FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Jungle of Technology

“I’ll sell it to you for $12 what I paid,” she says to a man holding a pale sign that says “Needed, 1 ticket.”  Cheery thank yous move the long line forward, one step closer to Avatar on the last day of this box-office-busting Christmas weekend.

Inside the IMAX theater,  just before the house lights come down there will be two more tickets to exchange.  Mother and son pay cash at the door to strangers and locate a small, impromptu space where they can sit together against the wall, giving the rest of us the chance to see what we look like with our 3-D glasses on.

The one and only preview belongs to the Disney-branded Tim Burton edition of Alice in Wonderland starring Johnny Depp.  Everything about it looks brilliant in IMAX 3-D.  The Mad Hatter does not fail to chuckle.  Imagine seeing all of us from his point of view, looking like a wall of human flies on flypaper, all bug-eyed.

As for the main feature, which opened Dec. 18, 2009 worldwide, it is true what the fan said who chased in vain after James Cameron’s grumpy autograph at LAX: “The plot is so simple a three-year-old could follow it.”  Yes, okay, the formula of colonial imperialism is a cosmology that every preschooler can comprehend.  It used to go by the name Cowboys and Indians.

Something about Cameron’s capital-intensive mythology is laudable for a Hollywood Blockbuster.  The stunning experience of nature, culture, and politics does achieve an important spiritual reversal of the Cowboys and Indians plot.  The audience is skillfully maneuvered into anti-imperialist sympathies so that we can tearfully commit to an improbable reversal of the kind of history that any three-year-old knows.

I came away thinking that I might like to try the Xbox version of the Avatar adventure, with opportunities to win battles of liberation using fantastic weapons upon exotic landscapes.  Of course, I realized as I was pulling out my car key that a more effective spiritual reversal would have me renouncing all my capital-intensive desires and the battles they advance.

A truly improbable Avatar reversal would produce a global back-to-nature movement liberated from plastic 3-D glasses because something like “real nature” was being returned to its sacred center of attention.  “I see you,” we would say to all living things.  Cameron’s deeper vision suggests that all living things would be able to sigh a biologically verifiable response of collective awareness: “And I see you.”

At the high point of the plot’s arc, a masculine body of “skin” touches the feminine surface of a producer’s fantasy.  In that very moment, the saturated hues of Avatar’s animation affirm what the plot renounces.  Experience moves relentlessly toward the desire to be more immersed in the jungle of technology than we already are.

At any rate, the contradictions of the Hollywood Blockbuster are not proprietary to Cameron.  They are the contradictions of capital-intensive history itself.  With few exceptions here and there, audiences have not failed to purchase their Avatar tickets in advance.

GREG MOSES is editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review and author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. He is a contributor to Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, published by AK Press. He can be reached at: gmosesx@gmail.com

More articles by:

Greg Moses writes about peace and Texas, but not always at the same time. He is author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. As editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review he has written about racism faced by Black agriculturalists in Texas. He can be reached at gmosesx@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail