Saving the planet has never been such a thankless task. It began with the demonization of Al Gore, continued with the railroading of Van Jones, and now itâ€™s trickled down to James Cameron, whose eco-minded Avatar is drawing the Rightâ€™s wrath.
One pundit dismissed the film as â€œsocialism-disguised-as-nonsense enviro stuff,â€ and in the same motion dismissed the whole green movement as straight-up fraud.
â€œThey get rich off of it,â€ author John Nolte said, â€œbut they donâ€™t believe in it.â€ He then offers the â€œMalibu mansion-dwellingâ€ Cameronâ€™s â€œjet set lifestyleâ€ and â€œcarbon-spewing professionâ€ as proof, advising readers to â€œlook how the expertsâ€™ live.â€
This argument is just about as weak as they come. At worst, Cameronâ€™s lifestyle leaves him open to charges of hypocrisy. It does not (and cannot) change the empirical proof of climate science. If the Surgeon General of the United States starts smoking, it doesnâ€™t mean tobacco is safe. If my dentist neglects to brush his teeth, I still need to worry about cavities.
But even these analogies are too generous. The bottom line is that Mr. Cameron is a director. He makes movies, and his latest movie happens to carry an environmental message. That the opposition would (mis)characterize him as an â€œexpertâ€ shows how weak its position is. And Cameron agrees.
â€œI want to call those deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out with those boneheads,â€ he said. â€œAnybody that is a global-warming denier at this point in time has got their head so deeply up their ass Iâ€™m not sure they could hear me.â€
No doubt this will bring a fresh round of abuse from the right, which I suspect will bother Cameron very little. Some flak is to be expected when youâ€™re waging a war on climate change.
â€œAt this point Iâ€™m less interested in making money for the movie and more interested in saving the world that my children are going to inhabitâ€ Cameron said. â€œHow about that?â€
That sounds pretty good. Just donâ€™t expect anyone to thank you for it.
- Lance Steagall
Photo: James Cameron and leading man Sam Worthington on the set of Avatar (via Slashfilm)