Avatar...are we paying attention?

07 Jan 2010|Kelli Peterson

Over the holiday I saw Avatar in its full glory – 3D IMAX. This film is one of 7 blockbuster films to break the 1 billion dollar revenue mark. The plot line? Saving a spectacularly unspoiled planet from greedy resource suckers. While not exactly an original storyline, its release coincided with the tail end of the United Nations Climate Change Conference. I was briefly elated by this fact then realized that Hollywood for decades has been telling meaningful stories and this powerful movie’s coincidental release may not yield the popular discussion I might’ve hoped for.

At the movies, we watch, listen, we feel, we are momentarily touched because this is after all, entertainment at its finest (2 hours of focused attention surrounded by Technicolor and Dolby stereo!). And then we go on about our daily lives. In 1985, The Color Purple reminded us about the racism, poverty and sexism of our forefathers. Nearly 20 years later, Crash interwove story lines to paint an updated picture with characters afflicted with modern versions of the same intolerances. We watch, we absorb, but do we change our behavior?

Last year we voted in our first African American President. Did these movies directly influence this collective vote? It’s hard to argue that they did. But then it’s hard to argue that they definitely did not. What is clear that after decades of provocateurs presenting their stories, in all formats and channels, our democratic population was finally able to overcome culturally born prejudice in the name of democracy.

It’s 2010. How many more years of blockbuster narratives will be shown before we begin to see the effects of a collective and popularized effort to save a resource rich Networked Planet?

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