On Leadership
Video | PostLeadership | FedCoach | | Books | About |
Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

Slade Gorton
Political leader

Slade Gorton

A former U.S. Senator and Washington State Attorney General, Slade Gorton served on the 9/11 Commission.

The real political statement: Avatar

Q: 'The Hurt Locker,' Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq war movie, won great reviews and the Oscar for best picture but has failed to draw large audiences, joining other 2009 critically acclaimed films such as 'The Messenger.' What are the challenges for artists who try to use their art to lead the public on a divisive political issue?

Movie audiences want to be entertained, not lectured to, and are almost always more conservative than are Hollywood producers, so few and far between are the movies that make a popular or effective political statement. Avatar is an exception because it hid its anti-American message behind a gorgeous and imaginative other world.

Most producers, therefore, need to be content with persuading themselves that virtue is its own reward and that the public, in any event, is unsophisticated and ignorant.

By Slade Gorton

 |  March 9, 2010; 6:19 AM ET
Category:  Artistic leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Not the storm you want | Next: Good point, bad movie

Comments

Please report offensive comments below.



Avatar is not anti-American, it's anti-Imperialist. If you equate Imperialism and America well, then, that's something to think about, isn't it?

Or perhaps Mr. Gordon thinks all media should just be pro-government propaganda.

http://paradigms.bz

Posted by: greeenmtns | March 9, 2010 10:44 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Flash Gordon thinks Ming the Merciless was anti-American too.

newsflash.

"the public is ignorant"

not running for office anytime, huh?

Posted by: forestbloggod | March 9, 2010 10:38 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Dances with aliens.

Posted by: thecomedian | March 9, 2010 9:42 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Americans have been lied to for over 8 year by the Media and the Press and made War seem like nothing more then a game. Two Draft Dodgers started the illegal War and others who wouldn't serve in the Military cheered. As I'm a Mother of a US soldier who served in both Iraq/Afghanistan I know Hurt Locker is true and their are many more horror stories. But I also watch our soldiers come home to lack of medical care, no jobs, homelessness and the lip service of we support our troops. Now even the church is protesting at funnerls of dead soldiers. Avatar told a story of how two different people can get along, America could learn from that. As for Hurt Lockers low viewers well for Military Families it's seeing what we've known and for other Americans they just don't care..

Posted by: qqbDEyZW | March 9, 2010 9:22 PM
Report Offensive Comment

A bunch of middle aged people with failed marriages in Hollywood are plotting our future. Include me out.

Posted by: tossnokia | March 9, 2010 7:52 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Slade Gorton's work on the 9/11 Commission was anti-American.

Posted by: patrick3 | March 9, 2010 6:47 PM
Report Offensive Comment

edbyronadams gets the funniest line of the day award

'handwavium and halfbakedium'

hehehe

Posted by: Toby1B | March 9, 2010 6:15 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Avatar was a great flick.

It exposed environmentalism for what it is: a religion.

Now let's build the wall between government and religion where its needed most and get our governmemt out of the environmental religion business.

No more government paid junkets to religious retreats like Copenhagen.

No more government sponsored environmental religious messages.

No more government nmandated recycling.

Purge environmemtal religion from our schools that are indoctrinating our children.

No tax dollars to support this environmental religion.

With all deference to William Jennings Bryan: "You shall not press upon the brow of labor a crown of carbon taxes, you shall not crucify mankind on a cross of subsidized solar panels."

Posted by: jfv123 | March 9, 2010 5:37 PM
Report Offensive Comment

This posting by Slade Gorton was really pretty lame. I hope the Post did not pay him anything, since it probably took him all of five minutes to write/speak his mind. In any event, a couple of cliches come to mind; methinks he and other Avatar haters doth protest too much -- Still, if the shoe fits wear it.

Posted by: fnwy | March 9, 2010 5:28 PM
Report Offensive Comment

On a totall unrelated note, Membership in the Republican or Democratic Party can be obtained several ways.
In some states, it how you vote in primaries. You can also join the party, or take parts in its conventions at the district (usually open), county, state or national level at least in Texas.
While technically I was an elected office holder in Texas at the lowest level possible, I was still a Democratic party member when I wasn't, as I was a Republican during my foolish youth.

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | March 9, 2010 5:20 PM
Report Offensive Comment

askgees wrote,

"Guess what ret@rd. Unless you are actually a POLITICIAN then you are not a REP or a DEM. We’re just people. Maybe one day when you figure up you’ll figure this out however I seriously doubt it as you appear to be just another dimwit. And to think that this is what COLLEGE produces. SAD."
-----------------------------------------

Despite my dislike of the original poster's tossing Republicans into one big mass - please note that the author of the article was a Republican Senator, and is still involved in the political process as an active member of the Republican political party. Calling him a Republican is hardly a stretch - and despite your protests, I know of many who so strongly identify themselves with one party or another, that it's pretty safe to call them a "Democrat" or "Republican".

Posted by: iamweaver | March 9, 2010 4:50 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Funny, the Chinese Government said that Avatar was a thinly veiled criticism of its unjust social policies and partially banned it. (No 2D showings allowed, meaning that the movie could only be shown in the few 3D theaters in China.)
Isn't it interesting how Republicans like Slade Gordon take offense at the same themes that the Chinese government deems unacceptable? Who knew that the Red Chinese were Republicans at heart - or vice versa?
POSTED BY: COMMON_SENSE_NOT_COMMON | MARCH 9, 2010 4:01 PM
REPORT OFFENSIVE COMMENT
Guess what ret@rd. Unless you are actually a POLITICIAN then you are not a REP or a DEM. We’re just people. Maybe one day when you figure up you’ll figure this out however I seriously doubt it as you appear to be just another dimwit. And to think that this is what COLLEGE produces. SAD.

Posted by: askgees | March 9, 2010 4:14 PM
Report Offensive Comment

There was absolutely no indication of conflict between the tribes of the Na'vi in the film. If there had been, the evil Earthlings would have had something to trade for mining rights, namely our superior war making technology. Pandora had no war, no effective pathogens but a humanoid population that limited itself to the carrying capacity of the environment for hunter-gatherers. Go figure.

The evil Earthling corporation went to elaborate, expensive lengths to find a win win solution. In fact, the premise of the movie is based upon those elaborate efforts.

We will ignore the new column on the periodic table required for Unobtainium, along with Handwavium and Halfbakedium.

Posted by: edbyronadams | March 9, 2010 4:07 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Funny, the Chinese Government said that Avatar was a thinly veiled criticism of its unjust social policies and partially banned it. (No 2D showings allowed, meaning that the movie could only be shown in the few 3D theaters in China.)

Isn't it interesting how Republicans like Slade Gordon take offense at the same themes that the Chinese government deems unacceptable? Who knew that the Red Chinese were Republicans at heart - or vice versa?

Posted by: Common_Sense_Not_Common | March 9, 2010 4:01 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Mr. Gorton is correct that Avatar was anti-American MILITARY. And I couldn't have enjoyed that message more.

There is nothing that scares me today more than the attitudes I find among the officer corps of our Armed Services. They scoff at environmentalism. They dispute the value of diplomacy. They object to any form of restraint on U.S. corporations operating abroad (which is the greatest cause of foreign hatred of the U.S.). They continue to find ways to support "don't ask, don't tell." They see no way for war to be eliminated, and raise their children to believe that civilians should be kept from governing this country.

Yes, both Avatar and Hurt Locker were against the current military/industrial complex, and for that alone, I recommend these films to anyone who likes to think critically

Posted by: bamarsh | March 9, 2010 3:46 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Did they pull half the commentators for this discussion from the John Birth Society? Neither Avatar nor Hurt Locker were anti American. The hurt locker was a character study of one man facing a breakdown in the midst of one of the most stressful jobs I can imagine and how he handled that stress. Avartar was obviously anti corporate, anti consumerism, pro eart and pro indian, but not Anti American. If you believe that mercinary greed, violent coersion, and genocide are American values then we are not living in the same America. while campy and overdone it actually was pretty biblical vs a technocratic force that undermines spirituality. How about perserveriance, sticking up for the disenfranchised, collaboration to meet larger goals - are those American values? What a tool you are.

Posted by: cadam72 | March 9, 2010 3:32 PM
Report Offensive Comment

The Avatar Natives were not protrayed as Noble Savages at all, again have you seen the Movie? The Native Tribes may or may not have had war, but they were clearly not united most of the time, so they had conflict on some level. The great story of the big flying animal rider being the ONLY native to unite the people in anything proves it wasn't a full time love fest. If other tribes would have answered the call to arm without a miracle rider, the local tribe would have called for help on day one, but they did not even think of that solution.

As for the movie being anti-human, it only is if you assume the basic unchangable nature of humans is the take resources in the most destructive and ignorant way possible from any other intelligence they can, and that this is good. Of course if you believe that Might makes Right, then the good guys won, since it turns out they were stronger.

Again its clear that all the people trashing the movie as anti-human, American, Marine etc are really pissed about its agenda against out of control corporations, environmental destruction and hired killers, lack of government/society oversight, and apparently for at least the Senator a hate of Native Americans. Of course since they Avatar bashers know their real resentments are moral and socially unacceptable, they make up false claims about the movie's agenda so they can bash those and hope people haven't seen the movie or were not paying attention.

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | March 9, 2010 3:19 PM
Report Offensive Comment

The moral lesson that it's wrong to invade someone else's home, kill their people and take their stuff is somehow "anti-American"?

Well, actually, I guess maybe it *is* anti-American at that, but not for the reasons Mr. Gordon writes.

Posted by: psienesis | March 9, 2010 3:03 PM
Report Offensive Comment

This plot was silly way back when Kevin Costner tried to do it. It will play better on Lifetime than on the Sci Fi Channel.


Posted by: fishcrow | March 9, 2010 2:51 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Avatar is anti-human not anti-American...
only traitors to this country would think so...

Posted by: DwightCollins | March 9, 2010 2:24 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Sam Worthingon, who played Jake Sully, was born in England. James Cameron, the director, was born in Canada.

Posted by: Cass3 | March 9, 2010 2:24 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Says in Gorton's bio on Wikipedia: "In the Senate, Gorton had a moderate-to-conservative voting record, and was derided for what some perceived as strong hostility towards Indian tribes."

Posted by: news5 | March 9, 2010 2:19 PM
Report Offensive Comment

I would point out again Avatar went to fairly elborate lengths to show that the hero was discharged and jobless before he became a Killer for Hire. They also pointed out the manager of the companies efforts was driven by combination of his own desire for advancement, and the companies executives demands for the operation to be profitable, and not any political or governmental desires. As far as I remember there was no mention of concerns about government intervention or reaction to genocide at all. Clearly this makes the warning of the movie about unchecked government power.
So the only people who think this is anti-American are those that think Blackwater is a better representative of the American Spirit than the US Marines like Ex-Senator Gordan does. Thank God he is an ex-Senator.

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | March 9, 2010 2:13 PM
Report Offensive Comment

So, now we are trying to analyze our society through a film? Face it Gorton, you just don't like Hollywood.

Posted by: jckdoors | March 9, 2010 2:06 PM
Report Offensive Comment

I sorry, but did anyone really watch Avatar, if you did you would have realized.

1. The Soldiers were NOT AMERICAN MARINES, they were Mercenaries. Its a insult to confuse the two.

2. There were ZERO Government Agents involved, the bad and good human actors all worked for the same company which was clearly unregulated.

3. Its insulting to USA to assume that any out of control company is American, simply because the actors are American in an American Movie, there are lots of non-American out of control companies.

The only possible place where America might be getting grief in this movie is the lack of adequate VA benefits so quit trying to hide extreme anti-environmental racism behind the screen of defending America when its not being attacked.

It beyond clear that the real complain about the movie is its supremely justified attacks on blind environmental destruction, and the use of Private Armies both of which are conservative darlings. Its really just a sad confusion. Note all Merc are hired killers by definition, without any moral justification for their actions period. Even if their cause had been just, they are still just hired killers.

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | March 9, 2010 2:06 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Apparently I'm living in a country with 70 million or so anti-Americans.

Mr. Gorton, that's a whole heap of voters who you've just accused of being somehow unpatriotic for laying down their $10 and stimulating the California economy.

Posted by: bisonaudit | March 9, 2010 2:00 PM
Report Offensive Comment

Trambusto is correct - it happened to be Americans in Avatar, but they were a placeholder for any powerful country taking over the lands of a native population. Think England/Spain and native Americans, or England and Australian Aborigines...

And I have to wonder whether you actually saw The Hurt Locker. It took no political side at all. It was about the effects of war on individual soldiers - and they were not the same in the various individuals.

Get over your right-wing self.

Posted by: Pamsm | March 9, 2010 12:28 PM
Report Offensive Comment


Anthropologists have searched the world over for the "noble savage" uncorrupted by the evil of civilization but have come up empty. James Cameron rides to the rescue by inventing one. The Na'vi are those people, at one with the environment but apparently suffering none of the ills of it. No disease. No ignorance. No conflict.

How this could come about is probably a message that James Cameron does not want you to think about. How a biome could evolve that has both six legged and four legged large animals, no hostile microbes and universal cooperation among species probably requires an active Intelligent Design.

Forget that I wrote that.

Posted by: edbyronadams | March 9, 2010 12:00 PM
Report Offensive Comment

How is Avatar anti-American? Maybe anti- corporation, anti paid mercenaries but anti-American. With that logic you are saying that the corporate culture is in essence directly linked to American values and that the needs of business are entwined with the needs of America. That thought is anti-American.

Posted by: joelp77440 | March 9, 2010 8:51 AM
Report Offensive Comment

how is a futuristic tale of colonial expansion, slaughter of the native peoples and species, and the rape of the Earth's natural resources "Anti-American?"

In truth, this is the tale of any great power in the last 200-400 years, and the tale of what continues to this day in the exploits of oil.

Posted by: trambusto | March 9, 2010 7:05 AM
Report Offensive Comment

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company