Friday, January 1, 2010

Thoughts on Gaza One Year Later - Part One: The Movie Avatar

I. Israeli emigre jazz pioneer and political writer, Gilad Atzmon, has written this week the best review I've read of the spectacularly engineered 3-D movie, Avatar. He goes beyond calling it another Cowboys vs. Indians remake others have labelled it. He distinctly describes it as anti-war, and regards it as "the biggest anti War film of all time."

He explains this claim more fully:

It is against greed and capitalism, it is against interventionism, it is against colonialism and imperialism, it is against technological orientation, it is against America and Britain. It puts Wolfowitz, Blair and Bush on trial without even mentioning their names. It enlightens the true meaning of ethics as a dynamic judgmental process rather than fixed moral guidelines (such as the Ten Commandments or the 1948 Human Right Declaration).

It throws a very dark light on our murderous tendencies towards other people, their belief and rituals. But it doesn’t just stop there. In the same breath, very much like German Leben philosophers, it praises the power of nature and the attempt to bond in harmony with soil, the forest and the wildlife. It advises us all to integrate with our surrounding reality rather than impose ourselves on it. Very much like German Idealists and early Romanticists, it raises questions to do with essence, existence and the absolute.

Atzmon has been heavily criticized, as a former Israeli who has emerged as a fierce anti-Zionist, for views that portray Israeli government policies in an acidicly critical light, of being "anti-Semitic." His review of Avatar doesn't mention the Israel-Palestine conflict, though. So, I'll do that here, and use Atzmon's own major questioning critique of the movie as vehicle. Atzmon observes:

I recently learned that Avatar drew some criticism for its alleged ‘racist subtext’. “Na’vi might be blue aliens” says one British commentator “but they’re also blue aliens with Masai-style necklaces…acted by mostly black actors. They’re also rescued from destruction by a white character – played, of course, by a white actor – who becomes one of them”. The idea of a “white liberal man as the saviour of the so-called primitive natives” seems to deliver a ‘patronising’ message.

I disagree:

II. Bono [Insert other white guy savior] as Jake Sully:

Many of the images thrown out in front of the 3-D image projection are exotics and flighty little things that can tell whether or not humans have pure hearts. The other recurring images seem to be of abundance (my wife observed that she didn't see the Na'vi eating anything), perhaps over-abundance of everything on might need, for the native Na'vi and other creatures of Pandora.

The fight is between interlopers from another time and place - the miners and their mercenaries are placed in suspended animation for six years on their way to work from earth - and people who have all they need and are highly organized tribally as warriors.

Our wars here are fought between people who often have enough and people who seldom do. Or people who are ineffectually struggling, one group or another, for the last remaining scrabbles of what both had hoped to get.

Avatar fails to show how utterly wasteful this whole struggle process actually is.

Desert or extreme arctic sci-fi scenarios usually portray the struggle over resources more accurately, or more savagely.

Peace has to be found within ourselves, not from outsiders, whether they be Lohengrin, Bono or Jake Sully.

No comments: