Saturday, December 12, 2009

Avatar: Why Make an Effort When the Effects are Hot?

I haven't seen the movie at this time, only the reviews. I do plan to see the movie, though. Still, what struck me the most from the review i read last (Associated Press), was the extremely easy-to-hate portrayal of the antagonists in this epic film. How easy it is to hate warmongers and nature rapers. The bad guys are both groups combined.

Apparently, there are natural resources located, of course, directly under the village of the nature-revering natives, and they must be taken even if it means the violation and destruction of paradise. Is there any ambiguity? Is there any reason to not hate the bad guys? Perhaps after seeing the movie, i'll change my opinion. Hollywood does, on occassion, surprise me.

In the real universe, people are a complex mix of good and evil. Human nature (and nature nature) is inherently selfish. Survival means never being sorry about who or what you eat. Survival means the weak get shafted, and the strong get the girls. It means killing rivals, and doing atrocious things to prevent problems in the future. Consider the lion. What the new male of the pride does to establish his leadership is heinous and horrible. But that's nature. Humans are (debatably) the only animals on this planet who make an effort to rise above their nature. (Although I've heard stories about dogs, cats, and dolphins that make me wonder.) The point is, any real examination of the motivations and mindset of most people will reveal some sympathetic traits, and some contemptible traits. Because goodness and evil coexist within us, individuals are rarely just one or the other. My favorite movies are those where the villains are the most lovable, the most appealing.

I don't know, having never written a screenplay, how hard it is, or if it would have been much harder to make the humans as sympathetic as the aliens they are in conflict with. So, i offer only my Humble opinion: we've been set up.

I've never wiped out a nature-loving village or defiled a natural paradise for scarce resources in my life, and have no desire to ever do so. But i get the feeling there's gonna be a line in this movie, or perhaps merely implied:

You humans are all alike.