I went to see Avatar for the special effects and because I liked James Cameron's Terminator 2. The special effects did not disappoint, but everything else did.
What a sodden lump the movie was, a big pile of warrior worship.
What it lacked entirely was any sense of humor.
A little irreverence.
They got the Hero all right, but they got the Hero formula wrong.
There's supposed to be a funny, bumbling sidekick or an incongruous pair to lighten the load, like
R2D2 and C3PO;
the Terminator and the boy;
or Caldicott and Charters (right, in Hitchock's The Lady Vanishes).
Without them, the hero's self-seriousness is insufferable.
I've walked out of two movies in the last twelve months.
One was Avatar. The other was Year One.
I actually kinda liked Year One--a spoof of those mighty-tales-of-prehistory movies mixed with Bible epics.
I laughed at its irreverent humor, poking sticks at sacred cows.
Like this scrap of dialogue:
High Priest: "Behind these doors is the Holy of Holies, earthly domain of the gods. A place so ineffably sacred, so powerful, that he who enters is instant death."
Oh [Michael Cera]: "Who cleans it?"
I left, though, because it was full of stupid poop jokes designed for ten-year-old boys. I was bored.
Wonderful plantlife aside (I did love the plants! weren't those jellyfish/milkweed ones cool?), Avatar also bored me.
And scared me a little too. Warrior worship scares me. The blue people seem to be a mishmash of the Masai, the Maori, and the Marines.
I am not into warrior tribes.
I don't think I'd do well in them at all.
I'm with Samuel Beckett, who said he just wanted to sit on his ass, fart, and think of Dante. This won't cut it in a warrior tribe.
Did you notice, the blue people didn't have any books?
Or anyone who was less than a perfect physical specimen?
I know why we are nostalgic for nature--we in the overly industrialized world never get tested physically at all.
But I don't want to get tested. I'm not such a fan of Natural Selection, which is what all that "nature keeps the balance" hoo-ha boils down to.
I'm pretty sure I'd be among the first Nature would select to eliminate.
I don't want to wrestle a dragon and bend his will to mine. I don't even have a driver's license.
Sleeping in hammocks hurts my back and makes me seasick.
And when the tribe goes climbing up vines to reach the sky islands, all I could think of was how I couldn't do the rope climb in first grade.
You know people like me would fall off those pretty tree limbs as children and everyone would say how sad it was but that it was the will of nature.
These blue guys didn't want roads and medicine.
I want roads and medicine.
I like modernity.
It means a society that can afford to support losers like me and the Dude.
I want the mess of democracy.
I don't want to live in a tidy Spartan society.
As bink commented to me, it wasn't Sparta that left us the ancient Greek comedies.
I don't want to be part of any tribe that doesn't include Jack Black.
Left: King Leonidas, of Sparta, the first guy to say "Bring it on!"