When I moved out here decades ago, one of the reasons that didn’t cause me to do so was proximity of the movie business. It was just for the space work, and the climate, and a general love of California. Just never had that much interest in it, or its denizens, and I can’t remember the last time (if ever) I watched an Oscar ceremony. Of course, I hardly ever go to the movies, so it’s likely that I haven’t even seen ninety percent of the contenders.
My big hope for this year is that Avatar wins an award for effects, and gets shut out on everything else. When a producer/director comes out and blatantly states that he was setting out to make an anti-corporate pro-“environment” movie, that should seal the deal, as far as I’m concerned. As Mayer famously said, if you want to send a message, use Western Union.
[Monday morning update]
Overall, I’d say that the Academy got it right. I think it’s interesting that, now that the evil tyrant George BusHitler is no longer terrorizing us from the White House, it’s all right to praise the troops, and to give an Oscar for best actress to a woman who played a Christian conservative (though maybe they were imagining what a feat of acting it must have been, as it would have been for them, for her to do so).
And we finally went to see Avatar yesterday afternoon (it’s no longer playing in IMAX, having finally been shoved aside by Alice, but still in 3D). It was just about as annoying as I expected.
Amoral anti-science philistine corporate toady interested in nothing but this quarter’s bottom line? Check. (Though to be fair, probably a lot of people in Hollywood have no experience with any other kind of businessman.)
Evil military guy who takes great joy in wiping out folks he considers subhuman? Check.
Scientists good, businesspeople evil? Check. Though again, to be fair, Hollywood often portrays scientists as evil as well.
Mindless worship of nature over technology (which is evil and destructive)? Check.
Perpetuation, even elevation of the pernicious myth of the noble savage? Check.
The last two, of course, are greatly aided by the propaganda effort that has been undertaken in our public school system for the past three or so decades. The Indians lived in peace and harmony, and in sustainable balance with their environment, bla bla, with no evidence to the contrary offered (e.g., mass slaughter of buffalo by driving them over cliffs, their horrific imagination for torture, the human sacrifices, the slash and burn, etc.). It’s all part of the ongoing effort to turn us from a nation founded on the principles of Locke to one based more on Rousseau. I’m glad that it wasn’t rewarded last night (though, had they invested one percent of the amount they did in effects on writing and story telling, and less cartoonish characters of a dimension greater than a half or so, that they did on effects, they might have gotten away with it).
[Update a while later]
Here’s an example of the brilliant dialogue:
Why save you?
Yes, why save me?
You have a strong heart. No fear.
She leans closer —
But stupid! Ignorant like a child!
I think I know where the scriptwriters got their inspiration:
Eros: “You see? You see? Your stupid minds! Stupid! Stupid!”
Harsh, I know. But that doesn’t make it not true.
Also, as Ray Kurzweil notes, Cameron seems to have a warped view of technology. Daisy cutters: bad. Arrows that can stop a man’s heart in less than a minute: good. And noble. And strangely, their bows and arrows are the only technology that these people seem to use. There is no mention of how their clothes and jewelry are made, though they clearly have them. And they clearly needed the Skypeople’s technology to destroy them. It’s all fine to have Gaia or whatevertheheckhername send a herd of stampeding hammerhead rhinocerous-like things, but that daisycutter would have been delivered if they hadn’t had a gunship and ordnance of their own.
And their only transport is the animals, though they don’t seem to use saddles. How do they expect to make serious war when they can get knocked off at the first impact with the enemy? The invention of the stirrup how the Mongols wiped up the place with everyone else. And really, don’t those flying things need seatbelts? I was quite amused to watch Sully firing his full auto cannon without being knocked off the creature from the recoil.
What this movie reminded me of was another movie with groundbreaking (at the time) effects, and terrible story, dialogue, and annoying characters. It was called Jurassic Park.