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Monday, 31 May 2010 09:38

Thom Hartmann's May Exclusive "Independent Thinker" Review for BuzzFlash: Avatar (DVD), 162 Minutes

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May 2010

Each month or so, BuzzFlash is privileged to have nationally syndicated progressive talk show host Thom Hartmann review a progressive book or DVD exclusively for BuzzFlash. See other progressive premiums at The BuzzFlash Progressive Marketplace.  See all of Thom's reviews for BuzzFlash at  "Independent Thinker."

Thom Hartmann's Review -- Exclusively for BuzzFlash -- for May 2010:

If you want to be entertained, Avatar is brilliant.

The two main hits on this movie are, one, that it's clichéd. Truth be told, it is a bit of a good old-fashioned action-adventure movie in which a bad corporation/country goes after your local poor natives who love the earth or, in this case, their own little sacred corner of their own planet.

The second hit on the movie is that it's implicitly racist: that it took a white guy to save the natives. It took the guy from the evil culture to save the day for the aboriginal culture that was under attack.

There's a large grain of truth with regard to the movie being clichéd. That said, clichés are clichés because they're grounded in an element of truth.

With regard to the movie being racist, there's actually a larger element of truth beyond the back story. That is, for most of the cultures that we have destroyed, any successful effort to remedy the damage that we wrought has been led by people from our culture.

For example, for many years the head of the NAACP was a white guy; the abolitionist movement was often led by white people; the women's suffrage movement in some cases got a lot of help from white males.

The bizarre, tragic, and ironic fact of the matter is that our toxic, destructive, predatory culture is so powerful that often only a member of our culture can save/change that culture is capable of confronting our culture and perhaps defeating or destroying it.

Robert Wolff is the author of "Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing," an earlier Buzzflash book of the month I reviewed, and talks about how when native cultures are confronted by European culture they basically have three choices.

The first choice is to be destroyed by that culture.

The second choice is to run and hide, and some have actually culturally survived this way, although very few.

And the third choice is to take on that culture using the tools and weaponry and techniques of that culture.

Ironically, whether they defeat the culture or not, they've already lost because they have become the culture that confronted them.

James Cameron in Avatar provides a fourth option that's idealistic, but also has historic precedent.

In my opinion, with all its faults, James Cameron's movie Avatar is a significant contribution to the literature of culture. Culture is often the issue missed by Jared Diamond and Tom Friedman and so many others who write about the many crises we face today. They too often take a mechanistic point of view and miss that "It's the culture, stupid," the core of this movie.

So buy this movie, suspend your disbelief, set aside your movie critic cynicism, and prepare to both enjoy a marvelous story and consider the cultural possibilities for the future of our world.


Thom Hartmann is a New York Times bestselling Project Censored Award winning author and host of a nationally syndicated progressive radio talk show. You can learn more about Thom Hartmann at his website and find out what stations broadcast his program. You can also listen to Thom over the Internet.


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