Last night on NBC News with Brian Williams (if you don’t know who that is, it’s the equivalent of Jack Nicholson/William Hurt in Broadcast News) the discussion of Avatar’s politics was discussed. Now, ABC News (presumed the more conservative of the network news programs) also brings it up:
“‘Avatar‘ is a thinly disguised, heavy-handed and simplistic sci-fi fantasy/allegory critical of America from our founding straight through to the Iraq War,” wrote Nolte. “It looks like a big-budget animated film with a garish color palette right off a hippie’s tie dye shirt.”
And the religion thing was also discussed:
Some conservative writers say they are outraged by strong religious undertones in the movie.
“Like the holiday season itself, the science fiction epic is a crass embodiment of capitalistic excess wrapped around a deeply felt religious message,” Conservative writer and blogger Ross Douthat wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times. “‘Avatar’ is Cameron’s long apologia for pantheism — a faith that equates God with Nature, and calls humanity into religious communion with the natural world.”
John Podhoretz, writing a critique for the Weekly Standard, goes so far as to call the movie “anti-American.” “The conclusion does ask the audience to root for the defeat of American soldiers at the hands of an insurgency. So it is a deep expression of anti-Americanism-kind of,” Podhoretz writes.
My opinion: Avatar works wonderfully as a pool of reflection: you see what you want to see.¬† I can’t speak for everyone in the country, only for myself: the part of Avatar that rang true with regard to the current war in Iraq was the part where one of the characters said if people are sitting on “shit we want” we have to make them the enemy. That has never felt more true, and it was echoed beautifully in The Hurt Locker. That’s just my own lefty take. As for the religion/nature thing – this is hardly a new idea. I think we yearn to feel like we are part of the unmade natural world and to that end, Avatar is a great fantasy.