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A Commitment to Excellence

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Where do the actions of an individual belong in modern society? Haven't we been taught from the beginning that we cannot achieve anything without help from others, or cooperation among many? In this article, I want to explore a bit of what Avatar represents as a film. I will also relate the Na'vi to my discussion.


James Cameron. Even before Avatar, he was one of the most well-known names in film-making. Unfortunately, Cameron drew much of his notoriety from his infamy as a dictator and a slave driver on his movie sets. He routinely berated his crew-members and actors, often times shouting and screaming like a drill-seargant. He worked his crew long hours, in difficult and unsavory conditions, and did not tolerate incompetence. With this is sounds easy to damn him, to demonize him, to condemn him, but he still commands a fan base not seen since the days of the original Star Trek. This is because of one simple reason: We liked his work.


Cameron is a man dedicated, not to perfection in the eyes of others, but to a standard to which he holds himself and the crews of his movies. He does not compromise on his vision. Does this make him a tyrant? In the long hours and sometimes unfit conditions he has made his movies, never has there been an instance where he was not leading by example. He never asked anyone to do anything that he himself was not willing to do. Often times, he found himself doing it anyway, because they could not achieve the results he desired. On the set of the Abyss, he risked his life on several occaisions to get the shots in a dangerous and untested underwater environment. He did this, not out of his concern for another persons life, but because he knew what he wanted and was the only person in his mind capable of getting it.


What does that say to us? I, who dream of one day working in the film industry, would give my right arm to work for Cameron. Would I enjoy being worked like a slave? Would I enjoy being held to a standard that pushed me to the limits of my ability. You bet your blue Na'vi ass I would. This is not out of a brainless devotion to a man whom I have never met. Instead, I seek an environment of not only doing something that I love, but finding someone who shares my ideal of giving 110% of my effort and intelligence. To me, and obviously to Mr. Cameron, a waste of talent, ability, or intelligence is the worst crime committable. To do anything less than what you are capable of doing is an insult to yourself, which is the worst insult possible, worse than any insult anyone else may try to throw at you.


But how does this relate to the Na'vi? Pandora is a world where survival is not guaranteed. Danger lurks around every tree, under every rock, and at the bottom of every stream. On Pandora, laziness does not exist. The Na'vi are obviously a product of Cameron's vision, because they too find it dishonorable to waste a life, to waste an effort, and to waste intelligence. On Pandora, achievement reaches tis highest form through equilibrium with the environment.


What is laziness, if not just a word for the unwillingness to act? We have another word for that too: cowardice. In a world where environmental destruction, corporate greed, and political beurocracy rules the global landscape, we only have ourselves to blame. I have no affection for the person who would say "it's not my fault" or "it's not my problem". Where do the actions of an individual belong in modern society? James Cameron has shown us where. They belong at the highest peak of ourselves. They belong at an ideal we hold to ourselves, even in the face of social unpopularity, or against the accepted norms.


And who can argue with the results? Many in Hollywood would be quick to assault the reputation of Cameron. We saw it at the oscars. Despite what he showed in Titanic, many were still nervous about the increasingly large budget of Avatar. They said it would flop, and he proved them wrong yet again. Will they be so stingy with the sequel? You bet your blue Na'vi ass they will. Cameron has proven time and again that a single-minded steadfastness and resolve will result in success. Those who call him a tyrant and a dictator are only those who are not willing to commit themselves to that ideal. James Cameron came from humble beginnings. He did not have a priviledged upbringing or an expensive college education, or extensive industry connections, and yet he is now inarguably the most powerful film-maker in history, and the most successful.


Avatar taught me a lot of things about how I want to live my life. It inspired me not just to examine my life as a human being on the planet Earth, but as an individual in a crumbling society. I will never compromise. I will give 100% of my effort, 100% of the time. Just think of where the world would be if everyone did their best, all the time, no matter what they were doing. Would the world be happier? Would the world be a better place? You bet your blue Na'vi ass it would. The key to all this? You have to do something you love. James Cameron didn't let anyone stop him, and neither will I. Irayo Willofeywa 19:27, April 12, 2010 (UTC)

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