Thursday, April 22, 2010

James Cameron, environmentalist


I'm not the first person to write a blog post about the fact that James Cameron considers himself some great environmental crusader.

But what better day than Earth Day, the day Avatar comes out on DVD, to laugh at him about it all over again?

Just as Friday is the day that new theatrical releases typically come out, Tuesday is the day that new DVDs usually hit the shelves. But not Avatar. No, James Cameron's outsized idea of this film's importance caused him to release it on a Thursday, because this year, Earth Day is on a Thursday. (And let's not pretend it wasn't Cameron's idea, even though the director is the last person who would usually have a role in choosing a DVD release date.)

Why Earth Day? Because, you know, Avatar is the greatest single-source champion of environmentalism that the world has ever known.

I'm not going to dispute the fact that this film has an environmental message. What I am disputing is that there's anything remotely special about that. Quite the opposite. In fact, if you wanted to make a Hollywood film that takes a stance opposing environmentalism, it wouldn't make it out of the studio's board rooms.

What stuns me is the extent to which Cameron has embraced the idea that he's some kind of spokesperson for the trees. Of all the reasons there were to make Avatar, the fact that it would draw attention to the plight of our environment probably ranked somewhere around 53rd. And that's even with "making a buttload of money" taking up only a single slot in the rankings.

Come on, James. Let's be real. What you made was a conventional Hollywood story with a high probability of being embraced by audiences. What you made was a movie that you, quite correctly, predicted would make a kajillion dollars. The fact that it takes the oh-so-controversial position that giant helicopters shouldn't shoot missiles into trees was just gravy.

A real environmentalist would take a personal stance. A real environmentalist would donate his own time, money and energy to making a difference with a non-profit that seeks to make our world greener. A real environmentalist would not retroactively recognize the PR potential of a movie, and use that to champion the same cause that Al Gore has been tirelessly pursuing for over 20 years. (And let me just say I'm only assuming Cameron hasn't done any of these things, based on my impression of the man -- remember that I'm on a business trip, with only limited time available for fact checking.)

So if you're going to buy Avatar on DVD, don't do it today. Wait one day, at least. If you're going to do something to recognize Earth Day, plant a tree. And try not to think about the fact that this tree may one day be razed to print the money that will stuff James Cameron's wallet.

2 comments:

Monty Burns said...

Nice. I love the 'giant helicopters shouldn't shoot missiles into trees' image. Comedy. Also, exactly how much plastic and cardboard packaging is going into the trashcans of America today as people rip into their Avatar DVDs? If he wanted to really be an environmentalist, he would only release Avatar as a digital file or thru netflix where 1 disc can be reused over and over. But that would cut into the all important sales $$.

Vancetastic said...

Thanks Monty. It's true -- it would have been a great opportunity for Cameron to take a stand against the physical disc, if he were really serious.