Saturday, January 23, 2010

Are you Jake Sully?

Just came back from the biggest movie of the year, maybe of the 21st Century, Avatar, and ultimately BIG DEAL. SO WHAT?

But am I kidding?
Or kidding myself?

With the exception of a few cornball script moments, this film was absolutely spectacular. A visual feast of colors, creatures, and ideals played to our packed theater and you know, it was the strangest thing; NO one talked, NO babies were around screaming, NO iphones were texted on. Even during the quietest moments of the picture, people were actually doing what the friendly neighborhood voice over asked us to do before the movie started. Silence your cellphones, no talking, take the whiner into the hall. The feature is a dazzling, larger than life epic, and YES, overwrought with message. This isn't the first time Hollywood has given us messages, and I can name a few but won't, but the clear message here is Environmentalism.

I don't have to mention the plot, YES, it has been compared with Dances with Wolves but I swear I also saw elements of A Bug's Life. Also in the message mix is a swirl of combo punches about indigenous people, endangered species, colonialism, industrialism, the list goes on but makes a coherent enough stew of meaning. (spoiler alert) There are clearly haunting, touching, moments in the film; like when our wheel-chaired marine first gets his avatar body and he RUNS like Forrest Gump across the fields of Pandora, the saddened scene of the Chief Scientist (Sigourney Weaver) not being able to BrendleFly with her avatar to save her life, the completely obvious (and gut wrenching) 9-11 moment when the Big Tree gets destroyed and topples like the Twin Towers, complete with aftermath of the horror stricken survivors you would swear were on the street of New York City that day. SERIOUSLY. It is just a movie that tugs at you with meaning and significance, just as it was intended.

I mean, think about it in relation to our planet. Al Gore aside, we ARE of nature, we are part of it, why are we so stubborn to do the right things to protect it?
Industrialism and Capitalism has really fucked us up faster than the Bible or any other religion. We are killing our earth. Yeah yeah, I KNOW, sucks right! (I always think of the Carlin bit on the Earth is fine, it's the people you are concerned about!) And the hypocrisy ain't helping either. Maybe if we all just helped a little, but more importantly, maybe the corporate dogheads we suck nectar from need to take a little more responsibility since they take the biggest piece of pie. Clean up, take what the scientists are telling us seriously. I digress because we all know what needs to get done in order to turn things around.

I can actually get behind the movie's message here, I completely and unequivocally AGREE with this movie's message, totally, great, YES WE CAN! All that...but

The question is will we?
The other question is, will this movie change anyone?
Are you Jake Skully?

Sure, the message is great, but can a movie from Hollywood change the way humans think enough to create action? I wrote a crappy little novel a few years ago that addressed this subject, but it involved people who could MAKE PEOPLE do things because they had these special powers. So they were going to DC to become lobbyists. One of the issues these characters were going to have to deal with in spreading the message of the "new way" was to infiltrate the media with information that would be pleasing to the masses. This was written before the internet exploded into a missive of splinter groups where you could get any information online to support your point of view, whether it was true or not.

Avatar will probably surpass all the movies in history at the box office, millions and millions will see it. Money money money money money money! Where will all this money go? Is there some kind of point share that will go to helping Haiti maybe? I mean Hollywood completely CARED about what was going on enough at the Golden Globes to talk about caring, I wonder if something could actually get DONE? I know, a lot of investors need to get their 5th house in the islands jones taken care of first, but then what?

I paid 20 bucks for my kid and I to go and get the funny 3D glasses and be enamored with the spectacle, I'll admit that, but is this movie's message sincere in the intent or is it merely pandering to my NOW concerns of the guilt and terror of a dead world future?

It just seems these days that the new industry is the Pander Industry. Whether it be the dreams of Obama giving us the Change we need (in a bumper sticker) to the conveniences of fresh food from a farmer's market, to the easy to operate my Digital Converter box for my rabbit ears on the television because we won't get cable, it seems we're still skipping along to the same old beat. Well, maybe not us on a LOCAL level, it seems we can do that (for whatever motivation we do it for, selfish or otherwise), but what we see in our day to day life is NOT what is happening with the powers that be. How's that health care coming? How's that off shore drilling coming along? How about that new nuclear power facility in your backyard? Oh sure, totally safe because we tell you it is, here, have another techno gizzy to purchase to get jizzy online with your buddies with.

Yeah yeah yeah, we are all guilty, it's just a question of your level of hypocrisy in this day and age, but when is something going to be done from the TOP DOWN? Hollywood is not the only target, let's take aim on the banks and the oil barons and the military industry too.

So okay, yes, this movie made me think, I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to any and everyone. Spectacular, worthy of film discussion, although probably too heavy handed and transparent for film snobs, but a great afternoon. Will it change the world? It would be nice to think so, but I doubt it. After all, it is just a movie. And I am just a guy that likes to go to Mekong and drink a beer with my wife and friends. But as my enthusiastic kid and I were walking out of the theater, staying for the credits because damn, they needed to be recognized, I realized the greatest irony in watching this film: the 3d Glasses were not recyclable.


carolinabiker said...

Got to admit, I was dazzled by it, and enjoyed it more than any movie since...well, since I can remember. Planning to see it again tomorrow (saw it last a couple of weeks ago). Liked your review!

Fringe Element Enthusiast said...

Thanks for the comment! :-)

Anonymous said...

Well said, well written, you :) I was also left with the question of whether the "messages" might be lost in the spectacle...or might the spectacle put the word out there???


Fringe Element Enthusiast said...

Thanks D!
For me, I think lots of people get lost in the spectacle, similar to crows being attracted to shiny things, but I think people are more easily swayed by their own desire to self-gratify instantly, then move on to the next thing. Media I feel feeds on this as well. Remember when disaster movies like Deep Impact and Volcano were making a comeback? The news also liked reporting on the latest asteroid that was a million miles away from us. Fear and death. I am not sure us little people are motivated enough to DO anything about the word that gets put out. I mean, hell, we all like to think we do our part, right? But meanwhile, the off shore drilling continues and that lack of support (or industrial profit) for say, giant windmill power (maybe put em on top of the coal stripped mountains of WV?) not only because "they look hideous", but you can't make money off the wind. I think people can be coerced into anything given the proper self-gratifying motivation, but it takes the Upper Level to make sure we go in the direction that we should, and need to go in. For me, I just don't see that happening quite yet on a massive scale.