The political import of Avatar — and there’s no waving this aspect away because it’s right in your face start to finish, and especially in the third act — is ardently left. It is pro-indigenous native, anti-corporate, anti-imperialist, anti-U.S. Iraq War effort, anti-U.S.-in-Afghanistan (and anti-troop-surge-in-that-country, or strongly against the thinking of President Barack Obama and Gen. Stanley McChrystal), anti-rightie, anti-Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld, etc.
Yes, it’s very teenaged adolescent in its super-imaginative wacko visions and exuberant energy levels, but politically it’s pure Che Guevara (more the Motorcycle Diaries or Che-in-Cuba version than Che in Bolivia), Naom Chomsky, Hugo Chavez, Howard Zinn, Gore Vidal, Oliver Stone, etc. Cameron is an earth-hugging lefty from way back (the flagrant despise-the-arrogant-rich current in Titanic being but one example) so this should come as no surprise to anyone. I for one am cheered and heartened.
If Sarah Palin sees Avatar and then sits down and actually thinks about what it’s saying (which is always a dicey proposition, I admit), she’ll hate this movie.
It gets worse from there. Follow the link for quotes from James Cameron affirming the movie’s message plus a bonus theory by author Jeffrey Wells about, gulp, some sort of 9/11 metaphor lurking in the subtext. Seriously: Did anyone expect otherwise? Given the framework of the plot and the obvious allegorical intent — military invades planet to secure valuable commodity in the soil — what other way could this flick have conceivably tilted? The mercenaries heroically uproot the natives, seize the treasure, and blast them to bits while the audience cheers? C’mon. Once you know that the aliens are doe-eyed humanoids rather than screeching black reptiles with giant fangs, the die is cast, baby.
Exit question via Dave Weigel: Isn’t this basically the same plot as “Aliens” except with good guys and bad guys reversed?
Update: Bipartisan consensus at last!
Absent from the big screen for over a decade now, Oscar-winning director James Cameron returns armed with a reported half-billion dollars, a story he’s been desperate to tell for 15 years, and the very latest in cutting-edge visual technology. The result is “Avatar,” a sanctimonious thud of a movie so infested with one-dimensional characters and PC clichés that not a single plot turn – small or large – surprises. I call it the “liberal tell,” where the early and obvious politics of the film gives away the entire story before the second act begins, and “Avatar” might be the sorriest example of this yet. For all the time and money and technology that went into its making, the thing that matters most – character and story – are strictly Afterschool Special…
Think of “Avatar” as “Death Wish 5” for leftists. A simplistic, revisionist revenge fantasy where if you freakin’ hate the bad guys (America), you’re able to forgive the by-the-numbers predictability of it all and still get off watching them get what they got coming.