Monday, March 15, 2010


You’ll have to excuse the lateness. Blogging is the fresh trend for self-important hipsters (I have read), and one of the very best features of blogging is how fast a new blog can be ‘published’ for prospective readers to read, printed fresh off the minting press and hawked by sad-looking newsies with puppy-dog eyes and suspenders hoisted high above their modern day relevancy. Well, today is different; besides the invention of belts, I have recently moved from one place in the world where blogs are not available for public consumption to a place where a politically-sanitized white-wash society has its hippest citizens also be its most vocally oppositional.

So, I’ll start writing this blog again.

After being quiet for so long I have had the need to pipe up about a few things, videogames or otherwise. So we have Avatar.

I had to see it. The choice had already been made for me. It’s like looking at cleavage or a compilation of compound leg fractures, you’re just drawn to it unconditionally. In this case, Avatar is the most pleasing three hours you’ll spend relaxing with other people forgetting what you just saw to make room for the next forgettable spectacle you will see. I promise you, I tried going in without any expectations and so I only got angry when I thought.

But when I think I get into trouble and then I ruin the whole experience, just the way it wasn’t meant to happen. Sorry, Avatards.

Look, tools are great. The wheel is something I use everyday. It helps me get to the store to buy my sliced bread. But Avatar is nothing but an emphasis on those tools such that those tools have become important of themselves rather than what those tools were trying to accomplish in the first place. That means that audiences who have been accustomed to these grand spectacles of flash without substance will lower their expectations so long as there is more amazing spectacle to see.

And that’s what Avatar is: purely an argument for the advancement of technology. I’m just like everybody else: I like my white clothes whiter and my uncanny artificial intelligence uncannier. At the end of Avatar when that spear was sticking out of that guy, I thought, “Good,” something I might not have thought if it wasn’t in 3D. But to bloat this technology up to 3 hours and call it a movie goes beyond a fart in an elevator; frankly, it’s just rude. Avatar should be 20 minutes long and be that awesome little flick you see while waiting for an elevator to take you somewhere high or low or far away. Avatar doesn’t need to have been made into a movie.

I know I should have said this months ago when I was living behind the harmonious veil; saying this now is saying this with the impunity of hindsight. But it isn’t like it’s too late, after all. Even though I saw it over two months ago, Avatar has become newsworthy again after being systematically dismantled by the tender mittens of “The Hurt Locker”. According to experts and the respect for authority that society has banked upon, Avatar’s next biggest competition at the Academy Awards was The Hurt Locker. Yes, for this year’s competition two nominated directors slept with each other (at least). It’s the kind of drama that our mainstream media knows how to hype to sell stories of their own. It’s the “King of the World” versus that director who couldn’t have made a more misogynist flick, “Strange Days” (1995).

I know I’ve been out of the blog game for two-thirds of a year, but man people, what have you been doing since I’ve been away? You have near universally acclaimed Avatar to be a “great” movie. I was fuming and rabid that such a boring movie could be so highly praised; I was a deserted blogger without his squeak toy to placate him. Ah, but now I can finally say: where is your “great” movie now?

The truth is, the Academy Awards have never really been about anything relevant in the past. Far too many truly great movies and movie talent gets passed over and ignored. The usual route is that audiences aren’t ready for the great stuff the first time around. It’s edgy. It’s confrontational and controversial. It smells funny. Instead, this “art” (if you will) can only be appreciated over the passage of time which dulls what was once edgy and poignant to be a safe fuzzy cube with no edges that is safe for the tamest palates and, very importantly, marketable.

Audiences will only recognize real talent when the audience is ready, and not when the talent deserves it. So, what you have is Martin Scorsese being passed over when he makes the best films of his life (Raging Bull, Goodfellas) but then finally gets rewarded for being an old white man when the other older whiter men have since passed on. Scorsese didn’t get awarded for making “The Departed”; no, he finally got rewarded for his life’s work when the Academy was good and ready for him.

[Full disclosure: I have not seen “The Departed”. Honestly, I don’t care to. I saw it the first time around in “Internal Affairs”, one of those “I can’t tell who’s a cop and who’s a crook, everybody is wearing black” HK movies. ]

By painting it this way, I am saying that such an outdated and irrelevant institution as the Academy Awards has served as a wake up call to gather praise to those who deserve it and take attention away from those who don’t. Gee, it doesn’t look so good right now for my argument that Avatar sucks and a naked Golden man who only has a long sword to hide his modesty has finally erected a pointed finger at the Emperor’s new clothes.

But perhaps the Academy Awards have changed, and for the better. In her acceptance speech Mo’Nique stated “I’d like to thank the Academy for finally awarding someone based on performance, and not for politics”. Perhaps at last the ‘old school’ mentality of paying your dues is done away with. But then maybe Mo’Nique won specifically because a black woman hasn’t won for awhile, and won’t win for awhile after that. Shine on you crazy diamond, welcome to the machine.

However, to continue this argument let’s consider this system to be sound. The Academy Awards are a true kitchen tile to test the spaghetti-tenderness of modern films. Jim Cameron would support this statement because he won big last time round. He’d say, “Look at all my awards! I’m a great filmmaker!” At this year’s awards even though he came up short he can still say “Look at all my awards!”

If I had to criticize Cameron for one thing (and it’s not like I have criticized him), it’s the fact that with Avatar he has basically collapsed the main thematic themes he has been working with all his career. By turning Avatar as the polar opposite of Aliens, he has dismantled and reused all the best parts of the latter to make the former less the sum of its parts. I mean, with Aliens Cameron originated the modern female action hero and with Avatar you have shallow portraits of chicks talking tough because they talk with hoarse voices (not that there’s anything wrong with hoarse voices). Dude, you’re ripping yourself off, and also doing it more poorly than other guys who have made their careers ripping you off.

In the end, the Academy Awards are still irrelevant to me. If Avatar did in fact win, and win big, I suppose I’d have to write a different blog. But, it’d be even funnier.


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  2. The very first scene of Avatar was the only one that I can distinctly remember. I'm not used to seeing movies in 3D, and it felt very blurry to me... or maybe I was just sleepy?

    (and for some reason I didn't like Internal Affairs, but did enjoy The Departed.)