“Avatar” spoilers follow.
The unoriginal “ideas” in Avatar’s screenplay are such cliched, non-
intellectual, California-Liberal New Age mysticism, that the basic
storyline, minus the physical-peril suspense and special effects,
could read as a satire.
Its references include Native American Mother Earth worship, the
evils of American imperialism, becoming “one” with one’s tribal
ancestors, and the purity of primitivism and its superiority to
industrialization. All of this is presented as if based on biological
and geological reality.
Besides this, as usual with a James Cameron screenplay (see
“Titanic”), the dialogue is trite and the characters are shallow
stereotypes copied from hundreds of previous films and novels.
But most offensive of all is the imagery that is easily interpreted as
anti-American symbolism to leftist and international audiences. An
Earthling general is presented as the stereotype of a tough American
military man, in the mold of Patton. He is presented as evil and
corrupt. The invasion of the Na’vi nation is presented with no
subtlety at all as a war whose purpose is to “steal” the “oil” inside
their planet. (“Unobtainium” is invented to stand in for oil).
At the end, the sight in 3-D of Earth’s (America’s) helicopters
attacking Na’vi aliens (Third Worlders) and burning down their
homes is obvious, heavy handed symbolism, harking back to
Vietnam. It is presented so that the audience roots for the Third
Worlders to defeat the Americans. It’s almost like treasonous
propaganda, created to incite anti-American anger.
A character who abandons Western Civilization to live among the
collectivist Nature Worshippers is shown to be noble and heroic.
I believe and hope the reason most people see the film is to marvel
at the phenomenal technical achievements in visual effects, the
remarkably believable designs of the diverse alien creatures, the
excellent pacing, and the suspenseful scenes of physical peril, which
reflect James Cameron’s true talents.