Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Monday, September 19, 2011

Avatar Criticism (There will be Spoilers)

Okay I'm late to the party. It was the movie to watch in'09 and I skipped it. For shame. I finally sat down and watched it on HBO. I liked the first half of the movie but the third act has some real problems. What's worse is that their easy problems to fix. How do I know? I've seen the third act done better.

Yeah I feel Spoony's rage after watching his reaction, but it's not because allegory is bad. It's because the allegory is done so badly.

I get it. It's an allegory about imperialism, but for an allegory to work it has to be comparable to a real world situation and there are too many subtle differences.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee does this so much better.

There is no way in hell the United States at least, would loan out a private army to a business man and let said business man have ultimate authority over said army?
“The American soldier is a proud one and he demands professional competence in his leaders. In battle, he wants to know that the job is going to be done right, with no unnecessary casualties. The noncommissioned officer wearing the chevron is supposed to be the best soldier in the platoon and he is supposed to know how to perform all the duties expected of The American soldier expects his sergeant to be able to teach him how to do his job. And he expects even more from his officers.”

The first thing is that this schmuck is ultimately the guy who calls go.

You think this guy is the one in charge.

Not so fast muchaco. He's not the top of the command chain. The military is big on chain of command.

I can buy, hell I expect for the government to be in some slimy shit, but Selfridge is not the government he is a private entity. He cannot, independent of whatever future government we have, command the space marines around.

Black Water, now Xe is a real problem, but at the end of the day even Black Water, now Xe is still at least somewhat accountable to the government. Black Water, now Xe, couldn't for instance say," Hey just to make out lives easier we are going to airstrike all Sunni Muslims on sight," without some sort of consequences.

What The Hell Happened to Diplomacy?

"I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery. But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all."

Again I can get into the idea of aggressive negotiations and a break down in diplomacy. It's not so much that it happened, but how. This fucker right here forgot about his standing orders.

Learn their language and see if you can get them to move peacefully. Then after he more or less caused the war through his ineptitude he turns out to be the goddamned smurf messiah.


Okay I'll give you that it happened with George Washington, but he was goddamned George Washington.

Jake Sully is no George Washington.

Again Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee did it better. The diplomat fails. No buts, ifs, ands about it. The diplomat fails. He understands his job, to a point at least. Tries his job. Fucks up his job. Death happens.

Giant Death Robot Beats Stone Arrow
"You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth — right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail." (Talking about the confederacy)

You know how Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee makes the point that blind imperialism and western supremacy as an ideal is bad? Rocks fall and everybody dies.

By ending at the massacre at Wounded Knee, which is one of America's worse atrocities, you really see the consequences of that attitude. You're not weeping over a sacred CGI tree. You're weeping at all the characters who you spent the entire movie getting to know that died. You're weeping at the sickness and death on the reservations. You're weeping at knowing that even a score years earlier some these characters were living far better lives than their children probably will.

By having that happy little ending of his, where Gaea saves the day James Cameron dropped the ball. (Prepare for Controversial Sentence) The great tragedy of western expansion wasn't the loss of nature. It was the near genocide of the Native Americans, and their relative powerlessness to stop it. In short people will always care and should care about people more than nature. And there is nothing wrong with that.

The Navi had that obvious stake, but Cameron almost never mentioned it. The movie could have easily set this up as a war of the worlds, where if a peace wasn't negotiated the Navi as a people would cease to be. But no! The great call to arms isn't because almost an entire clan was killed, and it could happen to any other on that moon. No it's because the sacred tree was torn down.

Cameron this is important. PEOPLE MATTER MORE THAN SYMBOLISM!

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