Sunday, December 21, 2014


Transmission

Avatar: Not A Copy Of Russian Sci-Fi After All

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
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by: Felipe from: Brazil
January 15, 2010 20:39
This NYT comment is a very known logical fallacy:

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

This is a Guilt by Association fallacy, that tries to generalize their conclusion by stating that people they dislike or suspect think otherwise.

I personally loved Avatar, and saw it at the movies twice already, but it is really a shame that the press start resorting to such fallacies to try to support their view or force their readers to support it, or else "they will be thinking the same of conservatives, anticolonialists, catholics, chinese government, etc."

by: Clifton from: USA
January 17, 2010 04:55
Actually the claim from the Russians is true. The stories were published in the 60s. The author hasn't come forward for any recognition probably due to the legal issues Cameron would throw at him. The same thing happened when M. Night Shamalan claimed "The Village" was totally his original and then it was found to be completely based on a short story from the 70s. And if you think Cameron wouldn't pull this kind of stunt for his personal gain just remember, he also claimed to find Jesus Christ's tomb. Nothing is sacred in Hollywood.

by: Zoltan from: Prague
January 17, 2010 11:46
Of course, there are also the allegations that Cameron has stolen from classic album cover artist Roger Dean, of "Yes" fame, for the floating mountains bit: http://io9.com/5426120/did-prog-rocks-greatest-artist-inspire-avatar-all-signs-point-to-yes/gallery/

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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