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Wild Green

Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.


Avatar Director Turns Green (Not Blue)

 by Keith Goetzman


Tags: Keith Goetzman, environment, indigenous rights, indigenous people, activism, hydropower, Amazon, rainforest, film, James Cameron, avatar, Amazon Watch, Mongabay, New Statesman, The Indypendent,

James Cameron visits proposed Belo Monte dam site

James Cameron is funneling some of his energies into a new role: that of environmentalist and indigenous rights advocate. But he’s finding that this can be tricky territory for a blockbuster director.

Nikolas Kozloff, the author of No Rain in the Amazon: How South America’s Climate Change Affects the Entire Planet (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2010), writes at the rainforest conservation website Mongabay about Cameron’s recent forays into the activist realm:

Kozloff writes that “Cameron has done more than many other Hollywood directors to bring environmentalism into the mainstream.” This is certainly a more charitable view of the director than many on the left seem to hold. Critical theory heavyweight Slavoj Zizek, for example, recently raked Cameron over the coals in Britain’s New Statesman in a commentary that purported to expose the “brutal racist undertones” lurking under the director’s “superficial Hollywood Marxism.”

Zizek might have been impressed (OK, probably not) to see Cameron checking his allegedly Amazon-sized ego and addressing this sort of critique head-on during his New York tour. Cameron spoke on a panel about indigenous issues at the Paley Center for Media in Manhattan, and Kozloff notes on Mongabay that the director deferred to indigenous representatives in answering many questions.

A smart move, given the climate observed by New York City’s Indypendent newspaper:

Sources: Mongabay, New Statesman, The Indypendent

Image © 2010 Atossa Soltani, courtesy of Amazon Watch.