See, this is the problem with movies like Avatar (and V for Vendetta and Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Matrix and—much to this particular point—Total Recall). Avatar creator James Cameron was just recently in the Amazon, grandstanding against construction of the Belo Monte dam (a cause we of course support). Now the Wall Street Journal informs us that Cameron, along with Google heavies Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, is among the “investor and advisor group” of Planetary Resources Inc—which aims to start mining the asteroids. No, this isn’t a joke. The company’s press release boasts the scheme will “overlay two critical sectors—space exploration and natural resources—to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP” and “help ensure humanity’s prosperity.” Speaking to Forbes in less politically correct terms, company co-founder Peter Diamandis openly said, “I’m trying to start a gold rush.” The idea being that “greed” is the “only way it’s going to happen irrevocably.”
Just wonderful. The idea of extraterrestrial mineral exploitation was first spearheaded by the folks who brought you the Iraq war and the BP oil spill—namely, Haillburton. As here on earth, corporate resource extraction will go hand in hand with military aggression, and we note that space geeks have already called for nuking the asteroids. This is the extension of ecocidal imperialism to the final frontier—the very future that Avatar was supposedly warning against coming into reality. And it reveals again the inherent equivocation in dystopian thrillers like Avatar, that play to both sides of the aisle through strategic ambiguity. As we’ve stated before:
They’ve been playing this game for a long time. Just like Archie Bunker could be a caricature to laugh at for the liberals or an icon to admire for the bigots. Just like Paul Verhoeven‘s sinister 1997 production of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers could be lampooning fascism for the deconstructionist crowd, or glorifying it for teenage testosterone-heads.
Cameron can take his bogus green posturing and shove it.