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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Right wingers launch new attack on 'Avatar'


It seems as if the more money "Avatar " makes at the box office (it's now officially the second-biggest-grossing film of all time), the more incensed its critics on the right become. The best example? Die-hard right-wing blogger/columnist/anti-Islam crusader Debbie Schlussel has now weighed in on the Jim Cameron blockbuster, which managed to drive her so around the bend that she ended up comparing it (I kid you not) to the writings of Noam Chomsky and the speeches of Hugo Chavez.

If you're a regular reader of Schlussel's fulminations against pop culture, you'd know that contempt for Hollywood is standard fare for her. In case you'd forgotten, she's the conservative fanatic who attacked Oprah as "a supporter of Islamic terror," mercilessly bashed Ed Zwick's "Defiance" claiming that "Hollywood loves the dead Jews but they hate the live ones" and told parents that they were "morons" if they took their kids to see "Watchmen." So you can imagine what she had to say about "Avatar," which is viewed in conservative circles as a vapid, left-wing celebration of primitive peoples, the environment and anti-military attitudes.

So what's her take on "Avatar?" She calls it bloated, highly overrated, an incredible waste of time and "just like a million diatribes from Daily Kos, Democratic Underground and every other far-left outlet about how we invaded Iraq for oil ... yes, cinema for the hate America crowd." After spewing out a host of other barbs against the film (she describes the Na'vi as smurf-like natives who "looked like Jar Jar Binks with arrowheads," she ends with this coup de grace: "Why drive to the movies, pay for tickets and spend hours in a dark room when you can just as easily read Noam Chomsky or the speeches of Hugo Chavez in the comfort of your own home and couch? Same difference. 'Avatar' is an intelligence test. If you fell for it, you failed."

It's Schlussel's favorite rhetorical tactic--if you liked a movie she loathed, you must be a moron. Sadly, like so many other conservative critics, she fails to even make an attempt at explaining why if "Avatar" is filled with so much left-wing extremism so many tens of millions of Americans have flooded the multiplexes to see the film, many of them more than once. The obvious answer is that, unlike Schlussel and other conservatives, most Americans are enthralled by the film. As for its themes, my guess is that people either find themselves in agreement -- maybe it is a bad thing to destroy a pristine primitive culture -- or manage to ignore the message altogether. Unfortunately, today's conservative pundits can't ignore even the faintest whiff of a political message in a movie or TV show -- they view everything through a partisan political lens.

"Avatar" is a great movie, and most of America knows it, which is why it's breaking box-office records everywhere. Back in the '80s, it was liberals who were so blinded by their ideology that they were unable to see that Ronald Reagan was a formidable, incredibly popular president. They underestimated his appeal and paid the price for it. Today, it's conservatives who are viewing pop culture through ideological blinders. If they want to bash "Avatar" the same way they've bashed Barack Obama, they'll end up paying a big price for it too.

"Avatar" photo: WETA/Twentieth Century Fox

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What I don't understand is why the left hasn't pilloried James Cameron for this incredible 500 million dollar carbon footprint waste of time. The plot is so tired, predictable and insulting to anyone with a modicum of intelligence that I have a hard time understanding the praise heaped on this turkey. The cynical and condescending racism inherent in the "White Messiah" concept is so appalling as to be totally offensive.

Success is absolutely no measure of greatness.

The movie is ENTERTAINMENT. Why does there have to always be a message? Why can't we just be entertained? After seeing this movie will I be embarassed that I am an American? Nooo I'm more embarassed by what our politicans and government do when they don't think things through. Sigh its always something isn't it. If its not Harry Potter being evil cause there's magic being performed, its something else. Avatar is a fantasy, its entertainment. I suppose that MS.Schlussel would also burn books that didn't agree with her opinion.

Ms. Schlussel can vent all she likes, but it would appear that the people who laid out nearly a quarter of a billion dollars on tickets on opening weekend, and the many others who continue to flock to where it's being shown, don't happen to agree with her.

Avatar is a classic meeting of gracious and ungracious people. It's that simple.
The off-world corporatists choose for others other than what they would choose for themselves and reserve for themselves choices they would deny others. The Na' vi graciously choose for others only as they would choose for themselves seeing the intricate progressive balance of life in the process.
In classic myth forms, the ungracious choices of the misguided invite instructive consequences. The hero in the quest observes this process and awakens to the gracious being within. Joseph Campbell and Aesop would cheer like so many audiences have.
Of course this threatens corporatists and the conservatives who see themselves in these ungracious people and their myopic motivations. It should. Their ungracious choices serve few and dis-serve many, most in fact. We live in a world rife with instructive consequences of ungracious choices made by our political, economic, military, and religious leaders. They would have us believe such consequences are 'unintended'. "AVATAR" reminds us in wondrous fashion that there is no more ungracious concept in the Universe than 'acceptable collateral damage'. There is no such thing.
Kudos to James Cameron for presenting the world with the first new myth of the 21st century. It is a wonder to behold and share.

I thought this was an Onion article...with all that is going in DC and Sacramento these days, and conservative pundits choose to go after a movie...its a "movie" with blue people in it! After seeing Avatar, and how its shadowy script mirrored Dances with Wolves...Kevin Costner you are on notice, how dare you to have developed a movie that shown the light to a time period when the military attacked Native Americans for their land and resources.

Hey moron, she wrote her review almost a month ago, and I'm sure she's right about this silly flick. I wouldn't see it for free.

Let's be careful not to stir up a bunch of right/left arguments that aren't productive at all. True conservatism means being accepting of all people because individuals are free and able to live their lives as they like. The battle between neo-cons and liberals is a silly sideshow, all the while our country slips further into debt an our civil liberties erode. Let's do our country and ourselves a favor and not talk about Harry Reid and Avatar while our jobs and economy collapse..

Ha, I love hearing conservative comments about this movie. It cracks me up.

God, they must be so mad that no one even cares about their comments... now there trying to make themselves look better by saying that the movie has no good acting, its just all visuals.

WRONG, it does have good acting (not the greatest ever, but better then most, lets say around Batman level), and it sure as hell blows the **** out of every other film of our generation.

Sorry, conservatives, but change is a good thing. Both in movies and in politics. But you could say that this movie is a "Maverick" of the industry.


What is newsworthy about people who obsess on politics responding to what they regard as the political subtext of a film? Here's what NYT's house rightwinger David Brooks presciently said about Avatar's appeal:

"Every age produces its own sort of fables, and our age seems to have produced The White Messiah fable.

This is the oft-repeated story about a manly young adventurer who goes into the wilderness in search of thrills and profit. But, once there, he meets the native people and finds that they are noble and spiritual and pure. And so he emerges as their Messiah, leading them on a righteous crusade against his own rotten civilization.

Avid moviegoers will remember “A Man Called Horse,” which began to establish the pattern, and “At Play in the Fields of the Lord.” More people will have seen “Dances With Wolves” or “The Last Samurai.”

Kids have been given their own pure versions of the fable, like “Pocahontas” and “FernGully."

So why is it inadmissible to point out the foolishness and self-congratulating narcissism that provide the film's foundation? I don't know Debbie S from Adam, but Patrick's post looks like the work of someone whose brain is taking a day off.

I did not know this was a documentary. I thought it was a FANTASY MOVIE. Now I really want to see it!! Seriously, this is really important? Whether a movie takes pieces of a real world and uses them to make up its own reality? I'm glad this woman sees this as so important it even begs an editorial. I have not seen it, but I am sure the script is weak and the acting half rate, but the special effects are great. Sound like every George Lucas film made in the last 10 years. No ones giving him grief for ripping off "religions greatest hits" to base a franchise around.

Why don't we instead lets spend time debating why we don't have full body scanners in airports and why people seem to think that you have some expectation of privacy when you are in a public place!! Lets keep people safe so they CAN go to mindless fantasy movies and forget about people blowing up airplanes. That's why its FANTASY!! Because the real world is to much for people to take seriously!! Some one get this woman an actual JOB so she has no more free time on her hands to spout this inane drivel.


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