Avatar’s sappy, ‘dumbed down’ spirituality
Written by John Bentley Mays,
Hardly a week into its inaugural run, Hollywood’s big Christmas release, Avatar, evolved from just another holiday blockbuster into a full-scale cultural phenomenon. It skipped past $1 billion in box office receipts faster than any film in history and by the end of January it had become the first movie ever to gross more than $2 billion.
Millions have seen Avatar, critics have heaped praise on it and it’s currently up for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director (James Cameron.)
Though I didn’t like Avatar — I’ll explain my reasons in a moment — I can understand its immense appeal to its target demographic, young men 14 to 24. Cameron has used the most advanced computer-imaging technology now available to create a fantastic tropical world (actually a remote moon in another solar system, called Pandora) in which good and evil are clearly defined, as in video games, and inexorably pitted against one another. One young fan reportedly wrote a web posting in which he declared his willingness to commit suicide here and now, if only he could be assured of rebirth on Pandora. Growing up into the morally muddled present-day world, it appears, makes many admire the ethical simplicity of Cameron’s film.