“Avatar” Angers Conservatives
It’s already one of the most popular movies of all time, and the fourth highest-grossing film ever. Conservatives love to talk about how out-of-touch Hollywood is with America and they preen whenever a film with a message they don’t like does poor box office.
Of course, “Avatar” totally turns this theory on its head. As a host of critics have noted, the film offers a blatantly pro-environmental message; it portrays U.S. military contractors in a decidedly negative light; and it clearly evokes the can’t-we-all-get along vibe of the 1960s counterculture. These are all messages guaranteed to alienate everyday moviegoers, so say the right-wing pundits — and yet the film has been wholeheartedly embraced by audiences everywhere, from Mississippi to Manhattan.
To say that the film has evoked a storm of ire on the right would be an understatement. Big Hollywood’s John Nolte, one of my favorite outspoken right-wing film essayists, blasted the film, calling it “a sanctimonious thud of a movie so infested with one-dimensional characters and PC cliches that not a single plot turn, large or small, surprises. . . . Think of ‘Avatar’ as ‘Death Wish’ for leftists, a simplistic, revisionist revenge fantasy where if you . . . hate the bad guys (America) you’re able to forgive the by-the-numbers predictability of it all.”
John Podhoretz, the Weekly Standard’s film critic, called the film “blitheringly stupid; indeed, it’s among the dumbest movies I’ve ever seen.”
Ross Douthat of the New York Times panned filmmaker James Cameron for failing to acknowledge the power of religion. Conservative blogger Govindini Murty says moviegoers are just too dumb to get the left-wing message of the film.
But even though ‘Avatar’ has an incredibly disturbing anti-human, anti-military, anti-Western world view, it has incredible spectacle and technology and great filmmaking to capture people’s attention. The politics are going right over people’s heads. Its audience isn’t reading the New York Times or the National Review.”
As Patrick Goldstein of the LA Times sums up:
“Avatar” has, of course, far more on its mind than its politics. It’s a triumph of visual imagination and the world’s first great 3-D movie. But it is fascinating to see how today’s ideology-obsessed conservatives have managed to walk away from such a crowd-pleasing triumph and see only the film’s political subtext, not the groundbreaking artistry that’s staring them right in the face.Click here for reuse options!
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