Guilty Planet

I rolled in the New Year like most people — in a gummy movie theatre watching Avatar. Caveat: go no further if you’re worried about spoiling the plot (for a film that, like it or not, stands mostly on its technological innovations).

I don’t want to seem like some Cameronophile. I found Avatar too long, for one (and, unlike Daniel Pauly, would never see it twice). It has the typical man vs. technology and man vs. nature themes of futuristic sci-fi. It did have some very cool marine influences (e.g. Christmas tree worms, anemones, comb jellies, hammerheads). But there was one very special thing about Avatar: on Pandora, when Western civilization and its mining machines rolled in to take over, all the animals were capable of teaming up with the blue feline na vi natives to stop invasion.

The thing about conservation is that most of the time (okay, all the time) you feel like you are on the losing team. But imagine if all the wildlife out there could pitch in and fight for a ban on high seas trawling, more marine protected areas, or a goal of 350ppm? That would be awesome. A winning team it would be. Unfortunately, Earth doesn’t have the same infrastructure as Pandora…

Still, it’s a nice dream, which is what movies do best. At a price tag of nearly $500 million, Avatar was also an expensive dream. But everyone deserves to dream.

Comments

  1. #1 elmlish
    January 9, 2010

    I loved the moment when the cavalry arrives in the form of Pandora’s fauna. Regardless of the faults of the movie, Cameron did an amazing job inspiring one to care about the world; a winning mix of cheap emotional manipulation and dazzlingly beautiful, absolutely convincing visual production.

    Who else thinks an organic USB connection to a planetary network of life would be wicked awesome?

  2. #2 Burned out on hate
    January 9, 2010

    “But everyone deserves to dream.”

    Thank you.

  3. #3 romunov
    January 9, 2010

    We’ve already seen this plot in Dances with wolves, where I think it was done far better. Hands down for graphics, though.

    Why would you want to target a certain level of any gas concentration in the atmosphere? Biology 101: Earth is in a dynamic equilibrium.

  4. #4 Harman Smith
    January 10, 2010

    “Earth is in a dynamic equilibrium”

    I don’t even know what that means. And besides that, atmospheric chemistry isn’t part of Biology 101.

  5. #5 Jon
    January 10, 2010

    This analysis, of course, ignores the inherent racism in the movie.

  6. #6 Matt Ogburn
    January 12, 2010

    I also enjoyed Avatar for the graphics and was happy the ‘plot’ was decent enough not to ruin it.

    Some reactions to the conservation message have been quite dramatic.

    Here’s a quote from a recent CNN online article (http://www.cnn.com/2010/SHOWBIZ/Movies/01/11/avatar.movie.blues/index.html): “When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first time yesterday, the world seemed … gray. It was like my whole life, everything I’ve done and worked for, lost its meaning,” Hill wrote on the forum. “It just seems so … meaningless. I still don’t really see any reason to keep … doing things at all. I live in a dying world.”

    Although I haven’t visited the parts of the blogosphere where depressed Avatar viewers are apparently congregating, the article sadly didn’t quote anyone who was inspired by the movie to save the one habitable planet we do have.

    I hope those people are out there, too.

  7. #7 elmlish
    January 13, 2010

    What’s with all the Negative Nellies around here?

    350 is a goal intended to help keep this dynamic equilibrium hovering in a range that’s suitable for life like us. And I would say it’s more of a ceiling than it is a spot on which to fixate.

    Yes, the movie had faults, but the point of the original post was to focus on an inspiring aspect of the movie where the planet (which many who would consider themselves environmentalists would empathize with and root for), was actually able to stand up for herself. I can definitely identify with that feeling — the desire to see the thing you love and protect be able to do more for itself when, so often, your efforts to inform people about the dangers of the path they’re on fall on deaf ears, your actions more than countered by the short sighted habits of the multitudes and your attempts to talk about the things you find beautiful and important in the world are met with ridicule. I can totally get behind the vicarious thrill of giant hammerheaded jungle beasts kicking the crap out of caricatured symbols of the very forces that are screwing our own planet beyond comfortable habitability for us. Yes I can.

  8. #8 sikiƟ
    January 14, 2010

    Yes, the movie had faults, but the point of the original post was to focus on an inspiring aspect of the movie where the planet (which many who would consider themselves environmentalists would empathize with and root for), was actually able to stand up for herself. I can definitely identify with that feeling — the desire to see the thing you love and protect be able to do more for itself when, so often, your efforts to inform people about the dangers of the path they’re on fall on deaf ears, your actions more than countered by the short sighted habits of the multitudes and your attempts to talk about the things you find beautiful and important in the world are met with ridicule. I can totally get behind the vicarious thrill of giant hammerheaded jungle beasts kicking the crap out of caricatured symbols of the very forces that are screwing our own planet beyond comfortable habitability for us. Yes I can.

  9. #9 Bilim
    March 12, 2010

    There are some questions about the film. Besides I liked it so much. I will watch it again and again I think..