Mar 022010
Authors: Johnathan Kastner

Whenever the public likes something, I immediately flatten my ears, bare my teeth and emit a defiant, “Hee-haw.” I have never seen “Titanic,” I avoid reality shows and if flossing ever comes back in vogue I’ll likely lose all my teeth.

Naturally, this meant I avoided seeing James Cameron’s “Avatar” for months and months. The more people told me it was the Greatest Movie Ever, the more I suspected it was the hiding place of something foul and nefarious.

That being said, I did get around to seeing it, months and months after it was released so I was in no danger of accidentally being “cool.” And I must say it offended my delicate sensibilities.

In the past, whenever I’ve had a problem with a movie, I’ve set out to fix it. I’ve carefully instructed most Bond villains to just, “Shoot him. In the head. With a nice, mundane gun.” To various monster, shark, lizards, monkeys over the years, I’ve given advice about eating the competent ones first to strike fear into the remaining bumbling sidekicks.

In this case, I was offended by the poor implementation of advanced weaponry against the Na’vi. That failure to colonize and access the resources of Pandora was a blow against what I can only assume was our expanding empire of galactic evil.

Let’s discuss some physics here. Let’s say your roommate has, once again, left his dirty dishes all over. How fast do you punch him? Go find out. I’ll wait. (Hey, suggestible readers. Don’t do this. Or at least, don’t sue me if you do.)

It was kind of a slow, lazy punch, right? The kind of thing that says, “I am not serious about hurting you and do not want an assault charge.” Now let’s say you wake up one morning in a pile of your own hair and your roommate is holding a buzzing electric razor and a big dopey grin. You hit him a lot harder and faster now, right?

This is what’s called, “Fast things hurt more,” by physicists. You can also get speed by dropping things, like garbage, from a high position, like an orbiting spaceship.

So, to the Evil Galactic Human Empire: Please don’t bother with land invasions. If you pushed even one of those fancy warsuits you lost in the combat out the window of an orbiting spaceship, it would likely make an impressive crater, assuming it survives re-entry. If not, get bigger garbage. It sounds like Earth had plenty.

This would have been great when they detected all those Na’vi tribes massing in a single location, and avoided the needless war scene. Come on, people. We must have killed thousands of species by this point in the future ­­–– we should be good at it!

Also, what happened to our old standby of economic and cultural assimilation? How long could the Na’vi resist us when there was fast food in every grove? We’d pave the planet and make money at the same time. And once those little blue brats grow up singing our corporate theme songs, it’s a little late to try to teach them to paint with all the colors of the smog.

Look, I’m not saying I didn’t find the ugly blue freaks endearing. Their culture was magical and the environment was gorgeous. Avatar had a powerful message about love or peace or something, and I appreciated that, too.

It’s just that if we’re really going to keep up with our current trends of resource acquisition regardless of consequence, I’d at least hope we’d be good at it by then. Because if this is how the future pans out for humanity, it’s a grim future indeed.

Johnathan Kastner is a senior computer science major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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