes of obtaining their resources. This is contrary to their entire worldview.

  18. 18
    matoko_chan says:

    and….i know this will irritate cornerstone…but Avatar represents a paradigm shift for Hollywood and popculture.
    Instead of Xwing fighters, deathstars, transformers, and gi-joes, kids are going to be playing with dire horses and sentient trees and flying dragons….organic forms from the web of life.
    And Hollywood is going to make more blockbuster scifi movies that aren’t Star Wars clones about space warfighting.
    I’m hoping for Ringworld.

  19. 19
    SpotWeld says:

    Yet, very few rightwingers seem to note that the hero of the film is a Marine! (One that sort of scoffs at the hired mercs)

    Also:

    “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” Hanlon’s razor

    There’s some sub-par writing going on here, a huge reliance on acratypical tropes that is really a dis-service to the frankly glorious visual effects. That doesn’t mean it’s propaganda.

  20. 20
    geg6 says:

    What I find interesting is that so many people are getting so exercised about a film I find less interesting than watching paint dry. I can’t imagine shelling out a penny for this, let alone arguing the global implications of what is, by all accounts, a stupid, simplistic plot that ruins any fun the film’s technology might have provided.

    But then, I hated Titanic, too.

  21. 21
    inkadu says:

    @Lev:

    Yeah, the Serbia thing is wrong, and I think that the reason why noninterventionism isn’t popular is because they generally don’t rule out exemptions for stopping genocide and things like it.

    Allow me to rewrite this sentence for you:

    Isolationism is unpopular because it allows genocide.

  22. 22
    geg6 says:

    @RobW:

    This.

  23. 23
    hummbumm says:

    and return of the king had the same domestic/international split as avatar and titanic, but i remember a lot of conservatives being all gooey about the symbolism of the lord of the rings

  24. 24
    Mike Kay says:

    I thought they hate the plot point about naked exploitation of resources. They have always gone ape-shit when people say Iraq was about oil.

  25. 25
    matoko_chan says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: ekshually there is a lot of christian mythos in Avatar….it just isn’t privileged over hindu or buddhist or islamic mythos.
    That is why they hate it.

  26. 26

    @matoko_chan:

    Instead of Xwing fighters, deathstars, transformers, and gi-joes, kids are going to be playing with dire horses and sentient trees and flying dragons….organic forms from the web of life.

    Well, I think the jury’s still out on that. After all, “Titanic” overtook “Star Wars” at the box office, and you don’t see kids playing with little Titanic dolls. Look at the top-grossing movies of all time. Some superheroes, some hobbits, some pirates, some animation. It’s not so clear that “Avatar” is a paradigm-shifter.

    Never underestimate Hollywood’s ability to take old sh*t and try to make it new.

  27. 27
    Yutsano says:

    @geg6:

    But then, I hated Titanic, too.

    I am still proud that, to this day, I still have never seen Titanic. Hell I even hated the music from that damn movie and I heard it everywhere. This may or may not keep me from seeing Avatar when it comes out on video if for no other reason than I work for a movie distribution company and free movies might turn into an employee perk here soon.

  28. 28
    Tax Analyst says:

    @ #4 Brachiator:

    And Titanic was a hit because global audiences love to see white people drown.

    That’s FUNNEEEE!!

    Thanx.

  29. 29
    ericblair says:

    I’m pretty sure it’s the obvious parallel to the US military (which it isn’t in the movie) that gets them, and they’re trying to gin up a White Man’s Burden argument that would shut up the lefties. I’m not sure whether they went beyond that and got their panties in a wad that the movie suggested that steamrolling sentient beings if said beings interfered with your quarterly profits was not a nice thing to do.

    I did do some eye-rolling at the We’re-One-With-Nature woo-woo talk, but that’s actually justified later in the movie. And look, if you didn’t figure out the plot within fifteen seconds of the start of the movie you’ve been huffing too much Golden Topping. If you want some takedowns of the sillier bits of the movie, go to Cracked, where they obviously have higher standards than the NYTimes.

  30. 30
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @SpotWeld:

    There’s some sub-par writing going on here, a huge reliance on acratypical tropes that is really a dis-service to the frankly glorious visual effects. That doesn’t mean it’s propaganda.

    Exactly. I thought the movie was entirely notable for visual and special effects, both of which James Cameron is really good at. The cliche-laden plot and dialogue seemed like afterthoughts at best. Or if they weren’t, that’s even worse.

    In any case reading too much into them as some “message” is ridiculous, even if he intended them that way.

  31. 31
    inkadu says:

    <href=”#comment-1522593″>matoko_chan: Ringworld? You must mean the world in the Halo videogame.

    “It’s like Speed 2, but on a bus instead of a boat.”

  32. 32
    jetan says:

    I originally thought it was just a pretty good popcorn flick. Thank God Douthat and Brooks let me know that the real reason I liked it was that I’m an America hating, tree hugging idiot. And who wants to screw giant blue aborigines.

  33. 33
    Cat says:

    I’ll be ruining my nerd cred, but I’ve not seen it. But it sounds good. Should I see it in 2d or 3d is the real question.

  34. 34
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @matoko_chan: Yeah but it still seems new agey to them, I promise you. And you’re right. Also.

  35. 35

    @SpotWeld:

    acratypical tropes

    Google is not my friend. What the hell is “acratypical”?

  36. 36
    Chad N Freude says:

    On the other hand, Cameron doesn’t realize that his film is actually promoting conservative values.

    Cameron’s idealized society is one based on individual achievement. When individuals take great risks, they are often rewarded over people who have seniority. Fairness is determined by accomplishments, not by rules. There are winners and there are losers amongst the Na’Vi and they manage to be a happy society. Oh, and when they are forced, they kill to protect themselves and their loved ones, an action that they don’t take lightly. They have honor and nobility. They have strong traditions. Sounds good to me. In fact, it sounds a lot like the conservative view of what America stands for.

    (This is at the end of the review, which complains about the liberal attitudes expressed in the film and talks about how conservatives don’t condescend to indigenous peoples.)

  37. 37
    SpotWeld says:

    @Cat: Seeing it in 3D will really let the visuals shine, and probably push some of the more wince-worthy story elements out of mind until after you get out of the theater.

  38. 38
    SpotWeld says:

    @Cat: Seeing it in 3D will really let the visuals shine, and probably push some of the more wince-worthy story elements out of mind until after you get out of the theater.

  39. 39

    @Chad N Freude:

    Fairness is determined by accomplishments, not by rules.

    If that was the way it worked, Breitbart would be slinging hash at a Waffle House and GWB would be running the register. Idiots.

  40. 40
    SpotWeld says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: I was going for Archetypical (combination of Archetype and Typical and bungled the spelling)

  41. 41
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @Cat:

    See it in IMAX 3D. Really. I’m typically pretty down on special effects extravaganzas, but this is one movie that is for sure worth experiencing in the conditions for which is was made.

  42. 42
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Cat: Actually the 3D was entirely the point for me. That’s what amazed me, more than anything about the characters or etc. The reason I know this is the very first scene, which contained only regular good old humans, simply stunned me.

    I may be alone in that but for FWIW. Go directly to the 3D version.

  43. 43
    mcc says:

    Me, I have an ideological opposition to plot holes.

    I feel like if more people based their political philosophy on opposition to plot holes, American politics would be a lot healthier overall.

  44. 44
    licensed to kill time says:

    @geg6:

    But then, I hated Titanic, too.

    I never, EVER understood what people saw in that movie. Great costumes was about as far as I was willing to praise it.

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Well, I think the jury’s still out on that. After all, “Titanic” overtook “Star Wars” at the box office, and you don’t see kids playing with little Titanic dolls.

    Ha! I got an image of little kids with tiny blocks of floating debris and little blue Leo dolls. “This time he won’t drown!”

  45. 45

    @SpotWeld:
    Ahh, that makes much more sense.

  46. 46
    matoko_chan says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: wanna bet?
    There is a ton of gamer culture woven into Avatar.
    I’m a gamer and the console game is supersweet.
    And the sequels……it is already planned as a trilogy.

    Even more than an anti-capitalist film—which it clearly is in its simplistic way—Avatar is a film with serious reservations about corruption of warrior values within the military-industrial complex. Quaritch—Stephen Lang—has Miles as his first name, the Latin word for soldier, which makes him potentially a representative of all soldiers. He is a man in love with death, in particular the death of other living creatures. Quaritch carries large knives with him in his military exoskeleton—it’s probably worth remembering that General George Patton always wore pearl-handled revolvers in his tank, and that Patton is, as portrayed by George C. Scott, very much the movie archetype to which Cameron is referring back, and who won his spurs in colonial conflict. Aliens—for which he made his cast read Heinlein’s Starship Troopers—was a film in which the military life was viewed—not uncynically but with considerable respect; here we notice from the start such negative attitudes among Quaritch’s command as their complete lack of respect for a crippled former comrade.

    I think a lot of ppl are allowing themselves to be suaded to pass on Avatar because they believe the reviews…that Avatar is dances with smurfs or pochahantas blue…..you should see for your self.

    The point of the movie is its sheer physical beauty. Pandora is almost entirely one huge special effect, an alien world which is not a quarry, or a sand dune, or the forests of the North Pacific coast, and it is often breathtaking. The 3-D effects only occasionally obtrude by sticking a spear-head into one’s face—mostly they lend this imaginary world solidity. It might be argued that Pandoran life is a little too close in appearance to Terran analogs—I suspect that they are just alien enough to be clearly so while remaining creatures whose role in an ecology can be recognized by the average viewer.

  47. 47

    @licensed to kill time:
    Yes, I suppose it is more of a bathtub-type playset. :)

  48. 48
    geg6 says:

    @Yutsano:

    Any film that has Celine Dion singing the title tune (or actually, that has her singing anything) automatically qualifies for my “must not see” list. Unfortunately, I was dating a guy (!!!) who insisted on taking me to see Titanic. Guess he thought it would get him laid. Instead, what he got was me bitching about how stupid the film was and how I wanted to shove pencils through my eardrums after being subjected to Celine.

  49. 49
    inkadu says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Likely a thinko on Spotweld’s part. Acratypical = archetypal. Basically, a common character at the root of a lot of narratives (hero, trickster, villain, seductress, etc). Usually it’s not a bad thing, but here probably means the characters don’t step too far out of being by-the-numbers plot devices.

  50. 50
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @SpotWeld:

    That was my sense as well. The plot’s predictable and there are some serious groaners in the dialogue, but several folks have noted (correctly, I think), that when you walk out, you really do feel like you spent a couple hours on Pandora, which probably makes you more forgiving of the aforementioned plot and dialogue issues because it feels more like it was an actual experience than something you observed from a distance. I loathe the word “immersive,” but I do think it applies to Avatar.

    It’s a theory, at any rate.

    Oh, and has anybody mentioned that song at the end? That was a thousand times worse than any crappy line of dialogue.

  51. 51
    Chad N Freude says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: I wonder what high achiever was not admitted to Yale because George Bush was given a slot.

  52. 52
    geg6 says:

    @matoko_chan:

    There is a ton of gamer culture woven into Avatar.

    That right there is enough to make me positive I have no interest in this film. I was right. Watching paint dry is vastly more entertaining.

  53. 53
    Martin says:

    The right wing has no objective basis for their ideology. The long ago gave up measuring real effects on GDP or employment or lifespan or what have you. Everything is justified either by some measure of popularity or simply by magical thinking.

    Avatar strikes right at the core of their ideology. It’s not the imperialist message that undermines their ideology that is the problem, it’s that people are eager to spend over a billion dollars to get the imperialist message that undermines their ideology. Box office numbers are every bit as meaningful as Rasmussen polls.

    They’re afraid that the popularity of Avatar proves that the Bush Doctrine is morally wrong. I don’t think we should discourage them.

  54. 54
    Brachiator says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Given that “Avatar” has only been out 3 weeks, it seems pretty obvious it will far outstrip Titanic in gross receipts. How that works adjusted for inflation is going to be interesting.

    Adjusted for inflation, the all-time box office hit remains Gone With the Wind, followed by Star Wars, The Sound of Music, and E.T..

    Neo-con goons can make of this list what they like.

    Avatar may well join this list, though I think you have to discount the fee for the 3D eyeglasses.

  55. 55
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @SpotWeld: Oh I actually misread that as “acraptypical”, and thought you were being funny.

  56. 56
    matoko_chan says:

    @inkadu: Ringworld

    Snowcrash could be good also….I don’t who owns the film rights, but they were both bought up ages ago and never made.
    But the CGI tech for Avatar makes them possible now.

    and yeah….first time go straight to 3D IMAX.
    wat a rush.
    ;)

  57. 57
    SpotWeld says:

    @inkadu: Heh.. worse actually. I was trying to be “clever” by saying “Archetypical”.. see typical.. becuase they were kinda crudely sourced.. see, clever *facepalm*

  58. 58
    Corner Stone says:

    @matoko_chan:

    but Avatar represents a paradigm shift for Hollywood and popculture.
    Instead of Xwing fighters, deathstars, transformers, and gi-joes, kids are going to be playing with dire horses and sentient trees and flying dragons….organic forms from the web of life.

    And you know what they will be using those horses and dragons to do? Attack each other. They will be using them to stomp on the trees, destroy forts and generally cause mayhem with their brothers/sisters/friends.
    My son is 5. He sometimes uses a truss from a bridge in the Thomas the Train Set as a rifle to ambush me from hiding. Human nature is not going to change because Cameron made this movie. Young teens and tweens are not going to have a mind-altering episode due to this entertainment vehicle.

    But I have stipulated that this movie may in fact change all kinds of things about how movies/genre entertainment is done. That’s certainly possible.
    But if I had to guess? I’d say the classic Star Wars-type toys will be much more prevelant in the years to come than Avatar-related items. For many reasons.

  59. 59
    SpotWeld says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: See, *that* would have been clever.

  60. 60
    Martin says:

    I should note that we’ve been trying to see it in 3D, but haven’t been able to manage to find a line shorter than 3 hours so far. I don’t mind committing 3 hours to a good movie, but 6 is asking a bit much.

  61. 61
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @inkadu:
    Yeah, I know what an archetype is. But I couldn’t be sure that acratypical wasn’t some sort of specialized literary word that had appeared recently.

    I base that on an incident in grad school: a class of about 40 students read a chapter in a book where the author wrote in such obtuse theological/philosophical lingo that our professor had the author come into class and explain the meaning of the word “distanciation” in relation to the topic at hand. After he explained it, the chapter made more sense. But I still think he could have said the same thing in English. :)

  62. 62
    Cat says:

    @Bubblegum Tate: My concern with imax 3d is that I’ve heard the Imax screens multiplex’s are only marginally bigger then regular ‘large’ screens you find at the high quality multiplex’s.

  63. 63
    matoko_chan says:

    @geg6: lol, the gamer gene is binary, not autosomal reccessive…..either u have it or u don’t.
    <3

  64. 64
    mcc says:

    but Avatar represents a paradigm shift for Hollywood and popculture.
    Instead of Xwing fighters, deathstars, transformers, and gi-joes, kids are going to be playing with dire horses and sentient trees and flying dragons….organic forms from the web of life.

    If this were going to happen, wouldn’t it have happened because of Lord of the Rings?

    LOTR even has eco-terrorism.

  65. 65
    tripletee says:

    @geg6:

    by all accounts, a stupid, simplistic plot that ruins any fun the film’s technology might have provided

    Uh, no. The plot of Avatar is shopworn, the dialogue is a blunt instrument, and the characterization is done in broad brushstrokes…and it’s still an amazing moviegoing experience. A film is more than just a screenplay, especially in the hands of someone as talented behind the camera as Cameron. The visual scope and the fully-realized environment of Pandora lifted Avatar far above its pedestrian writing.

    Mamet-ophiles may disagree, but fuck ’em.

  66. 66
    Batocchio says:

    Unsurprisingly, almost every conservative take on Avatar (save Larison’s) has been idiotic. However, did you know that at least one neocon tried to claim it as a neocon film? It’s wacky:

    http://www.forbes.com/2009/12/.....rlowe.html

    From:

    http://www.salon.com/entertain.....r_in_china

  67. 67
    Corner Stone says:

    @Yutsano:

    I am still proud that, to this day, I still have never seen Titanic. Hell I even hated the music from that damn movie and I heard it everywhere.

    One place you did not want to be during those times was on the g@ming floor of a Vega$ C@$ino.
    Talk about hell on earth. There was no escaping Celine. No escaping.

  68. 68
    freelancer says:

    This is Off Topic, and Superduper-blog-whorry, but I got a little stupid last night to keep warm, and then I saw Drudge gay-baiting Janet Napolitano.

    It. Really. Pissed. Me. Off.

  69. 69
    geg6 says:

    @matoko_chan:

    LOL, well, I sure don’t have it. The last game I played on a screen was Pong. Back in nineteen seventy-something; not the recent nostalgia fueled comeback.

    Thankfully, no one in my IRL life games either. So I’m only subjected to this stuff on BJ. And, being me, love to tweak the gamers with my scorn. ;-)

  70. 70
    Booger says:

    I’d be hoping for H. Beam Piper’s “Little Fuzzy.” “Ringworld” would be great. But “Mote in god Eye” would be better, because it would be Gremlins only with 3 arms ;-).

  71. 71
    jl says:

    The wingnuts go apeshit over everything except Yankee Doodle Dandy, very heavy handed fundamentalist Sunday School lessons that would insult a 10 year old brain, and revenge fantasies about everyone else in the world. So… does that help answer your question?

    I agreed with what Laurison said except that I too have problems whatever his lesson was about Serbia and and Balkans. That was more of a can for ambiguous worms, when the whole story of ex-Yugoslovia’s disintegration is told from the beginning than many like to admit.

    And also I did notl like Laurison’s brief lecturing about the liberal impulse to intervene to ‘make things better’ for the poor brown folk. That can lead to a stingy and ungenerous and complacent isolationism, of the good old fastioned hypocritical stodgy conservative type. The first problem that comes to mind is that many (though not, all by any means) problems of the poor brown folks have their origins in rather obscure rich white country actions that are rarely dramatic enough to be reported. Self-serving rich country manipulation of trade laws and financial systems come to mind in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In many cases the idea that poor country problems that arouse in isolation from rich white country actions is a mistake.

    I also think it is a mistake to think that the impluse to intervene to improve situations among the less fortunate is some symptom of modern idealistic liberalism (what liberalism is in these discussions is rarely defined, but it seems to me it is post WW II softy Democratic Party liberaism that is implied, usually).

    In the US there was popular reaction against the US government and squatter genocides against the Native Americans, against the Mexican War, and against the Armenian Genocide. Were those a symptom of ‘liberalism’ as we know it today? The sentiment against the US government action did not have much influence on the results, but the impluse was there and many people acted on it even though their efforts did not change the course of things very much.

    That said, Brooks has written a few not awful, if not very useful or original or insightful columns recently, which is an improvement.

    PS: except for the special effects, I found Avatar incomprehensible, except certain plot devices and stock situations that were boringly trite and obvious and clunky. But it was cool to look at the whizz-bangs, dude. So, OK movie if you don’t take it seriously.

  72. 72
    Meanderthal says:

    I think a lot of ppl are allowing themselves to be suaded to pass on Avatar because they believe the reviews…that Avatar is dances with smurfs or pochahantas blue…..you should see for your self.

    Unfortunately, the reviews are right. It IS Dances With Wolves in space.* I don’t know that “racist” is the right word to describe it, but “ethnocentric” certainly applies. No matter what, it all comes down to the natives crying “Save us, Captain Whiteboy!” Said Captain Whiteboy also getting to be the superest specialest Na’vi EVAR.

    It was certainly the prettiest and most technically-adept bloody awful film I’ve ever seen.

    *(would a Warhammer 40K version be “Dances With Space Wolves?)

  73. 73
    MikeJ says:

    @Brachiator:

    though I think you have to discount the fee for the 3D eyeglasses.

    Rather than inflation adjusted gross, number seats sold in first run is certainly a better metric. All imax movies have higher ticket prices.

    I wonder where To Fly!, currently playing at the Air & Space museum would fall on the list. Either grosses or seats sold, it’s probably ahead of several blockbusters.

  74. 74
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    But I still think he could have said the same thing in English. :)

    Grad school in English would be a more radical move than when they ditched the Latin mass.

  75. 75
    ChrisS says:

    What Larison doesn’t get to, and what I’m curious about, is why the neocons are going all out against Avatar.

    “I thought they hate the plot point about naked exploitation of resources. They have always gone ape-shit when people say Iraq was about oil.”

    This. And this: The cliche-laden plot and dialogue seemed like afterthoughts at best,

    Essentially, my Winger Friend ™ hates the movie because it’s about a bunch of white people violently exploiting a colored, environmentalist hippie race. He says it’s pure Hollywood propaganda designed to condemn white people.

  76. 76
    geg6 says:

    @tripletee:

    I’m glad you liked it. Sounds awful, awful, awful to me, even with your rave review. Won’t be seeing it, even on video. First, hate James Cameron. Second, hate almost all sci-fi. Third, it’s three fucking hours long with a plot my 8 year old niece could construct better. Three strikes, you’re out.

    Mamet-ophiles may disagree, but fuck ‘em.

    Fuck me, then!

  77. 77

    I actually thoroughly enjoyed the movie as an excellent example of what that medium (film) has to offer. No, the writing isn’t going to blow you away, but it’s not awful. No, the plot isn’t terribly original, but show me one that is? There are however some incredible pieces of art and technology in the film, and the acting is more than passable. To get all that in one film is rare, and why I think it will certainly outstrip Titanic. It’s a compelling adventure ride through the inevitable clash of the equilibrium that nature seeks and the imbalance that humanity seeks for itself.

  78. 78
    jeffreyw says:

    @Booger: No! Your OTHER other hand, dammit!

  79. 79
    inkadu says:

    @matoko_chan: Snowcrash. Did that start with pizza delivery, have a robotic dog jumping the fence in the middle, and a barge city at the end? It’s been a while. I remember quite liking it, but wasn’t sure there was a movie in there. Hey, you know what book would make a really great SF movie? Greg Bear’s The Postman.

    @SpotWeld: Crap-@atypical.

    arguingwithsignposts: When did you go to grad school? I thought hiding the vacuousness of your arguments with fancified lingo was a fairly recent (well, ok, maybe mid-80’s) phenomenon.

    Ok, well, y’all have convinced me. I don’t want to see Avatar, but all my friends do. Since it’s mostly a graphicganza, I will insist my friends drive my to the imax to watch it. Yes, I have a car. I just don’t like driving it.

  80. 80
    Paul L. says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    Actually the 3D was entirely the point for me. That’s what amazed me, more than anything about the characters or etc. The reason I know this is the very first scene, which contained only regular good old humans, simply stunned me.
    I may be alone in that but for FWIW. Go directly to the 3D version.

    A friend got me to go see the 3D version ($12 !!?!!?) .
    There were a number of times were I was tempted by raise my hand to brush away the hanging vines.
    But the best part of Avatar was Michelle Rodriguez’s rack.
    Can someone explain to me why her character (a Marine pilot) spends the first part in a zipped up jumpsuit But when the character rebels, she walks around in a tanktop?

  81. 81
    El Cid says:

    They has a sad because the people in the movie who look like us and speak English and have the cool military stuff and who work for a big rich company are the bad guys so they can’t get no joy out of the blow-em-up, and then the New Age blue space monkeys are the heroes..

  82. 82
    bob h says:

    “is why the neocons are going all out against Avatar. ”

    Must be the anti-corporate undertone.

  83. 83
    Darryl says:

    “Fairness is determined by accomplishments, not by rules. ”
    If that was the way it worked, Breitbart would be slinging hash at a Waffle House and GWB would be running the register. Idiots.

    LOL

  84. 84
    numbskull says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Actually, a restatement of that is “Might makes right.” Essentially, however it is that I reached my lofty plane is A-OK, the end justified the mean.

    Most of the rest of what Bratbutt wrote is like saying “We’re for Mom and Apple Pie!” and more importantly, and what he’s really saying is “And ONLY we, the conservatives, are allowed to be for Mom and apple pie. The rest of you are NOT for Mom and Apple Pie, and therefore are subhuman.”

  85. 85
    Chad N Freude says:

    Larison:

    liberal imperialists and humanitarian interventionists, who are constantly warning against leaving other nations to their own devices

    Like George Bush and the neocons bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East?

  86. 86
    matoko_chan says:

    mcc:
    LoTR was no where near the vector Avatar is.
    Too intellectual.
    And the CGI was all about repping existing eco-systems like the Endorphin horses.
    Not exotic enough, and geared to an older audience.
    And lets face it…even the LoTR MMORPG is boring.
    I wonder ….how many ppl saw LoTR that hadn’t read the books?

    cornerstone: But the Na’vi ARE a warrior culture….thus their appeal.

    Unusually for this sort of planetary romance, especially in the movies, the Pandorans are not a monoculture, but a group of societies closely linked by the planet-wide network of plant intelligence. We don’t see much of any of the other groups because Jake spends his time with the Na’vi, but at least they exist—and are there to be shown in the sequels. Similarly, although what we see even of Na’avi society is limited, if Cameron has his way we can expect a far fuller picture. Avatar is a long film but there are limits to the number of narrative points it can address, particularly when its main purpose is to show us an unfallen world, not without its dangers and conflicts—if the Na’vi have warriors, presumably there are Pandoran wars—but preferable to the bleak future which faces us, and which is Jake’s present.
    Cameron has made this a film whose hero undergoes two simultaneous and linked conversion experiences, rather than one. The scientists regard Sully as a dumb thug; the Na’vi regard him as a stupid human, and he is driven by the need to prove himself to both groups. In some ways this makes things easier for Cameron: it makes it rather more plausible, for instance, that Sully manages to cram the training of a Na’vi warrior into a few months. He is a highly trained warrior already, who needs to learn a lot of new techniques and start to understand a new way of life—since he is in the process of falling in love with his principal trainer, he has an additional set of motivations. We see that he has adapted already to losing his legs and is fiercely protective of his autonomy and new skills in a society that treats him either as baggage or as an object of pity.

  87. 87
    Meanderthal says:

    But the best part of Avatar was Michelle Rodriguez’s rack.
    Can someone explain to me why her character (a Marine pilot) spends the first part in a zipped up jumpsuit But when the character rebels, she walks around in a tanktop?

    Some things should not be explained, only enjoyed.

  88. 88
    Brachiator says:

    @matoko_chan:

    There is a ton of gamer culture woven into Avatar.

    You could also say that there is a ton of Sci Fi woven into gamer culture, and also into Avatar.

    I think a lot of ppl are allowing themselves to be suaded to pass on Avatar because they believe the reviews…that Avatar is dances with smurfs or pochahantas blue…..you should see for your self.

    I agree with you and your quoted references. Here’s a bit of David Denby from the New Yorker:

    James Cameron’s “Avatar” is the most beautiful film I’ve seen in years. Amid the hoopla over the new power of 3-D as a narrative form, and the excitement about the complicated mix of digital animation and live action that made the movie possible, no one should ignore how lovely “Avatar” looks, how luscious yet freewheeling, bounteous yet strange.

    Avatar isn’t just the plot or the dialog (no movie is or else you could get the same effect by just reading the screenplay), but how Cameron creates his worlds and moves his characters within it. And here what he has accomplished is quite often amazing.

  89. 89
    Svensker says:

    Didn’t RedState (Erickson?) say that Avatar was objectively anti-imperialist and, ergo, bad? John or DougJ posted about that a while back. (Your memory may vary.)

    I hate movies where people say, “yeah, the plot’s not great and the characters are kinda wooden, but you should see the special EFFECTS!”. But I really liked Avatar. Suspended my disbelief and loved it. Altho I must admit that part of the pleasure was seeing the imperialist pigs mocked and overthrown.

  90. 90
    tripletee says:

    @geg6:

    First, hate James Cameron. Second, hate almost all sci-fi. Third, it’s three fucking hours long with a plot my 8 year old niece could construct better.

    Fair enough. Maybe you could just play the video game instead. Or read the novel when it’s released. (Cameron is planning on writing it. Really.)

  91. 91
    inkadu says:

    @jl: And when have we had a purely liberal intervention? We didn’t invade Afghanistan to send their women to bikini college. That’s why I think arguments against military liberal intervention are disingenuous. What determines interventions are the more usual self-interested concerns: resources, geopolitical advantage, etc. So what are we really talking about?

  92. 92
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @matoko_chan:

    The scientists regard Sully as a dumb thug; the Na’vi regard him as a stupid human

    heh. Sounds like BJers discussing Sully’s latest blog post. :D

  93. 93
    ericblair says:

    @ChrisS: Essentially, my Winger Friend™ hates the movie because it’s about a bunch of white people violently exploiting a colored, environmentalist hippie race. He says it’s pure Hollywood propaganda designed to condemn white people.

    But, the movie’s made, like, a zillion dollars already, hasn’t it? And isn’t the Market Always Right?

  94. 94
    MikeJ says:

    Avatar isn’t just the plot or the dialog (no movie is or else you could get the same effect by just reading the screenplay)

    It would be nice to have some plot in there that didn’t insult your intelligence. Otherwise why not just get high and go to the laser Floyd show?

  95. 95
    Chad N Freude says:

    If we are all Pandorans now, does that mean we are the descendants of this couple?

  96. 96
    Mike Kay says:

    But the best part of Avatar was Michelle Rodriguez’s rack.

    Agreed!

    http://www.freewebs.com/tattoo.....uez3cm.jpg

  97. 97
    SpotWeld says:

    I’m just hoping we see more of Norm Spellman in one of the sequels.

  98. 98
    geg6 says:

    @tripletee:

    Maybe you could just play the video game instead.

    You obviously haven’t paid attention to my conversation with matoko_chan.

    Or read the novel when it’s released. (Cameron is planning on writing it. Really.)

    FSM save us all.

  99. 99
    inkadu says:

    I’m not being rude. My comment, no. 79, is in moderation. I wish comments approved were placed at the end of the thread. Nobody’s gonna read it all the way up there.

  100. 100
    NickM says:

    It’s expecting a bit much for a film that is so visually revolutionary to also be “The 400 Blows” when it comes to character, plot and writing. A film less rooted in an archetypal hero story would have had to shift attention away from the amazing visuals, and a story that just wandered around Pandora looking at its flora and fauna wouldn’t have gotten made. I thought the structure pretty cleverly immersed the viewer in the Pandoran world in some of the same way the protag was being immersed, and some of the plot devices served to cut out exposition in favor of explaining via visuals.

    As for the plot, I grew up in the age of blockbusting Rambo and Dirty Harry movies. The same technology could well have been used to made a neo-fascist “Starship Troopers,” especially as this was a Fox production. I’m happy for anything I get, politically, from mass culture. So a visually stunning, somewhat ham-handedly scripted movie that has even 12-year-olds cheering on the Indians over the Cowboys: that works for me.

  101. 101
    Cain says:

    @Cat:

    I’ll be ruining my nerd cred, but I’ve not seen it. But it sounds good. Should I see it in 2d or 3d is the real question

    IMAX 3D! :-) I saw it last night, it was pretty good. I enjoyed it for what it was which was entertainment. I didn’t really get the political message so much until the “shock and awe” thing which seemed like a throw-away one liner which I rolled my eyes at. And truly the military commander guy was a douche. It was a predictable movie but the visuals were stunning. I wish Star Wars was like this it would have been awesome.

    If you want to get right wingers really riled up, they should release a thanksgiving movie about the story of the indian who helped the pilgrims and then eventually get sold to slavery in europe. (I’d love to follow the bloodline if possible of that guy) That would burn their goat something fierce!

    cain

  102. 102
    inkadu says:

    @geg6: I understand Avatar is going to be made into one of those ice-skating musicals. You should go with your niece.

  103. 103
    matoko_chan says:

    @Meanderthal: I think the reviews are WRONG lol.
    I luffed it.
    and yeas…..Mote in God’s Eye would be awesome.
    anything by Richard Morgan….Broken Angels?
    Ragamuffin.
    :)

    any other suggestions? your favorite scifi immersive alternative world.

  104. 104
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @ChrisS:

    Essentially, my Winger Friend™ hates the movie because it’s about a bunch of white people violently exploiting a colored, environmentalist hippie race.

    See, I knew it. New Age hippies, that’s what they hate. The rest is just a lot of words.

    Cameron might as well have made a movie about invading San Francisco, and San Francisco fighting back. And winning. As far as wingnuts are concerned.

    Not normal enough, not Christian enough, and way too blue.

  105. 105
    jl says:

    @inkadu: If they keep The Rack, then I will buy a ticket.

  106. 106
    Delia says:

    @tripletee:

    What tripletee said. I also never played a video game after Pong. The plotline just screamed Myth of the Noble Savage to me and the cinema I went to didn’t even have 3D. Still, it was a great way to spend two and a half hours, and I was happy to suspend disbelief and whatever else to enjoy the effects.

    People who are so deep into their ideology that they have to scream about something like this need a serious course in deprogramming.

  107. 107
    tavella says:

    @Brachiator: Adjusted for inflation, the all-time box office hit remains Gone With the Wind, followed by Star Wars, The Sound of Music, and E.T.

    Those “adjusted all-time” lists are distorted in their own way, though; they include multiple rereleases, something we simply don’t do any more. A more equivalent list would be one that either included tape and dvd sales along with rereleases, or just gave the numbers for first release. And even then, you’d have to account for population numbers to be *totally* fair. It’d be interesting to see someone work out those numbers.

  108. 108
    MikeJ says:

    It’s expecting a bit much for a film that is so visually revolutionary to also be “The 400 Blows” when it comes to character, plot and writing.

    I’ve never heard anybody complain that when Antoine is standing on the beach the color of the ocean is wrong, or that the camera shakes in the fun fair scene.

    I have to admit, I would have really loved seeing Spielberg with the bit part as a scientist and Truffaut directing the big budget special effects in Close Encounters.

  109. 109
    geg6 says:

    @inkadu:

    Nah. She’s like me. We like plots and dialogue. We are much more interested in Harry Potter and LOTR if we’re gonna watch a movie together. Or (for her) even better, Ratatouille.

  110. 110
    matoko_chan says:

    from strangehorizons comments

    I am a member of NY Film Critics Online that awarded “Avatar” best picture of the year. My reviews, which appear on Rotten Tomatoes, are linked to my blog, the Unrepentant Marxist, at the url above.

    I was interviewed by Prairie Miller, another left-leaning member of NYFCO who shares my enthusiasm for “Avatar” on WBAI yesterday and my annoyance at leftist critics who harp on “Dances with Wolves” and other movies where the white man rescues the natives. You can hear the show at http://archive.wbai.org/, just look for the Arts Magazine.

    Also, my review of “Avatar” is here:

  111. 111
    Chad N Freude says:

    @Delia:

    People who are so deep into their ideology that they have to scream about something like this need a serious course in deprogramming.

    An element of the ideology is the unshakable belief that anything that appears in any medium is propaganda. Except films of Ayn Rand novels and consrvative talking heads.

  112. 112
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    @SpotWeld:

    I’m a big fan of Norm Spellman. I didn’t know his name until now, but still.

  113. 113

    @matoko_chan: Ringworld woud be excellent, but I really really want someone to make a movie of Lucifer’s Hammer. I think there’s a lot of potential there.

  114. 114
    Brachiator says:

    @MikeJ:

    It would be nice to have some plot in there that didn’t insult your intelligence. Otherwise why not just get high and go to the laser Floyd show?

    The plot of opera is often nothing short of ridiculous. This doesn’t negate the experience of a great work. Not at all.

    Movies ain’t essays and they ain’t just dialog. They ain’t just plot. They ain’t also, by the way, just pretty pictures. Some people always confuse great cinematography with pretty pictures (some of the lamest critics bashed The Godfather because the cinematography was so dark, missing the whole freakin’ point of what Coppola and his ace camera guy Gordon Willis, were getting at).

    And as Alexander Pope once said about the best art,

    True wit is nature to advantage dressed, what oft was thought, but never so well expressed.

    Avatar works for me, by this definition.

    Laser Floyd shows, on the other hand, always suck.

  115. 115
    maus says:

    Liberals hate it not only for the hamhanded attempt at ferngully, but for the “magic white dude comes to save the simple/noble savages” trope.

  116. 116
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @geg6:

    Ratatouille.

    Now there was a movie. I managed to miss even hearing about it somehow and finally saw it recently. The visuals were one of the best and most realistic portrayals of Paris I’ve ever seen. And it was a cartoon. Amazing. I mean just the stone, the quais, the rooftops, just great.

  117. 117
    cyntax says:

    I have to admit, I would have really loved seeing Spielberg with the bit part as a scientist and Truffaut directing the big budget special effects in Close Encounters.

    Not so confident that Truffaut would have loved that…

  118. 118
    Corner Stone says:

    @matoko_chan:

    But the Na’vi ARE a warrior culture….thus their appeal.

    Can you at least try and make the same argument from one post to the next?
    I read the review at strangehorizons also. It’s not helping your case. Or hell, maybe it is since you shift it around so much. Who can tell anymore?

  119. 119
    Cat says:

    Man, I made the mistake of reading the “Noble Savage” wiki entry.

    Can we say the Myth of the Enlightened Victorian.

  120. 120
    Cain says:

    @Svensker:

    I hate movies where people say, “yeah, the plot’s not great and the characters are kinda wooden, but you should see the special EFFECTS!”. But I really liked Avatar. Suspended my disbelief and loved it. Altho I must admit that part of the pleasure was seeing the imperialist pigs mocked and overthrown.

    The only time I was having problems was the floating mountains. That started getting my mind going into how that was possible if physics was the same as in Earth.

    cain

  121. 121
    maus says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    See, I knew it. New Age hippies, that’s what they hate. The rest is just a lot of words.

    Well, it’s not wrong to hate the exploitive fantasy of white neoshaman conversion/enlightenment, but it probably is the way they understand it.

    I pimp this pretty often, but “Going Native, or Going Naive?” is a superb book that goes into people co-opting Native cultures. Usually to make a buck, or for their ego’s sake, but it also goes into the sincerely naive and gullible attempts to “become one with the people”.

  122. 122
    libarbarian says:

    (would a Warhammer 40K version be “Dances With Space Wolves?)

    I prefer Dances with Plague Marines myself.

  123. 123
    tripletee says:

    @geg6:

    You obviously haven’t paid attention to my conversation with matoko_chan.

    Or possibly I was being a smartass. It’s been known to happen from time to time.

    @MikeJ:

    It would be nice to have some plot in there that didn’t insult your intelligence. Otherwise why not just get high and go to the laser Floyd show?

    I think that’s a little unfair, actually. I was rolling my eyes early on at the hippy-dippy commune with nature bullshit in the movie, but Cameron specifically addressed it later in the film in a fairly clever way, I thought. I think there’s a distinction to be made between truly bad screenwriting (Transformers) and merely uninspired (Avatar).

  124. 124
    maus says:

    @tripletee:

    I think there’s a distinction to be made between truly bad screenwriting (Transformers) and merely uninspired (Avatar).

    Substanceless pretension? Certainly not character development or an original narrative.

    It was within his power to make a nuanced picture, but he chose to make a popcorn flick. All the intent scattered around in interviews doesn’t mean shit if the end-product doesn’t reflect anything but technical brilliance.

  125. 125
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @maus: Oh I’m not saying that it’s unhatable. Or that part at least.

    Just that the right wingers penning many deep and complicated thoughts about what’s wrong with the movie are really just having their buttons pushed in very elemental and utterly predictable ways.

  126. 126
    numbskull says:

    @maus: And conservatives hate DWW because they claim it depicts Native Americans as noble savages who were ruthlessly slaughtered by white men. Of course, this is arguably true (the slaughter part), so basically conservatives hate it because that aspect of the movie holds a mirror up to them, and it’s not that they don’t like what they see, they just don’t like that the rest of us don’t like what we see.

    Maybe I should get back to work…

    Still, it’s odd that the movie did so well given that it’s hated by conservatives and liberals. Maybe it did so well because it’s just a good movie? And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar?

  127. 127
    MikeJ says:

    The plot of opera is often nothing short of ridiculous.

    I always thought Così fan tutte worked as a screwball comedy in the style of Bringing up Baby. But yeah, pretty ridiculous.

    But opera is almost completely performance. Dumb plots and ugly staging are forgotten with great singing. Opera was one of the first multimedia experiences, but it is much more strongly tied to the music than any of its other factors.

    Movies ain’t essays and they ain’t just dialog. They ain’t just plot. They ain’t also, by the way, just pretty pictures

    Agreed. But I’ve not seen anything about Avatar that made me think it was something other than pretty pictures. I would love to see a huge spectacle movie in 3d imax that was good. This doesn’t look like that movie to me.

    If the movie would suck in 16mm b&w, chances are I’m not going to like it in 3d imax. If it’s a great movie in 16mm b&w, chances are it’ll be great in 3d imax.

  128. 128
    Meanderthal says:

    @matoko_chan:

    and yeas…..Mote in God’s Eye would be awesome.
    anything by Richard Morgan….Broken Angels?

    The Mote in God’s Eye would have to be dumbed-down beyond all recognition, which is not a fate I’d wish on it. Part of the problem is that the Moties are well and truly alien, rather than funny-looking humans like the Na’vi. Trying to convey an alien experience is hard enough on paper; not sure it can be done well at all on the big screen (there may be examples I’m missing; I’d love to be corrected).

    As for Broken Angels, I think they’d be better served to keep things in order and do that one after Altered Carbon (which I think would make an excellent film).

  129. 129
    Brachiator says:

    @geg6:

    Nah. She’s like me. We like plots and dialogue. We are much more interested in Harry Potter and LOTR if we’re gonna watch a movie together. Or (for her) even better, Ratatouille.

    Isn’t Harry Potter Tom Brown’s School Days with magic potions?

    I’m just funning with you, but you gotta admit that Potter, which is wonderful, ties into a long, familiar tradition of hero stories, including King Arthur and Robin Hood.

    Ratatouille was marvelous, but I know people who refused to see it because it was a) a cartoon, and b) a cartoon about rats.

  130. 130
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Cat: One film no one has mentioned in all of this, with everyone listing all of the forerunners to the story, is Lawrence of Arabia.

    There are differences, e.g. he didn’t end up rebelling against his own forces (at least not in the traditional or official sense) but there are some similarities in the archetype of the white man going native and etc.

    And BTW, in the debate about whether films can be powerful, noteworthy cinematically, but actually have a good script, there’s a pretty good example.

  131. 131

    @inkadu:

    Just change the post a little, a word or two, and repost it. I do it all the time. I have no time or patience for this idiotic mod filter.

  132. 132
    Randy P says:

    @Pigs & Spiders:
    As long as we’re talking Larry Niven here, how about some of his stuff with Gil Hamilton and the ARM. There’s something very Philip Dick-ish about those stories to me, and Philip Dick stories have been very successful on the big screen.

    Ringworld? Not sure. But it would be fun to see any story with Kzin brought to life. Something from the Man-Kzin Wars perhaps.

  133. 133
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @Cat:

    I’ve heard the Imax screens multiplex’s are only marginally bigger then regular ‘large’ screens you find at the high quality multiplex’s.

    Some are, some aren’t. It really depends on the theater–if you have options, I would suggest going with the biggest screen you can, but even on a “somewhat bigger than a big multiplex screen” screen, it’ll still work pretty well.

    On a related note, I do find this trend of smaller IMAX screens to be unfortunate. I guess it’s a marketing thing–call it IMAX, and you can charge more.

  134. 134
    SpotWeld says:

    @Randy P:

    But it would be fun to see any story with Kzin brought to life.

    Watch the Epsiode “The Slaver Weapon” from the Star Trek Animed Series.

  135. 135
    Randy P says:

    @Svensker:

    I hate movies where people say, “yeah, the plot’s not great and the characters are kinda wooden, but you should see the special EFFECTS!”.

    Me too, usually. I think the only exception for me was The Matrix. I just loved the look of that movie the first time I saw it. Only movie I might end up recommending based on look alone.

    But now of course “bullet-time” and everything else there has been copied to death.

  136. 136
    maus says:

    @NickM:

    It’s expecting a bit much for a film that is so visually revolutionary to also be “The 400 Blows” when it comes to character, plot and writing. A film less rooted in an archetypal hero story would have had to shift attention away from the amazing visuals, and a story that just wandered around Pandora looking at its flora and fauna wouldn’t have gotten made

    No it’s not “expecting too much” for a 300 million dollar film to have placed more emphasis on story, and so what? I don’t know why so many people are going out of their way to make excuses for a bad story. If you enjoyed the pretty pictures, there’s no need to justify the crappy writing.

  137. 137
    matoko_chan says:

    @Corner Stone: well…i meant that of course the kids will fight the dragons against each other and use the trees for guns.
    Im sry i irritate u so much….but mostly my head is full of quarks and mesons and i have very few social skillz.

  138. 138
    Comrade Dread says:

    is why the neocons are going all out against Avatar.

    1. It might make people think that invading a country, shooting up the natives, taking their resources, and trying to ‘civilize’ them is a bad thing.

    2. It might make people think that the natives of such a place actually have a right of self-determination and a legitimate right to defend their home and person from coercion.

    3. Anything that tries to stir empathy in people to view situations from a different point of view is a dangerous thing for neocon projects. Why, people might actually start to wonder how they might feel if they watched their house and family get incinerated by a bomb dropped by a foreign power.

  139. 139
    SpotWeld says:

    @Comrade Dread: Also.. the nerds win in this one.

  140. 140
    batgirl says:

    @Cat: 3D — The graphics and special effects are the reason to see this movie, not the story which is eh.

  141. 141
    maus says:

    I’m just funning with you, but you gotta admit that Potter, which is wonderful, ties into a long, familiar tradition of hero stories, including King Arthur and Robin Hood.

    The hero stories are a framework for all the smaller stories and not meant to stand on their own. It’s what separates the LOTR series from the newer Star Wars movies and shlock like Eragon.

    A framework/confine can allow for great freedom, but following it without adding anything back is a recipe for boring.

    @137 “2. It might make people think that the natives of such a place actually have a right of self-determination and a legitimate right to defend their home and person from coercion.”

    It might allow people to think that the natives of such a place could actually SUCCEED in self-determination and defending their homes :)

  142. 142
    Cat says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: Isn’t this an eastern plot trope?

    Mans enemies send him into the desert/mountains to die and it only makes him stronger and he returns and ends up triumphing over them.

    In the Far East the hero will learn secret monkey style to right the wrongs.

  143. 143
    matoko_chan says:

    But it would be fun to see any story with Kzin brought to life.

    yeah…. the kzinrett are non-sentient in Ringworld….but there could be a natural trilogy! Ringworld engineers and ringworld throne are already written. Kzinrett are sentient on the map of kzin on the ringworld.
    I would so like to see kzin culture.

    Speaker to animals: Let me explain kzintzi diplomacy– first you scream, and then you leap.

    oooooo…..rishathra…i had forgotten that.

  144. 144
    batgirl says:

    @geg6: I went to see Titanic opening night with my dad. About half way through the film I think my dad could see I was getting antsy and asked if I wanted to leave. Thank goodness. As we walked out I told him if felt like they were sinking the titanic in real time. I really hated that movie.

  145. 145
    matoko_chan says:

    @Meanderthal:

    According to the back cover of Market Forces, and the review by Inchotaus Group the rights to Altered Carbon for film production have been purchased. IMDb presently states that a film of the same name is scheduled for release in 2009, to be directed by James McTeigue.[1]

    Where is it???????????

  146. 146
    Citizen_X says:

    If the neocons hated this movie, they are really not going to like Cameron’s next project.

  147. 147
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Bubblegum Tate:”Hello, Moe’s tavern, home of the world’s smallest large-screen TV”

  148. 148
    Brachiator says:

    @MikeJ:

    But opera is almost completely performance. Dumb plots and ugly staging are forgotten with great singing. Opera was one of the first multimedia experiences, but it is much more strongly tied to the music than any of its other factors.

    Which kinda makes my point that reducing Avatar (or any other good movie) to story and plot is insufficient. People who just want story and dialog should go see a play, or listen to a radio drama.

    RE: Movies ain’t essays and they ain’t just dialog. They ain’t just plot. They ain’t also, by the way, just pretty pictures

    Agreed. But I’ve not seen anything about Avatar that made me think it was something other than pretty pictures. I would love to see a huge spectacle movie in 3d imax that was good. This doesn’t look like that movie to me.

    Depends on what you’re looking for. I didn’t see Avatar in Imax (I’m a cheap bastard who was willing to pay for 3D, but not an Imax premium as well). On the other hand, I did see The Dark Knight in Imax. Some of the sequences were shot especially for that medium. They weren’t huge spectacle. They didn’t need to be. Some of the Imax sequences emphasized the thematic point that The Batman owns the night, and the sky above Gotham.

  149. 149
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    Hahahahaha!

    I also loved it when Ren & Stimpy referred to marmosets as the world’s largest smallest apes.

  150. 150
    Mike in NC says:

    Titanic was a hit because global audiences love to see white people drown.

    My wife dragged me to it about four times, and she’d blow through a box of Kleenex every time. In addition to seeing drowning white people in steerageway (my wife: “some of you Irish who didn’t survive the crossing”), Kate’s hooters were worth the price of admission.

  151. 151
    tripletee says:

    @maus:

    I don’t know why so many people are going out of their way to make excuses for a bad story. If you enjoyed the pretty pictures, there’s no need to justify the crappy writing.

    Who here is making excuses? Everyone has pretty much acknowledged that the writing isn’t the greatest, but that Avatar has other attributes that make it worth seeing. (Not least of which is that the more money it makes, the more it will piss off neocon douchebags.)

  152. 152
    Mike in NC says:

    If the neocons hated this movie, they are really not going to like Cameron’s next project.

    I know right-wingers who’ll go total apeshit on hearing the words “Wounded Knee”.

  153. 153
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Martin:

    They’re afraid that the popularity of Avatar proves that the Bush Doctrine is morally wrong. I don’t think we should discourage them.

    Best review-of-the-reviews I’ve seen so far!

  154. 154
    gwangung says:

    Who here is making excuses? Everyone has pretty much acknowledged that the writing isn’t the greatest,

    …which is why I probably won’t see it…

    but that Avatar has other attributes that make it worth seeing. (Not least of which is that the more money it makes, the more it will piss off neocon douchebags.)

    ….but I have absolutely no problem with folks who see it for this particular reason.

  155. 155
    lol says:

    Christ… Avatar’s plot isn’t going to win awards for originality or perfection but it isn’t the abomination people seem to think it is. Much like Titanic, it’s an average plot executed in service of a greater film experience. And it’s executed very very well.

  156. 156
    Glidwrith says:

    @Cain: Ahem – to establish my nerd credentials, my husband and I thought the floating mountains were full of the unobtainium mineral. Did you notice the chunk in corporate guy’s office was just floating? Maybe that wasn’t a magnetic field it was repelling in but a property of the mineral/metal?

  157. 157
    jrosen says:

    Just as a matter of historical accuracy: It was an act sponsored and abetted by Serbian intelligence (which had been infiltrated by an ultra-nationalist secret society) which was the spark that set off the First World War. The assassination (ironically, in Sarajevo) of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was due to his (Ferdinand’s) sin in supporting the convertion of the Dual Monarchy into a triple one, with the South (Yugo) Slavs given equal status with the German-speaking Austrians and the Hungarians. This might have blunted Serbian ambitions for a “Greater Serbia” (we have heard more about that ambition recently) and so was anathema to a certain brand of Serbian nationalist. Of course, this was only the spark, not the fuel, for the Great War that has troubled us ever since. Still, the Serbians, were hardly blameless for the result.

    The Versailles Conference cobbled together Yugoslavia (Serbia — Russian Orthodox), Croatia — Roman Catholic, Bosnia — mixed with substantial numbers of Muslims and smaller entities like the Slovenes, the Montenegrins, and the Tyroleans) into a country that spent most of World War II fighting a civil war, with the blessing and assistance of the Nazis. The result was that the Ustache (Croatian) and Chetniks (Serbian) enthusiastically slaughtered each other and any civilians who happened to be around (with special attention to Jews of course) and did little or nothing to “resist’ the Germans (with the exception — wouldn’t ya know it — of the Communists who wound up controlling the country and gave the middle one up to Stalin, something that Ho Chi MInh would have probably done to Mao if we hadn’t blundered in there). When Tito died and the Communist Party lost its grip, the old murderous animosities emerged, and Serbia was right there up front. Serbia has not got a great history as a “good guy” in Europe.

    In short, to say that Serbia “fought on our side”, whatever that might mean, is hardly an accurate description. The Serbian “special troops”, especially the raping and mass murder of civilians, took their cues straight from the SS playbook, and the intervention was as justified as one can ever be, IMHO. It was short, it involved no ground invasion, if was surgical (mostly!) and it worked. To conflate it with Iraq is typical ahistorical tendentiousness. But why should anyone be surprised?

  158. 158
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @lol:

    it’s an average plot executed in service of a greater film experience. And it’s executed very very well.

    That’s a really good way of putting it.

  159. 159
    inkadu says:

    @maus: Karma Kola tells the story of native-adoration from the perspective of Indians watching western yoga fans flocking to the Ganges.

    Haven’t read your book, but since I feel like I already 100% agree with it, probably not much point to read it.

  160. 160
    deadrody says:

    More LOL for BJ. Citing Avatar as serious political commentary.

    ROTFLMAO!

  161. 161
    soonergrunt says:

    @licensed to kill time: Hahahahahahahaha!

    Go to see the movie in 3D for the visuals, which will blow you away. Don’t bother with the plot, the dialog, or anything else that detracts from the brilliant effects.
    I thoroughly enjoyed the 3D visuals. I didn’t like the plot, and especially since in 20+ years of active and reserve service, I’ve met a lot of officers of every branch, and I’ve never known anyone at all like the colonel depicted in the movie. Oh, well, the visuals were great. Amazing, truely.

    The fact that it makes conservatives cry only makes it better in my book and substantially makes up for the movie’s multitude of crimes against plot, dialog, character, motivation, and all.

  162. 162
    Martian Buddy says:

    What Larison doesn’t get to, and what I’m curious about, is why the neocons are going all out against Avatar. The last time I remember them going nuts about a movie was “Munich” and the motivation there seemed a lot more obvious.

    Why the unusual degree of venom compared to, say, District 9, you mean? I’d put it down to two factors. First, it’s a big-budget animation extravaganza where they went all-out to create a lush, beautiful environment populated with cute-ish aliens–in other words, the sort of film that kids will be pestering their parents to see. It trips the wingnut “ZOMG LIBRUL INDOCTRINATION!!11!” reflex. Plus it’s not the first Cameron film to get wingnut wetsuits in a twist (see: Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2,) so he’s probably well on his way to joining Michael Moore as a Hollywood liberal bogeyman.

  163. 163
    Martian Buddy says:

    @Glidwrith: Yeah, the metal is supposed to have magic anti-gravity properties, which is why they’re there to strip-mine the planet.

  164. 164
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Cat:

    My concern with imax 3d is that I’ve heard the Imax screens multiplex’s are only marginally bigger then regular ‘large’ screens you find at the high quality multiplex’s.

    We went IMAX (the Reading Jordan’s Furniture theatre) for Star Trek, and we definitely plan to wait until we can see Avatar the same way. The screens may not be larger, but the definition seemed noticibly better to my middle-aged myopic/astigmatic eyes. More importantly, the surround-sound quality is HUGELY better, at least at this venue. The people-shouting-at-each-other-from-opposite-sides-of-a-vast-expanse actually sounded like they were distanced, not like ‘oh, here’s where the speaker system becomes obtrusive’, and it was a lot easier to pick out dialogue during the noisy bits. Also, comfy wide seats with adequate armrests, key to my enjoyment of any three-hour movie, thankyouverymuch!

  165. 165
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Meanderthal:

    Can someone explain to me why her character (a Marine pilot) spends the first part in a zipped up jumpsuit But when the character rebels, she walks around in a tanktop?

    Y’know, those NOW ‘wimmins libbers’, back in the early 1970s, didn’t actually burn any bras — they did throw bras into a trashcan at one of the first televised protests, and that seems to have been conflated with the draft-card-burning protests taking place at the same time. But discarding the action-restricting garments considered ‘appropriate’ for ‘the weaker sex’ is a social trope going back at least to Amanda Bloomer (if not Hatshepsut).

    Also, the male portion of the ticket-buying public is fixated on titties. We like to make fun of you for that.

  166. 166
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    The problem is that Larison is a convert to Orthodox Christianity (even of the extreme ROCOR sort), so he’s drunk the Orthodox Historical Kool Aid as seeing Serbia (and Russia too!) as perpetual victims. I seem to remember back when he was just a bog standard convert with bog standard conservative views who was studying Byzantine History. I think he converted around the same time I did.

    So, by his logic, just because a country was on our side in WW2, they are automatically angels? Serbia, a country that did an overrated job of tying down German divisions in the Balkans 50 years before the fucking 90s? On behalf of the dead Bosnian Muslims, fuck him.

  167. 167
    Mike Furlan says:

    Daniel Larison is a member of the “League of the South”, labeled a “racist hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Which could mean that he just wants some people to believe that he is a racist, even though he isn’t. Why that would be I can’t imagine. Struggling for an explanation I think of the choice of location for Reagan’s speech at Philadelphia, Mississippi. This signal picked up the white supremacist vote for him without him having to to be too obvious about it. But why would Daniel Larison want the white supremacist to like him?

    Or it could simply mean that he is motivated by racism.

    That would explain his sympathy for Serbian ethnic cleansing.

    His defense of his membership in the League is at the level of Bluto’s rant “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” in Animal House.
    http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/46573.html

    Amazing for someone who is doing work at the PhD level. And something that would cast doubt on the value of his opinion on other matters.

  168. 168
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    the action-restricting garments

    I always thought so.:)

  169. 169
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    Larison has gotten a reputation simply for being anti-war, and writing for a magazine that occasionally has Glennzilla in it.

    The enemy of my enemy (in this case paleocon Larison) isnt my friend.

  170. 170
    Mike Furlan says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    But Larison isn’t “anti-war.”

    War for Greater Serbia is OK.

    War to protect and extend slavery is OK.

    Now he says that he is against the “slaughter of other people . . . for the sake of ideology and centralising power.”

    But isn’t that exactly what the Serbs were doing in the ’90s?

    And, although he pretends to be anti-slavery, he thought that it was OK for the Slave states to start a war in defence of slavery.

  171. 171
    Corner Stone says:

    @Martian Buddy:

    The Abyss

    A completely underrated and awesome movie. Way ahead of its time.
    Great cast, great action. Spotty ending but really watchable and re-watchable, IMO.

    Goddammit, you bitch! You never backed away from anything in your life! Now fight!

  172. 172
    Cat Lady says:

    @tripletee:

    Yes. I stopped reading at your comment. For those who haven’t seen it, don’t read another thing about it – the plot is simple, the score is completely forgettable, the characters are comic bookish, but SEE IT IN 3D! It’s amazing! It’s beautiful! A week after I saw it, it still gives me a hApPy! That’s what all the reichwing fucktards hate/fear about it – it’s sensuously beautiful and seductive, and it resonates within the heart and mind, and not the lower chakras. Read your Joseph Campbell, people!

  173. 173
    Fencedude says:

    Anyone else ever notice that there are tons of people who haven’t seen the movie pooh-poohing it because of the plot and how it relies only on special effects, but pretty much everyone (who isn’t an insane winger) who’s seen thinks that while the plot was nothing special, it really was goddamn amazing anyway?

    Amazing.

    (also people complaining about the plot of a movie that haven’t seen is completely asinine. No one says you have to go see it, but you really can’t say anything about the plot of a movie you haven’t seen with any sort of authority)

  174. 174
    Martian Buddy says:

    @Corner Stone: The novelization was pretty damn good, too–if memory serves, Cameron actually had the cast reading it to help understand their roles. It’s such a shame about Orson Scott Card going raving psycho fundie.

  175. 175
    Delia says:

    You know, anyone who’s studied the least bit of literature knows that there aren’t that many basic plot lines. They all just get recycled and dressed up in different clothes to keep readers/viewers of the current age amused. So yeah, Avatar’s a pretty standard plot, but then, so was the initial Star Wars. It was a lot of fun and I’ll probably watch it again.

  176. 176
    ricky says:

    The marines in avatar are not US soldiers, they are mercenaries working for some mega corporation. Its a similar idea to aliens franchise, also James Cameron alien and aliens, giant faceless mega conglomerate pulling all the strings and playing with the characters lives. Its similar to Blackwater and other mercenaries.

    The Blackwater mercenaries are paid to replace US soldiers.

  177. 177
    Corner Stone says:

    @Martian Buddy: Not familiar with that.
    Off topic kinda, but I’m a big Ed Harris fan. If a flick needed a “Boss” who would push you til you dropped, or a “Detective” who would never quit – I think Ed Harris could play it to perfection.
    Dude’s good.

    *Felt a little bad for him in “A History of Violence” as that cheesy one-note character only existed to get dusted.
    And also Absolute Power as I thought they toned him down to a mensch.

  178. 178
    Corner Stone says:

    @Delia: They all re-use the 12 Archetypes in one way or another.
    The conflict happens as a natural course and progression.
    Nothing new under the sun.

  179. 179
    Delia says:

    And I’ll just remark, there’s nothing wingers can do to drive themselves further from the hearts of ordinary Americans than go berserk over a popular and physically attractive movie that everyone else finds enormously amusing and which has apparently launched a technological innovation in viewing that everyone’s going gaga over.

    So I hope they all foam at the mouth as loudly as they like and attract lots of attention. It’ll be really good for the country as a whole.

  180. 180
    dagon says:

    The story of Avatar is NOT “eh”! The point is that the movie works. Probably, the best theater going experience that I have had in recent memory.

    Sure, it’s popcorn but it isn’t cheese; and if you really think about it it couldn’t have been done any other way.

    Cameron intended for the audience to fall in love with the planet. There’s your plot. And he succeeded in that beyond all prediction. To that end, he offered a straightforward plot and I am thankful that he did.

    What was notable to me was the stuff that he didn’t do. I was waiting for that jealous scientist guy to double cross the team because Jake was getting the juice that he himself wanted. That didn’t happen and you know for damn sure that it would have in a more “nuanced” script treatment. Avatar was simply old-school world building without any of the wink-wink pretensions that we’ve become accustomed to.

    That doesn’t work all of the time but for Avatar it was the only way to go and it was a glorious experience.

    peace

  181. 181
    matoko_chan says:

    They’re afraid that the popularity of Avatar proves that the Bush Doctrine is morally wrong. I don’t think we should discourage them.

    Martin nails it.
    heres a quote from the bourgie conservatives place…

    well…in the review i linked Roy speculates about the second Avatar which is already in the works…..I agree with his take…the Na’vi are a warrior culture…who did they fight before the bush-iraq-war proxies came on the scene?
    Unusually for this sort of planetary romance, especially in the movies, the Pandorans are not a monoculture, but a group of societies closely linked by the planet-wide network of plant intelligence. We don’t see much of any of the other groups because Jake spends his time with the Na’vi, but at least they exist—and are there to be shown in the sequels. Similarly, although what we see even of Na’avi society is limited, if Cameron has his way we can expect a far fuller picture. Avatar is a long film but there are limits to the number of narrative points it can address, particularly when its main purpose is to show us an unfallen world, not without its dangers and conflicts—if the Na’vi have warriors, presumably there are Pandoran wars—but preferable to the bleak future which faces us, and which is Jake’s present.
    Nuke from space is not a believable storyline …..its kinda like the idea that ‘merica could have turned the arabian peninsula into a plain of black glass and slant drilled under it post 911. PR fail and destroys the resource, but im sure the plan had its advocates in the bush cabinet.
    The 3D CG models and tech are reuseable, Spock, so the sequels will cost less.
    Culture doesn’t shape people as much as people shape culture according their needs…the themes of Avatar…acculturation, balance of life, unity of existance, oneness of being, are emergent themes in modern science and politics both. SBR and climatology, for example.
    There is quite a bit of xian mythos in Avatar…but the “avatars” of true xianity (like Grace Augustine and Trudy Machon)) all side with the Pandorans. And the non-xian mythos triumphs.
    If Jake is a messiah figure like Roy postulates, he is also an avatar in the hindu sense….an incarnation of a deity in the form of a human, animal, or mythic figure.
    And Quaritch, the avatar of contemporary white evangelical (neocon) xianity….becomes a wholly demonic figure.
    So I was wrong…for conservatives, it isnt just race…..it is a rejection of the idea that any culture has the right, biblically authorized duty, or might-privilege to impose its values and needs on another…a pure rejection of white evangelical xianity as exemplified by “democracy promotion” and the Iraq War.

    still…the main message is the balance of life.
    To respect life, and honor it, without taking sides.
    Moro: ‘The Forest Spirit gives life and takes life away. Life and death are his alone to give.’
    Neytiri: “Our Great Mother does not take sides, Jake. She protects only the balance of life.”

    Like…Sully and Suderman claim to love District 9 but sneer at Avatar. I think this is why.
    Avatar is a pure rejection of white evangelical xianity, and everyone knows that conservatism has devolved to a base of white evangelical christians.

  182. 182
    matoko_chan says:

    @dagon:

    Cameron intended for the audience to fall in love with the planet

    agree!
    and …..yeah.
    the tech of the old-skool world building is building 3D CG models.
    those are built now.
    I think the sequels will take us deeper into the model/paradigm of Pandora….more alien culture, more VR.
    we are the explorers, and Jake is our avatar.

    who would like to see the Ringworld and the Puppeteer Planet?
    clap your hands!

  183. 183
    EIGRP says:

    Maybe we’re all Native Americans too:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....10538.html

    -Eric

  184. 184
    Delia says:

    @matoko_chan:

    Like…Sully and Suderman claim to love District 9 but sneer at Avatar. I think this is why.
    Avatar is a pure rejection of white evangelical xianity, and everyone knows that conservatism has devolved to a base of white evangelical christians.

    This thread is probably stone dead, but I’ll just add anyhow, that this must be wrong, at least as far as Sully is concerned. There’s no one more dubious of what passes for white evangelical Christianity, or Christianism than he. I believe he invented the latter term.

  185. 185
    Antiquated Tory says:

    @geg6
    Haven’t seen Avatar myself, but a friend of mine, solid working-class center-leftie and published SF writer, said much the same thing. Well, what he actually said was that he was cheering for the villains to wipe out the smurfs and strip-mine the planet by the time it was over, and this is not a man who normally sympathizes with imperialist resource extraction industries. He also described the film as “less intellectually sophisticated than an episode of Thundercats.” For example, if the lives of billions of people had relied on getting this “unobtanium” (how much did they pay the guy who came up with that name?), there would have been an interesting moral conflict and a more interesting film. Instead he said it was a straight up Noble Savage/White Messiah vs Evil Advanced Technology Capitalist Corpo plot, made with the most modern technology on behalf of a capitalist corporation.
    I watched District 9 for the first time last night, partly because I’d read elsewhere that seeing it back to back with Avatar is, er, quite a contrast.

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