Friday, January 8, 2010

Jim Wall points to `Avatar' and a teachable moment

Jim Wall writes about Avatar and a teachable moment:

At a special morning New Year’s Eve screening in Hawaii, President Obama took his family to the mall to see the new 3-D movie, Avatar. Whose idea was that?

Did the leader of the Free World realize he was going to experience a “teachable moment”? Along with millions of movie-going families from Kansas to Qatar to Quebec, the Obama family found itself in Pandora, a lush jungle on a distant moon where the Na’vi tribes live in harmony with all living things.

The time is the future, 2154 to be precise, and the Na’vi live on land coveted by outsiders who have the military might to take their land from them.

Oh boy. Who among the Chicago nerds and political operatives who help the president organize his day, understood that Avatar could become a Teachable Moment for Obama, and the world.

The president likes Teachable Moments, when he recognizes them. Remember how effectively he turned all that negative publicity about his pastor into a serious discussion of race in America?
And remember how badly he missed another Teachable Moment when President Jimmy Carter came to his defense and described right-wing attacks on him as “racist”, which they were? Obama had his White House issue a statement disassociating the president from Carter’s defense.

Avatar now offers him the same opportunity. This is a Teachable Moment he should not reject. Maybe a special screening in the White House with some kind words for director James Cameron?

What viewers of Avatar discover is that the film immediately suggests the oppression of Native Americans by the US government, because the Na’vi and the land on which they live share a spiritual bond. The film also evokes the Vietnam War because the setting of the military struggle is a lush jungle.

Gaza, Afghanistan and its neighbor Pakistan, are mountainous; there are no jungles. The dominant indigenous religion of Gaza and Af-Pak is Muslim, but like the Na’vi, the inhabitants live on land the outside invaders wish to control.

For the full commentary, go to Jim's Blog:

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