Entertainment not a controversy

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
January 21st, 2010

It’s amazing that as one looks to entertainment for relaxation and a chance to get away from the stress of society, it seems harder than ever to just be able to enjoy a movie. Yes, sometimes when I watch a movie I just want to be entertained. I don’t want to think, and I certainly don’t want someone preaching about how I should interpret it. Sometimes the experience just isn’t that deep. Take Avatar, for example. After just over a month in the box office, and millions of dollars in sales, everyone from the Vatican to anti-smoking organizations are telling us the movie is a bad influence.

I saw Avatar in its first week thanks to the Gem who has kept it coming back over the last month, so I know people want to see it. I wrote a review of the movie at that time because I enjoyed the story, and loved the technology that brought this make-believe world to life in a way that had never been done before. Yes, the storyline is a typical good vs. evil with the hero saving the girl, and most of her people, and choosing to save the alien world over the big bad corporation. Who doesn’t like a story where the good guy wins?

Apparently the Vatican. The Vatican has come out against the movie because it proposes a people who are linked to the earth they live on – sort of a universal energy. This portrayal of a different belief system seems too pagan for them. It’s a strange position to take since what I remember of my Catholic upbringing is that God is all around us, in every living thing. If so, why does this movie go against that logic?

Then there are the accusations of racism that have been floated. Here we go again where a white guy comes in and saves the indigenous people. I guess they missed the part that he could only help them when he takes the form of one of the indigenous people himself.

The anti-tobacco lobbyists have also noted that the character played by Sigourney Weaver smokes. They claim that as a result the movie promotes smoking. Personally, I would feel that it would be a false portrayal of any reality to sanitize a movie to the point that none of the characters had a fault or bad habit. Smoking exists in our world today and probably will in the future. What is amazing is that more of the characters DIDN’T smoke as probably would have been the custom in the ‘50s. Ever watch a Humphrey Bogart film? Who wasn’t smoking? I’d say we’ve come a long ways.

And then, there’s my colleague Adrian Barnes whose take on the movie, while he found it entertaining, was that it didn’t go far enough to drive home the environmentalist perspective. Yes, it was a feel good movie – so what is wrong with that?

For those who want the underlying stories, and to delve deep into their psyche when they view a movie, I’m happy that Avatar was able to bring up all these critical issues. For me, I just love the thought that sometimes I can tune into an amazing journey in another world for the sheer pleasure of the ride.

Now that’s entertainment!

Categories: Op/Ed

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