I like to think of Mikey Lynch as the mini-tuna man of ministry blogging, serving up nutritious bite-sized chunks. He recently posted about the way Christians react to Avatar. I’ve had similar feelings.
In the first place, I reckon Avatar is far more interesting for what it reflects about our society than for what it might be ‘preaching’.
Mostly, though, I get miffed when people bash Avatar for somehow being bad art. I doubt that understanding art has anything much to do with labels of right and wrong. I reckon these critics have missed the significance of James Cameron’s hyper-visual storytelling in our very visual culture.
Many of us seem to assume that you can only tell a story properly by using plenty of words and logic. Maybe that’s fair enough: our society is historically word-rich, and remains so.
James Cameron, however, is a visual storyteller. A film like Avatar doesn’t need a conventionally complex plot or detailed characters in order to be compelling. Avatar is all raw action and hyperkinetic visuals, yet it succeeds in handling broadly appealing themes not in spite of but because of its one-dimensional script and broad-brush characters. That makes for an engaging movie! Everyone has praised Avatar for its good looks, but that’s where its story lies.
And quite apart from being too ‘green’ or ‘New Age’, Avatar is stacked with big themes that people care about today. Christianity Today has it right: Avatar taps into themes that matter — like greed, power, and corruption.
All this is not to say that Avatar is an especially innovative, intricate or enduring piece of art. Let’s just make sure we’ve understood both its messages and its medium.
But I believe we should enjoy our movies, so I’ll leave you with this hilarious take on it.
Arthur Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.