And now, having seen all that is said about the movie, good and bad, I have come to love it. No, I haven't seen the movie (I don't have to in order to understand what the film entails), but I have come to love the film for the same reasons that I and others "hate" it. Here are a few of those reasons:
- It comments upon numerous American fantasies, particularly a nostalgic desire for an unattainable British-style empire (fueled, perhaps, by what Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr. refers to as the “British imperial nostalgia displaced onto the American heirs” in his essay “Cyberpunk and Empire”) in an exceptionally obvious and unrelenting way. This makes for interesting analysis when one tries to consider how the vision Avatar gives us comments upon both the creators and the world we live in.
- What can only be said to be a remarkable ability on the part of the writers to reduce racial or ethnic subjects (or, for the purposes of this discussion, the “Other,” or the more apt term, “Subaltern”) to caricature, thinly veiled and served with a side of American-guilt masqueraded as White-guilt (I refuse to reduce problems of genocide to racial stereotypes when we live in a world beset with the perpetuation of this practice by people of all races).
- A uniquely anti-capitalist, anti-military, and anti-imperialist fictionalization that is and probably always will be mistaken for something it is not (i.e. some liberal critique of the U.S. militaristic state in need of refutation via indefensible positions. Such positions are, unfortunately, taken as legitimate critiques in this world--to put it more plainly, the use of the “this is an evil liberal movie” argument to reduce the term “liberal” into something derogatory while both ignoring and inviting others to ignore the truth underneath whatever is being said; we might call this the “head in the sand” mentality, which exist in all stripes of politics, no matter how right or left leaning).