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Anti-Technology Themes in James Cameron's Avatar

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the these-are-a-few-of-my-favorite-things dept.

Movies 870

ThousandStars writes "'The anti-technological aspect [in James Cameron's Avatar] is strange because the movie is among most technically sophisticated ever: it uses a crazy 2D and 3D camera, harnesses the most advanced computer animation techniques imaginable, and has apparently improved the state-of-the-art when it comes to cinema. But Avatar’s story argues that technology is bad. Humans destroyed their home world through environmental disaster and use military might to annihilate the locals and steal their resources.' The question is two-fold: why have a technically sophisticated, anti-technical movie, and why are we drawn to it? Part of the answer lies in Neal Stephenson's Turn On, Tune In, Veg Out."

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Who said it was anti-technology? (5, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570726)

I saw it as showing bad uses of technology, and more about retelling the story of the native americans as well.

Re:Who said it was anti-technology? (4, Interesting)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571034)

Agreed. I don't think it was anti-technology, but rather all about using your resources wisely. The scene where they asked for forgiveness when they had to kill a predator basically laid it all out. They understood that there were necessities, but they would do them as needed to survive. They also didn't mock the offworlders for what they knew. They complained that their 'cup was already full', meaning they were inflexible about learning a new way.

Given their native capabilities to network with other animals and plants, store memories, travel quickly via land and air, and easy accessibility to huge stores of food due to native flora and fauna, it's not surprising that they weren't technologically advanced. They simply didn't need it.

I agree. Not anti-technology. Anti-plunder. (1)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571200)

I agree - the movie was not anti-technology, it was anti-plunder.

Basically it was the story of Native Americans. Alternatively, it was "The Last Samurai".

Re:Who said it was anti-technology? (5, Funny)

Wahakalaka (1323747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571226)

I for one am in favor of using the military to solve all conflicts, and destroying all of nature. Anyone that disagrees is a dirty hippie. There's no middle ground here.

Even smart people are stupid (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30571292)

I think it was outright obvious that Avatar was criticizing bad uses of technology, as well as over exploitation of resources. The movie was not full of vagueness, or the kind of intellectual subtlety that gives people lots of room to dream up rival interpretations. The movie was simple, and it was not anti-technology.

I can also see how people who just aren't very good at critical thinking might come away from this movie with an anti-technology story in their heads. They saw guys in airplanes = bad, guys in trees = good, and didn't pay any closer attention than that.

I guess the world is full of such shallow-thinkers. I have accepted this. But it still annoys me when they post stupid articles like this one.

See, technology is like beer. (4, Insightful)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570746)

Technology, like beer, is the solution to, and the cause of, all of mankind's problems.

Re:See, technology is like beer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570870)

So you're saying Skynet will run on Rickards Red?

Re:See, technology is like beer. (1)

lysdexia (897) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571106)

Yes. Yes, please.
/me looks at bottle of tea on desktop and sighs.

Re:See, technology is like beer. (4, Funny)

Nick Number (447026) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571132)

So you're saying Skynet will run on Rickards Red?

Rickard was a deplicant.

Re:See, technology is like beer. (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571184)

I thought i was gonna learn a new word, so i run off to the dictionary and find this "No dictionary definitions were found for: deplicant in English" so at risk of sounding stupid my reply is huh?

White people suck in space (4, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570754)

I always read it as another "white people suck" movie, but this time, "white people suck in space", which is equally weird, because Cameron is about as white as they come.

Dances With Smurfs. (5, Funny)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570822)

Dances With Smurfs. That's what it was.

Re:Dances With Smurfs. (3, Interesting)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570924)

I personally prefer the Avatar review by the inimitable Dr. Zero: The Suicide Fantasy [hotair.com]

I would summarize his article, but frankly I could never do it justice. Click through and read. It's fantastic.

Re:Dances With Smurfs. (5, Funny)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571124)

No, it was Dances with Thundercats.

Thundercats are badass; Smurfs are decidedly not.

Re:White people suck in space (5, Insightful)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571004)

I always read it as another "white people suck" movie, but this time, "white people suck in space", which is equally weird, because Cameron is about as white as they come.

It's a "people who try to take things from others by force suck" movie. As are the other movies in the same category you are referring to. The fact that the people who did this to Native Americans happened to be white is completely irrelevant, and your comment not only implies that all whites think they have the right to take from others by force, but it also implies that Cameron somehow should be bound to also think that, because he happens to be white.

Basically, don't make things about race when they're not. Besides, I personally saw it more as anti-corporate (in the same way as Alien) then anti-technology.

Re:White people suck in space (5, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571094)

Basically, don't make things about race when they're not.

It's America, everything is about race any more. It's identity politics.

Re:White people suck in space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30571088)

Here in Holland the "white people suck" has changed to a "White Christians suck" tendency.

This has lead to an undertow in the left wing political community, resulting in a strong wish to destroy everything that can be categorized as ‘White Christian’ culture.

This Christmas the targets are the ‘Christian’ Christmas tree, Santa Claus and other aspects that could be difficult to swallow for the muslim minority. Other incidents are Christians that are not allowed to wear a Christian cross.

Re:White people suck in space (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571152)

Shush, don’t reveal the dirty little secret.

Remember, it was white Christians who began the Crusades. And massacred the Incans. And Mayans. And Native Americans. And Bush was a white Christian who invaded Iraq to steal its oil.

Yes, the re-writing of history has always demonized white Christians, for as long as white Christians have been making history and there have been people to re-write it. If you think it’s demonizing “white people”, you’re only half right.

Re:White people suck in space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30571116)

Which explains why in the movie some white people do the Right Thing?

It's really about "greed sucks everywhere".

Re:White people suck in space (1)

dfn5 (524972) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571254)

I always read it as another "white people suck" movie, but this time, "white people suck in space", which is equally weird, because Cameron is about as white as they come.

I don't think it is so much "white people suck" as it is "white guilt". Which is too bad because visually the movie was fantastic. Plot wise I felt like I was being lectured to instead of being entertained. I have no interest in buying this movie when it comes out.

Re:White people suck in space (4, Insightful)

clarktrip3 (662540) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571284)

Saying that would be like me watching the nightly Detroit news and saying "black people suck", and about tonight's events "black people suck against each other", which is equally weird because the anchor man is black. The truth is not a single ethic group on earth is perfect. All have fought wars amongst themselves and against other groups. We kill, rape, and pillage to take what we want. Need some examples? Open a history book, pick a time frame, and read stuff that is more shocking than a fiction writer could ever hope to come up with. Cameron was simple modeling the future on our past.

It should be noted (4, Informative)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570760)

That it was a private military force that did the attacking, not a governmental one. Presumably, the government on Earth was not willing to allow any military attack on the Natives, hence their attempts for 5+ years for a diplomatic solution.

Also it should be noted that a statement such as "no greenery left on Earth" is an exaggeration at best, considering life would die on the planet without the Oxygen Cycle. Unless the Humans attempted to develop machines to replace the functions of the plants.

Re:It should be noted (1)

AlexiaDeath (1616055) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570838)

Machines that replace functions plants would be plants. May be a bit different but still plants.

Re:It should be noted (2, Informative)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571046)

This [wikipedia.org] is a plant?

Re:It should be noted (3, Funny)

moonbender (547943) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571170)

Yes, isn't it obvious? Colorful tank? Check. Black tube thingy? Check. Odd wires? Yep. Carrying belts? Yes! Clearly a plant.

Re:It should be noted (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571160)

Who said that humans still live on the planet?

Re:It should be noted (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571172)

They mentioned several times throughout the film the idea of returning back to Earth.

Re:It should be noted (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571298)

With the implication that there’d be a welcoming party?

(I don’t know. I haven’t seen it yet. The possibility of returning to earth wouldn’t necessarily mean that there were humans on earth, though, merely that the returning people could inhabit it.)

Change vs Destruction (5, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570764)

Just because a story criticizes something doesn't mean the teller wants to destroy it. In order to change something for the better, we need to criticize it. And if we just attack the criticism, we'll never get change.

Cameron knows better than most what's wrong with our technology and the way we use it. His dependence on technology makes it quite clear that he doesn't want to eliminate it. He's not "anti-technology", he's anti the things he says are bad, which is not technology itself. Really what he's anti is the ways people use technology to treat each other badly. Which is not about technology, but about people.

Re:Change vs Destruction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570858)

Yeah, how are we going to bio-engineer hyper-intelligent trees without technology? I deign to differ on this one.

Re:Change vs Destruction (3, Interesting)

AlexiaDeath (1616055) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570918)

"Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Same argument isn't it.

I think mankind in general is a teen currently, sometimes self destructive, sometimes moody, sometimes passed out cold on someones couch or throwing up in wake of a hangover. Like teens, future is an unknown. Sometimes teens fail to live long enough to grow up, but mostly they do and then look back to their wild years in wonder.

Crap (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570766)

But Avatar’s story argues that technology is bad. Humans destroyed their home world through environmental disaster and use military might to annihilate the locals and steal their resources.

Humans can do bad things using technology. That doesn't mean technology is bad. Next on Slashdot: classic tale "Hansel and Gretel" has a secret message of "gingerbread is bad".

Subject (2, Funny)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570778)

"harnesses the most advanced computer animation techniques imaginable"

Really? Because all I get from the trailers is that it's an updated version of The Smurfs.

Re:Subject (1)

clarktrip3 (662540) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571100)

Then you shouldn't judge a book by its cover/a movie by its trailer. This movie has a stunning look to it. If you think all creatures that have blue skin are nothing but smurfs you have a very limited mind. Grow up, open your mind, and go see the movie.

Then you don't follow much animation. (1)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571264)

>Really? Because all I get from the trailers is that it's an updated version of The Smurfs.

Obviously you have not been paying attention.

If you are honestly comparing the sophistication of the animation and rendering in Avatar to that of The Smurfs then you really just need to be quiet because clearly you have no idea what you are talking about.

3D tech aside, the rendering in Avatar has raised the bar for animation to unprecedented heights. In fact, I find words like "rendering" and "Computer Generated Imagery" to no longer have meaning for a film like this.

What they are doing now very nearly constitutes simulation. The only thing holding it back is the fact that the beings being simulated are, obviously, fictional.

Because of this work, the technology is very close now to being able to convincingly simulate humans.

Typical Noble Savage Fallacy (3, Insightful)

thepainguy (1436453) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570790)

Some of this is standard noble savage stuff.

It's an ideal -- peaceful people living in harmony with nature -- that doesn't hold up to close scrutiny. For instance, what do they do if one of their buddies is born with a genetic disease like Polycystic Kidney Disease or needs some other benefit of modern medicine. Also, in the real world packs of wolves and bears don't just leave you alone.

This stuff sounds great until you start to think about it really hard.

P.S. And at the end of the movie I was rooting for the "indians" just like everyone else.

Re:Typical Noble Savage Fallacy (2, Interesting)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570984)

Indeed, the earth is an exceptionally harsh environment, responsible for a couple of dozen extinctions, several of which almost succeeded in wiping out the entire biosphere, to say nothing of numerous civilisations. Its little wonder that the majority of human history has been war and strife, given the world we evolved into. Its comforting now though that we have managed to chip off just barely enough information from the tree of knowledge to be able to step back from the simple, primitive imperialistic instincts displayed by nations in the last few centuries and consider moral and ethical implications to our actions, on the macro scale.

As for the noble savage concept, well if the shoe had been on the other foot would we have gotten a better deal? I sincerely doubt it.

Re:Typical Noble Savage Fallacy (2, Insightful)

rsborg (111459) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571010)

It's an ideal -- peaceful people living in harmony with nature -- that doesn't hold up to close scrutiny. For instance, what do they do if one of their buddies is born with a genetic disease like Polycystic Kidney Disease or needs some other benefit of modern medicine.

Yeah, I wonder what the Native Americans did back in the 1700's when that happened? Probably the same as any European or Asian: made their buddy's life comfortable as that person died. Harmony doesn't mean your life is easy or long... not sure what doesn't "hold up" there.

Re:Typical Noble Savage Fallacy (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571276)

Not sure what you're saying here. He wasn't comparing different peoples from the 1700s, but rather people from back then to today. Many things that were a tragedy back then are a nuisance today. For instance, I get the chance to have a useful and entertaining life because I get to wear glasses. OTOH, you seem to focus on the meaning of the word "harmony" (with nature, specifically). Certainly that's a very loaded term, and I think GPs point was that this harmony is often idealized, to the point that yes, it does mean easy and long and many other positive things to many people, ignoring the negative sides such as the lack of optometrists.

Re:Typical Noble Savage Fallacy (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30571126)

"For instance, what do they do if one of their buddies is born with a genetic disease like Polycystic Kidney Disease or needs some other benefit of modern medicine."

They always forget to show the medicine rock that cures the disease or genetic defect. They take the rock and bash the baby in the head, problem solved.

From our own history the native populations were responsible for wiping out nearly every large land animal in prehistoric times including driving the Nenaderthalls into extinction. The only reason the Indians had any horses to ride in North America was because the Spanish reintroduced them.

I find the fact that the politcal Left seem to embrace the the "Noble Savage" concept, but at the same time abhor anything that endangers children, hunting not to mention weapons, anything that violates animal rights, any type of violence, and any kind of spiritual ritutal. All those things pretty much sums up the entire Noble Savage person and lifestyle.

Loved the movie by the way. Maybe we'll see another Aliens movie since they pretty much lifted the Colonial Marines right out and used them in Avatar.

Re:Typical Noble Savage Fallacy (1)

thepainguy (1436453) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571214)

Never take too seriously an idealized society that relies on a miracle -- in this case a miracle tree -- to function.

P.S. Did you notice that the cockpits of the big mutha warship were the same as the ones from Aliens? I assume that was a hat tip to Cameron's past.

glass half empty or half full? (1)

S. Allen (5756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570796)

you've chosen to cast this in a negative light as against something. the alternative view is that is is promoting a more rational approach to resource utilization. the easiest way to demonstrate this is using something you can relate to: our own behavior.

White guilt (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570808)

Though not as prevalent as it was just a couple decades ago, "white guilt" is a feeling of responsibility particularly experienced by privileged white people for the suffering of blacks under the slave system. It is a modern phenomenon that such guilt is felt by people that are completely unconnected to slavery. The guilt manifests itself as an embrace of Black culture, a willingness to provide undeserved support to the African American underclass, and a tendency to promote multiculturalism and its anti-judgmental system of evaluating cultures.

So if the technology haves want to slum it with the have-nots, it shouldn't be any big surprise that they embrace an ideology that makes themselves the criminal and thus flagellating themselves thereby redeeming themselves. Of course, they do it in a way that doesn't actually put them in direct contact with the have-nots. This is typical behavior of those embracing cultural/technological guilt as a path to spiritual salvation.

+10 Insightful (0, Offtopic)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571194)

i wish i had mod points for you. i applaud your courage for posting something so honest and well said.

I believe (3, Insightful)

gizmo2199 (458329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570812)

that Luke uses 'The Force' and turns off the computer.

Was Lucas trying to say something with that, I wonder...

Presumably... (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570840)

If humans can travel efficiently through space, make avatars, etc., they have the technology to genetically engineer plant life that could help to quickly rebuild's Earth ecosystems. I would imagine that that would be less involved than creating an avatar...

Re:Presumably... (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571166)

Except that that's not even the same goal. The avatars have nothing to do with fixing Earth. They're a corporate financed project - financed by a corporation whose business is mining operations on Pandora.

Why assume the Na'vi are low-tech? (4, Insightful)

DXLster (1315409) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570842)

The fact that they rely on bio-centric technology doesn't make them low-tech. Every major organism on that planet has a universal neural bus that can establish a physical and logical link in about .3 seconds. Does that sound even remotely accidental?

Re:Why assume the Na'vi are low-tech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570946)

I would argue they were higher tech than the Eathers in some areas. Being able to upload yourself into a massive organic network to live on, or alternatively be downloaded into another body, is clearly beyond the Earth peoples' knowledge.

It was a shame that despite the Earthers having some pretty useful tech', like linking into the avatars and interplanetary travel, they still have shitty bullets for ammo and basic explosives. It would seem regardless of how far into the future movie stories are set, the directors rarely see anything beyond late 20th century weaponry.

Re:Why assume the Na'vi are low-tech? (1)

iammani (1392285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570954)

Because they couldnt defend themselves from high tech humans. (Well, atleast without human help :))

Primitive in certain aspects, high-tech in certain aspects I guess.

Re:Why assume the Na'vi are low-tech? (1)

DXLster (1315409) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571060)

That was more a question of motivation than of capacity. There were lots of other clans who might have been rallied to action by Neytiri whether Jake was there or not.

Re:Why assume the Na'vi are low-tech? (1)

iammani (1392285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571216)

But the Na'vis did not win the war on their own. Nature helped them, those rhinoceros like hard armoured animals helped eliminate the ground forces, without which they were pretty much doomed. These were not creatures tamed/controlled by the the Na'vis, but autonomous ones.

it's called "entertainment" (4, Insightful)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570850)

frankly i'm a little tired of all the "deep" discussions about this movie popping up all over the place. it's just entertainment, for crying out loud. why have a technically sophisticated, anti-technical movie? because it makes money! why are we drawn to it? well, because of its aesthetics, romantic content, exciting action, and good old marketing. case closed.

p.s. and even if cameron truly believes in the "messages" of the movie, big freaking deal. he's a director. there are many people in the world whose opinion on such difficult philosophical topics has much higher value for me than that of someone in show business.

Re:it's called "entertainment" (1)

jmyers (208878) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571190)

seconded. Avatar is just a typical Western done in an alien world with great special effects. If it a proven format, formula movie that works every time. It is probably the best way to test out new special effects and techniques because the plot is well proven. Romance/Action/Comedy date movie = big box office.

Re:it's called "entertainment" (2, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571234)

Because discussions are interesting in themselves. What other justification do you need?

only one reference (2, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570852)

when the chief (of whatever the "avatar" race is) says something along the lines of not being able to teach the other avatars as their cup was "already full" whereas the grunt who bumbles in has not been trained for the mission.

Apart from that, you can't really say it's anti-technology. Yes, it has a message about imperialism and how conolial powers - or companies despoil environments for their own gain. However that's been going on for venturies and doesn't have a tech. aspect to it. The tech just increases the speed of the destruction.

Is "anti-technology" really the message? (3, Insightful)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570872)

Is it truly an anti-technology message, or a warning against the misuse of technology?

Re:Is "anti-technology" really the message? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30571312)

Quite. There was no need to create Jar-Jar Binks!

Didn't get "tech is bad" from the movie at all... (5, Insightful)

wAnder (40639) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570876)

I must have been answering the call of nature when the movie claimed that "technology is bad", because I didn't get that impression from it at all. At most, there was a "might makes right" is bad, and "allowing mankind to become subservient to quarterly shareholder reports" is bad, but that's about it.

The scientists in the movie did wondrous things with their avatar technology, and the Na'vi had their own, organic version of the same, but never did I see a message that any of this was bad. What was portrayed in a poor light was forcibly relocating a people so as to be able to mine out a large chunk of resource that they're sitting on top of, and that's just theft.

The submitter's 3D glasses must have been defective if he's getting an anti-tech message from this.

Who says "we" are drawn to it? (3, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570880)

Frankly, I have no plans to see this movie -- I never had even the slightest interest in it. In fact, I just generally don't like any movie like this. Not my thing. I do enjoy making fun of it vis-a-vis the "Dances with Smurfs" thing from South Park, but what I've heard about the movie, that's probably a pretty apt sort of representation.

If you remember "Dances with Wolves" at all, its about an American military officer just after the Civil War who goes out to a frontier post and then ends up making friends with the Indians, and then helping them against a later invasion to attempt to drive them out onto a reservation type situation. Here, the Indians have been replaced by those little blue smurf-y things.

As someone noted above, the military force in this particular situation was private and not governmental, however it was essentially the private armies of the British East and West India Companies that were responsible for most of the horrors of colonization by the British (I've never been too clear on the situation with the Spanish insofar as to whether or not they were regular military or not).

This seems to be more like some sort of post-colonial clap-trap than an "anti-technology" film, of course the two things usually go hand-in-hand when perpetrating the myth of the noble savage. In any case, I have no interest in actually watching it.

Re:Who says "we" are drawn to it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30571128)

Hold on, buddy. The Na've are _big_ blue smurfy things.

Re:Who says "we" are drawn to it? (3, Interesting)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571248)

I had a distaste for the movie prior to seeing it, but that was because whenever I asked someone who had been raving about it for details on the plot, they could only tell me how "pretty" or "awesome" everything was. I didn't make fun of it (because how can I make fun of it if I haven't seen the source material outside of a 90 second trailer?) but I was vocal in my disinterest in it simply because no one I knew could give me two sentences worth of story description.

This weekend, when my wife and I needed to get out for a little bit, we gambled and saw it. To my surprise, I didn't hate it. In fact I enjoyed it. I wouldn't say it's the best movie of the year or going to sweep the Academy Awards like I've heard from some, but it was very well done.

Don't get me wrong, I still criticize the movie. Specifically the design of some of the wildlife (some of the designs just seemed to vary from impractical to unnecessary). There were some things that just seemed "alien for the sake of alien".

Yes, it's a "going native" film like Dances with Wolves (even Cameron said that was part of his inspiration) but it really does stand on it's own.

Re:Who says "we" are drawn to it? (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571280)

i was in that camp too until i learned more about how they made the movie. i saw it was blown away. i found the story to be inane, but the rest of it was nothing short of orgasmic to me. It's the shortest 2h and 40m of your life. i even dug the performances. Zoe blew me away.

Is just a movie... (2, Interesting)

ghostdancer (72944) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570882)

Maybe a movie that portrait a future where science and technology have become a tool to satisfy human greed, but I don't really think is about anti-technology.

Also anti-corporate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570884)

Despite a huge corporate advertising effort from JC's big corporate budget movies. Typical hypocrisy from someone flying in a private jet to educate the proles on resource over-utilization and lectures on greed from a mansion.

I got something different from that movie. (3, Informative)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570896)

I was astounded by the organic synaptic link technology the Navi had. The Navi were possibly more advanced than we were. Their organic synaptic link tech was more advanced than anything we have. The thing is, they didn't develop weapons. Their entire planet was a linked up hive mind.

What new possibilities could this technology have had? could they start growing Organic ships like the Vorlons from Babylon 5? I'd imagine the Navi probably had better math and science than us.

Woah (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570900)

My wife and I went to the watch it on the 24th. Pretty good movie. At the end, she said "thank you for taking me to a chick flick" and I said, ":drool: I want one of those monitors." :)

[John]

Strange, that's not how I saw it... (1)

MostAwesomeDude (980382) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570920)

To me, this had a lot of Apocalypse Now and The Last Samurai to it. The racial themes were supposed to run deep, but in my opinion, fell somewhat flat. It ended up being a movie about war and Stockholm syndrome, not about racial prejudice. Sure, there are racist characters, but they're not there to be racist; they're there to make an entrepreneurial living, or to enjoy the smell of napalm in the morning.

The term "gone native" actually shows up in this movie, which I found fascinating. Here, we're given a chance to show Kurtz's side of the story; we can see a little bit of his reasoning as well as an understanding of his insanity and defection. Just like Kurtz, our heroes decided to defect for reasons stronger than might ever have been apparent, but which are never strongly touched upon within the actual movie.

Also keep in mind that a lack of technology was not important or emphasized in the final scenes; in fact, I could point to quite a few spots where human technology was required for the day to be saved. Without spoilers, I can't elaborate, but anybody else who has seen it knows what I'm referring to.

Fascination With End of Times (1)

Azureflare (645778) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570922)

I think it has more to do with the fascination about the End of Times. People love seeing movies like Apocalypse Now or 2012. Perhaps it is because we as humans realize that the lives we lead now are superficial and do not allow us to reach the potential that we have within us. Nobody likes being wage-slaves to our feudalistic overlords.

I think, deep inside somewhere, we all yearn for a simpler time when we don't have all the stimulation and complexity technology currently gives us.

In reality, I think this is where technology went wrong: instead of making our lives simpler and easier, it has ended up making them more complex and more stressful for us all! Technology should not be attempting to change our lives for the worse; it should be an aid to help all humanity live better lives. I think we have strayed far from that goal, sadly.

P.S. I have no hatred of technology and love it as much as the next tech geek, but there's a point where you just have to think, "Yes, we may have gone too far..." I think that point comes when you look at the world you live in and see that we are obsessed with death and mayhem on the news, while in the real world, many people suffer and we (as a collective) do nothing to aid their lives.

P.P.S. Throwing money at people does not count.

P.P.P.S. Yes, I do know there are many organizations that go out and help the peoples of the world outside our borders, but the aid I'm talking about is this: Technological discoveries that actually help the people of the rest of the world live better lives, not us. This is where a capitalistic technology system fails. If it's not in our interest to discover better ways to use technology to clear sand dunes and create better irrigation systems in the desert, it just won't happen.

Anti-corporate and pro-envirnoment != anti-tech (1)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570952)

Keep in mind corporations suppress "disruptive" technologies. Alternative fuels that can save our environment are just one example.

And what about technology is that means you have to invade worlds to steal their resources? Technology is just a means to an end.

At this point I think it's clear that doing more on fewer resources is the end to be pursuing.

James Cameron is an interesting character (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570966)

This, in a nutshell, is why I had originally figured I’d either hate Avatar or feel like I was giving money to a wacko if I went to see it:

Avatar’s story argues that technology is bad. Humans destroyed their home world through environmental disaster and use military might to annihilate the locals and steal their resources.

It sounds like a description of the typical drivel you get from the anti-capitalism, anti-technology movement.

However after skimming his Wikipedia article, I’m intrigued to see that he also directed Terminator, T2, and Titanic... all of which deal similarly with technology, its use and misuse, and the sometimes-blind faith that people place in it. While I don’t know how far he went with this theme in his newest movie, I’m also more inclined to look at it as an illustration of technology misused and horribly gone wrong rather than just the broad-ended bashing of all technology that it’s been described as in reviews. I think I’ll definitely plan on seeing Avatar at some point.

it doesn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570990)

Actually it doesn't/ The technologies deployed by the blue guys are just as sophisticated (especially the universal protocol connection), just a different kind of technology, just as technological. And I do still prefer robots rather than dinosaurs))

Battle for Terra (1)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570994)

Same plot as Avatar. Humans destroy their world. Humans are bad. Aliens are good, kind and gentle.

I think they must have caught wind of the plot and made a cheap knock off early. That or James Cameron stole the idea. One or the other.

Avatar’s story argues that technology can be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30571000)

Avatar is about abuse of power (technological advantage).

The Anti-American... (1)

rshol (746340) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571028)

...stuff was worse than the anti-tech stuff. Dances With Wolves in space. Bah. Hollywood hates the culture and technology that allow it to exist. Don't waste your money, go see Sherlock Holmes.

Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30571042)

The question is two-fold: why have a technically sophisticated, anti-technical movie

There's only one answer to the following, and its an obvious one: For the money. You can make a lot of money with movies that demonize people that value money.

Here's a quarter, go buy a clue (2, Interesting)

clarktrip3 (662540) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571058)

I've seen the movie twice and I'm a software engineer for a living. This movie is not making a statement about technology. It is making a statement that it is wrong to try to impose one peoples' way of living onto another people simply because they have something worth taking. It is sheer human arrogance that has been repeated throughout our history. It is highlighted by the statements in the movie shortly before the attack that stated (paraphrased) "that we tried to give them schools and roads." That is simply saying everything we do is better than anything you do. How many times has that been done on our dear Earth? As everyone knows, the movie itself was made with the most advanced technology to date. The plot involved using the most advanced technology in the future. But it was not the technology causing the problem. It was the greed driven decisions of the administrative and militant groups.

One doesn't have to be against x to moderate it (3, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571070)

I'm pro-alcohol but also pro-moderation.

Avatar was a fairly amazing movie. I'm comparing and contrasting with the new Star Wars. There was probably even more bluescreen in Avatar than Star Wars but Pandora felt convincing and vibrant, completely alive. You never hear people criticizing the Death Star battle in A New Hope saying it looks like a video game, it was just awesome and exciting. I think part of the video game critique comes from movies that overuse bad CGI and make things look little better than the average page and part of it comes from the audience being unable to connect emotionally with those characters. Compare Pandora with any of the environments from the the new trilogy and it's just a lesson in CGI done wrong and CGI done right.

The false dichotomy most people fall into with environmentalism vs. tech is that it's an either/or proposition. "Look, we're either running around in the boonies with bones through our noses and die of preventable diseases before we're 30 or we have to clearcut the forests and live in sterile concrete and steel towers, there's no middle ground." And that's not really true. What's needed is the judicious application of technology, conforming with the needs of the environment rather than trying to thwart or control it.

I'm interested to see what the conservative backlash against this movie will be. Conservatives have been wanting to chew Al Gore's eyeballs out ever since an Inconvenient Truth. There's a strange kind of glee about destroying environmental sacred cows like the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. It's not like the truck barreling down the road indifferent to whether or not there's an animal in the road, it's the truck deliberately swerving to hit the animal, just for fun. This movie is big, awesome, has s'plosions, is from a director who has made some of the most awesome guy movies ever, and it has a message that could only be seen as environmentalist propaganda. This is a 20th century fox film so that explains why Faux News has been told to keep a lid on it. If this came out from any other studio that network would be frothing. Dunno if Limbaugh had anything to say about it yet. He's not affiliated with Faux and has no financial stake in the project. He'd have to go apeshit over it.

Silly, Infantile Discussion (4, Insightful)

smackenzie (912024) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571074)

Since the beginning of time:

* Look, fire! Now I can keep my family warm and safe.
* Look, fire! Now I can go burn down the hut of my annoying neighbors.

* Look, trigonometry! Now I can build bridges.
* Look, trigonometry! Now I can launch projectiles at those bridges.

* Look, printing press! Now I can communicate broadly.
* Look, printing press! Now I can subjugate broadly.

* Look, nuclear technology! Now I can radiate cancer and use PET scans.
* Look, nuclear technology! Now I can blow cities up...

etc.

Iraq (4, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571078)

The villian used the phrases "fight terror with terror" and "preemptive attack". He was described as gearing up a "shock and awe" attack.

He was using the military to steal a valuable foreign resource, and funnel it into private/corporate hands, killing civilians along the way.

You're saying the message of the movie isn't supposed to be a parallel for Iraq?

For the record, I don't think it is a fair comparison because we're not stealing oil in Iraq. The Iraqi people own the oil and receive every penny for selling the oil. If anything, going into Iraq was a fiscal nightmare for the US. We're footing the bill for the war, and for reconstruction. We're funneling tons of money into Iraq, and liberated 30 million people from a cruel dictator. But given that Cameron is a vocal Democrat who drives a Prius and has suggested Bush lied about Iraq to steal oil, I'm sure he very much intended that to be the message of the movie.

Re:Iraq (0, Offtopic)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571238)

Shit, here i am with no mod points. You and BadAnalogyGuy have both made courageous and insightful posts in this thread. i hope the partisans don't censor you with their points.

Note: i think the armed guys were mercenaries. That was a bit vague.

Assuming Facts Not In Evidence (5, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571110)

Nowhere in Avatar does it explicitly state that technology is the cause of an Earth where there's "no green left" (that's as close as I can recall to a quote from the lead character). It could just as easily been our tendency to breed like flies on a dung heap that led to the paving of the planet. It's also pretty clear that the main driving force behind the attempted rape of Pandora isn't Earth's government, but a greedy, conscienceless corporation.

It's typical of apologists for the on-going, real-life ecological devastation we're inflicting on our little blue planet to try to misrepresent Cameron's message as anti-technology. In fact it's clearly a cautionary tale against our current trend toward a global corporate oligarchy. The tech in the film is a tool, neither good nor evil. It's used by the heroes for positive purposes and the villains in the service of corporate greed.

Standard James Cameron theme. (1)

cybaz (538103) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571114)

Anti-Technology/Military-Industrial themes are pretty common theme in James Cameron's movies:
  1. Terminator: Military creates supercomputer that attempts to destroy humanity
  2. The Abyss: Military tries to recover a nuclear weapon, and endangers an intelligent species of underwater life.

Taken out of context, clearly. (1)

adosch (1397357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571142)

It's not anti-technology at all. We, as humans, abuse things by nature. We use up resources, only to go find another resource to pilfer, etc. Look at how we consume natural resources for pete's sake. Same goes for technology. A good example of that is cell phones. Instead of using texting or pictures for what it's purpose was, we have teens 'sext'ing' on their phones, taking crazy viral photos/videos and clogging up the internet, updating their status every 5 minutes, ignoring reality and real contact for a digital one and hardly even know how to use the 10 digit keypad on the phone, its REAL intent: To call someone and not be tied to land line communication. Again, a lot of this going to be opinionated to a great extent, but the movie is almost a future, truth concept of technology than it is a contradictory for it, IMHO. Furthermore, you also can't tell me if our current world found an alien world, that we wouldn't rape it for all it's worth?

Re:Taken out of context, clearly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30571168)

All living things abuse "by nature". Show me a animal, plant or single-celled organism that doesn't completely use it's available resources unless there is a limit to food or pressure from predators.

Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30571180)

Why do people insist on reading too much into movies? It's just a story and a fairly realistic one at that at least regarding how humans would behave in a not too distant future where a nearby planet happened to have a bunch of resources we needed. I didn't see anything anti-technology about it, just thought yep, that's how humans would behave in a similar situation...

Not Anti-tech, (1)

God of Lemmings (455435) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571192)

It wasn't anti-technology in any way. For the Na'vi, the animals and trees around them functioned well as their technology, despite being completely biological.

The movie portrayed paramilitary/mercenary and stockholder-driven corporate interests as the primary antagonists, to both the scientists, the Na'vi, and Pandora itself.

Unobtainium (1)

X10 (186866) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571222)

I don't see that it says "technology is bad". It says "destroying nature is bad" and "the military is bad". The Na'vi have developed a very high grade bio techology that in the end makes them more powerful than an earthling colonel who went berserk, so technology is good.

The video and the effects are great, the idea of having humans using remote control bodies - beit robots or bio robots - is very interesting and powerful. But the story is really really bad. It's more sentimental than the Lion King and Pokahontas put together. Of course, the makers didn't take themselfves all to serious: the stuff that it's all about is called "Unobtainium".

Lots of "borrowed" themes (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571224)

People rage on about how "insanely innovative" the movie is - when the majority of monsters/alien life and general story plots are just the same as countless others retold with different names.

Most people are comparing the general plot to "White Man vs Native American" - honestly I'm not so familiar with that history, so I've likened it to the Vietnam war.

At least a good 3 or so of the alien wild-life are not at all unique to Avatar. The dog-like creature is a Coeurl [wikipedia.org], and I'm pretty sure the horse creature is a lightning horse from Final Fantasy though I don't remember the name. The flyer I'm sure enough that the flyer is also from Final Fantasy.

Anti-technology themes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30571272)

... I also detected scathing anti-original storytelling themes.

Story is also pro-science (1)

Traa (158207) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571302)

In the story the (good) scientists lose against the (bad) profit-over-anything-corporate backed "private" military. The indigenous where caught in the middle without a say. That message was so obvious it wasn't much of a political statement as it was an easy good guys vs bad guys setup.

But that is not why I enjoyed this must see movie.

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