January 09, 2010 | Ronda Jambe

Is Avatar Apocalypse Then?

Everyone might as well go see James Cameron’s Avatar. It’s visually delightful and imaginative, especially in 3D, and I just wish I’d seen it on an IMAX as well. The characters are good enough, and Sigourney Weaver as the crusty but conscientious scientist is sort of a reprise for her. Sam Worthington is easy to take, and the plot is reasonably engaging. I’ll see it again sometime.
We saw it when it first came out, and there had been few reviews. I trot along with the spouse, who keeps a closer watch on the movie offerings. One of my observations was that the Americans have become the defacto archetype of plunders and spoilers. Sort of the way the Russians have taken over from the Italians as nasty gangsters in movies and shows like The Wire. Let’s hope we never see movies showing Australia becoming bullies in the south Pacific.
The bad invaders in Avatar were chasing an elusive mineral. Having just seen a reworked version of Apolcalypse Now, I’m not too sure what the Americans were chasing in Vietnam. Comparing the two, one might say the Francis Ford Coppola movie was much more vehemently and specifically anti-American. Especially the added in scenes of the go-go girls and the French dinner party, not to mention the violence. The grimy violence was about all I recalled from having seen it when it first came out.
My whole life has been framed by consciousness of American imperialism and invasions, and not much has changed since Apocalypse Now came out thirty years ago. Apocalyptic destruction of the environment has come more to the fore since then, and the sadness of that knowledge has also shaped my adult weltanschauung. Pundits are saying Avatar will do more to raise environmental awareness among the young than Al Gore has, but that remains to be seen and measured. I hope young people don’t think a happy ending is coming their way if they embrace an inner spirituality, or that salvation will come via social networking and mobile internet.
Don’t know what was said at the time about Apocalypse Now, but the American right wing is reacting strongly and negatively to Avatar. It is set in the future, and is therefore more abstract and sci-fi than Apocalypse Now, which was set in the immediate and still very raw past.
The US only pulled out of Vietnam in 1975, and the movie came out about 5 years later. Too bad that current anger about such cinematic portrayals of US military-industrial collusion doesn’t translate into a plan to enact change the rest of the world can believe in. Instead the man of peace gives a speech justifying war, and the number of countries they need protecting from just multiplies. Now add Yemen, and why not Nigeria? Lots of angry young men, how do you begin to change that tide? For every one they add, my world of possible travel and communication diminishes by that much. So much for one world and open borders of free trade. We’re becoming more afraid of each other instead.
CODA: Does a huge plasma TV at the coast qualify me for hypocrite of the year? Spouse wanted it, it was on sale, and the extra energy use should be balanced by much non-use while we’re in Canberra. Anything that lures him to the coast gives me more time in the warm ocean. Life could hardly get better, and can’t say I deserve it, but unless I set up a bicycle to generate the energy, don’t know how to atone for good fortune and living in a lucky country.

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 11:47 am | Comments (1) |
Filed under: Arts

1 Comment

  1. Yes the group-think negative response by those on the right of the culture wars was entirely predictable.
    But what if the only REAL solution is the emergence for the first time in the West, and by extension the entire world, of a sane and balanced Spiritual Consciousness.
    Or put in another way. What if the current crisis of Civilization altogether is the inevitable result (or projection) of our impoverished religious and Spiritual Consciousness. Or conversely the drive to total power and control at the root of Western “culture”.
    We ALWAYS create culture in our collective image. Or our cultural forms etc are always a projection of what we ARE collectively at the level of consciousness.
    By the way you will find parallels in the themes of the film Avatar and the themes in these essays by a REAL Avatar.

    Comment by John — January 11, 2010 @ 4:12 pm

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