My Comment About ‘Avatar’ in May-June Adbusters
Scans of my comment in the latest issue of Adbusters:
I was struck by Gilad Atzmon’s comment [in Adbusters #88] that the recent film Avatar “praises the power of nature and the attempt to bond in harmony with soil, forest and wildlife. It advises us all to integrate with our surrounding reality rather than to impose ourselves on it.” I believe the film does this – but in a paradoxical way.
On one hand, yes, the film calls to the audiences’ attention binaries such as ‘Nature’/ ‘Culture’, ‘Developed/Western’ and ‘Indigenous/Eastern’. It then urges the audience to recognize that one pole of the binary is often exploited by the other. The audience rallies in favour of the alien Na’vi who heroically refuse to allow their sacred ‘hometree’ to be destroyed in order for a human run corporation to harvest ‘unobtanium’ – an energy source needed to power Earth’s advanced technologies.
But while the audience cheers for the Na’vi – who are in touch with their planet, believe in spirits and worship a nature goddess – they have in fact paid $15 to sit in a dark multi-plex theatre watching a film constructed largely using advanced computer technologies wearing polarized plastic lenses over their eyes. One would be hard pressed to come up with an environment further away from the “soil, forest and wildlife”.