Daily Archives: January 2, 2010

Why is twitter great? David Carr explains

David Carr points out why he thinks Twitter Will Endure in the NYTimes.com. It’s a great read, and I found myself agreeing with most of it. (I’ve been using twitter for a little over 2 years now and have over 9000 tweets at this time.) And naturally I found this via @eric_andersen on twitter. (If you are on twitter, follow Eric: you will learn alot!)

Why it pays to read the news from more than one source

In this mildly negative story on the Obamas Hawaiian Trip in the WSJ.com, there is this:

On New Year’s Eve, the Obamas watched “Avatar” in a shopping-mall theater cleared of people. “I must admit that when you close down shopping centers you’re pushing the envelope of the patience that people might have otherwise,” said Hawaii Democratic state senator Clayton Hee.

Now you don’t want to be like Senator Hee or the WSJ, for if you read this: First Family Sees ‘Avatar’ in 3-D – The Caucus Blog – NYTimes.com, you’d see:

The Secret Service cleared one of the 10 theaters at the Windward Mall’s multiplex in Kaneohe for the Obamas, who arrived for the special screening around 9:20 a.m., well before the day’s regular showings get underway so as not to inconvenience other moviegoers. The other nine theaters at the multiplex are open as usual.

Note that the only one of the 10 theatres were shutdown and that it was shutdown at 9:20 in the morning! Wow. I can see how that would really push “the envelope of patience” of the millions of people who want to be in THAT theatre at THAT time in the morning.

On the elusiveness of science fiction and art

(Don’t read this if you haven’t seen Avatar).

Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic highlights an idea that has come up with regards to Avatar (Avatar As Dances With Wolves – Ta-Nehisi Coates). The idea centers around one of the “white guy goes native” and talks about how this comes up in Avatar and Dances With Wolves. I’ve also seen it come up in discussions around “District 9”.

It’s odd to me, because while I can see how Cameron borrowed from the Western genre, by placing the film in the future and by borrowing images from other genres and events, he dilutes the ability of someone to say that the protagonist represents white Europeans. If anything, when the great tree is destroyed, I thought of the Na’vi as being New Yorkers and the great tree being the World Trade Towers. (The parallels in the imagery is strong.) So are the Na’vi a) native peoples, or b)  New Yorkers or c) something unique?

I  think they are something unique. I think Cameron is drawing from a number of sources in order to tell his story. That’s one of the great benefits of the SF genre, and one of the freedoms that artists have generally. Likewise for the director of District 9, Neil Blomkamp. With SF, you can break free of history and current events to examine ideas the way you would like to explore them. They can help shed light on history or current events, but there is as much divergence as there is convergence. Likewise, as an artist, you can make things up, and as an artist working in SF, you can make things up even more. (Though even SF has it’s limits). The audience is free to interpret your work as they will. But  that also means that people can agree and disagree about the intent of the work and the creator. That is the wonderful thing about the elusiveness of science fiction and art.