The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
on entertainment and media

« Previous Post | The Big Picture Home | Next Post »

Jim Cameron eager to mix it up with 'Avatar's' right-wing critics

You can always tell that the Academy has sent out its final Oscar ballots by the sudden reappearance of gaudy full-page Oscar ads in the trades, my paper and the New York Times. It also means that most nominees, fearful of making a horrible gaffe, are especially careful not to say anything that could possibly be viewed as controversial in their interviews with the showbiz press. 

Except, of course, for Jim Cameron.

Cameroncover He's on the cover of this week's The Envelope and he's clearly eager to mix it up with the multitudes of conservatives who've been trashing "Avatar," claiming that it's dumb, sanctimonious, anti-military, nuttily pro-environment and, as Big Hollywood's John Nolte memorably put it, a "Death Wish'' for leftists. Cameron isn't the sort of guy to take those brickbats lying down, even if means alienating a few Oscar voters, either because they agree with the conservative take on the film or prefer to vote for films that are free of any political leanings. 

As he told Glenn Whipp: "Let me put it this way. I'm happy to piss those guys off. I don't agree with their worldview." As for his detractors' contempt for his environmental consciousness, dramatized in the film by the callous destruction of the Na'vi's pastoral world, Cameron says that the film's environmental message is a lesson for all moviegoers to digest. He explains that our planet "will be a dying world if we don't make some fundamental changes about how we view ourselves and how we view wealth .... We're going to have to live with less."

Cameron admits that many people will wonder what a fabulously wealthy filmmaker ensconced in a Malibu mansion knows about living with less, but he says that "I think there's a way to live and raise your kids with a set of values that teaches them the importance of hard work, the importance of respecting other people and the importance of respecting nature."

Cameron says he did have second thoughts about using an explicit "shock and awe" Iraq war reference in the film, but he insists that it reflects a bigger point he was trying to make. "What I really was saying was, 'Listen to what your leaders are saying. Open your eyes. And understand what the run-up to war is like, so the next time it happens, you can question it."

People have debated for years whether message-oriented films actually have an effect on filmgoers' consciousness. Seeing a movie is such an internalized, diffuse experience that it's hard to know how much of an influence it leaves behind. But I would say this: You could not have spent 150 minutes immersed in the world of "Avatar" without coming away with a new respect for how much we should treasure the natural resources of our world -- or any other. 


Why do conserivatives hate the most popular movie of all time?

Comments () | Archives (36)

The comments to this entry are closed.

I agree fully with Mr. Cameron's statement about living with less.

He explains that our planet "will be a dying world if we don't make some fundamental changes about how we view ourselves and how we view wealth .... We're going to have to live with less."

But one look at his home in California and he comes away as being a big fat hypocrite.

Here is a aerial view of his home in Malibu. It's gigantic. The carbon foot print on that is probably 10 times that of an average home.

"I'm happy to piss those guys off", says Jim Cameron.

Anyone who is willing to take on the Sarah Palin wing of the Republican Party has my respect and admiration. Cameron is a guy who came up in his profession by way of hard work and will power. Here is a guy who went from being a truck driver to the top of the heap. Now many people are jealous of his success or don't like his progressive view of the world. The more I read about Cameron, the better I like him.

To mix it up with his right wing critics ... actually means being interviewed by a right wing critic. Not being interviewed by one of any dozen receptive entertainment scribes unwilling to challenge him on his films ... or his recent statements.

Let's have him dial up John Nolte, an unabashed conservative and movie lover of the first order who would ask him fair - but very tough -questions.

I doubt that day will ever come.

i like this guy.

Tom, you misunderstand.

He meant if changes aren't made and the world deteriorates, EVERYONE will have to live with less because resources will be gone.

I don't think the fact that Mr. Cameron's wealth makes him a hypocrite in the making of Avatar. I doubt he killed someone for his wealth, nor did he venture into the third world and steal someone's land for that wealth. The message of that film is that we should regard what we have left of nature on this earth as our last remaining legacy. Without it, we will perish. The size of Mr. Cameron's house is a silly distraction from his film's message, that we must respect the cultures and values of others, and that military action into regions that sit on resources we want for ourselves is immoral. The fallout of this is immeasurable pain for the common people uprooted from the homes they have occupied for generations, just to make a few shareholders a little richer, and happier. I think the American Indian knows this better than anyone. I was in Iraq, and I have seen that evil. I was in the Southern Philippines where the Government takes away a person's land and sells it to Dole so that company can raise bananas. In the Amazon the indigenous people are being either displaced or killed off for the resources on their land. I think we need not focus on the messenger, but keep our eyes and ears on the message. As a last comment, "as ye sow, so shall ye reap". One's actions always come back to haunt him, whether today, tomorrow, or years from now.

Saturday Feb. 13 2010

Re: James Cameron taking on critics of Avatar

James Cameron's view of American military exploitation of native peoples is a common Canadian one and I as a fellow Canadian agree with him. However in Avatar the military and corporate interests on the planet Pandora never explicitly identified as American. They simply act like Americans in other countries for the time being Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mr. Cameron may live among you heathen, dollar worshipping Americans but he is not one of you and like Jonah preaching in Ninevah he's knows from the start that none of you are going to listen to him.
Avatar is still a good story despite it's over the top or is it "hit you over the head" message of environmentalism and US foreign policy. Nowadays it seems that over statement is what is necessary to be heard over the clamor of self interested overstatements from all political sides.

'You could not have spent 150 minutes immersed in the world of "Avatar" without coming away with a new respect for how much we should treasure the natural resources of our world -- or any other.'

I did.

I came away bored and frustrated at having wasted my time and money.
Pandora isn't a real world, didn't really even represent our real world. We don't have giant glowing fungus or winged dragons.
When was it stated once that the forest was a good thing for any reason? Jake ended up fighting for the Na'vii because he lusted after the princess, and by extension had to parrot her own naive environmental views.
The message is less about how wonderful nature is and more like those Funny or Die videos about how you get no tail by not towing the Green Party line.

Likewise the only reason for respect for the environment provided for the marin...sorry, mercenaries was because that nature on Pandora was literally a vengeful goddess who kicked their collective posteriors with magical beasties.

So the only reasons you should care about the environment is because of divine tyranny and hoping to get laid.


This guy wants 'less wealth'?I would love to sit and hear him and the studio heads discuss his next film and how much he wants.If the studio heads say,"Hey James,let's say we give you fifty grand for your next pic,would that be a problem,you did say there is too much wealth".What a clown.

Oh come on Tom, don't be such a Cameron-hater. He has a right to live in such a big house because he is enlightened. Besides, he explained it: he doesn't need to live with less because he raises his kids in the "right" way... he has them imagine that they have less and since they are enlightened, the effect is the same. *Actually* living with less is for those of us that are not enlightened.

1 2 3 4 | ยป


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

Stay Connected:

About the Bloggers



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: