Why I won’t see Avatar
Even if — and it’s a big if — I saw in three dimensions, which I don’t, and Avatar’s celebrated “immersive” design was able to properly envelop me in its splendiforous fluourescence, I still wouldn’t see it. Even if James Cameron wasn’t a complete Napoleon-psycho windbag. Even if it hadn’t been shoved down my throat months before it came out, even in a shamelessly brownnosing profile in The New Yorker. And I’m somebody who feels compelled to see everything that’s Important to the Medium, which, if you believe the critics, Avatar is, important, that is, a Step Forward in Moviemaking.
Please. It’s pretty apparent to everyone from the marketing stampede alone that Avatar is a some kind of substantial uptick in digital F/X. If you care about that sort of thing. Which is to say, if you’re young enough to still have trouble buying beer in New York, or if you’re still masturbating three times a day. If I was 15, I’d see Avatar. But I’m not. And neither, chances are, you.
But even if Cameron got that much right — if he somehow managed to get digital characters to act, and didn’t make the women look cross-eyed, and the 3-D was, like, dude, so very cool — so what? Not only is the story recycled garbage and the script (reportedly, even by fans) idiotic, but the very essence of the film — its visual cataract of fantasy — is infantile. What, am I a forest animal, unthinkingly hypnotized by shiny objects? Oooo, I’m building a nest, I need something bright and pretty. Am I a toddler in the cereal aisle, blindly drawn to the box of Froot Loops because of the bright colors?
Since when is a flush of rainbow hues and sparkly art supposed to engage the adult mind? You read David Denby’s review of the film in The New Yorker (a month or more after Dana Goodyear’s Cameron rimjob), and you hear a grown man — who’s written books — try to explain that the film is stupid but he just loved the shimmering Crayola colors anyway. Maybe he’d like a mobile above his bed.
I’ve seen Avatar already, frankly, because I spent my youth looking at Roger Dean album covers and sci-fi/fantasy paperback covers and the art of Frank Frazetta, Chris Foss, the Brothers Hildebrandt, etc. — and that was a good 30 years ago. But since then, something happened: I grew short hairs and read Hemingway and had sex. There’s no going back.