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The genius of "Avatar," apart from the enigmatic blue cats, is that not only is it universally likable ($1.42 billion grossed worldwide so far) but it's universally objectionable.

Whatever your political stance or creed, there is likely a sub-text that either appeals or repels you.

"The New York Times" summarizes some of the major objections:

Groups and nations that do not like “Avatar” include social and political conservatives, anticolonialists, antismoking advocates, the Vatican and China.

Some on America's right don't like it because of its "anti-Americanism" and not-so-subtle parallels with the early settlers' treatment of native Americans.

But then some liberals have complained that, despite the clunky anti-imperial theme, the white hero still ends up saving the "native" culture. (Although, it's not a one-way street, as Jake Sully does get to learn how to listen to the trees.)

And the Vatican has complained that, while it has to be admired as a cinematic spectacle, it is "a wink towards the pseudo-doctrines which have made ecology the religion of the millennium."

But the most damning claim perhaps came from a Russian tabloid, which accused director James Cameron of stealing the idea from Russia's preeminent science-fiction writer Boris Strugatsky.

Miriam Elder, a correspondent for "GlobalPost," has a nice account of her attempt to follow up on the Russian tabloid's story, which ended with the writer denying ever seeing "Avatar" or even speaking to the tabloid.

So that's that then. But, if you're still hungry for subtexts, there is also a discussion about whether Avatar has a positive feminist message.

I think I must have been too wowed by the flying dragon creatures for that one to register.

-- Luke Allnutt

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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