Ecological disaster has long been a hallmark motif in many science-fiction stories and movies, from “The Day of the Triffids,” where alien plants take over earth, to “Them,” the classic science-fiction movie about ants transformed into giant arthropods by the atomic bomb.
In the Hugo-winning science-fiction novel “The Sheep Look Up” by John Brunner (perhaps the ultimate environmental disaster novel), the final solution to stopping the environment from being destroyed by man is to kill off the most “wasteful” nation on earth, the American people!
James Cameron’s new sci-fi extravaganza, “Avatar,” set to open Friday, says virtually the same thing, but on a bigger scale. The major problem with “Avatar” is that Cameron tells a story that hates people.
In the story, a group of nature-worshipping aliens triumph over the greedy, evil human corporations that want to destroy their planet. The aliens eventually send the humans back to a dying earth to die. How marvelous!
If you think this sounds as if Al Gore wrote the script for “Avatar,” not James Cameron, you may be right. This theme of kill all the humans, especially the pro-American, capitalist humans, has long been an underlying message of the left-wing, environmentalist movement, beginning with Rachel Carson’s hysterical plea to ban DDT, even though, to this day, there is no evidence that DDT is harmful to humans or the environment, and even though the use of DDT can save millions of human lives from the deadly disease of malaria.
Many millions of malaria deaths later, along comes “Avatar” to, once again, cast human beings, especially militaristic capitalists, as the super-villain and to create heroes out of a bunch of pagan primitives who have achieved an idyllic, but impossible, at-one-ment with nature.
For hundreds of years, the pagan, communist ideas expressed in this movie circulated among a threadbare group of outcasts with dirty fingernails and greasy hair, who shared their obtuse, occult ideas amongst themselves with manic, alienated glee. Now, James Cameron has made these insane views the major bulwark of a very spectacular movie, but the spectacle does not make these Neo-Marxist views any more coherent, rational or uplifting.
Great entertainment puts plot first, character second, dialogue third, idea fourth, music fifth and spectacle last, as Aristotle noted. Cameron reverses this in “Avatar.” And, all too often, when you put spectacle first, you turn a great little movie like “King King” into “King Bore.”
In “Avatar,” the dialogue is often funky, the ideas are self-contradictory and absurd, the characters are shallow and stereotypical and the plot is forgotten as Cameron shows off scene after scene of his special effects. If only someone had edited this movie, it might have been more interesting. Those who want to be blown away by special effects, or who are on drugs, may disagree.
Ultimately, “Avatar” is bad news. What the people in the movie need to deliver them from their greed and the aliens in the movie need to deliver them from their severe groupthink is the loving salvation available only through the true God, Jesus Christ.