Over the weekend I read this essay, and others like it (warning, spoilery if you haven't seen Avatar). Lots of people are intelligently discussing themes, tropes, and a variety of -isms in relation to this movie. Why am I reading this stuff?
Because I enjoyed the movie.
Sounds stupid right? I got a huge kick out of this movie. I LIKED that the characters weren't developed beyond the two-dimensional archetypes they represented. I LIKED that the plot was simplistic. I LIKED that it was easy to tell the goodies from the baddies, and rooting for the underdog didn't raise any complicated ethical dilemmas. I LIKED that the good guys won and that along the way there was an interesting and visually orgasmic adventure. I LIKED that I wanted to fuck the characters. I LIKED that I was so immersed in the movie that I left it wanting to go live in a world that looks like it's permanently lit up with UV, grow a tail and ride around on dragons. I LIKED the child-like enjoyment I got from the pure fantasy aspect.
And I feel as if that makes me a bad person.
That essay I've linked to is intelligent and thoughtful and in many cases right*. I see what they are saying and agree. I saw it while I was watching the movie too - it's not exactly subtle and you don't have to be a mental giant to figure it out.
Thing is, knowing this did not stop me from liking the movie, from enjoying the immersion and the fantasy. I feel as though I should be offended by it because of these things - and it seems many people are - and that I ought to be waving my fist around going "Down with fantasy movies that are really about white guilt!" and etc.
But I don't want to. One of my biggest appreciations for this movie is around the way I got to be a kid while watching it, because everything was simple - as an intelligent, aware adult studying social policy I spend a lot of time thinking about subtext, questioning the obvious, thinking critically. And for me, the enjoyment of not doing that far outweighed any offence I might take at the issues this movie has.
So I go and read these things to see if hearing someone else saying what I already know will give me some clues as to what's going on in my mind. Am I really stupid that I can see the issues AND enjoy the movie? Well according to the writer of that article above, yes I am. Look at the title - "When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like Avatar?" So yeah, that implies the author wants white people to stop making movies like Avatar. And I don't. I want whoever wants to to keep making movies that allow me to immerse myself in beautiful fantasy worlds and be a kid for a while.
And you know, if that makes me stupid or a bad person, so be it. I liked Avatar, I'm going to buy my kid a ticket to see it too. Yes I'll explain the issues to him, but first I'm going to let him enjoy it** just as a movie.
Anyway, in closing, I'd just like to say that one thing I haven't seen in all the criticisms of this movie is suggestions of ways in which the story could have been told without those things becoming issues. I'd like to see someone do one of those "Movies in 15 minutes" type things, demonstrating the same "Some people have a thing, the other people want it and are willing to take it by force, good triumphs in the end and meanwhile there are lots of adventures" type storyline without running up against the issues it's being criticised for. Because I can't think how one might do that.***
* I'd argue that placing Jake in the leadership role for battle was a very sensible idea for the Na'vi, not a naive one that demonstrates some kind of white leadership power trip, and here's why:
A supposedly unwarlike people going to war have one amongst them who is accustomed to fighting. This person is familiar with the enemy, their weapons, their tactics and knows exactly what they are capable of. He's also familiar with the terrain the battle will be fought on and can superimpose these things in context. Personally, I think it'd be dumb NOT to ask him to be the strategist/leader for this. Please note there's nothing in the movie that says he became leader of the Na'vi after the battle was over. In fact often the military commanders aren't the ones running the show - including the one on the baddies' side in the movie.
** One of the reasons I quit English Literature as a major back in 1988 was because the constant hunting for things to analyse (which were mostly negative things - you don't get essay points for noticing how the way one of the characters sees the world is representative of something GOOD, hell no) was ruining my enjoyment of reading.
*** That probably makes me a bad person too.
Anyway, the outcome of this is that I'm going to hire Enemy Mine, because I'm told it's good in terms of avoiding said issues. And I have to see for myself and compare.
Anyone seen it?
On another, girly TMI note - any of you ladies use a cup? Are they any good? Problems? I'm tired of the monthly outlay and hassle, looking to make a change.
PS ferrouswheel brought me a mixer! It's shiny! And the next step in my delving of the esoteric world of beatmatching. *excited*