Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jews For Jesus

Jonah Goldberg saw Avatar, but don't expect any run-of-the-mill ranting against its eco-friendly theme. Unfortunately for lazy, dilatory Jonah, everyone else already did that and he is forced to come up with something that hasn't already been regurgitated by all the other wingunt welfare recipients. But Jonah is nothing if not flexible, in thought if not in body. Even though he is stuck with Ross Douthat's sloppy seconds, he manfully ejects his latest intellectual exercise upon the world, making him less than a chunky Reese Witherspoon but greater than a walking man-carpet.
The film has been subjected to a sustained assault from many on the right, most notably by Ross Douthat in the New York Times, as an “apologia for pantheism.” Douthat’s criticisms hit the mark, but the most relevant point was raised by John Podhoretz in The Weekly Standard. Cameron wrote Avatar, says Podhoretz, “not to be controversial, but quite the opposite: He was making something he thought would be most pleasing to the greatest number of people.”

What would have been controversial is if — somehow — Cameron had made a movie in which the good guys accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts.

What the hell? Jonah is Jewish. Why on earth is he proselytizing for Christians? What does he think will happen to people of his religion if the right gets its way and makes Christianity a state religion? Would synagogues lose their tax exemption? Would Jewish holidays no longer be respected? Or would he simply have to suffer the public slights from a people who identify themselves through the exclusion and persecution of others?
Of course, that sounds outlandish and absurd, but that’s the point, isn’t it? We live in an age in which it’s the norm to speak glowingly of spirituality but derisively of traditional religion. If the Na’Vi were Roman Catholics, there would be boycotts and protests. Make the oversized Smurfs Rousseauian noble savages and everyone nods along, save for a few cranky right-wingers.

I’m certainly one of those cranky right-wingers, though I probably enjoyed the movie as cinematic escapism as much as the next guy.

But what I find interesting about the film is how what is “pleasing to the most people” is so unapologetically religious.

I suppose he is trying to say that when the savage converts the Christian the left is happy, but when the Christian converts the savage, only a few noble, pure souls like Goldberg care. It's amazing that a Jewish guy ignores the forced conversions, outlawing of others' religions, and scapegoating those of minority religions but after all, this is the man who mitigated Hitler to try to make the left look worse.

Jonah's point, which he reaches eventually after digressions into philosophy, cartoons, Darwin, and, of course, Al Gore, seems to be that the right has moral unity but the left is in moral chaos. They need traditional religion to pass on morality and even to survive. Therefore Avatar is stupid and the left is immoral and the Right is right. And all this fake scholarship and pontificating is in the service of an essay on a movie.

The Corner mocks analysis of pop culture but also revels in it, eager to repackage everything in their own brand, an imaginary world of uniformity and conformity. They hate the real world because most of the people in it refuse to play along with their delusions.


satch said...

Y'know, every time I read an NRO piece, whether by Jonah or anyone else, I realize what a good decision it was for NRO to NOT take comments. Jonah's piece is the kind of lame-ass drivel that my cat could have eviscerated in his sleep. Having just seen the movie, I can assure Jonah that the Na'vi way of life is NOT a "religion", since they don't merely "believe" they are all part of an interconnected ecosystem, they actually ARE an interconnected part of said ecosystem. And I'm not sure who are the "good guys" in Jonah's eyes...if the blue natives accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts, they would be falling for the oldest trick in an imperial power's book: using Xtianity as a pacifier. If the corporatists and their mercenaries had accepted Christ, they wouldn't have been trying to blast the Na'vi out of the way to get their "unobtanium", and there would have been no movie. And if Jonah's point is to contend that civilization requires a universally accepted set of fairy tales to provide social cohesion and morality, we're in deeper trouble than I thought.

Clever Pseudonym said...

Every time I think I've managed to block that "chunky Reese Witherspoon" article by Douthat from my memory, somebody comes along and brings it up.

What would have been controversial is if — somehow — Cameron had made a movie in which the good guys accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts.

These guys never cease to find ways to be outraged by Hollywood, even if they have to use absurd hypotheticals regarding non-existent films. I like the - somehow - break in the middle of that sentence, too. Somehow! Like it is a great mystery as to how one goes about filming people finding Jesus that has never been done before. Hasn't Jonah ever seen Ben-Hur?

Mr. Wonderful said...

I'd love to hear Jonah expound on what "accepting Jesus Christ" into one's "heart" actually means.

I'm reminded of a You Tube clip of the very young Karl Rove--either in high school or early in college--as an active young Republican, busily working on a campaign for Nixon. He was creating a sign that read: GOP Government Of Peace.

This is what these clowns are: the nerdy second-raters who, by flocking to the (justly) unpopular fringe, become kings and BMOC's. And the content of what they purvey could literally not matter less. If saying the Hitler was a liberal and Avatar is bullshit because the aliens aren't Christians will make him a "pundit," then Jonah will write and say that.

It's not that his values are bad or corrupt. It's that he has no values other than his own self-advancement, regardless of the hideous people he defends and promotes in order to obtain it. I'm sure if confronted with this (in the Comments which the Corner wisely forbids), he'd say, "It's politics. It's ALL A GAME." While in the next breath lecturing us on how "ideas have consequences" and other gems of conservative eat-your-peas moral pedantry.

Anonymous said...

Goldberg: "What would have been controversial is if -- somehow -- Cameron had made a movie in which the good guys accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts."

It's not controversial that Jake Sully is a Christ figure?

Avatar's Christian theme
By Mark Silk

More Spiritual Than You'd Think
You Can't See Nothing If You Close Your Eyes
by Mike Furches
Goldberg: "Wade argues that the Darwinian evolution of man depended not only on individual natural selection but also on the natural selection of groups.
And groups that subscribe to a religious worldview are more apt to survive-- and hence pass on their genes."

Natural Selection - A Creationist's Idea
Share this Articleby Paul G. Humber, M.S.

Darwin’s illegitimate brainchild
If you thought Darwin’s Origin was original, think again!
by Russell Grigg, Australia

Downpuppy said...

Another take on Avatar is that it's racist crap.

I saw Mr Fox with the little pup last weekend, and won't be seeing Avatar until it snows in July, but fwiw, the posts at LGM are: