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There is almost no circumstance under which I would dispense the ridiculous “just turn your brain off” advice with respect to enjoying a movie. As Devin Faraci at CHUD recently discussed, the process of thinking about a film typically gives me far more lasting enjoyment than the act of watching it. The films I can’t think about are the ones that seem dull and pointless. Avatar has its problems, but being dull and pointless aren’t among them.

Equally valuable are the divergent opinions and readings. Avatar has provoked quite a few political readings, from Hunter’s wide-ranging review to the utter right-wing lunacy of the Movie Guide’s take. Check out some blue-skinned provocation after the break.

Big Hollywood has a piece which bluntly concludes that “the bad guys in the movie are the United States Marines,” broadly missing the point that the characters in the film are ex-Marines who have been employed by a private company. Reading the film as a screed against the Bush administration doesn’t take any analytical leap, and the anger it has generated in some quarters is extreme, but with respect to the soldiers I’d read the film as targeted towards a private military company like Blackwater. Yet Big Hollywood prints:

The glee with which the American Marines participate in this massacre is appalling and does not show the true feelings and concerns of the real United States Military.  James Cameron should apologize to the American Military and should make a statement that he does not truly feel this way about them.  He should also apologize to the American public for painting our young men and women that defend this country as cold-blooded killers.

Much more entertaining, however, is the MovieGuide (“A Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment”) review of the film. The quotes in this one come fast and furious  but I think we can start here:

AVATAR has an abhorrent New Age, pagan, anti-capitalist worldview that promotes goddess worship and the destruction of the human race.

Movie Guide, a rigidly dogmatic site that frequently takes well-meaning criticism to absurd extremes, also calls the film “anti-human”, insists that “the spiritual concepts presented in the movie are fiction,” assumes that “the humans in AVATAR are all presented as unbelievers,” and broadly lambastes the presumed ethos behind Cameron’s work:

For hundreds of years, the pagan, communist ideas expressed in this movie circulated among a threadbare group of outcasts with dirty fingernails and greasy hair, who shared their obtuse, occult ideas amongst themselves with manic, alienated glee. Now James Cameron has made these insane views the major bulwark of a very spectacular movie, but the spectacle does not make the views any more coherent, rational, or uplifting.

There are other high-profile political readings that are less incensed, and even approving. The AV Club writes:

The movie’s most seditious act is to evoke the specter of September 11, only with the terms reversed…Cameron’s willingness to question the sacred trauma of 9/11 is audacious, and his ability to do so in a $300 million tentpole movie is nothing short of shocking. If Avatar has a claim to revolution, that is where it lies.

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