Thursday, January 7, 2010

"Avatar" - Beautiful Visual, Disappointing Message

After much debate, I accepted an invitation to join friends for an IMAX 3D showing of the movie Avatar. It is a phenomenal movie for sure - from the breathtaking scale to the sensuous beauty, I was served a grand feast. Yet, at the end of the movie, after some discussion with friends, I am left with a sense of disappointment that justifies my initial hesitation.

The movie does have a strong message, exposing the greedy and destructive nature of corporate culture and corporations. But in the end, the movie cheapened its message by providing a juvenile "solution" - fight back the monster machines with bows and arrows, you'll win the day, and the evil forces will not return. The protagonists live happily ever after.

The audience's ability to buy tickets made them (us) members of the denounced culture and destructive force depicted in the movie, arguably its driving force. Yet the movie provided an outlet for the audience to root for the good guy, who helped indigenous people to fight back the invaders from Earth. Rooting for the hero allowed us to figuratively wash our hands clean. It was unearned self-congratulation, freeing us to replay the role of hero in our minds afterward, as we munch on McDonalds burgers and slurp Coca Cola, thus continuing to enable corporations to wreak havoc on Earth and beyond.

Not only did the movie propose no true solution, no serious questions were even asked. For such a highly touted movie, I ask for more than "Avatar" delivered. The disappointment of being shown so little confirmed my initial hesitation.

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