December 31, 2009

Went with the kids to see AVATAR. (My brother-in-law recommended it.) Fantasy is so much fun. The canvas is so big, you can do anything. Great world-creating here, stunning imaginative and visual power. Story was, no surprise, something less; but these kinds of things always get me charged up, make me want to see great new Catholic works, stories where the subtext radiates truth. Imagine going to the movies and actually seeing great work. Think of the scope, the diversity, the actual human condition. And I do believe that is going to happen. Christ is risen!

This one was pure Obama/Oprah. You can make a list: The United Fruit Company, Al Gore, noble savage/Native Asian Americans, paganism, national health care, an embracing of Islam.

The setting and backdrop of the story would've made Ernesto Cardinal smile. It's the UFC in Nicaragua all over again: the US invaded the country nine times in the 20th century by his count, never built a school or a road into the capital. All roads led to the "bidness," as an Oklahoma evangelical businessman might phrase it. Bottom line: we need those bananas, boys. But the setting is equal opportunity here, and it morphs into the Iroquois, Iraq & oil as well; characters actually use Frost's "displacements"--word choices which suggest other meanings/resonances. In this film you hear the turned-good Caucasians actually warm up to the words "terrorism" and "suicide bomber" when they see the light and turn native blue (purple knifs--Cleveland joke . . . sorry).

So in effect the blue world here (Max) becomes any indigenous victim of the Republican imperialist machine: South & Central America, Vietnam, the Mid-East, the US. And just to try and put us off the scent, the director throws in a couple of red herrings as well. At one point, for example, Sigourney Weaver's character says of the Mother worshipping natives: "They're not pagans." Huh? . . . And the limp-legged hero victim who can't get healed because his country has no national health care claims he doesn't want to become a "tree hugger." (But wait, he does finally die and gets to leave his hated human body, so maybe that works--the skin shed. BLUE IS TRUE.)

And there it is, the whole sorry batch. But we've been down this Hollywood trail before.

Al Gore and the noble savage/Native Asian Americans show up too of course--anything that is not "Christianity" will do.

(As an aside, I'm still waiting for John Kerry to win his Nobel. He should whine about it--but maybe that's the problem. His face is in the dictionary next to the word. Now Sweden is all about whining, but they want to look normal. . . . Still, skipping him just doesn't seem fair. In a way, he is this movie. On the ride home, I told my son that the film reminded me of those Kerry/Edwards stickers you still see on cars. . . . Now I'm no fan of that WASP muzzle-loader, Cheney, but Hollywood's glitter-socialists are every bit as pathetic.)

I put Christianity in quotes as far as this movie goes because Hollywood has no idea what Christianity is. To them it's Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart. (Catholics are not as hard on pagans or the environment.) And so our director, in a spike of heroic neandrathal insight, takes the required hard left. The capitalists have destroyed their world (see Walli) and now they must take out anyone not like them: any and all third world peoples. In this version, those would be the sinless blues who live in a world without mosquitoes or greed.

Why is the world so stupid?

St. Francis, true lover of the natural world, pray for us.

And keep writing, Catholics! Things will get better.