I gave in. I tried not to. For a while I ignored all the gushing Facebook posts. But then just about everyone I knew was talking about it. Life-changing, they said. No, not Tiger Woods. Not the new Depression. Or the new escalation in Afghanistan. Not even the Underwear Bomber. I’m talking Avatar.

So my friend Bill and I made a strategic decision and decided to avoid the crowds and fly to Pandora at eleven-thirty in the morning on a Wednesday.

It’s not a bad time to begin a six-year journey through space. We were there with a hardy group of Pittsfield’s unemployed. Bill and I are writers so we don’t have jobs but I did wonder about how the President’s Council of Economic Advisors managed to miss the many dozens of out-of work space travelers when they talk about the job market looking up. Maybe they mean looking up into space.

We all arrived safely at Pandora, our 3-D glasses in place. And wow, what can you say about the blue people and their flying mountains and sparkling trees and that absolutely fantastic coaxial hairpiece that not only offers high-speed internet but an iPhone-like connection to every living thing? Mind-boggling. Puts Verizon and AT&T to shame. You think now that they’ve seen Avatar, they’ll be dropping their rates?

It’s kind of hard to tell kids to just say no when Hollywood spends $400 million dollars on a 3D version of an acid trip and the Call of Duty: Pandora video game. Say no to what.

I guess that’s not fair to James Cameron. Maybe he didn’t have time to drop acid. He was too busy cobbling together his screenplay from a dozen other previously made movies and writing scintillating dialog.

What makes me a bit sad is the feeling that Avatar is just one more wasted opportunity. If you want to make a film about the sanctity of life, of the interconnectedness of the birds and the bees and the trees and the people blue, why not spend some time to figure out how on this new world, problems are solved in new ways. Can’t the Navi lure the Blackwater thugs through the Valley of Mush where they sink under the weight of their lethal backpacks? And do the Flying Pteradactyls really need an American to tame them?

Just once can’t I see an action movie which isn’t the same old war story recycled? And do we have to rip off the Navajo to imagine the Navi? What’s the chance James Cameron is going to give $200 million to the Free Geronimo campaign?

Anyway I have the greatest respect for all the scenic designers and artists who gave us Pandora. What was absent in the story and the dialogue was ever-present in the living breathing landscape of Pandora. I could do without the vicious dogs but that’s just because of the mean German Shepherd who spoiled my childhood.

I guess when it all comes down to it, I should thank James Cameron. Because for one day at least I wasn’t thinking about the Wall Street thieves who are about to collect their multimillion dollar bonuses once again, or the pharmaceutical executives who want me to pay $26 a tablet for my migraine medicine.

Long Live Pandora. And where do I get my coaxial hairpiece?


Mickey Friedman has returned to his mundane 2D world. And will probably not go to see Avatar in IMAX.

Thursday, January 14, 2010 © Mickey Friedman – All Rights Reserved