In defense of Avatar

Normally on this blog we talk about science and skepticism, religion, science-fiction movies and zombies. We try to stay away from politics, unless it intersects science, such as creationism or climate change policies. Well, politics have once again crossed paths with our normal talking points and I have to respond. What is it this time? Creationism in the schools? Cutting of science funding? Lies about science to push through a political agenda? No!...well, probably, but that's not what I'm going to talk about. This time they are going after my sacred cow, science-fiction movies. Avatar in particular.

Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline has written a review of the James Cameron epic. Spoiler Alert: He didn't like it.

Phill Kline, for those of you who don't know, was Kansas's AG from 2003 to 2007. He is a very controversial figure, even by Kansas standards. Kline, a Republican with very conservative views, is probably most known for investigating abortion provider Dr. George Tiller and filing a lawsuit to get the medical records of 90 women and girls who receive abortions. Tiller was shot and killed in May, 2009 while ushering at his church.

Like I said, I don't want to talk about his politics and I really don't want to talk about abortion. This just isn't the forum for it. I want to talk about what he said about the movie. Roger Ebert has this to say about the movie:

"Avatar" is not simply a sensational entertainment, although it is that. It's a technical breakthrough. It has a flat-out Green and anti-war message. It is predestined to launch a cult. It contains such visual detailing that it would reward repeating viewings.... It is an Event, one of those films you feel you must see to keep up with the conversation.

Kline, on the other hand, has a different view:

Avatar represents the left's first epic introduction of the new Darwin spiritualism. Since Darwin cannot survive in the West's spiritual culture, Darwin has now become god in the form of mother earth. Every living thing on planet Pandora is a god. And so, the new left has reached back in history to leap ahead of the scientific age. In the new religion, man is not god as in the age of reason and science. Rather, all is god and thereby nothing is god. But at least we're spiritual.

All this provided just in time for Christmas, oops, the Winter Solstice.

I can understand if some people didn't like the movie. Art is subjective and everyone has their own tastes. But holy fuck, what the hell is Kline talking about? Yes, the movie does have a message; that there is an intrinsic good to nature and we shouldn't exploit it just for profit. But like many other good movies, there are other messages in Avatar. Many of them are much more subtle. Messages that have to do with change, redemption, and the triumph of the human spirit. The story is written with archetypes that you can replace with almost any parallel that you like. It could be about the US invasion of Iraq. It could be about the Indian Wars of the 1800's. It could even be about the Revolutionary War and the founding of America. There is a lot you can get out of this movie.

Kline, however, went into Avatar with his ideology and hung it on the movie.

Nature prevails and evil capitalism and man is defeated. Eywa thereby expresses the only truth respected by the left, a truth worth choosing sides for — a truth worth killing for, mother earth. China's forced abortion policy as spiritual expression.

It is as if he views any opinion that he doesn't agree with as a personal attack on his values and his faith. I almost feel sorry for him. He lets his ideological views get in the way of enjoying a good movie. I'm sure he didn't like Happy Feet, Wall-E, The Abyss, Serenity, or even Star Wars with those freedom hating terrorist trying to bring down the government. Sometimes, a movie is just a movie and you should go along for the ride. I would say that Phill Kline should stop reviewing movies and go back to his day job, but I remember what a disaster that was. Wait! I'm sorry, I said I wouldn't talk about that. What I meant to say was, go review "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" and leave movies that I care about alone.

1 comment:

  1. I think you have to look at everything through the filter of your agenda to get that kind of crap out of a special effects blockbuster.

    I'd be willing to bet that if you looked back at when A New Hope came out, there were a few dipshits saying the same thing.

    Dudes, relax. Enjoy the movie. If you want to worry about movies assaulting your religion, you really should have focused on The Golden Compass.