The conservative blogosphere is up in arms over James Cameron’s “left-wing agenda” in Avatar, much of which centers on what is being described as the depiction of US Military and/or US Army forces essentially bullying the native Na’Vi, who are presented as ‘noble savages’.
Now, while there is no doubt that on the human side there’s a military force and the colonel leading this force is an American (we don’t hear many others speak) — it is also made clear at the very beginning of the movie that this is a mercenary force, not the US Army. There’s a line right when Jake Sully arrives, something to the effect that back home they’d be fighting for honor and country, but here it’s just about the money and the corporation.
Now, anticipating the response — I think the bloggers who are complaining would say that regardless of that disclaimer, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck. The “duck” in this instance is the US Military, because that’s what these guys look and sound like even if they are nominally mercenary.
Okay, I’ll acknowledge that — but what intrigues me is that the film is playing just as well in Red States as it is in Blue States, so in spite of the outrage, the movie seems to be resonating. Is it just because the 3D and the adventure are so good that red-staters are willing to overlook the political overtones? Maybe.
Here’s the quirky part, though. The same blue state message that conservative bloggers are decrying is absolutely a message that the rest of the world — pretty much all 200 plus countries — can be relied upon to absolutely love. Because even if America appears more enlightened under the current administration than it did under the last, the fact is that around the world the same people that gobble up American movies and products are kinda secretly (or as the case may be, not so secretly) happy to see something that quacks like the American military machine get its comuppance from a bunch of blue skinned forest dwellers. Is that fair? Maybe not. Is it hypocritical? Yes, to a degree. Is it understandable? I leave that up to others to decide. But make no mistake, as a commercial calculation — it may not play all that well in Peoria, but it plays just fine in Denmark and Germany and the Philippines and India and Italy and everywhere else.