The following exchange happened on a 12.17 Charlie Rose Show between Rose, N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott and New Yorker critic David Denby, The topic was the political metaphor in Avatar, and the way James Cameron delivers it. I’m pasting this because Scott explained very clearly and concisely what Avatar‘s game is.
CHARLIE ROSE: “It also has political messages.”
A. O. SCOTT: “Oh, yes. And I think that, you know, in some ways they might be, the politics you might say are a little naive, perhaps.
ROSE: “It’s straightforward.”
SCOTT: “The Na’vi are kind of noble savages in the classical sense. They have so in tune with nature and they have this holistic life, and the humans are these alienated, greedy, rapacious, militaristic, racist people.”
DAVID DENBY: “But what a comedy that this pro-ecology, anti-technology message is being delivered though in a package that is the piece of the advanced technology, costing $250 million and further. It’s definitely aimed at the Bush administration because there’s talk about shock and awe, we’re going to hit those monkeys.”
ROSE: “Fight terror with terror.”
DENBY: “Yes. And it’s being distributed and partially paid for by Fox, by Rupert Murdoch, a right-wing press baron who one imagines supported the war in Iraq.”
SCOTT: “Plus, quite provocative — if that’s the analogy, then what happens to [Sam Worthington‘s Jake Sully] is quite provocative and even…
DENBY: “It’s more than ‘go native’, in other words. He leads the revolt.”
SCOTT: “But that’s the fun of it. I think that entertainment like this at its best has always had kind of an allegorical top lead, has always been able to weave in sort of some kind of political message. And part of the fun of going to movies like this is it simplifies and clarifies and makes emphatic something that in the real world is, of course, much more complicated and nuanced and difficult.
“It’s also not ironic. There are no sort of winks and nudges. This is not a movie that’s kind of self-conscious and playful and showing you how smart it is. It’s a very sincere piece of storytelling.”