by LAUREN BANS
dir. James Cameron
There are still things Hollywood has yet to learn in this brave new age of cinema. Maybe most importantly — no matter how good the CGI or whatever brand new visual technology they’re flashing before our eyeholes may be, nothing trumps a believable story and good acting. 2012 may have realistically wreaked destruction upon the Christ the Redeemer statue, but the fact remains someone cast Lloyd Dobler as the one American who can outdrive the crumbling earth in a limo. Oops.
James Cameron’s Avatar is saddled with this same problem. The 3D experience is incredible. It’s stunningly immersive and immaculately executed. The camerawork is exciting without any overly graphic scenes (a surprise stabbing in 3D could really spur a heart attack).
It’s like spending 3 hours in a Lisa Frank folder on acid. You might as well invest in 3D Lasik now — it will only save you money in the long run. The visual revolution is here. The only thing that could possibly be more entertaining than watching Avatar in 3D would be some sort of Avatar 4D screening, wherein James Cameron stands behind your seat yelling, “Watching you watch my movie is like watching two monkeys fuck a football.”
As an allegory, Avatar is a hit-you-over-the-head cautionary against American imperialism set on a moon called Pandora. There live a hot blue-bodied humanoid species, the Na’vi, and they inhabit a tree parked right over the mineral we grabby earthlings came for. It’s called UNOBTAINIUM. (Close runner up in the unsubtle naming pool: Nevergonnagetitium.)
For all you worrywarts out there, rest assured, despite all current signs to the contrary, America is still the number #1 world power in James Cameron’s future. The foreigners on base in Pandora can easily be divided into the good science-y Americans who just want to better understand the Na’vi people and the bad overly-militaristic ones who see the Na’vi as savages in the way of a precious resource.
Jake Sully, a paraplegic jarhead straddles the line between these two extremes, and he’s sent into the forest as a “dreamwalker”—a human embodying a genetically-forged, controllable Na’vi avatar. Jake lies in a pod, a scientist presses a red button, and poof he’s in the forest running around with a ten-inch electric blue cock.
Of course, when Jake’s journey begins his only goal is to spy on the Na’vi people. But as he learns more about them and is trained in the Na’vi way, he grows to like the Na’vi and see them as the benevolent, advanced society that they are. This of course is made easy because Cameron endows the blue people with English-speaking abilities, hot bodies, classically beautiful features, and the exact same family structure and benevolent rule as the greats of Western civ. It’s just so natural to love ‘em. They’re not ugly and they’re totally like us!
There are important lessons to be learned from these easily swallowed anthropomorphic creatures. For one, the Na’vi are super attuned to their environment. In fact, they can just plug their ponytails into trees and horse-like creatures and immediately become in synch with their surroundings. Which is a good lesson for us—we Americans SHOULD be more plugged into the world, more in tune with our delicate ecosystem or whatever. When I got home from the theater I plugged my ponytail into my iPod receptor and immediately had the greatest synchgasm of my life.
But the more blatant lesson of Avatar is not that American imperialism is bad, but that in fact it’s necessary. Sure there are some bad Americans—the ones with tanks ready to mercilessly kill the Na’vi population, but Jake is set up as the real embodiment of the American spirit. He learns Na’vi fighting tactics better than the Na’vi themselves, he takes the King’s daughter for his own, he becomes the only Na’vi warrior in centuries to tame this wild dragon bird thing. Even in someone else’s society the American is the chosen one. He’s going to come in, lead your army, fuck your princesses, and just generally save the day for you. Got it? This is how we do it.
"Dandelion" - Charlotte Gainsbourg (mp3)
"Greenwich Mean Time" - Charlotte Gainsbourg (mp3)
"Trick Pony" - Charlotte Gainsbourg (mp3)
"Time of the Assassins" - Charlotte Gainsbourg (mp3)