Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Avatar - Why it Depresses Thousands

The movie Avatar has done it.

Like a pair of tree-hugging, nature-loving, environmental eyeglasses, Avatar has provided millions of viewers with the option of temporary 20/20 eco-vision; Green-shaded lenses, which allow moviegoers to see through the eyes of those, humans and nonhumans, who bear the deplorable and immoral hardships associated with our current, ethnocentric and industrialized, nature-eradicating, consume-and-expand, standard of living.

Overall, the plot of Avatar revolves around the destructiveness of our culture’s greed. The movie takes place over one hundred years into the future. Indigenous natives on a distant, fantastically beautiful planet must fight off vilified, resource-hungry humans from Earth, who will destroy anything necessary to obtain a rare, valuable mineral.

The twist comes when one of the humans, Jake Sully, is given the opportunity to become one of the natives, as a spy from within, through the means of fancy biotechnology. This allows Jake, as well as all of the viewers, to unexpectedly see, firsthand, the suffering imposed on others through sustaining industrial civilization’s expansive, resource-intensive itinerary.

By the time the movie is over, it is hard to look at one’s self in the mirror and still be proud of the industrial-intensive culture in which he or she is a part of.

If message boards are any indication, it is clear that Avatar has had a profound impact on much of its audience. On Avatar-Forums.com, there have been thousands of posts related to handling depression after watching the film.

Though some news channels have tied this depression to the surreal, 3-dimensional, special effects in the film, the primary cause seems to have been overlooked by mainstream media: After watching Avatar, people have become ashamed of how they, and the rest of their culture, have treated the Earth and all of its inhabitants.

We are part of a culture that names subdivisions after chopped down forests; we slaughtered the indigenous, only to put their faces on our coins; we identify ourselves as animal lovers, yet lock up innocent creatures in cages; and we toxify every inch of the planet, and then make a movie about how horrible living this way is, merely for entertainment value. We are a culture of contradiction, indeed, and the ironic truths are starting to become hard to ignore, all of which are justifiably depressing.

Contrastingly, Avatar, with a more uplifting spin of ironic realism, allows humans to appreciably see the beauty of nature that is omnipresent, everyday.

For some, it takes virtually travelling light-years away to a fictional, alien planet in order to realize the magnitude and depth of the naturally occurring splendor within each locale on Earth. In any case, this is an essential result. The realization of our culture’s harm, and the appeal for a stronger relationship with the Earth, go hand in hand.

Putting these observations together, the fog begins to clear.

Maybe, just maybe, industrial civilization is, in fact, the disease of all diseases, the crème de la crème of infectious infirmity. Maybe our industry-intensive solutions will only amplify our harms. Maybe it does not even matter if one votes Democrat or Republican, promotes democracy or communism, or chooses Christianity or Atheism. Maybe the problem is so deeply entrenched into our way of life, that we cannot even begin to understand the wrongness of industrial civilization, nor cope with the ideal of abandonment. Maybe we really are a gravely sick culture, beyond the help of any societal antibiotics.

Quite possibly, maybe, just maybe, it is time we reconsider.

Take off those 3-D glasses. This is reality.

- Teddy Grahams

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Colors of the Wind

Although the portrayal of European and American Indian relations is extremely skewed in Pocahantas, the lyrics and tune of this song are decidedly special.