Have no fear, my friends. I have not lost my grasp of the English language.
That is not a typo in the title of this column.
For those of you who have seen James Cameron’s Avatar, the multi-billion dollar grossing juggernaut of movies, the term’s meaning is known.
And for the few citizens of industrialized nations who have not gazed upon the 3D spectacle, I’m about to tell you the basics.
In the future, the planet Earth is almost totally depleted of its natural resources.
On a lush, flora-filled planet called Pandora lives a race of blue-skinned warriors called Na’vi, who are tribal and spiritual in their respect for the environment and collective life force of all creatures. Pandora’s major resource is a substance called “Unobtanium”, which generates energy on an almost incalculable scale, thus making it extremely valuable to the government of Earth.
Due to the wonders of science, the government has the means to infiltrate the Na’vi by implanting the persona of a human being into a cloned alien body, thus allowing the human to commune with the Na’vi in the interest of learning their ways.
When the Na’vi refuses to give up their “Unobtanium”, the diplomatic mission is quickly abandoned and eclipsed by a military operation to mount an offensive and take the “Unobtanium” by force.
Yes, friends. To obtain the Unobtanium.
That is all you need to know for the purposes of this column, and the analogies are clear.
James Cameron, the writer / director / cinematic visionary of Avatar, went so far as to use the term “shock and awe”, just in case any of you have been living on another planet during the recent Bush administration and wouldn’t recognize the parallels between the invasion of Pandora and the Iraq war.
But let’s be clear and do a cheat sheet:
Pandora invasion = Invasion of Iraq, European “colonization” of Africa, etc.
Unobtanium = Oil, ore, gold, etc.
Blue-skinned = Non-Whites from places like Iraq, Africa, etc.
Na’vi = Iraqis, Egyptians, Native Americans, etc.
Pandora = Africa, the Amazon Rainforest, etc.
It is clear that Mister Cameron had some messages to communicate to the audience, and I do believe they were successfully transmitted.
The question is: “What now?”
Now that millions of you have seen Avatar (some of you more than once), and you have received Mister Cameron’s timely commentary on the bad things people do to each other and the planet, how the plagues of prejudice, ignorance, and war represent the worst aspects of humankind, and the power of the humane (not “human”) spirit in the face of overwhelming opposition and cultural genocide, what happens now?
Will you stop depending on the gospel as told by CNN and its journo-tainment collection of pod people, and go read a book on the Islamic religion, or learn the difference between Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan?
Will you take time to investigate the difference between Muslims and Extremists?
No? I see.
Well, will you be more cognizant about the planet? Engage in more informed and frequent recycling policies in the home and workplace?
Start composting? Learn about “green” initiatives in your neighborhood, in the schools that your children attend?
Challenge public officials to make environmental policies a priority?
Then how about thinking before you make another joke with your friend at work about people of different cultures and skin shades?
Teaching your children to have investigative minds and ask questions, so they will find the time to learn the things that you are too lazy or distracted to learn?
Some of you will answer one or more of the questions with “Yes.”, and others have already begun doing some of the things I laid out, or have been doing them for years.
But I suspect most of you have not and will not say “Yes.”, to any of the above.
And that is the tragedy.
Not the near-destruction of the Na’vi and their trees of life. Not the moment when the 3D experience is over and you have to remove the glasses and return to an actual three-dimensional world.
It is your impenetrability and inflexibility.
It is the “So what?” and the “What does that have to do with me?” and “Who gives a (add expletive)?!?”
You are the cloned Na’vi.
You have been indoctrinated to float in the fluid of your complacency while carnival barker television “journalists” and politicians inhabit your body and walk you around like a puppet.
And no matter how much the storytellers of our time try to feed you messages with your melodrama (because they know you won’t eat your broccoli unless it’s on a slice of pizza), they will fail, because at the end of Avatar, you’re only concerned about the next film coming out in 3D.
To quote the Na’vi…
“I see you.”
Unfortunately, I don’t like what I see in some of you.