Posts Tagged ‘metaphors’

Why Avatar Is Not a Good Movie

I already offered my problems with Avatar when I reviewed it two weeks ago. While I don’t want to repeat myself, that review was written shortly after the film’s opening, before the popular opinion of it had a chance to congeal. In general, opinions of the film haven’t been totally different—though they have been much more positive—from my own: The consensus seems to be that Avatar is visually impressive, if not all that original in terms of story and character.

What has been surprising, though, is how critics and audiences alike do not seem to care about the film’s weaknesses. Almost every review I’ve read, whether from an established critic like Roger Ebert or simply someone’s Twitter feed, has acknowledged the film’s simplicity and derivativeness, and then completely ignored them. In fact, some people have gone even further, saying that the smallness of the story and the characters actually makes the movie better. Sam Adams at The A.V. Club wrote that it’s the film’s political message—and not its visual inventiveness—that is so revolutionary.

Adams’ argument is that the simplicity and obviousness of the film’s message enhances its role as a political invective:

[T]he movie can—and, I think, ought to—be seen as a polemic, which makes criticism of its obviousness beside the point. Having Lang’s colonel refer to his plan to bomb the Na’vi into submission with the words “shock and awe” is not subtle, but it’s not meant to be. Cameron means to be confrontational, and to be sure, audiences looking for a diverting night out are not allowed to overlook the parallels. Continue reading

In Search of Lost Toaster Ovens

toaster ovenBack when I was an impressionable college freshman, the faculty-in-residence who lived three doors down from my suite left a toaster oven outside her door. Now, at the time, I was a simple-minded and perhaps naïve 18-year-old suburbanite who had been raised on a toaster and with the idea that a toaster oven was needlessly decadent. We have a toaster, we have an oven; why combine them into one appliance that doesn’t perform either of those tasks better?

Thus it was with confusion and, in the end, indifference that I met my roommate’s excitement about the prospect of claiming the toaster oven—old and dirty and clearly bound for the garbage—in our room. As college freshmen, we possessed neither a toaster nor an oven, and Seth (this roommate’s name was Seth*) proudly detailed all the glorious meals a toaster oven would add to our lives. I was skeptical and, like I said, indifferent.

*Although, to be honest, it may have been the other roommate.

And I remained so even when Seth’s attempt to haul the toaster oven the 15 feet back to our room was interrupted by the RA, citing the prohibition of all toasting apparatuses in freshman dorm rooms. This was a surprising occurrence for several reasons:

Continue reading