AUTHOR: John Podhoretz at The Weekly Standard
LENGTH: 1,285 words
THESIS: Avatar is a bad movie
MORE SPECIFICALLY: "Avatar is blitheringly stupid; indeed, it's among the dumbest movies I've ever seen."
TO CLARIFY FURTHER: "Avatar is an undigested mass of clichés nearly three hours in length taken directly from the revisionist westerns of the 1960s-the ones in which the Indians became the good guys and the Americans the bad guys."
EXCEPT: "Here the West is a planet called Pandora, the time is the 22nd century rather than the 19th, and the Indians have blue skin and tails, and are 10 feet tall."
NEAREST SOCIOLOGICAL EQUIVALENT TO THE BLUE PEOPLE: The Keebler elves (they "all live in a big tree together")
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE BLUE PEOPLE AND KEEBLER ELVES: "They have (I'm not kidding) fiber-optic cables coming out of their patooties that allow them to plug into animals and control them."
KEY QUESTION: Is "biped-centrism" akin to imperialism?
WHAT WRITER-DIRECTOR JAMES CAMERON IS LIKELY DOING AS THE BLUE PEOPLE ARE ATTACKED: "Weeping over his special-effects computer"
WHAT JOHN PODHORETZ IS DOING: Laughing
WHY ALL THIS TALK OF RACISM AND POLITICS IN AVATAR IS SILLY:
The thing is, one would be giving James Cameron too much credit to take Avatar-with its mindless worship of a nature-loving tribe and the tribe's adorable pagan rituals, its hatred of the military and American institutions, and the notion that to be human is just way uncool-at all seriously as a political document. It's more interesting as an example of how deeply rooted these standard-issue counterculture clichés in Hollywood have become by now. Cameron has simply used these familiar bromides as shorthand to give his special-effects spectacular some resonance.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.