08 February 2010

Does James Cameron Hold No Hope for Humanity?

Before I begin, I have to state that I thoroughly enjoyed James Cameron's "Avatar." Still there were some things about the movie that bothered me. I recently posted my thoughts on the 2D version versus the 3D version that you can read here.

Nothing's Changed in 300 Years?
I, for one, would like to believe that we would have come much farther than how Cameron depicts us in his film. The year is 2154, but the corporation that is mining for unobtainium on Pandora acts pretty much like those who built the railroad or mined or staked claims on land long since occupied by Native Americans.

Today, such abhorrent activity would be staunchly opposed and blocked by activists. I see this as us evolving our cultural ethics as a whole. If in 150 years we've regressed to acting like our ancestors who lived 150 years ago, our future looks truly bleak.

In 2154, I highly doubt that we would behave in the manner in which Cameron depicts. And don't even get me started on the Marine mentality that is portrayed in this movie.

Nothing's Changed in 150 Years?
Something I disliked even more was how Cameron's team spent not one ounce of energy in updating or "futurizing" the products of our culture, aside from some of the technologies:
  • Clothes - Every item of clothing that the humans wear on Pandora is taken directly from our present day.
  • Hair styles - Every haircut is typical of the characters they belong to as they exist today.
  • Lingo - The military speak flat out ate at my every nerve. The lingo each generation of soldier uses changes. Any one of the lines that the marines in this movie spewed could be stripped out of any number of current military-based films.
  • Attitudes - From the golfball-putting corporate lack of concern to the scientists berating the mercenaries' lack of intelligence, the same divisiveness that exists between these sectors is firmly in place in "Avatar."
  • Technology - I'm not completely up-to-date on current military technologies, but most of the gear that the mercenaries don is taken straight out of our current military attire.
Cameron's Attempt to Avoid Alienation
One of the largest criticisms of sci-fi movies is how producers tend to don their characters in "futuristic" attire. The clothes come off as hoakey to most and often keep people from engaging the story.

The recently revisited "Battlestar Galactica" television series changed this long-running paradigm. At first, the way that so much of the attire and technologies matched those I could find in my own world held me back from appreciating the story. But, that's because I'm a major sci-fi fan who has come to expect producers to be more creative than that.

Over time, the lack of creativity on the BSG wardrobe department stopped bothering me, as the story drew me in. It also drew in many fans that wouldn't have existed, including a council of the United Nations. The lack of overly sci-fi elements like wardrobe, allowed the usually non-sci-fi set to more readily accept and appreciate the story.

Perhaps, James Cameron took a queue from the producers of BSG.

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