Ephebophile's Lolita Complex

Deconstructing the (non)plot of Avatar

Posted in populist culture by ephebophile on February 3, 2010

Failblog's Comment on Avatar's script

So, reader … whats a guy with a pulse and an IQ over ummm say 90 going to do with this? Since Titanic blew all box-office records out of the water 12 years ago, JC has been minting movies but taking his time, to make a Epic trilogy.

Why is this today’s topic, well I am talking about this because Roissy in D.C. brought it back up today on his blog.


Oddly enough, I first broached the topic in comment on his blog back on Jan 22, 2010…


The following excerpt is relevant to the topic at hand:

But in reality, the Avatar is nothing new (outside of bleeding edge CGI) all truth be told.

Its yet another chapter in Hollywood’s “gynoptic” fixation/fetish with the Noble Savage Archetype.

He seems to be agreement with my excerpted comment.

Roissy brought Avatar up in a new discussion of the oscar fight vs The Hurt Locker, consequently we’re going in deeper, with my own views on the subject. (more then a comment box worth)

While the views are manifold, the meta-concensus verdict of avatar critics is a sharpening sticks and poking at the lack of originality of this movie. I am going to summarize:

Its as if James Cameron took Ferngully, Dances with Wolves and Disney’s  Pocahontas and tossed them into Final Draft Pro and hit the blender button

What does he have to say for himself?

His defense on Oprah: “‘There’s a fine line between cliché and archetype that touches something universal.”

My take on that…

Um ya, its called Lowest Common Denominator, and it touches more wallets.

If he is guilty of anything (which in fact, HE IS)  its following Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, also referred to as the hero’s journey, which refers to a basic pattern found in many narratives from around the world.

Read “Hero of a thousand faces” and you will know exactly what I am talking about or read the cliff-notes version by Vogler. More on Vogler in a moment.  {I already knew JC was using monomyth, but then I bothered to confirm my own findings with some google searches}

http://sammyray.com/812/the-use-of-archetype-in-avatar-versus-star-wars/   This was the top result… And it nails my point perfectly.

Now back on point, who is Vogler?

Christopher Vogler, a Hollywood film producer and writer, created a now-famous 7-page company memo:

“A Practical Guide to The Hero With a Thousand Faces”
{Google around for it}

His memo was based on Campbell’s work which later on, inspired films such as Disney’s 1994 film, The Lion King. Vogler’s memo was later developed into the late 1990s book

“The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers”.

This story structure is evident in a vast number of successful Hollywood films including the Matrix series.

So whats the deal with Noble Savage fixation?

The problem is that Hollywood goes for formula because it works and is generally profitable. Indies also understand it, and hate it, and try for something original… and usually fail because of a want for distribution resources.

But viewers get gypped at the box office more and more, and there is no way to tell if its a stinker until after you have bought your tickets.

Gold-plated feces sparkle like anything else… but its still the same old crap.