Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Holiday Musings

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  • giovanni tiso,

    they did have history! Well, I mean, the turok?

    It's a ritualistic history, though, no? Based on a sort of cycle, not progressing. The tribes fight, the turok comes along and brings peace, then they fight until another turok comes around. Meanwhile, they remain hunter/gatherers, always and forever.

    And the gender roles? And the gender roles? Left unexplained really, except for shamanistic Mum & bow-leader Dad - there were women hunters and warriors-

    The implication of "now you found yourself a woman" was that there is no homosexuality amongst the Na'vi, and obviously no promiscuity since you mate for life. There are some female hunters, true, but most of them seemed to be males. And the lineal king and queen had very specific roles as you note - she the spiritual leader, he the chief - which I suspect would be mirrored in the rest of the society. Plus they're hunter/gatherers, what kind of permutations could there be?

    he wanted wolves his hero would lead in the dance of war

    I did say crypto-fascist, didn't I? :-)

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    I think that's what I found most disatisfying with "Avatar" - invent an interesting new kind of people and then -away we go! Cowboys & Indians and - gasp! - this time the Indians win. With the help of a cowboy.

    (I'm not sure the tribes *fight* - they seem to have maintained links, Tree & Plains & Sea, and will gather against a moon-wide threat - but there's obviously been past trauma. More history hinted at?)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    More history hinted at?

    I thought they talked specifically about bringing peace to the tribes, but I might be misremembering.

    invent an interesting new kind of people and then -away we go! Cowboys & Indians and - gasp! - this time the Indians win. With the help of a cowboy.

    It's Dances with Wolves - in Space.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    The implication of "now you found yourself a woman" was that there is no homosexuality amongst the Na'vi,

    That's a bad thing? On behalf of my people, I'd like to thank James Cameron for leaving us out of this heaving, throbbing hair-sex-ball of crazy.

    It left me feeling like a permanently acid-baked slush pile reader at Mills & Boon (apparently Na'vi women don't cum, they gracefully collapse across the broad chest of their man, into a softly glowing bed of alien moss once they're "spent").

    And just to add insult to injury, Cameron seriously thinks this deserves an Oscar nomination for best screenplay? Someone's obviously been chowing down on too many magic Pandoran glow worms.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Peter Calder didn't like the movie. The comments to the review are the usual mix of depressing and hilarious.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    And, occaisionally, accurate. I'm glad someone picked on the fact that Calder was waaay out of line when he called Cameron about treedwellers & prehensile tails: neither 'common' chimps nor orangs have tails - but they're bloody good treedwellers.

    Tails are, very commonly, for treedwellers, 'balance organs' - and the Na'vi used them as such - but other treedwellers use handedness (like common chimps and orangs) or other evolutionary iniatives-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Must see it, thanks heaps.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Letter to Pat Robertson from Satan.

    If I had a thing going with Haiti, there'd be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox -- that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    It is possible that in seeking too much allegory in Avatar you show only your own prejudices. It's possible that the romantic relationship was intended to be at a deeper level than sex, that the Na'vi's lovemaking is actually love making, some form of mind melding. They are aliens , after all. As for homosexuality, it's just not mentioned, so we don't know. It's not clear if they are paternalistic, nor is the means of their procreation and childcare clear.

    Nor does it matter. It's a fantasy movie. You either suspend disbelief, and enjoy it, or can't, or refuse to, and think it's ridiculous. Which it is. Most fiction is ridiculous. Personally I tend to find the fiction which is the most accurate the most ridiculous of all. If you want reality, why bother with fiction?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    If you want reality, why bother with fiction?

    Because we don't understand reality except through fictions. Fictions tell us things about ourselves, and reflect our understanding of the world around us. When they are vacuous and stupid, it does mean something. And when people remark that it doesn't matter, that it's all in the spectacle and that you shouldn't try to attach extraneous meanings, it also means something.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    I tend to side with Giovanni here, Ben. Fictions which persist, get retreaded and and re-worked do become our 'reality' and it is very wrong to dismiss them as 'mere entertainment'. I am not saying that you are suggesting this but some of the truly awful responses to Peter Calder's maverick review (at the Herald site) are eg how dare he say these things?/if he can't make films like Cameron, he has no right to pass judgement on them etc.

    So, in Avatar, there are fictions-which-have-become-our-reality eg 'nature' vs technology; the evil corporation vs individual opposition; violence as a legitimate form of struggle; love conquers all; structures of authority and power etc. It is rather like when I introduce students to the idea of ideology as meaning/value systems. I suggest that ideological constructions of the world, and their role in our meaning-making, are inescapable. To deny the existence of ideological determinants, is an expression of ideology. This is not necessarily a depressing prospect; if you come to a clearer notion of how you form your opinions, preferences and prejudices, it can be very liberating. It can also point to the contradictions of contemporary life eg how Avatar is swelling the profits of its ultimate owner News Corporation--which, for many people, represents the epitome of corporate evil.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2562 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    "If you want reality, why bother with fiction?"

    Bugger. There goes my raison d'etre. And that of every writer (poets and non-fiction-writers included), film-maker & story teller & and other artist of any kind of stripe.
    Because - for our kind of animal - we reflect upon reality: not like a mirror, or some kind of duplicator- we dont deliver steaming chunks of 'reality' (whatever that is.)

    We give viewpoints on our take of our realities - and these spread, affecting other humans' viewpoints of their realities.

    Never think of a film as a reality (aside from the fact that it really is a film!)
    even if it's a newsreel/live streamed.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Because we don't understand reality except through fictions.

    If you said it was an aide to understanding, I could maybe agree. But it seems to me that you are saying that reality is a fiction, and I don't agree with that. At least it seems a strange way to use the word "fiction" when it refers to something that is actually true. For instance, here's a little story "Today, I went to the beach". It's true, it did actually happen (well it will be true if I hurry up and finish this post). Is this a fictional story?

    And when people remark that it doesn't matter, that it's all in the spectacle and that you shouldn't try to attach extraneous meanings, it also means something.

    What does it mean? That I don't take something seriously that isn't serious?

    So, in Avatar, there are fictions-which-have-become-our-reality

    In most of your selection, these conflicts are real, and not just because of fiction. They appeal to people who have been victims of violence, been exploited by corporations, fallen in love with people they "shouldn't", seen nature they loved destroyed, or found themselves in some hierarchical power structure.

    I suggest that ideological constructions of the world, and their role in our meaning-making, are inescapable.

    I don't deny that, but I doubt that Avatar is a major part of our construction of the real world.

    To deny the existence of ideological determinants, is an expression of ideology.

    I'm not sure I know what they are to even begin to deny their existence. Certainly people have ideologies, and referencing them will make something easier to relate to. But that doesn't mean the thing you are relating to is real, or that you are under any illusions about that. I relate to Santa Claus, for instance - it's a nice idea that some guy is so nice he gives everyone presents.

    if you come to a clearer notion of how you form your opinions, preferences and prejudices, it can be very liberating.

    I'll let you know of the first prejudice or opinion that Avatar indoctrinated into me. But it is true that my fetish for kinky giant blue alien cyber-sex was never so strong.

    Because - for our kind of animal - we reflect upon reality: not like a mirror, or some kind of duplicator- we dont deliver steaming chunks of 'reality' (whatever that is.)

    I'm fairly sure I've made it clear I don't think Avatar is realistic.

    Never think of a film as a reality (aside from the fact that it really is a film!)
    even if it's a newsreel/live streamed.

    I think that it is possible for a film to represent reality. I've got a little clip of my son fooling about today. It looks almost exactly like what I saw happening with my own eyes. It doesn't seem fictional to me. If you saw it, I think you'd agree with me that it was a clip of my son fooling about, and that it was likely to be an event that had really happened.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Nor does it matter. It's a fantasy movie. You either suspend disbelief, and enjoy it, or can't, or refuse to, and think it's ridiculous. Which it is.

    I just wish a fraction of the painstaking care and ingenuity expended on the FX had gone into the story.

    BTW, I'll call bullshit on the idea that "fantasy" (or any other form of genre storytelling) gives you a pass on banal and lazy story-telling. Off the top of my head, Messer Del Torro and Miyazaki put a fairly compelling case that the contrary is true.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Ben, smart folk have been debating the nature of human experience and "truth" for centuries.

    You're using words like "reality" and "illusion" and "represent" in ways that suggest your thinking about this area is differently grounded to that of say Dr Tiso whose study specialised in that (and who therefore uses terms like "fictions" differently than most).

    We weave our worlds with stories. Because Avatar is a very popular and powerful one, it shapes how people can think about what is real and what is meaningful to them and other humans.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    To step aside from Avatar for a second: anyone else notice that District 9 won a Critics' Choice award?

    For "Best Make-Up".

    Either the critics are making a powerful artistic statement about how these days motion-capture CG is essentially a form of makeup technique... or they didn't realise that the aliens in D9 are totally CG.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 709 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Some stage or other of Wickus?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Either the critics are making a powerful artistic statement about how these days motion-capture CG is essentially a form of makeup technique... or they didn't realise that the aliens in D9 are totally CG.

    The prawns were, Wikus' extreme DNA make-over and a surprisingly larg amount of the splatter was good old fashioned prosthetics. I've also seen reports that District 9 is on the seven film shortlist for the Best Makeup Oscar (which will be reduced three for the final nominations.

    The rules are quite interesting, and define makeup as:

    [A]ny change in the appearance of a performer’s face, hair, or body created by the application of cosmetics, three-dimensional materials, prosthetic appliances, or wigs and hairpieces, applied directly to the performer’s face or body. Makeup, as an achievement or a craft, shall be determined by the Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Branch Executive Committee.

    I certainly hope working make-up artists can tell the difference, otherwise I can see actors insurance premiums (and workplace accident/mortality rates) going through the roof. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    I'm assuming this isn't a joke: China bans Avatar.

    The move comes amid government anxiety that many Chinese are making a link between the plight of the film's Na’vi, who face being displaced form their homeland, and that of those in China who are subject to often brutal evictions by property developers.

    It's not a full ban - 3D cinemas are still allowed to show it. But that's a pretty effective ban from anywhere other than major cities.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 709 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    This is priceless - you can see it, but only in 3D? Totalitarianism ain't what it used to be. And perhaps those chap at Socialist Worker were right after all.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    This is priceless - you can see it, but only in 3D? Totalitarianism ain't what it used to be.

    As a means of making sure that it's only being seen by those rich enough not to interpret it as a call to arms, it's fairly effective. The Imax in Shanghai has put the ticket prices for 3D sessions up to RMB200. The average wage for an urban worker is around RMB275 per week (source).

    Socialism with Chinese characteristics: not so much quashing dissent, as overpricing it.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 709 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    Socialism with Chinese characteristics: not so much quashing dissent, as overpricing it.

    With piracy acting as samizdat?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 656 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    "Banned in China"....yet another feather in Cameron's cap.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    But that's a pretty effective ban from anywhere other than major cities.

    With over a hundred cities with more than a million and a fair number around the 10m mark, that's not really a ban is it? The pricing thing more so, but there are hundreds of millions who live a pretty middle class life for whom RM200 wouldn't be a burden.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    The simpler explanation (everywhere online, of course, but I found it here): Chow Yun-Fat's state-backed film about the life of Confucius launches on Friday, and the government is keen for it to be seen, given its timeless moral lessons about the importance of respect and the maintenance of a harmonious society.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1611 posts Report Reply

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