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February 3, 2010 / Brittany Hendrick

Avatard

Back when I did work for Stomp and Stammer magazine, one of my tasks was to re-type the movie reviews written by the infamous David T. Lindsay.

Re-type?

David didn’t have a computer, so he used a typewriter. Then I entered his stuff into Word, with headers and titles formatted in html code. Then the Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Clark, threw it into Quark. That was the easy part. The hard part was reading through David’s reviews. Not because he’s a bad writer– he’s a very good one– but because he writes with a heavy right-winged hand.

This is David’s schtick, his character: he finds the liberal “political agenda” in a movie, makes fun of it (and Hollywood), and overturns any left-leaning person or thing. He successfully incites a slew of mail (more “hate” than “fan”), and atomizes his challengers in response. He does all of this well.

Reading David’s over-the-top reviews under close inspection month after month began to wear on me, though. I joked, “I can’t do this anymore– it makes me so angry!” I can’t stand Hollywood as much as David, but I disagreed with his political spewings. Yet I wasn’t bothered to the point where I had to stop re-typing them. David isn’t ignorant– not like the shit I hear on the 700 Club— so I appreciated that at least– but not much more.

In retrospect, I was unable to fully appreciate David’s reviews because I never actually saw any of the movies he tore to shreds. Movies are great and all, but I go to the theatre once a year. Maybe. That’s why David’s reviews weren’t valid to me. But now I see what he’s talking about.

It came to me in 3-D, in the form of Avatar

The annual movie theatre trip was fulfilled a couple weeks ago. I didn’t know a thing about the movie except that James Cameron directed it. I was aware of the hype itself, but I didn’t know what the hype was actually about.

So imagine my surprise when the ticket lady said $27 for two tickets. Then imagine my confusion when she gave me 3-D glasses. That’s how little I knew about this movie.

And it’s a wonder. What the fuckity fuck is this shit? Avatar is rated PG-13… but was it written for seven year-olds? THIS anti-American piece of shit is up for a “Best Picture” Academy Award? Oh, this should make the self-important, self-aggrandizing “leftists” (in quotes, because a lot of this identity is fake, I bet) in Hollywood very happy.

I don’t mind a little political innuendo, Right or Left, in my movies. But I don’t particularly like being preached to by Hollywood (remember those pro-mp3/anti-CD ads from a couple years ago? Fuck you, Holly Hunter, Ben Affleck et al, you pious fucks. Transporting CDs wastes fuel? How do you think iPods get into stores???). Insulting my intelligence isn’t the way to my heart, either.

The metaphors are TOO OBVIOUS and overtake the filmto the point of banality. The overbearing symbolism drowns the plot. Unless that was the point- to disguise the fact that there ISN’T a plot.

Here is what we have in characters:
– Naive, young, disabled, mistreated Marine veteran (who, curiously, doesn’t know shit about survival, but, golly, isn’t it cute)who finds love. All he wants to do is walk again! Oh, God!
Tough scientist chick with a cause and a constantly burning cigarette; fights cause to her death. Probably a lesbian, too, for good measure.
– Insensitive mission control asshole who later doubts himself
– Crazy renegade military commander who refuses to die
– Loyal “brown people” (1 Hispanic, 1 Middle Eastern, 0 African) who help out all the white guys. White Man couldn’t have done it without them!
– The “other”: all that is non-white, spiritual, sensitive, community-based and “at one” with nature; endangered (blue alien jobbers that resemble are Native Americans)

Several times throughout the film, I was in disbelief over the shit that came across the screen. Pandora? “I don’t give a Goddamn about the trees”? Earth isn’t green anymore? “We have to fight terror with terror?” Bows and arrows defeat mechanical weaponry?

“I see you”?

UNOBTAINIUM???

Holy fucking shit. Gag! It was so ridiculous, on a third-grade level, I almost heckled. Heckled, I tell you!

Here is what we have in message:
– Americans are bad
– White people are bad
– Capitalism/corporatism is bad
– Crude oil is bad
– Republicans are bad
– Colonialism/imperialism is bad
– Technology is bad
– Trail of Tears was bad
– Vietnam was bad
– Depleting rainforests is bad
– Organized religion is bad

Of course, that’s oversimplifying the oversimplified. But that’s pretty much what Avatar is saying. Practically every major WASP historical mistake was present in the film.

Don’t

You

Feel

Guilty?

Immediately after the movie ended, I had my summation: “Sooo… basically… ‘America must be destroyed’.”

Overall, Avatar was overwrought, trite and condescending. Oooo, yeah, Mr. Cameron. You’re so much smarter than us unconscious, dumb poor peoples. Please, tell us what we need to know about the world. We need you. We’re too cognitively malnourished to remember that you’re the same guy who quoted his own movie, “I’M THE KING OF THE WORLD!” and then be able to extract the irony from that.

The recycling bins for the 3-D glasses were a nice touch (nevermind the plastic in my drink cup) for those awash with post-Avatar euphoria, who “got it,” who want to do their part. Whatever. My family was recycling and eating organic food before it was cool. If there is any useful symbolism to be found in Avatar, it’s that the film represents annoying, holier-than-thou Liberal Hollywood.

I haven’t read any reviews or commentary on Avatar yet.  It’ll be interesting to see what David T. Lindsay has to say about it…

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