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Culture & Religion

How Fictional Blue People Became America’s Most Galvanizing Political Force

Having set box office records and basked in a seemingly never-ending haul of critical praise and awards, “Avatar “has become an unstoppable cultural force. So much so that it even birthed a rabid subculture of fan boys blindly consuming all things Pandora. But how did “Avatar” become a galvanizing force in a heated political arena mere months before an important mid-term election?

While moviegoers across the country have been spellbound by the dynamic fantasy world of Pandora and its indigenous Na’Vi, the film has drawn considerable scorn from America’s conservative backers. While we delved somewhat into the ideology behind the film, Big Hollywood blogger John Nolte was among the first to sound off with his distaste for the film’s political themes. Since then, conservative commentators like Ross Douthat and John Podhoretz have scorned the film as something of a liberal attack.

The L.A. Times’ Patrick Goldstein was one of the first people to succinctly outline the sudden backlash against the film. But for an allegedly-Godless Hollywood that has heaped hyper-politicized snoozers on moviegoers for the past decade (“Jarhead,” “Lions for Lambs,” “Stop-Loss,” “Rendition”), it’s a pretty unexpected backlash against a massive box-office phenomenon. So how pivotal a role could “Avatar” play in the 2010 mid-term election?

It’s not likely to decide the election for anyone. But exciting and successful as “Avatar” has been, its production was wrought with contradictions. Particularly the very concept of a multi-million-dollar film railing against big business and deforestation. And with Republicans having already gained an unfathomable Senate seat despite some sizeable conservative PR missteps, “Avatar” could play an unexpected role over the next few months in how Americans look to their leaders.  

Since the conservative backlash against “Avatar” began, commentators like David Shuster and Jonah Goldberg have come to the film’s defense. That back-and-forth could now act as a bizarre microcosm of the upcoming political battle itself. So by the time the film is out on DVD at the height of election season, the battle over “Avatar” could become a smaller part of a much larger campaign battle. Strange. We wonder what Jake Sully would say.


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