07 January 2010

Cheering for the big blue insurgents

Something to keep in mind as you plan your weekend:

I recently saw James Cameron's latest masterpiece, Avatar, in digital 3-D. I recommend it very highly.

The movie has something for everyone -- action, adventure, a love story, Sigourney Weaver, and some very impressive special effects. Political wonk that I am, I zeroed in on the film's storyline in which Earth's military-industrial complex launches a fiery shock-and-awe-style war of aggression on the once peaceful planet of Pandora in pursuit of a mineral called unobtainium. The earth desperately needs this mineral to meet its energy needs in the 22nd century. The Na'vi, a race of very tall, blue-skinned humanoids who inhabit Pandora, band together to defend their planet from the aggressors.

Substitute oil for unobtainium. Substitute Iraq for Pandora. Substitute brown-skinned people for the blue-skinned Na'vi, and, well, you get the idea.

But Cameron gets the point across without being preachy. In fact, some hard-core Republican hawks just might find themselves cheering for the Na'vi without even recognizing the irony in their doing so. And that, it seems to me, points to a root of the problem here on Earth today in the 21st century: Whether it's happening on the movie screen or halfway around the world, it's just an abstract story for so many people. And, whether you're dealing with the "towelheads" in Iraq or Afghanistan, or with the "savages" (as the movie's military commander calls the Na'vi) on Pandora, you can dehumanize them with labels and thereby justify all manner of sins.

Unfortunately, the story remains timeless.

That said, please don't stay home and wait for the DVD. Avatar needs to be seen on the large screen, in all its 3-D glory. (You'll see what I mean.)

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