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Avatar: Beyond CGI A Movie for the Ages

By Andy Willis

As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, the blockbuster movie AVATAR is a pointed arrow aimed at the heart of exploitation. Is there an important message in this visually incredible movie? Absolutely.
An uncomfortable realization sets in soon after the first few dazzling minutes of James Cameron’s AVATAR. This is not set in a long time ago galaxy, far far away and despite the fact that you are experiencing a cinematic reality never before experienced by human beings, this is not escapist fantasy.
Avatar is set in the near future on the planet Pandora where an extractive mining corporation aided by the military aims at running things the way imperial expansions have always run things - get the indigenous people to submit or die - not unlike Cortez or General Custer. To do this they enlist science to create mixed DNA Avatar beings that look identical to the planets indigenous people, but are forwarding the goals of the invaders.
The invaders are not warriors of a distant evil empire. This is meant to be the U.S. military complete with a disabled marine combat vet who inhabits a ten foot tall athletic Avatar body. The rest of the US military in the movie is portrayed accurately as a multi-national array of soldiers in possession of lethal armament that is as technologically advanced as it is deadly. And why are they on Pandora dishing out death? It seems that by 2154 earth has been ruined and corporations must exploit the mineral wealth of this still vital planet.
Some movies revolutionize all that came before it. Think of the introduction of sound, color, and animation. AVATAR is that type of phenomena. It is the most amazing visual spectacle I have ever seen in the arts, and must see in 3D.
But to me the most wonderful thing about it is that director James Cameron uses his artistry and skills to advance the cause of life itself. The power of this movie is the power of its story that is ancient, modern and universal. We actually do stand on the precipice of ecological disaster.
We humans have relatively recently emerged from the forest with primitive emotions possessing an ideology/theology of medievalism and now the technology of gods. That is a potent recipe for disaster. We live even now on a planet as wondrous as Pandora, with life forms that we are rapaciously extinguishing forever. AVATAR evokes our disappearing rainforests — our dying coral reefs.
What better end could be served for a revolutionary technology than bringing revolutionary ideas through its new medium! The movie makers are clearly asking the audience to make the choices faced by the main protagonist. Our decisions could mean life or death for millions - our species and many more. We cannot allow ourselves (minds/bodies) to be used for desecration of life by corporate entities. The technology won’t go away - it is unleashed from Pandora’s Box. How it is used determines if there is hope.
Many other movies being made today using Hi-Tech graphics are fully supported by the military and serve as gung-ho recruiting tools by glorifying redemptive violence. Avatar does not engender affection for the military - just the opposite. It shows that patriotically putting your life on the line to advance the goals of corporations (YES Iraq and Afghanistan!) may not be such a great idea.
I applaud James Cameron for having the guts and the vision to put this movie in the realm of immediate and vital metaphor. Let the fellow artists take heart and do their duty!

When land is left vacant,
Pitch up a tent on poles.
Drive ropes and stakes into the ground to secure it,

And a new home is established.
Many more tents will follow.
A village in formation.
Fertile, safe ground.

When foreclosed houses are left vacant,
Fill them up again.
With families. Give each other
    a roof.
A home in formation.
Warmer, safe ground.

When the workers lose jobs and the factory floor threatens
    to be empty, sit.
Stay. Own & operate
The means of production,
The source of your livelihood.
You don’t need a boss.

When the fees for higher learning
   increase and teachers & classes
   are eliminated because the
   Regents hunger for more money,
The halls of education are yours
To re-shape as you see fit.
Learn as you see fit.
Live outside another’s dictates.

The perfect storm
Hit Wall Street one year ago
And only the elite were spared.
The storm’s path of destruction
Affected everyone
And before it could bury us,
We took shelter
In occupying
What occupies our lives all along.
It is a right & biological necessity.
What you see are warning signs
Of an insurrection forthcoming.
Bigger than this crisis.

Capitalism is on its last legs,

Turning to ruining lives & Fascism
To self-sustain.
It has then, now & always
Been the crisis.

To survive the storm surge, here
    is the cure:

Strike. Take over. Occupy

W: Chanukah 2009
[An open letter to recession’s victims.]
 — Dee Allen

This is a review of the PBS Frontline program, “Card Game” that is viewable by computer.
Scoundrels have patriotism, lies and an army of straight men to sell their world view. The program “Card Game” is an enlightening example of stating the obvious. In my view, this is a desperate attempt to quiet the righteous rage the American people have been expressing over the bailout and blatant greed of banking executives. Last fall these Captains’s of Capital had to run and hide. Death threats rained down from an enraged populace.
From start to finish this Frontline report exposes how bank’s use everything from “free credit cards” to “free checking” and believe it or not even ATM cards to loot the poorest and subsidize the rich. Some of this may be known to you. However this program puts the whole criminal game right in front of their victims. At the end we are left with no hopeful out come. We are simply told, “…the bank’s have won -- have a nice day…”
Take an hour to go to PBS.Org-Frontline and watch, “Card Game” and email me your thinking after you have.
Yours,  John R. Moran


This article originated in the People's Tribune
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