The Videogum Movie Club: Avatar

–Kebanu Roves

It is weird that you can’t do things normally in New York sometimes. Like, I’m so sorry that I ate an early dinner before going to see Avatar on Friday night the way that a HUMAN BEING might do. I’m sorry that I got to the theater at 8:15PM for a 9:45PM showing, because obviously (OBVIOUSLY?) the line would already be wrapped halfway around the building and back again? Was everyone on a special Avatar mailing list with instructions on how insane to make the experience? Because seriously, an hour and a half before the movie is already TOO MUCH before the movie, and yet there we were, stuck halfway up the stairs, not even on the floor of the theater yet. The employees had already handed out glasses to some people in line. But not all people. They came through an hour before the movie and tore our tickets on the stairs. Why did they do that? Where are we? What happened to AMERICA? Anyway, that part was frustrating, to tell you the truth. There is a reason that I don’t really go to concerts anymore, and that reason is because I’m 63 years old, and have very little tolerance for physical discomfort and crowds. Now i can’t even go to the movies anymore, apparently? I might as well just hang up my fedora and check in to the nearest hospital. “I’d like one death bed please.”

But we did eventually get into the theater. And we did eventually see Avatar. And it was eventually great!

The big question leading up to this movie, at least in my head, was is this going to be a great movie, or is this going to be a great World of Warcraft expansion pack, and the answer is basically BOTH! I mean, at some point the visual revolution of Avatar is just going to be a humdrum interstitial narrative animation between Final Bosses on a bargain bin videogame, BELIEVE. But for now it is a movie, and as such, what a fun movie! There was even an enhance scene!

Some of it was dumb. I mean, come on. Some of it was even REALLY dumb. Like, most of the things that came out of people’s mouths for the first 45 minutes. Giovanni Ribisi’s speech about just exactly what the corporation was doing on Pandora, and just exactly what everyone’s individual role in this particular expedition would be, was pretty useful and pretty hilarious. “We are on this planet to get this rock, called unobtainium (UNOBTAINIUM!) which is worth four giggleplexes of dollars per ounce and the aliens are in the way and you’re going to help me get rid of the aliens in the next three months or else I am going to kill the aliens, but one might imagine that were anyone to try and stop me from killing the aliens that it would make quite a thrilling and narratively satisfying climax to this story. Have I made myself clear?” Crystal, Giovanni Ribisi. Crystal.

And, like, maybe it is just me, but I thought it was kind of weird that all of the aliens, who are basically a metaphor for the metaphor in District 9, that is how complicated the racial implications of this movie are to unpack, were played by ACTUAL black people (and one Native American). Weird, James Cameron. Like, it’s one thing to have a group of blue aboriginals roving through Africa2.0 or whatever, but they are all made with computers, and they are supposed to be aliens, aren’t they? Mix it up, Doctor Benetton! We don’t actually have to play out this racial nightmare like for real, do we? (And why was Jake Sully so much better at being an alien than all of the other actual aliens? “Hey, I got this dragon that you guys all worship. I just figured out that I could fly above him. You guys never thought of that because you guys are still a little backwards.”)

And the part that really broke my mind was when Jake first started braid-melding with the animals? Because he is controlling an Avatar body with his human mind and then his Avatar body-mind is controlling another animal/Avatar’s body-mind. So many layers of control. I should have taken the blue pill! (Get it? Movies.)

But all of these complaints are tiny blips on a radar screen that has been obliterated by FUN and VERY AWESOME EXCITEMENT. There is a part in Avatar, pretty early on, when Jake Sully is following Neytiri through the glowstick raver forest, he keeps bopping all of the plants on the head to make them light up, and it’s just like, yeah, yup, I would totally bop those plants right on the head because duh, glow-in-the-dark plants. Bop ‘em! The whole movie is basically us just bopping this whole thing on its head to make it light up. Go! Do it! Do it for my pleasure! And what more do you really want from a movie? This one had mecha-fights and color-tunnel rides and FLOATING fucking MOUNTAINS. If you want more than what there is in Avatar, you are wanting too much and possibly wanting the wrong things. You should work on finding more joy in your life, and not expecting the world to conform itself to your whiny demands. The world is indifferent to you, as it should be. Like, shut up. Seriously.