Rip Van Cameron Awakens to a New Political Left With ‘Avatar 2’

The ‘Way of Water’ drains into a cynical swamp.

Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP
Director James Cameron, left, and Sigourney Weaver promoting the film 'Avatar: The Way of Water' at London, December 4, 2022. Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

“Avatar: The Way of Water” is floating atop the box office, but the sequel is facing an undertow for its alleged bigotries — no doubt a surprise to its director, James Cameron, who’s finding the leftist tropes of yesteryear are grounds for cancelation today.

Yuè Begay, “a Native American influencer,” urged a boycott of “this horrible and racist film,” describing the characters as wearing “blue face” and portraying a “white savior complex.” called the film “a Sappy Valentine to the Myth of the ‘Ecological Indian.’”

Critic Kathia Woods indicted the movie for “cultural appropriation and white actors cosplaying as” people of color with its noble savage stereotype, once sacred to the left. All are big changes for Hollywood’s answer to Rip Van Winkle, who took a 13-year snooze from filmmaking.

In 2009, the political left sang the praises of Mr. Cameron’s epic, which clubbed its audience over the head with its green message. That alone was enough to earn a pass for a plot so unoriginal, it was called plagiarism.

A 2010 Huffington Post column, “‘Avatar’ = ‘Pocahontas’ in Space” showed how one could produce the script by swapping new nouns into the Disney classic. But the villains in “Avatar” remained common ones to leftists of the era: The military, colonialism, miners, and corporations.

Moviegoers couldn’t help rooting for his idealized heroes, the Na’vi — an anagram of “natives” — with their big eyes playing to the human affection for infants. Los Angeles Times wrote, “The film offers a blatantly pro-environmental message; it portrays U.S. military contractors in a decidedly negative light; and it clearly evokes the can’t-we-all-get along vibe of the 1960s counterculture.”

In an interview with AFP, Mr. Cameron shared standard hippie rhetoric. “There’s a sense of entitlement,” he said. “‘We’re here, we’re big, we’ve got the guns, we’ve got the technology, we’ve got the brains. We, therefore, are entitled to every damn thing on this planet.’”

He then scolded Americans to “wise up and start seeking a life that’s in balance with the natural cycles of life on earth.” Politics, though, have shifted since those days when, say, Presidents Obama and Biden both opposed gay marriage.

Democrats have “evolved” on militarism, too. After winning a Nobel Peace Prize, Mr. Obama learned to stop worrying and love the drone, ordering ten times as many strikes as his Republican predecessor. The liberal columnist Joe Klein — pressed about Mr. Obama killing children of suspected terrorists — shrugged and responded that “the bottom line is: ‘whose 4-year-olds get killed?’”

Just last week, Democrats feted the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, without a peep from the anti-war movement about fattening the military-industrial complex or giving peace a chance. When the House Republican Leader, Kevin McCarthy of California, opposed a “blank check” for military aid, he was met with cries that verged on “Better dead than red.”

As for corporations, the most powerful ones today are Amazon, Apple, and social media giants which support the left. While digging for coal is still demonized by leftists, they welcome the strip mining required to produce rare earth minerals for green technology such as electric car batteries. Windmills and solar panels, which are killing birds by the millions, are praised as the wave of the future.

Causes such as clean oceans, land, and air have also been replaced on today’s leftist agenda by a singular focus on global warming, replacing slogans like “Save the Whales,” such hunting having been all but banned in any case.

YouTube’s Critical Drinker, Scottish thriller novelist Will Jordan, points out this anachronism in his review of the sequel to Avatar. “It just feels weird for this movie to make it such a thematic focal point,” and yet “Avatar 2” does just that with blue sea creatures standing in for blue whales.

“Avatar 2” may be a beautiful movie, as described by the Sun’s A.R. Hoffman in his review. Moviegoers, though, have come to expect CGI magic. They require a little social consciousness and plot along with their visual spectacle, and no longer applaud Mr. Cameron’s outdated tropes like the trained seals of 2009. Take it from Mr. Van Winkle.

The New York Sun

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