Having immensely enjoyed the audio-visual orgy of James Cameron’s Avatar, as the kind of out-of-body experience that big movies are for, I find myself feeling sorry for the many conservatives – published critics, self-publishing bloggers, and commenters – who have blanketed, one might say wet-blanketed, the right side of the internet with their complaints and indictments.
Hollywood has given our anti-nonsense reflexes a lot of exercise in recent years, but I had still expected greater enthusiasm for this movie, or at worst neutrality, from my fellow conservatives. Regardless of how some people feel about Cameron personally, or about any statements he may have made about Avatar‘s intended messages, he remains the same director who gave us Terminator, Terminator 2, Aliens, and True Lies. By the day that the Avatar trailer played to a national NFL TV audience and on the gigantic new video screen at Cowboys Stadium, it was clear to millions that an audacious effort was under way to re-vitalize the great American movie spectacle – a $400 million gamble by one of our leading auteur-entrepreneurs, in the shape of an advertisement for democratic capitalism at its most innovative, for the creativity and vitality of American culture during a time when American declinism and every other brand of pessimism about our future have been spreading to an extent not seen since the 1970s.
Those on the right who have been impotently and priggishly attacking the movie, their small-spirited wishes for its failure decisively dashed by a quick $1 Billion in worldwide ticket sales, have not just been embarrassing themselves and their political-cultural allies. They may even have been doing harm to the conservative movement, at least as much as the movie itself may do with its incidental Gore- and Obamaisms.