The highlight of my Christmas holidays was taking the family to see Avatar. It’s not often a film comes along which wife, Boy (11), Girl (9) and I are able to adore in equal measure. But James Cameron’s $200 million epic ego-fest hit the spot perfectly and for those families out there still wavering, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Whenever I’ve mentioned this to my right-leaning friends, though, the general reaction has been one of appalled horror. ‘But how could you?’ they want to know. Well, I tell them, for a start I think the blue cat-girl love-interest creature is seriously hot; the realisation of the jungle planet and its extraordinary flora and fauna is simply beyond amazing; and I really, really loved that chunk of the storyline where — not unlike Neo in The Matrix — the wheelchair-bound hero is gradually initiated into the ways of the blue-cat-jungle-people and becomes a kind of superhero.
‘No, not that,’ say my right-leaning friends. ‘How can you bear the politics?’ Ah yes. The politics.
Avatar is set on a lushly beautiful rainforest planet called Pandora, whereon dwell a handsome blue-skinned native race called the Na’vi. They wear Maasai-type jewellery and commune with nature in a, like, totally holistic way. When, for example, they kill one of the ravening beasts which stalk the jungle, no matter how vile and dangerous it is, they give its departing soul a lovely blessing in the special new language that James Cameron paid a linguist to invent. They are good and pure and noble.
But now the space marines have arrived from Earth, and they’re, like, totally evil. Already they have reduced their home planet to a grey, polluted husk, and now they’ve come to do the same to Pandora, which happens to be abundant with a valuable mineral called Incrediblivaluablemineralum (something like that). The space marines are there to protect the machinery and operatives of the evil mining consortium on its evil mission to plunder and rape the virgin forest.
For any conservative looking to take offence, there is, I would concede, an abundance of rich rage-fodder. You could get irritated, for a start, by the wearisomely overfamiliar, oh-the-Truffula-trees eco-theme. Or by the film’s depiction of the US as heartless, fascistic, greedy, militaristic and utterly callous towards other races, other planets. Or by the explicit comparisons it invites with Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the way it encourages its audience to take the side not of the crop-headed American boys selflessly risking life and limb for their country, but of those occupied peoples who seek to destroy them. Or just by the unutterable, ‘only connect’ hippy bollocks in its portrayal of the Na’vi, up to and including the infuriatingly smug apostrophe in the middle of their name.
It’s at this stage in my argument that I need Paul Johnson. The great Paul I’m sure could give me — straight off the top of his head, without having to look a single thing up on the internet like the rest of us do, or could do, if we were bothered — a list of all the writers, film-makers, playwrights, painters, poets, sculptors, actors, directors, musicians and so on from history who weren’t incorrigible libtards.
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