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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?

You should like it for what it objectively conveys, but if you are going to switch off your brain and just enjoy the movie as spectacle then you are not in a position to even know what the movie objectively conveys, must less judge it. Objectivity requires some effort, and not very much when judging movies. If you accept your immediate emotional reaction as a primary without any further investigation into what provoked it that is the subjectivist method of thought.

For example, my own reaction to Avatar was mixed. I knew immediately what I didn't like about the movie but I still enjoyed the movie overall so I had to figure out why. It turns out that the plot and the theme it expresses is stronger than and dominates over the bolted-on crap used for the setup.

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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.

The problem with this post, and your last post, is that it presumes any agreement with Rand was done so without independent critical analysis as to her ideas; any comparison of her ideas with ones observations of reality. I've seen so many people come on here making that mistake. It's quite easy to throw that accusation out there without any merit as an attempt to attack the credibility of your opponent. If you read any of my posts on here (and there are quite a few of them should you actually take the time), I RARELY quote or parrot Rand, I almost always give my own thoughts on a matter in my own words. In most cases, they agree with Objectivism but in some they do not.

The problem is that once some has reached the level of presumption that your last couple of posts have displayed, I usually find it very difficult to have any further rational discussion with a person. Once someone starts coping out on answering questions, the conversation is pretty much over.

I find it ironic that you think that one should consider the ideas of Atlas Shrugged and critically examine them even though it is just "fiction and entertainment" to you, but when other have done the same thing in this thread to the movie Avatar, you question why can't people just sit back and enjoy the movie without critically examining the ideas presented in that movie. That is what this whole thread is about, examining the ideas portrayed in the movie Avatar.

A couple of your quotes;

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. Sometimes, movies can just be escapism - a chance to get wrapped up in someone's imaginative efforts. Enjoy the journey; leave the philosophy for books and real life interactions.

then;

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.

Why should one only critically evaluate the ideas in one form of art, but another form of art should be immune to such critical analysis? That makes no sense, especially given that the in each case listed above (AS and Avatar) the artist was trying to convey a philosophical message. The fact that one may be pop art and the other not is irrelevant.

Yes, I get your distinction between examining the content as it is actually portrayed versus how it was intended. If you read my posts on the movie in this thread, you will note that was exactly my finding in this movie, that the idea he was going for was not the idea he portrayed. None the less, I still think it is important to realize what the artist's intended ideas were even if they failed to be communicated by his follow through actions. You seem to evade or forget the evidence of the present and the past that some people, many people, (not the strawman you presented "all others besides us") will latch on to bad ideas without the benefit of having really critically analyzed them. Religion much? Environmentalism much? Need I go on?

"better"

By "better" I mean less presumptive and without the use of strawman arguments.

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Please don't be so hostile and be a bit more charitable in your interpretation of others' argument.

I don't believe my response to you was hostile, but I did intend to be hostile to those who imply I'm ignorant and evading. I certainly don't have to accept that without comment.

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.)

Two points on this:

1) My question was whether you believed the majority of the population are unthinking, blind followers. That is a separate topic which I've started a new thread for. You can find that thread here. I've addressed your point about history there, but if I've missed your argument, please ask again there.

2) Is Atlas Shrugged just a novel? Is it just a work of fiction? I believe it is. Put it the hands of an 80-year old woman, who prefers reading romance novels and she'll probably give it back. It has no power past the point of providing the reader with ideas to think about. Whether they decide to think about those ideas is entirely up to them and the book has no power to make them think. This tendency to hold Atlas Shrugged up as something other than what it is - a great novel - reminds me of those who hold up the Bible as something other than what it is - a work of fiction.

Ideas have no power. They are important because they serve as the catalyst for thinking, but they can not make anyone think. They can not change the world - individuals change the world. They can't imprison people - individuals imprison people. They can't free people - individuals free themselves.

If you understand this much, then you understand the distinction between philosophy and mere ideas.

Is Cameron presenting a philosophy, or merely ideas? When people watch Avatar, do you believe most of them are thinking? If they are thinking, do you believe they're thinking, "Gosh, you know, Jim's right. We need to [insert whatever you think Cameron's espousing]." Or, do you believe they are thinking, "Holy crap! That was awesome!"

I prefer to think it's the latter. If people ever do stop to think about whatever ideas he presented in that movie, they're going to match that up against what they already know about the subject. If they know nothing about the subject, they're probably still not going to simply accept whatever Cameron wants them to believe. If Cameron wants them to believe we're killing the planet, either they believed that before they walked into the theater, or they did not.

Perhaps I have a little more faith in people than most here. I believe they are capable of rational thought, and can spot bullshit when they hear it. If they already believe the bullshit, then better alternatives need to be presented to them so they can objectively evaluate this new knowledge. It is a very small minority who simply won't evaluate new information and will ignorantly, and dogmatically cling to their mistaken beliefs in the face of incontrovertible, objective evidence. Those people are no threat to me (unless they're in positions of political or military power). Cameron is no threat to me. His ideas are no threat to me. Avatar is no threat to me. It's just a movie.

You should like it for what it objectively conveys, but if you are going to switch off your brain and just enjoy the movie as spectacle then you are not in a position to even know what the movie objectively conveys, must less judge it. Objectivity requires some effort, and not very much when judging movies. If you accept your immediate emotional reaction as a primary without any further investigation into what provoked it that is the subjectivist method of thought.

For example, my own reaction to Avatar was mixed. I knew immediately what I didn't like about the movie but I still enjoyed the movie overall so I had to figure out why. It turns out that the plot and the theme it expresses is stronger than and dominates over the bolted-on crap used for the setup.

Do you believe Cameron created Avatar in order to promote his philosophy? Do you believe he wanted to make some sort of world changing statement; to get some movement going?

I don't believe he did. If he did, then he did a real poor job of it - as some here have noted. I believe he did it because he could. I believe he did it because he wanted to create a stunning, other-worldly, effects driven, billions-earning blockbuster. I believe he did it because he wanted to show off, to show his mastery of the technology available to film-makers, and to play a part in creating new technology.

That is what I'm judging the movie on. It is an objective evaluation of the movie because that's what it is. I didn't just switch off my brain - I allowed myself to be taken into Cameron's imagination. I suspended my disbelief for 3 hours and enjoyed what he brought - a visual feast. I didn't allow myself to be caught up in the flawed plot, the contrived lines, the two-dimensional characters, or the bad philosophy because I didn't go to the movie to see a tight plot, great dialogue, or deep characters. I certainly didn't go to get a healthy dose of philosophy. I went to see stunning visual effects and that's what I got.

I don't understand why you enjoyed the movie overall. Did you like the plot and the theme it expresses?

Once someone starts coping out on answering questions, the conversation is pretty much over.

I'll just apologize then, RationalBiker. I don't know what I did to deserve the ad hominem attacks and irrational parsing of my posts you've presented, but whatever it was you have my apology. Simply because posts make me laugh, doesn't mean I'm laughing at people. It's a laugh of wonderment, a laugh of incredulity - what could make someone so concerned with the ideas of a film-maker? I find it hard to believe you haven't noticed the theme of irrational fear over something so minor.

Your posts are highly rational, and I enjoy reading them. I've enjoyed having discussions with you. But from your first reply to me on this thread, I've inferred nothing but an undeserved animosity. What questions have I copped out on? Your penultimate reply to me contained nothing but unnecessary parsing of my post and the dismissal of the questions I asked.

Regardless, I have enjoyed your posts in the past and have learned a great deal - I'm sure I'll continue to learn a great deal from you whether you decide to respond to me or not. That's why I expected better, because I know you're better. I do apologize for implying you simply parrot these ideas, and my point was to show you clearly do not. That, too, was a strawman.

I find it ironic that you think that one should consider the ideas of Atlas Shrugged and critically examine them even though it is just "fiction and entertainment" to you, but when other have done the same thing in this thread to the movie Avatar, you question why can't people just sit back and enjoy the movie without critically examining the ideas presented in that movie.

That's a good point, but a distinction I have made. One should absolutely critically examine every idea. But one should also not give power to an idea it does not have. Perhap I've read too much into them, and I won't quote the posts that lead me to this conclusion (because it simply isn't that important to me to be validated in my thinking on this), but many posts here imply this movie is some kind of evil thing which should be avoided like the plague. As if watching it were going to undermine the entirety of civilization; as if watching it were the worst philosophical error one could make. Given the movie is predominantly a visual feast, and the philosophy presented is so minor, and so poorly conveyed, these protestations strike me as ridiculous.

The journey, in this movie, is the imaginative landscape of Cameon's mind - this other world he's created with stunning visual effects. The journey in AS is the philosophical basis of Ms. Rand's highly rational and logical mind. Does the latter not deserve a far greater mental focus than the former? That's all I'm arguing: when discussing a popcorn-pushing piece of art the primary question is whether or not it is a popcorn-pushing piece of art. It doesn't deserve to have its philosophical underpinnings discussed because it doesn't have any - none that can't be dismissed with just a modicum of common sense. That's not to argue they can be ignored. Certainly we can't. But we can't attribute power to them they don't have.

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Ideas have no power. They are important because they serve as the catalyst for thinking, but they can not make anyone think. They can not change the world - individuals change the world. They can't imprison people - individuals imprison people. They can't free people - individuals free themselves.

And what drives, motivates, directs individuals toward particular actions? It is ideas - is it not?

But we have a market of ideas, many contradictory - so how do people decide to accept and support idea X rather than Y?

Look around you.. do you find that most people display a conceptual mentality? I don't mean the intellectuals - I mean the average voter. Fact is, on average, they don't - not outside of their work and not when it comes to social matters. Perceptual-level mentality is the default.

Emotion vs. Logic in sales (and this includes selling ideas) is a good topic to research if you interested in this further. This approach has been proven very successful over and over - just look at the environmental movement campaign. It works.

Perhaps I have a little more faith in people than most here. I believe they are capable of rational thought, and can spot bullshit when they hear it.

Of course they are capable of rational thought but you underestimate the power of emotion in human decision making. I assure you - none of the effective ideological leaders or political campaign managers make this mistake. An excellent illustration comes from the last presidential election, in which most people voted for "change" without looking too deeply into just what kind of change was being offered. Pure genius in terms of effectiveness.

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Do you believe Cameron created Avatar in order to promote his philosophy? Do you believe he wanted to make some sort of world changing statement; to get some movement going?

I don't believe he did. If he did, then he did a real poor job of it - as some here have noted. I believe he did it because he could. I believe he did it because he wanted to create a stunning, other-worldly, effects driven, billions-earning blockbuster. I believe he did it because he wanted to show off, to show his mastery of the technology available to film-makers, and to play a part in creating new technology.

You are probably right in terms of his intentions. I also don't consider Avatar as a big threat - certainly not on it's own. But this is not an isolated message in a popular media today.. it is one of similar many. The compounding effect of repeated exposure linking certain feelings to certain outcomes is not so insignificant.

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...but whatever it was you have my apology.

I don't have enough to fully address all of your post, but there are a few points I will touch on. My concern from the beginning was your "laughing" at others for discussing ideas presented in this movie that they consider important, a discussion they consider important. I'm not sure how you distinguish laughing at the discussion from laughing at them, but if you mean that, then I'll apologize for my tone.

what could make someone so concerned with the ideas of a film-maker?

I realize you don't agree with this, but the concern would be the potential impact these ideas have on the society in which they live. I find it difficult to understand why you do not see the bounding evidence around you of people, lots of people, who have accepted and continue to accept bad ideas and strive to further them in their lives.

What questions have I copped out on?

This was the big one(s);

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?

but many posts here imply this movie is some kind of evil thing which should be avoided like the plague. As if watching it were going to undermine the entirety of civilization; as if watching it were the worst philosophical error one could make.

Or, perhaps your interpretation of their concern is slightly exaggerated. Perhaps their concern is that a given bad idea, like many before them, will have a continuing and incremental effect to decline our culture, to chip away it... not an idea that comes crushing down all at once in the minds of people, but one which slowly gains momentum and slowly degrades what others find valuable.

The journey, in this movie, is the imaginative landscape of Cameon's mind - this other world he's created with stunning visual effects.

Do you ever watch Saturday morning cartoons? Hardly the stuff of heavy literature or epic movie making. Many are of poor quality and their adherence to reality is very dubious. However, many of them contain moral and philosophical ideas, ideas that children adsorb easily. You would think parents might look at some of these cartoons and question whether or not their children should be watching them. But hey, that's just a cute furry blue bunny right? It keeps the kids busy while I go about doing what I want to do. Does it take a great amount of focus for a thinking individual to ferret out the ideas presented in these cartoons? Nah. Not really. Should be be concerned about the crap they digest from these low quality, entertaining little 20 minute blurbs of color that play out before their eyes? I think we should.

Does this journey across this imaginative landscape with stunning visual effects take away from the fact it contains ideas which one should consider? (As people have been doing in this very thread) I'm not going to argue with you over the amount of effort one should put into that, or the amount of time one should consider the ideas, largely because I'm not sure how you would quantify an appropriate amount in either case. If you think too much time or effort is being placed into this particular art form (with this thread being the example) simply because it's a visual feast, I'm not sure I have words to convince you otherwise. I can only say, I disagree. I disagree because everyday I see the evidence around me of many, many people who put too little thought into the philosophical and political ideas they accept and implement into their lives. My assertion is not that ideas alone have some sort of power, my assertion is that too many people (not all) are willing to accept some ideas without really considering them. My assertion is not that these ideas should be banned from public consumption, my assertion is that we examine them ourselves so that we can challenge others who may have accepted these ideas. And my assertion is also that in some cases we do not offer further support (financially or ideologically) to some people who intend to spread these bad ideas (the importance of recognizing the intent of the artist regardless of their success).

As Sophia points out, look around at all the sources of information (advertising being a prime example) that appeal to emotion to convey ideas. They do this because it works, it's effective. I've had discussion with quite a few people who really don't want to put a whole lot of thought into questions like "how should I live my life", you know, little things like that. It's much easier to go with "you gotta believe in something, right? Might as well be Christianity (or insert idea here)."

PS: Okay, this took longer than I thought....

Edited by RationalBiker

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JeffS - to "enjoy" a film is to experience a certain emotional response to it.

Emotions are not uncontrollable, random sensations - they are grounded in your values. The implicit or explicit message a filmmaker portrays is therefore directly relative to how much you enjoy it.

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I saw it (in 2D) on Tuesday. Good eye candy, but the story was unoriginal and idiotic in places.

For instance, all those slow-moving helicopters with those invitingly exposed props - helloooo, haven't the Na'Vi ever heard of stones and logs? If those winged creatures are able to throw the smaller copters about like handbags then they're obviously capable of lifting up some pretty hefty rocks. *drop*KEERUNCH!*crashboom!* game over. Also, if the miners have no problem with killing the natives and the unobtanium is so valuable that the public will overlook it, there's nothing to stop the miners from using the natives' revolt as a pretext for public consumption for doing a big orbital bombardment to take care of the problem thoroughly!

Sheesh.

As to the environmentalist content, I am with Andrew Bolt on this one: it's an own-goal for the environmentalist movement. To the extent that the viros adopt this as their own they will be exposing themselves to ridicule. They would be confessing that they see the world in these kinds of utterly inane terms:

- views of corporations and the military so patently contrived and whose personnel throw stereotypes and hackneyed insults around like confetti so much that few normal people will take it seriously as representative of the real world

- the stock (and idiotic) idea that there's no non-environmentalist reason to keep greenery around, in total defiance of agriculture, architecture, and homeowner aesthetics, etc

- environmentalists are at heart not much more than naked-savage wannabes

- environmentalism as having bugger all to do with science and everything to do with whacked out mystic communion

- if the environmentalists have their way, we'd have almost no technology to speak of, which, besides ruling out the modcons in the home and modern medical devices and medicines that Obama et al are relying on people wanting on order to push the HCR, would mean constant and direct exposure to the nastiness of nature red in tooth and claw as soon as one stepped outside one's home.

As well as thinking it's Dances With Wolves using space aliens, I was also put in mind of an episode of UK comedy show The Goodies where UK forces (done up as circus clowns) defeated the mighty US forces by use of a nerve gas that clownified a platoon of marines, who then mournfully trudged back to their ship in clown shoes. That's how seriously I took the environmentalist message in it. I didn't get worked up in the slightest, and I found it laughable instead.

Bolt is right. "December 2009. Note it down. The beginning of the end, even as Avatar becomes possibly the biggest-grossing film in history." The only way that this kind of ridiculous story could gain traction as an environmentalist rallying point is if normal people did not think at all and were nothing more than neurotic children. One can predict the retorts to environmentalists that are going to have currency for a while, such as "Someone has taken Avatar a bit too seriously!" In time, as Bolt notes, the movie will degenerate into satire in the minds of all but the ecofaithful. On the topic of wolves, I am thinking that the Church's position in Brotherhood of the Wolf

is about the best kind of damage control is what the more sensible core of the environmentalist movement can mount at present, but I suspect the luntics like the DU denizens and the Kossacks et al will be too loud, resulting in the collapse of what's left of public respect for systematic environmentalism.

"The beginning of the end" indeed.

JJM

Edited by John McVey

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I didn't like this movie at all, I thought it was anti-military and pro-primitivism. And just in case the "white man goes native" storyline was not enough fantasizing for the lefties, in this film

the *planet itself* somehow fights on the side of the natives

! Guffaw.

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You are probably right in terms of his intentions. I also don't consider Avatar as a big threat - certainly not on it's own. But this is not an isolated message in a popular media today.. it is one of similar many. The compounding effect of repeated exposure linking certain feelings to certain outcomes is not so insignificant.

Good points in both of your posts, Sophia. I don't mean to discount the power of emotion in directing people's actions. How could I, given (as you alluded) our recent presidential election? But then, that just poses a far greater worry: if people are so easily motivated by their emotions; if so many people spend so little time actually thinking, then shouldn't we address solutions to that before addressing the messages themselves? I mean, I certainly wouldn't want someone to just accept what I tell them about rational egoism. I would want them to think about it. If they can't, or won't, even do that, then no matter how I sell the message, my efforts would be futile.

Is the greater worry, the more important topic, that Cameron has created a slick commercial for the environmental movement, or that the vast majority of the population "put too little thought into the philosophical and political ideas they accept and implement into their lives"? (RationalBiker)

So would it be your assertion that the only potential harm to you or the culture you live in 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?

Certainly there is a very real possibility that the minds of others can be swayed by bad ideas. The only potential harm to me or the culture I live in is those who are willing to initiate force against me - their actions. But if the majority of people can be so easily swayed into initiating force against me, then isn't that a more fundamental threat? Wouldn't it be a more productive use of my time and energy to address that issue?

Or, perhaps your interpretation of their concern is slightly exaggerated.

Perhaps. But when someone asserts they won't even see the movie because of what they heard about the plot, or what they've read of Cameron's intentions, is that objective?

I disagree because everyday I see the evidence around me of many, many people who put too little thought into the philosophical and political ideas they accept and implement into their lives.../...I've had discussion with quite a few people who really don't want to put a whole lot of thought into questions like "how should I live my life", you know, little things like that. It's much easier to go with "you gotta believe in something, right? Might as well be Christianity (or insert idea here)."

Isn't that disconcerting? Isn't that a far greater worry than a movie based on flawed premises (which I believe objectively is more about selling tickets)?

JeffS - to "enjoy" a film is to experience a certain emotional response to it.

Emotions are not uncontrollable, random sensations - they are grounded in your values. The implicit or explicit message a filmmaker portrays is therefore directly relative to how much you enjoy it.

I agree. However, as Grames pointed out, the rational thing to do is to think about what emotions are evoked, and why they are evoked, in watching the film - something that can't be done until one actually watches the film. The emotions I experienced during this film were, in order of importance: awe, incredulity, tension, and minor disgust. I was awed by the special effects, incredulous at the technological advancement of film-making, tensed by some thematic elements of the story, and slightly disgusted by the lack of an original story based on something more than two-dimensional characters and worn-out archetypes. This last emotion was so rarely experienced during the film that it didn't get in the way of enjoying the first three.

As well as thinking it's Dances With Wolves using space aliens, I was also put in mind of an episode of UK comedy show The Goodies where UK forces (done up as circus clowns) defeated the mighty US forces by use of a nerve gas that clownified a platoon of marines, who then mournfully trudged back to their ship in clown shoes. That's how seriously I took the environmentalist message in it. I didn't get worked up in the slightest, and I found it laughable instead.

My feelings as well.

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The only potential harm to me or the culture I live in is those who are willing to initiate force against me - their actions.

Isn't that what they seek to do by creating laws that dictate how people can use their property (based on environmental concerns)? How people can handle and distribute their property? etc. etc... Perhaps you are less concerned than other people about the passage of such laws. Perhaps such laws do not affect you as much and perhaps they affect others more so their concern is greater than yours.

But if the majority of people can be so easily swayed into initiating force against me, then isn't that a more fundamental threat?

I haven't argued one way or another as to what is or isn't a more fundamental concern.

Wouldn't it be a more productive use of my time and energy to address that issue?

Would it? I don't know. Is this a dichotomy in which you can only spend your time addressing the issue in one way and not another? Many problems are best attacked from a multitude of approaches. It may not be the most fundamental way to attack problem, but it may be the most effective way available. If the majority of people act philosophically irrational most of the time, do you think there is an easier more effective way of changing the way people think in droves? Is that something you can personally take on? Perhaps you can make movies with more rational themes to get out there for public consumption... I don't know your capabilities so the question you ask me is not something I have an answer for. How would you attack the more fundamental problem as you see it (if you agreed that was the issue)?

Being informed about things and being able to challenge the thinking of others with such knowledge is one way to combat this problem. However, as I said, perhaps this problem is less of a concern for you personally than it is for other people because you may be affected by it less. Heck, to be honest (and not intending to be insulting) I don't even know your position on environmentalism. You may not even have a problem with environmentalists.

But when someone asserts they won't even see the movie because of what they heard about the plot, or what they've read of Cameron's intentions, is that objective?

I did not address what was objective, I addressed your expression of the extent of harm you perceived they were communicating as I thought you presented an exaggerated interpretation. Nevertheless, many time people base their actions on sources they trust. That is not necessarily irrational. People have limited time and different priorities. For some people it is perfectly rational to use 10-20 minutes of their time reading something from a trusted source and saving themselves 3-4 hours from deciding for themselves something in which they had a wavering interest in the first place.

Isn't that disconcerting? Isn't that a far greater worry than a movie based on flawed premises (which I believe objectively is more about selling tickets)?

It's very disconcerting. However, I don't see that discussing, analyzing and addressing these issues as an either/or situation. It appears to me that you do. Personally, I'm not sure I have it within my ability to address the larger, more disconcerting problem other than by exercising a rational philosophy in my life. I think Ayn Rand went a long way in addressing the larger problem by developing Objectivism in the first place. Sometimes the only way one person can help address the larger issues is by chipping away at the smaller problems.

I would really recommend not seeing this as an either / or situation, but if you have a different idea or solution, please share.

Edited by RationalBiker

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Emotion vs. Logic in sales

For those interested, here is a YT clip (interesting part starts at about 1:00) illustrating this in action.

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

(I think I found my first new year project - to learn as much a possible about Edward Louis Bernays)

Edited by ~Sophia~

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if people are so easily motivated by their emotions; if so many people spend so little time actually thinking, then shouldn't we address solutions to that before addressing the messages themselves?

Do you have any other ideas other than education? That is what we do - we promote reason.

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For those interested, here is a YT clip (interesting part starts at about 1:00) illustrating this in action.

The constant bombardment of emotional, irrational sales pitches is why I don't have a TV. Intellectually defending myself by thinking about every commercial and what it just said is too exhausting to cope with. Which is perhaps a contributing factor explaining why I have plenty of energy left over to analyze a mere movie, and others don't.

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That movie was just a rip off of a Captain Planet episode. Seriously, I think I already saw that exact storyline in at least 10 other liberal movies! I did find it hilarious when

all the little arrows were bouncing off the armored helicopters and the general says "man, these natives really are stupid."

But then there was the big plot hole where the

arrows bounced off in the beginning, but in the final battle scene they were scoring head shots on all the pilots through bullet proof glass.

And the other plot hole:

they never explained what purpose that rock had back on Earth and why it cost so much.

Just out of principle I was rooting for the "evil" military guys the whole time. They really made absolutely NO attempt to make the storyline original.

I will say that the graphics were really good though. Just seeing the trailer probably wouldn't do it justice. We saw the 3D version and it was really well done. It's a shame that the graphics had to be dragged down by such a lousy, recycled plot.

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I just saw Avatar in IMAX 3D. To begin with, it doesn't look cartoonish. The graphics are amazing. A previous commenter stated that it resembled Dune. I wouldn't know, but it was an interesting story line. The nature of the Na'vi people seems to be grounded in science, as in the story there is a observable natural phenomenon where all of the life has a sort of symbiotic relationship. There were two things I noticed in the film that I dislike and I am not surprised about. The first is that most humans are portrayed as being war mongers, and the other is that there is an implication that because we use technology we have destroyed Earth. Other than that, I don't really see anything wrong with the film.

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These two are no small items, and they represent the very core of the movie's 'message,' such as it is. Essentially it is 'Ferngully' with pumped-up graphics.

The first is that most humans are portrayed as being war mongers, and the other is that there is an implication that because we use technology we have destroyed Earth. Other than that, I don't really see anything wrong with the film.

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Essentially it is 'Ferngully' with pumped-up graphics.
That thought seems to be going around:

I think this is a good example of how the environmental message FAILS. The mocking of that message is widespread, even by people who enjoy the film.

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Isn't that what they seek to do by creating laws that dictate how people can use their property (based on environmental concerns)? How people can handle and distribute their property?

Absolutely. But it's a long way from a movie to an enacted law.

How would you attack the more fundamental problem as you see it (if you agreed that was the issue)?

By educating others and helping them find their way to logically rational conclusions. If they can learn this, then the irrational messages wouldn't matter. If they can't learn this, then regardless of the message, no amount of argumentation will matter; they will not be swayed. If I tell an irrational person, who accepts every word from Al Gore's mouth as absolute truth, not to see this movie because its premises are flawed, they'll just look at me like I'm speaking Martian. What's more, he'll probably infer I'm some sort of zealot and won't listen to anything I ever say on any issue. But if I can find some way to educate the same person on how to form their own conclusions, then he'll figure out what's wrong with Gore on his own - and I won't need to worry about any other message he may receive.

Here's my concern: I believe most people view movies as escapism - particularly Hollywood blockbusters like Avatar. They don't go to these movies for any messages, they go to enjoy the spectacle. If I tell them, "Ya' know, you really shouldn't see the movie because it's just a commercial for enviro-wackos. The premises are completely irrational, and you'll only fill your head with garbage." Then, when they see the movie anyway, they'll think, "Geez! Why did he take that movie so seriously? That Jeff is just a Ayn Rand zealot. If I can't even enjoy a movie without being called 'irrational', then I don't want anything to do with Objectivism." The next time we talk about something really important, like whether or not we should have universal health care, they're just going to tune me out. That, in my estimation, would be a far worse turn of events than them seeing the movie and having the opportunity to discuss health care with them later.

You're right, it's not an either/or situation. With those already pre-disposed to thinking about the messages they receive, both conversations can be had. But then, with those already pre-disposed to thinking about the messages they receive, warnings about the flawed premises in the movie aren't necessary. With those not pre-disposed to thinking about the messages they receive, there's often only one shot at getting them to start thinking. How we most advantageously use that opportunity is my argument.

The constant bombardment of emotional, irrational sales pitches is why I don't have a TV. Intellectually defending myself by thinking about every commercial and what it just said is too exhausting to cope with.

Is it not possible to simply allow those messages to wash over you - in one ear and out the other? If possible, is it really a great philosophical, epistemological, or psychological error to do so? I mean, does it really do me great personal harm to simply ignore commercials? What happens when I mount no intellectual defense?

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Here's my concern: I believe most people view movies as escapism - particularly Hollywood blockbusters like Avatar. They don't go to these movies for any messages, they go to enjoy the spectacle. If I tell them, "Ya' know, you really shouldn't see the movie because it's just a commercial for enviro-wackos. The premises are completely irrational, and you'll only fill your head with garbage." Then, when they see the movie anyway, they'll think, "Geez! Why did he take that movie so seriously? That Jeff is just a Ayn Rand zealot. If I can't even enjoy a movie without being called 'irrational', then I don't want anything to do with Objectivism." The next time we talk about something really important, like whether or not we should have universal health care, they're just going to tune me out. That, in my estimation, would be a far worse turn of events than them seeing the movie and having the opportunity to discuss health care with them later.

I went to see the movie. Rationalbiker went to see the movie. Sophia went to see the movie. You went to see the movie. Why should any of us tell others not to see the movie? Discussing the movie, identifying, analyzing and judging its parts and interpretations is enough to neutralize its harmful aspects and highlights the good aspects.

Is it not possible to simply allow those messages to wash over you - in one ear and out the other? If possible, is it really a great philosophical, epistemological, or psychological error to do so? I mean, does it really do me great personal harm to simply ignore commercials? What happens when I mount no intellectual defense?

The subconscious accepts what it hears very literally, it is not a critical faculty. That is the reason psychological advertising and all propaganda can succeed. When you mount no defense, words go straight into your brain. Whether that is harmful or not depends on the idea the words conveyed. The habit of just letting things wash over you puts a great deal of trust in what you expose yourself to and is more dangerous the more the culture is mixed up with bad ideas.

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Absolutely. But it's a long way from a movie to an enacted law.

And boy is that a good thing!! It much easier to address ideas and actions before they become laws. Of course, a seed is a long way from a tree too. If you don't want trees in your yard, isn't it better to address it as a seed or a sapling first?

By educating others and helping them find their way to logically rational conclusions.

I'm not sure if you find that so different than much of the discussion has alluded to in this thread, but I think many here would be advocating that as well.

If they can learn this, then the irrational messages wouldn't matter.

That seems to be a very big IF considering all the bad ideas and premises our society accepts. How easy do you think it is to accomplish this task? What would you do concretely to make this happen, say, over the course of the next year? 5 years? 20 years?

Here's my concern: I believe most people view movies as escapism - particularly Hollywood blockbusters like Avatar. They don't go to these movies for any messages, they go to enjoy the spectacle.

Why they go, and what they walk away with MAY be two different things. Again, I suggest you consider all the evidence of how people are so easily moved and motivated by the ideas that tug on their emotions.

Then, when they see the movie anyway, they'll think, "Geez! Why did he take that movie so seriously? That Jeff is just a Ayn Rand zealot. If I can't even enjoy a movie without being called 'irrational', then I don't want anything to do with Objectivism."

That is one possible outcome out of many. Many people don't like to take ideas seriously. For many people, "It's all good, yo! Go with the flow man." Then again, some people like to accuse any Objectivist of being an "Ayn Rand Zealot" for a whole host of reasons unrelated to whether they actually are or not.

Of course, who you address it with, and how you address it certainly can shape the results of the conversation.

The next time we talk about something really important, like whether or not we should have universal health care, they're just going to tune me out. That, in my estimation, would be a far worse turn of events than them seeing the movie and having the opportunity to discuss health care with them later.

I consider addressing environmentalism "really important", though I can't speak for you. It can be addressed in different degrees of seriousness. Addressing the ideas of a movie in which it plays a prominent role in the plot (and fails) is one way, fighting laws is another. Again, try to avoid thinking in terms of mutual exclusives. Of course, they may react the way you think, or not. The next time you want to talk to them about health care, they may think, "you know, I gave some thought to what Jeff said about Avatar, and I think he puts a lot of thought into things. Although I disagreed with him on that, perhaps I should consider what he has to say about Health Care." I mean, since we speculating and all... :)

Aside from all this, I agree with Grames response as well.

Edited by RationalBiker

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And yet sometimes the retelling of a story can be more interesting than its predecessors.

But with so much technical power to create a new unique world, he creates an alien race which is nearly exact metaphor to most stories of Native Americans. I appreciate uniquely done originality over slightly varied, pretty-looking rehashed story.

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I definitely felt that the main villain in the film was imperialism rather than technology, mankind, or anything like that. Obviously it was a mixed bag with imperialism, technology, arrogance, etc all bundled together, but I found much to admire in the main character. Plus, it was visually amazing. A few off-the-cuff environmental comments about mankind destroying the Earth aside, I felt that it demonized aggression and glorified defending your own.

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