As the James Cameron epic Avatar careens toward cinematic immortality as the top grossing film of all time, conservative detractors continue to complain as to the "messages" contained within the movie.
Avatar, among other things has been incessantly branded as "liberal propaganda."
Really? You mean to say that Avatar is the first movie to blend timely political issues with blockbuster cinema?
Partisan politics has to be the most entertaining comedy show in Washington ... two shows nightly. Except the comedians in this case aren't exactly trying to be funny, they're playing it straight.
True comedy nonetheless.
Only an ideologue bereft of historical perspective would allege that Avatar is either egregious or new from the Hollywood machine. Was Rocky IV lambasted as "Conservative propaganda" in 1985 when the movie's protagonist chopped down "Ivan Drago" the cheating, steroid-taking Russian automaton during the height of the Cold War and Reagan administration?
Was it only coincidence that the classic sci-fi thriller War of the Worlds of 1953 set the stage for the ensuing space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union?
Or does the Tobey Maguire/Jake Gyllenhaal drama Brothers offer messages about the perils of life after war in a way that is drastically different than the Academy Award-winner for Best Picture of 1978 ... The Deer Hunter?
Weren't characters Riggs and Murtaugh sending a message about the "evil" of apartheid in 1989 with Lethal Weapon II; chasing down "criminal" South African diplomats during the height of U.S. sanctions, boycotts and divestiture?
Maybe it was only coincidence that the terrorist-themed The Siege took place in New York in 1998, five years after the first World Trade Center bombing. And it was also coincidence that movies about the Middle East such as The Kingdom are best appreciated during times of war with the Middle East.
Maybe ... but probably not.
But wait, Mo'Kelly's got more. No such complaints seemed to be raised when rhododendrons, lawn grass and the ubiquitous pine tree all started killing people en masse in the movie The Happening. Yes, killing people "coincidentally" during the height of the Green movement. Mo'Kelly suspects that even the late poet Joyce Kilmer would have noticed that irony.
And speaking of the Green movement...
Nobody had major complaints about the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still of 2008 and its revamped storyline which fit neatly and nicely into a environmentally-friendly, recycled box. Yes, the end of the world as we know it was at hand and the direct result of our huge carbon footprint...or some similar "eco-liberal-propaganda-message."
What a "coinkydink."
Despite any arguments as to whether art imitates life or vice versa in Hollywood, some things are indisputable. During war time, more war movies or nationalism-themed movies are produced. Some are specifically to spur on patriotism and nationalism, others simply to capitalize on them. Avatar at the minimum did the latter and rebuffed the former. But to deride the film as "liberal propaganda" for declining to waive the "war is good" flag is disingenuous. Such a statement is no more accurate than alleging that The Book of Eli, starring Denzel Washington is "conservative propaganda."
If you think a movie studio is willing to risk $500 million on one movie to advance any supposed liberal agenda, you are a fool of epic, summer blockbuster proportions and Mo'Kelly will laugh uncontrollably at you.
Mo'Kelly's problem with partisan politics isn't in the nature of it being "partisan." Hey, we all have our favorite sports teams and fandom isn't meant to be rooted in facts and logic. At the same time, let's try to approach the discussion of legitimate issues with a modicum of intellectual honesty. In other words, let's use good sense and judgment and not debate politics in the same way we debate the #1 team in college basketball. Avatar is no more or no less political than any movie of any era.
If AFI can rank Birth of a Nation as the 44th greatest film of all time in 1998 (you know the movie detailing the birth of the KKK and the "upside" of slavery), Mo'Kelly is really not interested in hearing how Avatar might "poison" the minds of independent-thinking adolescents.
Avatar is like every movie which preceded it, a reflection of the issues and attitudes consistent with the era in which it was produced.
No more, no less.
Morris W. O'Kelly (Mo'Kelly) is author of the syndicated entertainment and socio-political column The Mo'Kelly Report. For more Mo'Kelly, http://mokellyreport.wordpress.com. Mo'Kelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and he welcomes all commentary.
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