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The 3D version was sold out, so I saw the the regular version; wish I'd waited! This movie has got to look so beautiful in 3D! It is certainly beautiful otherwise.

I do not think the movie was anti-man, anti-machines, anti-government, or super-pro-environment. *SPOILERS* As mentioned by RBiker, we as the audience got to find out that there was no mystical anything, but a biological something. And, since the existence of the human race did not depend on the valuable resource under the tree, (although another good movie might have been made had it depended), the movie was essentially about fighting for what belongs to you, and the journey of the main character, Jake. I think a better movie would have given the human corporation better motives and smarter characters.

Anyway, it was certainly a visual delight, and the bad parts did not outweigh the good parts, philosophically or otherwise.

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Good lord - it's just a movie. If our rationality and reason are so fragile that a movie can threaten them, then we have far greater worries.

I and others here don't dissect these movies out of some some neurotic defensiveness, we do it because its fun, it and of itself. It is part of the process of enjoying a movie.

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The 3D version was sold out,

I debated which one to see and I'm soooo glad I went to the 3D version. It was the best usage of 3D technology I've ever experienced. When my son and I went the show we were going to see was sold out, the next show an hour later was sold out, and we had to get tickets for a show 4 hours later to see it in 3D.

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I do not think the movie was anti-man, anti-machines, anti-government, or super-pro-environment.

** Possible Spoilers **

I think it was quite definitely intended as an environmental "warning". They smash you over the head with it at the end when Jake exclaims to the Na'vi, "The have no green left on their world, they destroyed it. They will come and destroy this world as well." This wasn't just a passing comment, this was the rally speech. I don't think you can get much more obvious than that.

Edited by RationalBiker

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This wasn't just a passing comment, this was the rally speech. I don't think you can get much more obvious than that.
But, we as the audience know that it's their environment, which is totally different than ours in that they are literally connected to it. So, to me, that comment doesn't make sense with the rest of the movie, and I'm not really sure why the director included it. Even though you are probably right, it seemed intended as an enviro-knock you over the head.

For me, anyway, the movie didn't scream "environment propoganda!" It wasn't something that was distracting for me.

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I debated which one to see and I'm soooo glad I went to the 3D version. It was the best usage of 3D technology I've ever experienced. When my son and I went the show we were going to see was sold out, the next show an hour later was sold out, and we had to get tickets for a show 4 hours later to see it in 3D.
Now I am really disappointed! The next showing for me was at 10:30pm, and it was just too late.

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But, we as the audience know that it's their environment, which is totally different than ours in that they are literally connected to it.

I think the environmental statement was his intent, but noted earlier that he failed because he created an entirely different context than our own.

Edited by RationalBiker

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Had your comment simply been reserved to what you found important, it would not have evoked my comment. Instead, you take a poke at others in the thread just because you don't find it particularly important to critically evaluate a movie for it's message. Past that, if you are fine with just watching a movie and not considering the point of view that the movie is trying to communicate, that is up to you. But "laughing" at other people who are concerned with the potential impact of a mass media movie on our society is uncalled for. Some folks may take ideas a little more seriously than you and perhaps they do not like it when bad ideas a propagated, regardless of the format.

That's interesting. We're working in perhaps the worst medium for conveying the full meaning of words, yet I've read far more direct "pokes" at posters than mine that fail to incite much response. For example, suggesting a poster isn't intelligent unless they determine what an artist wants to convey in their art. Or that they are evading reality by simply enjoying a movie. Yet my post deserves a response. Interesting.

However, it was not my intenton to laugh at anyone. It was my intention to put things into context. We're not discussing ideas promulgated by a military or political leader with the force of arms behind him. We're discussing a movie. We're discussing the ideas of a megalomaniacal Hollywood director. Do the ideas of every director and actor deserve this kind of disection? Can't we just enjoy a movie for what it is without having to determine whether the people involved in it have ulterior motives? Seriously, this sounds a lot like the arguments deists use to keep homosexuals out of the classroom and evolution out of the curriculum. Some of the posts on this thread read like this movie is the worst threat to rational thought ever devised. Yet, watching this movie did not destroy my rational mind. I did not sequester myself in a dark room and deny reality after 2 hours and 40 minutes of allowing myself to do exactly that.

I honestly want to know whether being rational and logical requires me to loathe, or love, a particular piece of art based on what the artist is trying to convey. Yes, ideas are important - but they are also impotent. People who act on ideas are potent, and if their will is so malleable that they can be goaded into action by pretty pictures then, again, we have far greater worries.

Did you enjoy the movie?

I and others here don't dissect these movies out of some some neurotic defensiveness, we do it because its fun, it and of itself. It is part of the process of enjoying a movie.

I never argued you are neurotic, but certainly some posts on this thread (and others) are. Most of them made without even having seen the movie.

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[...]

However, it was not my intenton to laugh at anyone. It was my intention to put things into context. We're not discussing ideas promulgated by a military or political leader with the force of arms behind him. We're discussing a movie. We're discussing the ideas of a megalomaniacal Hollywood director. Do the ideas of every director and actor deserve this kind of disection? Can't we just enjoy a movie for what it is without having to determine whether the people involved in it have ulterior motives? Seriously, this sounds a lot like the arguments deists use to keep homosexuals out of the classroom and evolution out of the curriculum. Some of the posts on this thread read like this movie is the worst threat to rational thought ever devised. Yet, watching this movie did not destroy my rational mind. I did not sequester myself in a dark room and deny reality after 2 hours and 40 minutes of allowing myself to do exactly that.

I honestly want to know whether being rational and logical requires me to loathe, or love, a particular piece of art based on what the artist is trying to convey. Yes, ideas are important - but they are also impotent. People who act on ideas are potent, and if their will is so malleable that they can be goaded into action by pretty pictures then, again, we have far greater worries.

[...]

We should be very concerned about the ideas that Cameron is promoting through this movie. Art--especially of the popular variety such as movies, music and literature--are the principal means by which the ideas of philosophers and other intellectuals are spread to the public. Why do you think dictators and authoritarian governments prohibit, regulate and fear this activity most of all? They do not so much fear the intellectual, whose esoteric ideas are not easily understood by the general public, as they fear the people who spread such ideas to the public in a way that they can comprehend in terms of their own values.

This is one of the main reasons why Ayn Rand has been such a powerful and influential philosopher. Rather than publishing technical works in obscure philosophical journals, she wrote novels that reach and resonate with the general public. She is both a philosopher and an artist--a very potent combination. But the ideas of a philosopher can be spread by others. Very few people today--even philosophy majors--have likely read the works of Immanuel Kant. His ideas were not disseminated primarily by his published works--obscure and arcane as they are--but by others and especially writers, teachers, artists and the like who were able to reach a wide and general audience. Jim Cameron is no serious philosopher; that much is obvious. But he is an influential mouthpiece for bad ideas, and will be particularly pernicious to those who do take ideas seriously, namely budding intellectuals, philosophers, and future leaders.

The anti-evolution and homophobic Christian right you mention are very cognizant of this fact as well. But unlike them, I do not, and I doubt that anyone on this forum does as well, advocate the use of force to censor such bad ideas. That is a crucial distinction, and I find it very disturbing that you would lump our discourse on this thread with their "arguments" as way to portray it in a negative light.

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I honestly want to know whether being rational and logical requires me to loathe, or love, a particular piece of art based on what the artist is trying to convey.

On what alternative basis do you propose to judge an artwork? Should judgment be based upon the free associations that pop into your head upon exposure to the art? Are you seriously going to attempt to defend a subjectivist aesthetic theory?

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However, it was not my intenton to laugh at anyone.

I don't think that reconciles well with this statement of yours;

I've been reading this thread from the beginning, and it makes me laugh to see people take a form of entertainment like this so seriously.

The target would seem to be the people as they were the ones taking a form of entertainment seriously.

We're not discussing ideas promulgated by a military or political leader with the force of arms behind him. We're discussing a movie.

In all of the posts I've read, I don't see where that has been any sort of confusion. The context that seems to evade you is that movies (and other media), even "entertaining" ones, can have an impact on our culture. Then again, perhaps Atlas Shrugged was just a fictional novel. Why should anyone take that novel seriously, it's just fiction and entertainment, right?

Do the ideas of every director and actor deserve this kind of disection?

That really depends on how much dissection is needed to learn the message or values being communicated in the work. Some are more or less obvious and require different levels of dissection to understand.

Can't we just enjoy a movie for what it is without having to determine whether the people involved in it have ulterior motives?

Of course you can. You can do pretty much anything you want I imagine. You are free to suspend your judgment on all manner of things.

Seriously,...

I have been serious. Are you saying you haven't been?

...this sounds a lot like the arguments deists use to keep homosexuals out of the classroom and evolution out of the curriculum.

Sounds a lot like and being the same are two different things. As Tom Rexton points out, in this case they are not at all the same. Perhaps dissecting the two arguments better might be informative.

Yet, watching this movie did not destroy my rational mind.

So, would it be your assertion that the only potential harm to you or the culture you live in is whether or not it destroyed your rational mind? Is that your only measure for the potential impact of bad ideas? Is there no possibility that the minds of others can be swayed by bad ideas which later take shape in the form of actions that affect you and the culture you live in?

Yes, ideas are important - but they are also impotent. People who act on ideas are potent,

Now your catching on, because people DO act on ideas, even bad ones, and even ones portrayed in entertaining movies. For some people, if it moves their heart, it moves them into action. Somewhere along the way, the head gets left out, the don't "dissect" the ideas.

Did you enjoy the movie?

I posted my thoughts on the movie in previous posts.

Edited by RationalBiker

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In case anyone really doubted it
His environmentalist stuff did take away from the movie (to an arguable extent), but, as he also said, he intended the film to essentially be a "chick flick." Love story, strong female characters, all that. He also noted that the movie centralizes around the Jake character.

It doesn't look like he was going for, or achieved, a movie predominantly pushing environmentalism.

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So, you're basically arguing:

"People are incapable of thinking things through rationally for themselves (except us, of course), and therefore people like Cameron - who spoon feed their philosophy to the dumb masses - are threats to us. People like Cameron can rally the un-thinking crowd to force their irrational philosophy upon us. Therefore, we should be very concerned." Is that your argument?

On what alternative basis do you propose to judge an artwork?

On whether or not I like it. On whether or not it supports my ideals. On whether or not what I think about it appeals to me - not upon what the artist thinks about it. Again, if the artist wanted to convey altruism in its highest form, yet I see rational individualism in its highest form, who's right?

Then again, perhaps Atlas Shrugged was just a fictional novel. Why should anyone take that novel seriously, it's just fiction and entertainment, right?

Really? Atlas Shrugged is just a fictional novel. No one should take that novel seriously, it is just fiction and entertainment. Now, once you've recovered from your stroke, perhaps you'd like to admit the truth of that statement - at least to yourself. What everyone should do is think about the ideas in that novel and evaluate their objective truth for themselves. They should not simply accept the veracity without thought, nor should they hold up the novel as some Holy Writ (as often seems to be case in these forums).

Now, I realize that puts me close to the stake, but perhaps I can get some thought going while you guys pile the wood around. If we live in a world where the masses are moved by their hearts, where the head gets left out, where rationality and logic are ignored for pretty pictures on a screen, or eloquent words on a page, then we are in great danger. Such a world would no longer be a rational world, and there would be no way for a rational person to live long-term. We should be discussing how to avoid the end rather than some propaganda piece put out by the irrational for the irrational.

I'm not going to respond to the rest of your post, RationalBiker. Honestly, I had hoped for better from you.

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I'm not going to respond to the rest of your post, RationalBiker. Honestly, I had hoped for better from you.

In that case, I won't respond to you further on this issue at all. Judging from this latest response, I can't hope for better from you.

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On whether or not I like it. On whether or not it supports my ideals. On whether or not what I think about it appeals to me - not upon what the artist thinks about it. Again, if the artist wanted to convey altruism in its highest form, yet I see rational individualism in its highest form, who's right?

In the race to see who can be more incompetent, between an artist who manages to commercialize his work and a private individual who glosses over hard things like themes to focus on the shiny, the private individual has got the advantage in that fewer people are bitching at him and about him. So probably the artist is right.

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Although, I don't think the author has actually read Atlas Shrugged, since he says Rand is a character in the book and Dagney [sic] Taggart is a man.

Hm. I think there are even threads on this forum saying Rand is the girl fishing at Galt's Gulch seen when John is showing Dagny around.

And there is the scene where Cheryl, at her wedding, proclaims herself as the Mrs. Taggart to Dagny, saying "I'm the woman in this family now." Dagny does reply "That's all right. I'm the man." B)

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In the race to see who can be more incompetent, between an artist who manages to commercialize his work and a private individual who glosses over hard things like themes to focus on the shiny, the private individual has got the advantage in that fewer people are bitching at him and about him. So probably the artist is right.

Hmmm, not really sure how that applies to my question, so I'll ask it more directly: If an artist intends to convey altruism, yet objectively conveys rational egoism, should I like the art because it's objectively good, or should I hate it because the artist wanted to convey altruism?

In that case, I won't respond to you further on this issue at all. Judging from this latest response, I can't hope for better from you.

Well, you'll probably wish to forego responding to me on any issue if your hope is that "better" means I'll just fall into the Objectivist party line. Ironic, isn't it, that the group most closely aligned with independent rational thought seems to be just as quick to recite the thoughts of others. I guess you're right: people are simply led around by the ideas of others. I suppose the rest of us are well and truly f*****.

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If an artist intends to convey altruism, yet objectively conveys rational egoism, should I like the art because it's objectively good, or should I hate it because the artist wanted to convey altruism?

You are right. Art properly is not judged by artist's intentions but by what has been actually created - it's identity.

---------------

I think the issue here is how to objectively judge art that is ideologically mixed (and most art today is as most people today lack ideological integration).

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It was simply a fantastic visual experience. Yup, the story was simplistic, but with an interesting twist in the main character's chance at experiencing walking again despite being paralyzed. Yup, there were some "government is evil," "corporations are evil," "the military is evil," "love your mother earth" jabs and nods to the Hollywood intelligentsia and other liberal moonbats. But none of these were themes of the movie - the theme of the movie was: fight for what you value. Would it have been a better movie without the jabs and nods? Of course, but if I were to confine myself to movies where these little arrows were not thrown, I'd probably never watch any movies.

This is in line with my evaluation of the movie. I am glad I took my son to see it. It was one of those fun events this Christmas we will always remember. The experience was fun and the ideological shortfalls created an opportunity for an interesting discussion in the car on our way back home.

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So, you're basically arguing:

"People are incapable of thinking things through rationally for themselves (except us, of course), and therefore people like Cameron - who spoon feed their philosophy to the dumb masses - are threats to us. People like Cameron can rally the un-thinking crowd to force their irrational philosophy upon us. Therefore, we should be very concerned." Is that your argument?

[...]

Really? Atlas Shrugged is just a fictional novel. No one should take that novel seriously, it is just fiction and entertainment. Now, once you've recovered from your stroke, perhaps you'd like to admit the truth of that statement - at least to yourself. What everyone should do is think about the ideas in that novel and evaluate their objective truth for themselves. They should not simply accept the veracity without thought, nor should they hold up the novel as some Holy Writ (as often seems to be case in these forums).

Now, I realize that puts me close to the stake, but perhaps I can get some thought going while you guys pile the wood around.[...]

I'm not going to respond to the rest of your post, RationalBiker. Honestly, I had hoped for better from you.

Please don't be so hostile and be a bit more charitable in your interpretation of others' argument. Some here have been rather emphatic of their points, but nowhere have I seen any attempts to argue against you by non-rational means. Just because several of us think differently about the effects and power of ideas, you should not accuse us of being unthinking, blind followers who act as a mob. (See your statements I highlighted in bold.)

If you're still willing to engage this argument, let me elaborate on some points. It's not simply a matter of either

1. People blindly following whatever ideas are implanted into their heads by figures of authority, intellectuals or others. OR

2. People acting and thinking rationally most or all of the time, immune to nonsense and to bad philosophy.

You seem to lean towards number 2. But number 2 is clearly false given the history of mankind. Looking at the history of ideas and philosophy in particular, and then looking at the subsequent history of mankind, surely you must at least acknowledge that people can be convinced and moved to action by philosophy? Have you looked at the ascendancy of Christianity in the Dark Ages? The Scientific Revolution and Industrial Revolution following the Age of Enlightenment? The waves of socialist/communist revolutions following the 19th century? How do you explain these events?

The reason philosophy has such a powerful impact is because it is PHILOSOPHY. Do you fully understand what that means? Philosophy is the fundamental view of existence, of man and man's relationship to existence. Do you know the relationship between man's life and philosophy? Man needs philosophy to guide his life. His nature is unlike that of other animals: he cannot act automatically and cannot be guided by instinct. He cannot act short-range and without thought. He is a rational creature in need of guidance--how to acquire and justify his knowledge (epistemology), how to conduct his life (morality), how to live with others (politics), etc... He needs philosophy to live. Philosophy directs the most fundamental aspects of man's life.

If you understand this much, then you understand the distinction between philosophy and mere ideas. People can be highly compartmentalized and be rational in other aspects of their lives. Hence, many people can reject nonsense when it comes to a lot of practical matters concerning reality, and yet still be deeply irrational when it comes to, say, morality. But such individuals are highly vulnerable, because it is ultimately their philosophy that guides them over the course of their life. If the predominant philosophy in society stresses adherence to authority (or whims, feelings, and other non-rational sources) in matters of knowledge and morality, then the individuals within that society will be highly susceptible to bad ideas and will more or less act like a mob. They will be easily spoon-fed and moved to act like robots. But on the other the other hand, if the individuals in that society are largely rational and independent thinkers because they hold a rational philosophy, then of course they will be immune to nonsense and even bad philosophy.

It is true that most people to some extent think and acquire their ideas by rational evaluation. If they have managed to survive to adulthood at all they have some common sense and can think logically to at least a limited extent. However, they do not acquire their philosophy as Ayn Rand did. Most people are nowhere near the kind of system-builders that, say, Aristotle or Kant was. And this is not in any way due to a failure or defect in themselves. After all, to develop such a full-blown philosophical system particularly when it is in opposition to the predominant philosophy, would require a staggering level of intelligence and a life devoted to intellectual pursuits (e.g., a professor, writer or scientist). Instead, most people--from housewives to CEO's--absorb most of their philosophical premises from the society around them. They certainly choose which philosophy to accept. But they do not create the menu of philosophies presented to them. This is why philosophers are so influential. They are the ultimate source of philosophy, which is not mere ideas but the kind of ideas that guides man's life, that directs his thoughts, his actions, his plans. In some ways, if we work towards promoting a rational philosophy for society, in which people act and think rationally and independently, we will diminish the power of philosophers. In such an ideal scenario, bad philosophers have weak or no influence. But we can never diminish the power of philosophy itself. That is inextricably tied to man's nature.

I implore you to evaluate the ideas Ayn Rand presented in her speech "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" Have you read that essay? Do you at least understand (if not agree with) its points? If you do, then you'll know where many of us are coming from. I've probably belabored the point in this thread on the movie Avatar.

Now how does this apply to the movie itself? Well, for those of us who already have a rational philosophy, we can enjoy it for what it is, acknowledge its achievements and ignore its irrational elements--as you yourself seem to do. If most Americans were of a similar mind, then the movie would be largely harmless. But I believe much our society has been brought up otherwise. This is why I think the movie has a more harmful effect than you think. It is because of the effects of bad philosophy and the re-emergence of religion since the end of the Enlightenment that has made Americans very vulnerable to bad ideas.

Please do not think that I'm arguing that this movie will single-handedly bring about the second Dark Ages. I do not think it's any more harmful than your typical movie with a bad philosophy. But nevertheless I think it is harmful because people are taking its ideas---nonsensical and inconsistent as they may be with its plot and characters---seriously. And they are taking it seriously because they have been conditioned to do so by bad philosophy.

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