So I finally gave into the theater of spectacle and went and saw “Avatar” last night. And while I was blown away by the visual array I couldn’t help but try and think through some of the messages hurling from the screen in 3D. I have heard people wrangle with whether its racist. I see the point that its a retelling of Pocahontas-all white man coming in and falling in love with one of the natives in contrast with the genocidal attitudes of his peers. But if you try to read it as parable it makes things really weird. At one point, when (spoiler alert) giant CG animals showed up to save the day, I exclaimed to my partner that it was too bad Elephants weren’t bigger and couldn’t save the Indians. But what I ended up rambling about at length to my poor companion was the justification of force, potentially against the US or its people that Avatar seems to rationalize.
In the movie the hero, when he feels like his folks are doing wrong, turns against them violently. How is this different from an american joining up with the taliban to save america from itself through Jihad? The conflict in this case had more of a save the rainforest, last firefly, feel to it, but the issue is the same. It reminded me in fact of what I recently learned about the Somali pirates who briefly occupied the mind of the media last year. Turns out that a bunch of them are local fishermen who got tired of international fleets taking advantage of their dearth of govt to poach fish and dump toxic waste and began to patrol Somali waters in response. And low and behold the same countries whose boats are culprits are happy to seek harsh responses to the piratism. Well it seems to me that James Cameron should be the great defender of the Somali pirates in this case. He should make a movie about them. They are just like the Na’avi, trying to protect their home from foreign imperialism and abuse- right? Avatar is pretty political after all…check out the pirate story…
“Sexy Saint”Sexy Soldier”I’m going to write as though this were a regular feature of this site and not its premiere and also not acknowledge that I am a little late on this. Congratulations might be overdue for both of them… If you want your news on time, this is not the place for you. Ahem….
You know what makes a guy super sexy ? Being an advocate for gay rights. Yeah. Hence my love for these two fellas. Scott Fujita of the New Orleans Saints and Lt. Dan Choi of the US Military. Both very attractive men. Scott Fujita made the Saints even more appealing to champion with his stand for marriage equality and love of his Japanese American grandmother. Hot football player with love of gays and grandma. Doesn’t get better than that! Check him out here
And Lt. Dan Choi is an obvious choice for me considering that he rocks a uniform and lord knows I love a soldier (Some have even suggested I have a fetish). I am thankful that his personal struggle has been resolved and he is back with his unit and that its seems likely that “don’t ask, don’t tell” will soon be thing of the past. He certainly made an attractive posterboy for the cause.
My recent stint with joblessness has been brought to a temporary end thanks to the 2010 Census. Since my employer is a bureau, I am officially a bureaucrat. Feel free to start hating me as of now. My work has included multiple days of training introducing me to the way government does business. I’d forgotten the love of acronyms. I am suddenly awash in them. AA, GQS, LCO, AMFO, AVIR. As each day dissolves into endless handbooks, each color coded and labeled something like D674.8, the strings of letters become understandable. By the time I head home I speak a whole new language. I was reminded of my love of learning; unattached from the merit of the material. It was fun to read aloud and bathe in new information. I even enjoyed the open book test at the end. I am impressed by the hour spent lecturing us on cross cultural dynamics as it pertains to the Census.
Our trainer reads verbatim a guide prepared to explain EEO(equal employment opportunity) policy intentions to us. Interestingly, the census divides the world into Individualist vs. Collectivist cultures. A table is provided in our hand books to contrast the two types: Initiative vs. Group Effort, Individual Achievement vs Affliation, Competition vs. Cooperation, Self Reliance vs Collective accountability. Another table contrasts communication values: Direct vs. Indirect, Silence as dead space vs. Silence as important, A high vs. low tolerance for ambiguity, More or fewer emotions displayed. I thought it was an interesting if simple division to classify the world through. I was interested that they never discussed who was who. Which cultures were which was never explored. Instead a list of tips is given in hopes of making the work place “Harmonious and Productive”- aka Accepting Change, Respecting Others, Valuing Differences, Being Aware of your own culture based communication style, adapting to the styles of others, Thinking about how your audience might interpret what your saying. Good stuff, if basic. Wonder who wrote it for them?
The Census is an interesting thing. It is intended to be above politics but is essentially connected to it. The information collected is used to determine budgets, apportion districts and who and where gets how much government representation. Who gets counted ends up being very important. My connections in the GLBTQ community have been making an effort to ensure our families be counted. Although now that I am so familiar with the actual form I dont see where the information belongs. There is no question relating to marriage status in general.
And for all the census employee training’s emphasis on EEO compliance the census has already generated some community ire around Race. Both by using the term “Negro” on its forms as a alternate descriptor for African American (WHAT?!) and for leaving people of middle eastern descent off the form entirely, making all those potential terrorists into white folks by default. Unless they want to describe themselves as “other Asian” the next best fit. Ah, the Census….
I also discovered that I am not very adept at fingerprinting. In fact im not sure ive ever been worse at anything in my life. The girl whose job it was to help me with the task seemed both used to peoples’ idiocy and unimpressed by my floundering. When I’d finally managed to complete a full set of prints I felt like a college grad: weary but proud. And then they asked me for a whole second set…