The big new Christmas movie, James Cameron’s Avatar, which opened yesterday, has some striking green themes.
There’s deforestation: a truly massive tree gets destroyed. There's a threatened indigenous people: the home of the Na’vi tribe gets obliterated. And there’s a new-agey idea that that there’s a mutual thing going on between the people living in forest and the forest itself and there may even be scientific evidence (Sigourney Weaver tells us) of electro-magnetic impulses that allows the forest to act like a brain, communicating between its many constituent elements.
The baddies of the piece, of course, don't have such a sophisticated brain. What the US military has is muscle – a massive arsenal of weaponry which it aims to use ( ‘shock and awe’) to get the ‘savages’ moving out of an area where there they have discovered a very precious mineral called – yes! – ‘unobtanium’;.
This raises an interesting question. I assume you can't have a successful blockbuster movie that’s anti-American. So there must be plenty of people watching this movie who aren’t remotely bothered by the parallels suggested by the storyline.
Update: in this interview Cameron refers to the themes of imperialism and biodiversity and attacks the way America has ‘had eight years of the oil lobbyists running the country’. But he points out that anti-imperialism is American too. ‘You can take it back to the origins of America in a fight of rebels against an imperial dominating force.’ Except the rebels in question were hardly fighting on behalf of indigenous people.