Idol Chatter

Well, whatever. I’m glad it didn’t win. I might be the only person in the world who didn’t like ‘Avatar’, but I don’t care: I thought the story itself was boring, overly basic, and oh-so-unbelievably derivative, especially for people who read a lot of science fiction and fantasy. Sure, the special effects are genius and I did enjoy them–for about forty minutes. Then I spent the rest of the movie checking the time and thinking, ohmigosh, do we really have two more hours of this? And I, of course, care about James Cameron’s message about the tragic destruction of the natural world and with it, its peoples, beliefs, and culture–but the way he conveyed this message was so heavy-handed and utterly black and white. I had to roll my eyes. I almost couldn’t watch–not because of the tragedy unfolding on screen but because I felt pained that Cameron chose to portray this tragedy in such a stereotypical way, with stereotypical villains and heroes.
Clearly I am lonely on this front, as Religion Dispatches writer Bron Taylor described ‘Avatar’ as an “emotionally wrenching tale” with a “message [that] was anything but safe,” and endeavors to come to grips with why ‘Avatar’ didn’t win Best Picture in his article, “War of the Worldviews: Why Avatar Lost.” While I appreciate Taylor’s opinion, I disagree with his assessment of why Avatar was bested by The Hurt Locker:
“This affinity for nature may exaplain the global appeal of Avatar but not why it ran second in the Oscar competition. Ironically, in the battle between these cinematic epics, The Hurt Locker was portrayed as countercultural, when it actually pandered to patriotic convention. Meanwhile, Avatar was cast as technologically radical while few commented on its radical critique of a militarized technological civilization, or on its countercultural religious vision. These are things some Academy voters, little doubt, found too radical to support.”

I don’t think ‘Avatar’ lost because it was too radical, I think it lost because its story is so derivative and overly simplistic. To me, the real question about this Oscar debate is this: Should ‘Avatar’ have won merely based on the fact that it is a special effects turning point in movie history? Obviously, the Oscar folks thought no, and awarded based on quality of story not effects (at least I think this). What do you think?

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