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What Does 'Avatar' Say About America?

Friday, 08 Jan 2010 09:10 AM

By Jon Friedman

With its pro-environmental theme, director James Cameron's billion-dollar "Avatar" is bound to contribute to the way the world views Barack Obama's land.

If "Avatar," which has racked up an astounding success at the box office in the past few weeks, went on to garner Golden Globe and Oscar awards this season, it would move from the ranks of popular culture to becoming a genuine historical footnote.

What message does "Avatar" send about America in 2010?

Is the blockbuster flick enhancing or damaging the impressions people are likely to have of us?

That depends on your political views, of course.

As Tom Hanks said emotionally when he accepted the Best Actor Oscar for "Philadelphia" — a film that may have symbolized America in Bill Clinton's 1990s, too, by the way — "These movies, they last forever, you know."

This wouldn't be the first time that a showy movie had an impact on America's image in the world.

In the 1980s, "Rambo" somehow seemed to define Ronald Reagan's America. The rest of the world regarded the United States as an aggressive, in-your-face country. "Avatar," likewise, could now define how people look at America.

Now, it appears, it's up to "Avatar" to carry our water.

Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. Click here to say his latest.

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