The big buzz is about James Cameron’s Avatar, which is supposed to be to modern movies what The Jazz Singer was to the silent film: It will remake movies.
I don’t know about that, but having seen the preview a few days ago when I took some boys to the movies, I can tell you that one thing about this “new” movie is very same old-same old: the plot. As best as I could tell from the noisy, muddled preview, the film is about the evil American military trying to take a planet away from the good and pure indigenous people. Hey, it’s 1492, or 1620, or 1876 all over again — but this time, you can be sure (and I’m guessing as to the ending), a revisionistic history will destroy the evil forces in America’s futuristic military, and the pure and wonderful indigenous people will once again control their world, with a few appropriately subdued Americans paying homage to their moral superiors.
UPDATE: As Charles Martel pointed out, the military’s greed in the film Avatar comes about because the planet contains “some sort of dilithium crystal that’s worth a lebenty zillion dollars per gram and that the native village just happens to be sitting plumb smack on top of the only deposit of the stuff on an entire earth-sized planet.”
In response, Spiff left this great comment, which I simply have to elevate to post status:
I was thinking about what you said regarding why the humans cared about the planet in Avatar. It’s always some super duper resource that we want and the noble aliens live right on top of it and have no idea what they have. And so the imperialistic humans come and try and steal it.
Since sci-fi is all about taking current issues and taking them to there extreme I’d like to see “Avatar” do something new.
If the current politics or our nation continues the way it is going here is how I see “Avatar” going based on what you saw:
The original survey crew would have to file endless environmental and cultural impact reports before even setting foot on the planet.
Once there, the survey crews would have to establish contact with the local aliens and do everything in their power to befriend them, even if it meant risking the safety of the team. The Marines attached to the team for security would have Rules of Engagements that would make it nigh impossible to defend themselves from the aliens if they were in fact hostile, all this while providing all sorts of assistance and aid to the local aliens.
Once the resource was discovered, humanity would spend gazillions of space credits negotiating with the aliens to tap the resource. This would of course include massive amounts of aid, rent for the facilities and construction and security costs. And of course the humans would not get the resource, the aliens would own it, we would pay through the nose for the resource we paid and worked to remove. And this assumes the aliens like us.
When the aliens decide they don’t like us anymore they would kick us out and “nationalize” the facilities we built. They would then raise the price of the resource and their leaders would steal all the money for themselves and tell their population it’s all the fault of the humans. And of course our leadership would acquiesce and agree all the way.
Of course this would cause the aliens to fight with humans and kill them. Once again human security forces would have their hands tied to do anything meaningful to defend themselves and stop the aliens.
When it finally did come down to a confrontation, human forces would win the day despite all the rules on how to conduct the war. We would occupy the planet and hand it over to a new crop of corrupt leaders and it would start all over again.
At least that’s how I would write it.