Thursday, March 04, 2010

Crazy Lady Reviews "Avatar"

I don't know that many people are aware of "Not Evil, Just Wrong" a fringe anti-environmentalism documentary thats become kind of a hot item on the so-called "Tea Party" circuit. As you might guess from the title and political bent, it's a conspiracy piece arguing that environmental-protection (like DDT bans or cap-and-trade) lead to increased mortality in poverty-class regions. There's a larger than you'd like to believe subset of humanity out there that believes such policies is all part of an orchestrated campaign to deliberately lower the human population - think of them as the global-warming denial crowd's version of 9/11 "Truthers."

Anyway, since "GOP Pretends To Take The Teabaggers Seriously" was the theme of this year's CPAC, Ann McElhinney - one of the producers - was invited to give a speech and did so in the form of reviewing "Avatar." If it wins Best Picture, we've got about a DECADE of this stuff to look forward to laughing at, so you might as well get a jump start:

I'm sure I've got readers who agree with some of this tripe, but even so... for the love of God, there are two wars on and major history-altering bills under consideration in Washington, and this woman is at what's supposed to be a serious strategic-gathering for one of the two "sides" in all this railing against a blue cat-alien movie.

My favorite part is when she appologizes to the crowd for not being an American... and people wonder why I can't call myself a Libertarian anymore ;(


Euler d'Moogle said...

I hear you. I used to call myself a conservative but I can no longer do so because of the large and inexcusable amounts of raw crazy hanging around the "conservative" movement.

You know... I really don't want to turn this blog into a political discussion, but is there some place in America that reasonable liberals, conservatives, and the various "none of the above" groups can still talk without our respective crazy uncles taking over the discussion? When you turn on the news, it seems like the only two people talking are the extremists on both sides blasting each other with fiery rhetoric and straw man arguments egged on by some non-committal moderator pouring gas on the fire. What about the rest of us? Where do we go?

Anonymous said...

Disclaimer: I'm a Democrat but do very good friends who are republicans so I know personally they aren't all like this. When Conserves try be funny or clever it just comes out wrong. I'd rather they just be their normal non funny poor-people-hating, racist, homophobic, 1950's hard-on having, corporate wang swallowing political party I've always known and loved. Well not exactly loved.

Anonymous said...

This lady is supposed to be important?
She called Avatar a great movie, and insulted it in the same sentence.

As Mr. Chipman once said:
"Find something better to do with your time. I recommend finding the nearest wall and smashing your face into it."

Anonymous said...

First I thought this was funny, like a ranting homeless man standing on a soapbox made of old shoes. Then people started god that is scary.

Philbo said...

Just like both sides of the debate, they only spread their own positive propaganda.
Truth is, it's not as bad as either side state, but saying that things are "not bad" at the moment doesn't get grants from their funders for speaches and "scientific studies" (speach marks used because it's hardly scientific when the scientists have agendas to prove instead of hypotheses).

AniMerrill said...

Admittedly I was a little scared to comment until I saw some level-headed people were controlling the conversation instead of... well, anyway.

I actually wrote a review, my reflection on Avatar (in a segment of my blog, inspired by the Game Overthinker actually) and I had views rather similar to hers except... instead of anti-American I said anti-human and I said it as more of an intellectual note of a bit of reflection of the truth... just maybe with some lack of faith in our own species...

Which, if we're run by people like this when we achieve intergalactic travel, I think James Cameron might have had it right...

To agree with some of the people above... I sort of wish we could all have different opinions and still get along. Like, I don't even know what to call myself politically... libertarian or centralist, I have no clue, but people like this honestly just sort of scare me with how nonchalantly ignorant they can be. I mean, I don't back global warming at all and believe in my fair share of conspiracies... but after a while conservative doom-sayers just get annoying.

Luckily I'm related to a bunch of em so..... :'D

Andrei Vajna II said...

That was my favourite part, too, Bob. Especially when she says "but we're gonna work on that one". Good thing she didn't apologise for being (or not being) something else.

Mark said...


Please don't let the biased shenanigans of a handful of selfish scientists spoil your conception of an otherwise legit field.

Bob, it's not your fault, but after watching this i'm in a bad mood...

Nixou said...

You know, I have a personal theory, backed by a lot of empirical evidences, about political operatives and politicians (I've been a political operative, so I know from the inside how most of them think): most of them really believe that 99,9% of mankind is composed of retarded cattle while THEY, of course, are part of the small intellectual elite who is here to make the people happiness against it.

Of course, there are two big problems: first, most politicians and their staff are not smarter than the average guy, and even when they are, they are still far away from the level of intellectual excellence that would make their arrogance somehow understandable, and second, when you are adressing an audience that you believe to be stupid, you don't try to make complex and intellectually sound arguments, because you are certain that your audience would not understand them anyway, so you start to sound really stupid in order to put yourselv on the supposed level of your audience.

The biggest irony is that because the audience of events like CPAC are made of political operatives and activist, a lot of cheering does not come from the fact that they agree with her, but from the fact that they think "Oh God, the moronic average voter will LOVE this rhetoric and I will reuse it as much as I can"

Steve said...


Actually, I think that kinda sums it up. There's two things in particular I wanted to comment on though:

1) I'm stunned by the number of people who watch Avatar and kinda miss the point. It's not anti-human (it's sure as hell not anti-american). The mining company is operating with a far heavier than usual degree of sympathy towards the natives compared to both current and historical examples, going so far as to fund an experimental and VERY expensive science program to achieve that end. The eventual battle is largely motivated out of fear and a single controlling influence / personality taking the wrong (yet very understandable) decision and even THEN it takes the threat of a mass attack to push the humans into actively targetting the Na'vi themselves. Yet somehow all that gets missed out in the rush to label the humans as bad guys. Huh.

2) Pretty much agree with Phillbo on this one, right now the whole global warming (oops, sorry, climate change) issue is being overblown to a ridiculous degree. Sure we need to take steps to protect our environment but right now it's being used as a club to extract more money from voters pockets and win hearts and minds with green policies that make no sense even when you look at the most basic cost / benefit analysis.

AniMerrill said...

Throwin' back to Steve:

To be fair, when I said it was was anti-human... I was exaggerating it a bit in a review trying to reflect it (outside of its creators intentions or other's peoples beliefs) back on the world culture. Although I do find the ending... a bit extreme, to say the least, I do get the OVERALL gist of the movie. My stance that it was anti-human wasn't necessarily because it favored the Na'vi in the end over humans who were, obviously, morally in the wrong... my stance is how stupid we're depicted in the first place, to have such a weak social structure that one guy could settle an entire species being ejected from a planet to go die on their rotting earth.

But I do get the /actual/ point of the movie, it just irks me because I wonder what the soldier who was just following orders feels like...

Steve said...

To Ani: Thing is though... we kinda are like that. Look back over the last hundred years at the number of individuals who've come to power of VERY large groups, even countries, and then gone for the full-on double twist with pike dive off the deep end.

Bugger, just realised I mis-read your comment, uh, I'll leave the above as proof of my stupidity and address it properly ;)

As for the Na'vi ejecting the humans (and Jake siding with them)... bear in mind that this was a private corporation five years travel time from earth and reinforcements. When you're surrounded by an army who've just seen you try to rip apart the very heart of their social AND religious beliefs, and who also happen to be able to pop your head like a grape, you kinda get out of dodge. Doubly so when you're only there as paid employees and have just had all your weapons turned into very expensve shrapnel. If it were a case of... oh, say having Warp Drive and a resupply ship could be there in 24 hours I suspect the ending would have been a tad different. Better to come back home, tell the tale, gather public support and return with a more military-based team than lying dead for no reason on Pandora.

Basically, Avatar is Jake's story not that of the human race on Pandora. There's clearly a lot going on before we come in and there's a HELL of a lot to be told afterwards. Hopefully we'll see it in sequels because what we've seen is definately not the end of the tale.

Dave said...

"They always say there are too many people, but never that there are too many elephants."

That pretty much says it all doens't it? Appparently she is talking to a group of people that don't understand that 7 billion is a larger number than 500 000 thousand.

It really takes a special kind of retardation to take this stuff seriously.

AniMerrill said...

Haha bouts of temporary stupidity are always welcome in my presence, Steve XD (jk)

And ah, I guess you do have a few good points there. I keep forgetting that the mining project was the doing of a corporate entity and not actually... like... THE military, in full force. My only problem I guess now is more or less... why is diplomacy never an option? Why is it either the big bad military crushes the puny blue cat-people or the blue-cat people reign victorious? A logical solve to this situation is that with a new half human-half Na'vi as the military leader of this alien race make negotiations for peace between them. Can you imagine what a race like the Na'vi could offer the human race and vice versa? But instead a diplomatic relationship is stomped out in the shell, obliterated.

And the problem is, if the humans ever come back it probably won't be in peace. Most likely the military/world government will take quite a bit of offense to this and come with a Death Star-esque laser to blow the planet to hell.


Although, I guess a lot of this is idealism on my part. I get the points you made, but... I just can't fathom what it would be like if our first intergalactic encounter was anything like this movie depicted, if we actually handled it like this. And got rejected like this. I guess its the idea of that hypothetical situation that makes me want to throw up my insides in disgust of such a tragedy... but maybe that's just me.

Dav3 said...

I just wanted to say that no matter what your politics are, Avatar is a masterpiece of a movie. Forget what it may or may not be "about" for a second, because Avatar is simply the most well made action/adventure/sci-fi movie since Star Wars.

Now hear me out, when I first saw it, it was cool, but not mind-blowing. I remember walking out thinking, "Gee, I wish Transformers had been that good".

Then, I went to see it again with some friends and enjoyed it 10x more than I did the first time.

Finally, last weekend I had time to kill at the theater, and Avatar was the only thing playing at the right time, so I saw it a third time (2nd in 3-D) and I have to say it is a freakin' MASTERPIECE of a movie.

The deeper you scratch, the better it gets. The closer you look at each shot, the more impressive it is. Technically speaking, there is not one frame that could possibly be any better than it is. It is simply a masterpiece. There's no other word for it.

I think the Mona Lisa analogy fits perfectly. It's just a painting of some girl, but how could anyone possibly do it better?

Now I will plainly admit that Avatar's story is 3rd-Grade simple, but the story isn't the point. The political theme is about as blunt as a spoon, too, but that is also not the point.

Accusing Avatar of having an anti-american agenda is like saying Gone With the Wind is pro-slavery, it may be vaguely possible to see the connection, but you're completely missing the point of the movie.

As I see it, the point of Avatar is to use new techniques and technology to make a gorgeous, exciting, fantastic, imaginative, emotional, space-adventure movie, and by that measure, Avatar is the best of it's kind by far.

Steve said...

Hey Ani, can I blame the brainfade on the comment box being at the top of the page and the post I'm replying to waaayyyyyy down at the bottom? Pllllllllease?

Okay firstly thank you so much for actually having a discussion on this, much appreciated and very rare on teh interwebs. On the diplomacy side I think that's another bit that happened before we come into the story. The Na'vi have obviously had a lot of contact with the humans / avatars before Jake turns up, enough for Grace to learn their language pretty damn well and to setup and run a school for them. It's been a couple of months since I saw the film but I seem to remember some other hints that there had been other efforts to get along and for whatever reason they hadn't panned out. Most likely the slight sticking point of the mining taking big chunks of a world apart when those chunks were an active part of not only the ecosystem but the Na'vi race memory. Or possibly not enough beads and trinkets, either way.

By the time Jake gets there, frankly it's already too far gone for him to really act a a bridge. There's too much distrust on both sides and fear, again on both sides, is already very very obvious. As soon as the +5 tree of tallness is burnt down the only way out is a fight, everyone's backed into a corner at that point with broken promises on all sides and no trust or communication at all. Sucks but, sadly, that's the way these things tend to be. Heck, we've had world wars start over far less. Sadly sometimes you HAVE to go through that to come out the other side and arrive at some form of peace. And it's actually a very good reason for the survivors leaving - they can give a report from several sides, looking at his reaction I suspect the head corporate dude will not be particularly complimentary of the private contractor solution. Without that it's second or third hand reports and that WOULD encourage the death star to comence primary ignition.

I think there's a lot of hope in this film and maybe, if I may be so bold, you're looking at it a little too darkly. The military option only really swung into gear because of one slightly crazy man. The troops (mercs, whatever) went along because a) they were getting paid and b) were scared of the alternative. Everyone involved seemed to be playng fairly nice for the vast bulk of the movie (we see what, three months? And it's only the last two days that go to hell) and the humans have now got someone in the Na'vi who is perfectly placed to begin negotiations. Okay, granted, it won't happen that way because there be sequels here but still....

AniMerrill said...

@Dav3: Oh I agree completely. Avatar was an awesome movie to end 2009 and the first decade of the new millennium on, and if the 2k10 decade of cinema takes any cues from it then we're looking for a decade full of wonderful movies and tons of eye candy. Look, I first and foremostly recognize it (or make sure someone else has, as even crazy lady here stated) "IF YOU HAVE NOT SEE THIS MOVIE BECAUSE ITS FRACKING AWESOME. SRSLY." I also agree that a story is not always ABOUT something, as I'm almost certain we can all say (and as Mr. Chipman has said a billion times) that Avatar is less about a narrative and more about technical expertise, much like the Mona Lisa. That being said, I think one of the ways society keeps itself in check is by having the flamboyantly paranoid nit pick apart even the most frivolous pieces of fiction for any reflection it is making of and on society. I always try to enjoy a piece of art or entertainment for what it is first, of course, but its always fun (as the Game Overthinker has started for one of my favorite media) to sort of dive into the details... as long as you don't go to the lengths Crazy Lady did.

@Steve: Fine fine, after all.... EVERYBODY GETS ONE >:3

And I suppose you've got quite a few points there. I guess I tend to look at things in sort of a polarized perfect idealism, perfect cynicism way of looking at things... so I guess I sort of missed some of the implied context which... TO GIVE ME A BREAK, I saw the movie three months ago so... its not as fresh in my mind as when I wrote my review on it originally.

I think my main points before were.... well, probably over thinking our hypothetical society into a corner and making it cry uncle before conceding. Because I'm an asshole like that. I mean obviously, for the sake of discussion I think I'm taking it a bit more seriously than I need to... but that's mainly because it would be /another/ debate if I didn't take this stance. I mean, of course its just a fun movie with robots and aliens FTW, but the story tells of a hypothetical future where our great, great, great..... grandchildren (please amend more greats in there) are journeying out into the final frontier and have encountered our first alien race. So, hypothetically, I have quite a bit of reason to be either pissed off or sorrowful for my unborn descendants because if they really live in such a bleak society, well... apparently we haven't done our job here today.

But, you're right, that's a REALLY dark way to look at it, and I suppose we'll have to see what (or if) James Cameron will continue the tale with.

And yes, I can't really remember the last time I had a good debate on a mildly politically sensitive issue ON THE INTERNET... let alone in real life. Then again, we're all followers of Mr. Chipman, so our discipleship must be paying off XDD

Anonymous said...

I for one am pro-Avatar, but ever since I read "State of Fear" by Michael Crichton, I've been against the errant misconceptions and outright disinformation concerning global warming as a human-driven event.

I certainly hope you're not proposing that you disagree with Crichton Bob, because quite frankly that would put me in quite a quandary, given that I have a deep level of trust with you and your opinion of things, and also trust that Crichton has a better grasp on the lesser-known truths of science than most people do.

Nixou said...

"I for one am pro-Avatar, but ever since I read "State of Fear" by Michael Crichton, I've been against the errant misconceptions and outright disinformation concerning global warming as a human-driven event."

Yeah: let's bases one's opinion on a novel that's nothing but mental masturbation backed by cherry picking and outright dishonesty! What's next: claiming that Sword of Truth is a masterpiece of political science?

Anonymous said...

It's gotten more ridiculous:

I think it's safe to say "Avatar" is now the newest curse word among the nuttier of the right.

Chris M H said...

"I for one am pro-Avatar, but ever since I read "State of Fear" by Michael Crichton, I've been against the errant misconceptions and outright disinformation concerning global warming as a human-driven event.

I certainly hope you're not proposing that you disagree with Crichton Bob, because quite frankly that would put me in quite a quandary, given that I have a deep level of trust with you and your opinion of things, and also trust that Crichton has a better grasp on the lesser-known truths of science than most people do."

Guess you don't watch his Game Overthinker blog. In the episode where he talked about Shadow Complex he proposed the hypothetical of Mega Man 10 having Doctor Wily act out the part of the environmentalist villains in "State of Fear" (which he specifically referenced) as an example of a game having a ridiculous plot that would oppose most peoples' views on a topic to a degree where they would be unwilling to buy that game. From his usage it seemed pretty clear, to me at least, that he doesn't buy that Michael Crichton somehow has some omnipotent Godlike knowledge of the way the world works that far exceed the puny sheeplike brains of the scientific community.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I mentioned "State of Fear" for that exact reason. I don't ever recall Bob saying anything against "State of Fear's" truths. I'm an enormous fan of Mr. Chipman and adopt nearly every opinion he makes about a video game or film. The man is a genius.

And I think you're wrong about Crichton. He was one of my favorite authors, and his books had such an intense level of research and reference that he's certainly earned my trust. He tended to make sci-fi novels with a heartfelt plea to right mounting scientific problems and correct major misconceptions. If you've actually read his book, you'd understand what the facts about Global Warming are.

Crichton was a man of character and integrity, and would never support a position against the misconceptions of climate change unless it were valid. It's he who inspired me to understand that just because the majority believes something, it doesn't mean they're right. MovieBob has furthered this for me.

Anonymous said...


Please leave your homo-erotic fantasies of my balls in your mouth out of your political rants.

If you keep calling us "Teabaggers", that'll make you the "Teabaggee" open wide!

If you really want to have a serious debate, it would be best to lose the puerile name calling of people who disagree with you.

But then again, you can demonize and dismiss the Tea Party protests like the White House. You can see how this brilliant strategy has worked out in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

November can't get here fast enough.

AniMerrill said...

.... o__o

I see we've gotten past the nice, mature debate about a movie's theme since I last commented...

Nicholas said...

O.o ...So to get back on topic (which was about the speech), did anyone else get the feeling that she was just rattling off conservative talking points to sell copies of her movie to her core audience? There really wasn't any kind of coherent, organized theme other than "liberals are bad" and "buy my movie." I mean even if I were conservative I'd find that a little offensive.

AniMerrill said...

Yeah, pretty much. It was basically just a propaganda peddling speech. And cleverly taking advantage of something popular to increase the odds of purchase.

Also, and maybe this is just because I know a little bit more how conservatives think, did it seem kind of odd that she began her speech by highlighting "I'm technically not American."

... Not that I particularly care, because she's obviously a crackpot I wouldn't want in an official office anyway, but aren't conservatives usually /against/ the idea of someone unAmerican taking office-- IN FACT, wasn't that part of her speech, how unAmerican things are bad? I mean, sure, people come from all parts of the world to America. America is made up of probably every ethnicity and color on the planet. But once you come to America, part of the assimilating nature of our patriotism kind of says you /are/ American. You can be black, blue, or rainbow colored and come from MARS for all we care, once you're here you better damned be proud to be American or you're NOT ONE OF US.

I'm not necessarily saying thats the /best/ philosophy in the world, but its definitely part of how a conservative thinks. I know, because my family is like that and my dad rambles off like that sometimes. So.... why on earth would a conservative talking about how anti-American things are bad and evil and wrong start off by saying she's /not/ American. You might have an accent, be from another country, etc etc but if you're running or controlling an office... shouldn't you be American enough at heart to sort of exclude that from your speech?

idk, maybe I took it the wrong way. :/