Where is Pandora?

written and directed by James Cameron

Does the dialogue in “Avatar” at times scream paper? Obviously. Do certain exchanges give off a stink of “let me explain what you are looking at”? Yes. However I registered such pains only a few times during the screening. The rest of the time I was enveloped in awe. Clearly, designing ‘Avatar”, James Cameron had been smoking some heavy duty shit. Thank God for that.

The resulting parable is a truly extraordinary bow to the indigenous traditions and the Gaia concept. Its simple yet powerful ecological message is coupled with a furious cry against the corporate assault on the environment.

Yet its message is extrapolated into another world (which is not a fantasy world as would Slavoj Żiżek want in his New Statement review of the film.) It is extrapolated for a few reasons: first it allows for the post mescaline like visions to attain the status of reality. The world of Pandora is real for its inhabitants and is “narrative real” for the moviegoers (sorry Slavoj). That way the whole issue of whether the “new age” shows the real dimension of reality or is just a mind trip has been solved: Pandora is real enough that a corporation from Earth furiously robs its precious resources, willing to exterminate its population.

In our reality of 2010 Pandora is nothing else than our inner world connected with Gaia (in the film called Eywa). It is as things should be here on our planet if we lived in harmony and respect with nature.

The second reason for placing the “let’s not destroy our treasures” message far away in time and space is our preference to consume Truths via metaphors. A metaphor is a knife and a fork in our feast on Truth. Consuming Truth directly, with our fingers, would lead to death by choking. Or in another words: we are constantly hungry for Truth and yet unable to keep it in our stomachs.

Imagine a planet consisting of moronic beings who, unable to cope with reality, design strange narrative games of diluting Truth so that A: a weak version of Truth can somehow reach their shallow minds, B: once it travels down to their hearts its potency weakens enough that they do ... nothing. Bingo - they know a little bit (a safe amount) and remain idle. Happy consumers.

Or/and we became so jaded that the meal has to be “metaphorised” just to reach us and be properly digested. If art is not the way, we’ve got plenty of substitutes to deafen and numb ourselves with: psychosis, delusions, mayhem and other assorted goodies we serve ourselves with strange gusto - if I may borrow some Freudian sauce from Mr. Żiżek.

It seems that the possibility that Na’vi are us upsets many. This upset may lie beneath the common dismissal of the film (I keep hearing it from many earthlings) - “yeah, the film was beautiful but the story is simply not there, it's full of cliches, it's shallow, not deep enough”. Oh really? So you so very refined moviegoers go to see a Hollywood extravaganza and later complain that it aint’ Dostoevsky? Please!

Some professional intellectuals, especially those bitten by the “leftist” bug, writing about the film equally trip over their own legs. The already mentioned Slavoj Żiżek describes the “Avatar” as “the ordinary world of imperialist colonialism on the one hand, and a fantasy world, populated by aborigines who live in an incestuous link with nature, on the other.

Once sentence - two infuriating wrongs. Why does Żiżek deny Pandora its reality? Perhaps because in a world perfectly balanced and harmonious he and other Marx quoting fellas would have nothing to do. Secondly, why is the harmony labeled “incestuous”? Why does he degrade the harmony of nature? Professor Żiżek - would you please lied down on the coach now - you have some serious issues to work with. It will take many sessions, I am afraid.

“an array of brutal racist motifs: a paraplegic outcast from earth is good enough to get the hand of a beautiful local princess,” - do I read it right? What’s wrong with a paraplegic getting the babe? How dare Żiżek to insinuate that the less fortunate of us can’t get laid with the most beautiful of our women? “Good enough” is clearly sarcastic. As if being crippled prevents somebody from being fully alive. If my fury is politically correct so be it. I wonder what is Żiżek’s whining the sign of? What does it telegraph?

The film teaches us that the only choice the aborigines have is to be saved by the human beings or to be destroyed by them.” - hello! Have we stayed till the end of the film? Doesn’t look like it.

Yet, in later in the review Żiżek returns to his previous form (I am a big fan of his Hitchcock and Kieślowski analysis) discussing what he calls the Hollywood coupling formula. It says that all script events service the main story goal which is the coupling of the heros. Indeed while watching the extended battle finale of “Avatar” I felt it to be a necessary ritual to repair the broken love affair.

Does the finale also mean that getting rid of our sick selves and protecting the planet can’t be achieved without violence? That’s really upsetting.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, Silver and Gold (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-HQJXI4nVw&feature=related)
    Never liked politically-oriented, reality-based movie analysis'. Don't know why; somehow always thought that a movie governs within its (director's, screenwriter's') own imagined reality that shouldn't be compared with our actual, "real" reality. Especially sci-fi pics. But I guess it's an anarchonism and such comparisons are useful after all.
    I admired Avatar's technical achievements. I admired its ability of charming its audience into believing in a created-from-scratch, completely artificial world and its potency to become real in front of us; I admired the clasically-told, engaging love story, hell, I even admired the subtle elegancy in which Cameron showed the movie's message.
    What I didn't admire were flat-out, lifeless, archetypal characters, each of whom I could describe in one, two sentences. Or stupid plot devices able only to drag one event to another; the fact that Jake Sully was acting simply like an idiot; the fact that the supposed-to-be-our-divine-incarnations Na'vi forgave him wiping out of their kin just because he showed up riding a fucking red bird.
    Sorry Jimbo, I don't buy that. Wanna impress me with beautiful, blue-skinned humanoids with tails? Good advice - make them intelligent, make them better then classic, stupid indegeneous race in need of salvation. I don't ask for Dostoyevsky, I ask for logic, wit and life that you proved you're able to create with the Terminators. Because you know what? - I really bought this beautiful world of yours, with its digitally-created plants and animals and this futuristic equipment and gentle blue giants. And I don't care what some egoed wise-ass critics say about the banality of your message and who accuse you of politicizing what politicized should not be; neither should you care. Just make the story better next time, for God's sake. Put in it some life. Don't broaden your audience; it's already broad. Cause watching what you wrote here was just painful and kept me from enjoying this world of yours. I don't care whether you show western imperialists conquering red Indians or the other way around or some other metaphorical bullshit. All I ask is to be engaged with and believe in the story.
    And I know you can do it, Jimbo, with Avatar 2. Don't ask me again to sit through a movie after half of which I already know the ending. Please.