Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pandora's Box

 James Cameron

Or How James Cameron Managed To Stir A Controversy Over The Pandora Moon

I’ve heard people say this film is un-American, while part of being an American is having the freedom to have dissenting ideas - James Cameron
James Cameron envisioned his Avatar movie some ten years ago and waited patiently for the technology to be developed. Our sensitivities did not changed much over the last ten years, with the exception that the climate change and the devastation of our environment became more apparent and that the American military is currently being engaged in two conflicts abroad with the third dangerously appearing on the horizon.

It is an irony of sorts that a story about a fictional civilization on Pandora moon opened a Pandora's box here on Earth. Independently of Cameron's intentions, the movie stirred controversy on both ends of the political spectrum in the USA. The movie is accused of being racist. Interestingly, it is not just the biased, one-dimensional view of the people of color that brings the cries of outrage, but the view of the white man and his corporate structure. Some people feel that the status and ethics of a white, corporate male is being questioned here. Other critics see not only the racial controversy but also the gender models in the movie as completely prejudiced and outdated. For the viewers on the Right this movie is a thinly disguised, simplistic, liberal agenda. Yet others see absolutely nothing behind "nice" images and embarrassingly oversimplified plot that isn't original in any possible way. They accuse Cameron of theft.

While the environmentalist movement praises Cameron for so overtly voicing their concerns, the Vatican joined the discussion only to warn audiences about the dangers of turning the Earth into a new divinity and criticized the movie for sparkling a new neo-pagan movement. Who would think that the concern for our planet could be potentially dangerous to the souls of the Catholics or anyone else for that matter. And while some critics are praising the technology used to create Avatar, others are accusing him of being anti-technology and anti-progress. I even came across an attempt to see Avatar as a movie with a satanist agenda - a disguised propaganda for the "New World Order". The critic accused Cameron of being anti-human and pushing the alien agenda. 

James Cameron is not very shy about the Avatar's political message and admits that he wanted to say something about the US foreign policy and the environmental politics in America. He asserts that his work is not intended to be anti-American. As any director, he produced a movie that is opened to interpretation. Avatar touches different sensitivities. A thorough reading of the many reviews that were published since the first screening of the movie, clearly shows not only how divided the minds of the critics are, but also how diverse the viewer spectrum is in the context of their political tendencies and the intellectual, spiritual, or emotional development. Some people simply went to see and enjoy the science-fiction fantasy and its spectacular three-dimensional images. 

A question comes to mind: "Why, in a country with a long tradition of free speech, was James Cameron expected to employ self-censorship of any kind?" A sequel to the movie will probably clear some of the issues that Avatar is facing right now, but its director has all the right to present his vision no matter how flowed it seems to be.

By Dominique Allmon

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Pandora's Box Or How James Cameron Managed To Stir A Controversy Over The Pandora Moon by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.