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I went with the kids to see Avatar a few weeks ago, and it was absolutely stunning in 3-D. I thoroughly enjoyed the artistry that went into making the film. The storyline, however, is a completely different story. It attacks corporate greed, imperialism, and military might, while elevating mysticism, pantheism, environmentalism and science. I felt like I was hit over the head with a political message the whole time I was in the movie, even in the midst of the stunning special effects.
Yes, imperialism can be bad, and corporate greed has cause many problems in our world today. However I very rarely hear the term “imperialism” used in our society without having the word “American” before it. And am I the only one that is nonplused that most of the ex-military in the movie come across as bloodthirsty jerks? Or that scientists are seen as saviors? I’m afraid that certain stereotypes are being reinforced under the guise of entertainment without many people even realizing it!
That goes for the religious message of Avatar as well. Avatar does affirm some sort of afterlife, but it is more in line with mysticism, spiritualism, and the new age than with Christian thoughts and ideas. While immersing ourselves in the story we shouldn’t allow our thoughts and ideas to be affected by the non-Christian worldview of James Cameron.
Ironically, while elevating the mystical ideas of the “Navi”, I think that the film actually undercuts their beliefs. There does seem to be some sort of soul or essence that continues after death and that can communicate with others, but the scientists describe the ancestral tree and it’s connections with terms like “neurons” and “synapses”, and they liken the entire system to a computer network. It seems that although the Navi are more in tune to their environment, they still can’t understand it like the scientists can. They can describe it phenomenologically, but only the scientists are the only ones who can really understand what is going on behind it all.
In summary, there may be some good ideas present in Avatar, but don’t check your mind at the door. You may find that you’ve been invaded by aliens!