20 April 2010

Panic At Wal-Mart: AVATAR Earth Day Release Is Everything BUT Earth Friendly -- or Honest

Daily abbracadabblers will remember how we of the comicsblog made a concerted effort last month to 'Go Green' for St. Patrick's Day; environmentally-friendly blogging is the only socially-conscious form of social media, we say.  By the same token, James Cameron, the acclaimed writer and director of Hollywood's all-time top-grossing spectacle Avatar, is an individual most people would place in our earth-aware camp. From the 'Home Tree' to the 'Tree of Souls,' the inconclusive yet overt religious eco-symbolism of Avatar, while often liberally entangled with the film's quasi-political commentary, can't be missed.

Building off those signs and symbols and environmental messages, Cameron and Fox Home Video's plans to release Avatar on home video on 22 April, Earth Day, seem to almost make some kind of sense - at least, at first glance.  But considering that Earth Day comes two days after the standard weekly home video release day Tuesday - today - the entire effort becomes immediately transparent as an insincere marketing scam. It's ultimate result? Panic at the Wal-Mart.

Founded in the US in 1972, Earth Day has grown into the largest environmental event worldwide, with over 500 million people in 180 countries participating in related activities.  Earth Day has had its impact, too: a survey conducted by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) noted that children placed the environment third in a list of 10 issues behind only AIDS and kidnapping.  Put that data together and one thing becomes obvious: Earth Day and its world-wide millions of young, socially-conscious consumers are ripe for the picking.

That's exactly what Avatar is hoping to do. And they'll be doing it, one tree at a time. Fox Studios and Cameron have partnered with the Earth Day Network with the pledge to plant one million trees in 15 different countries by the end of this year. As environmentally commendable - and costly - as that may sound, this is an effort made by a film with production costs topping $250M.  Cameron's money could have sent every eligible student in California to college; instead, Avatar's only pursuit was profit, and it's not done yet.

Today's the day folks across the nation are used to hitting their Best Buy or, like here in Springfield,  the local Wal-Mart to shop for new releases. And with good reason: over 100 new DVD and Blu Ray's were released today alone.  Although there's been considerable hype about Avatar's delayed home video debut this Thursday,  it's off-schedule release hasn't saturated the airwaves, the net or the newspapers.  For the segment of Wal-Mart shoppers that's not glued to the internet on a daily basis, the result of their mad dash to the store for Avatar will be met only with frustration, confusion and dismay.  Judging from our own experiences at Springfield's super store, we're left to ask: Can the panic be far behind?

The damage and devastation won't end there, either. Avatar's special 22 April release date will prompt an untold number must-buy shoppers to make repeat trips to mini-malls across America.  Talk about dead dinosaurs!  That unnecessary mileage alone might make one begin to think of James Cameron as a eco-hypocrite; but at this juncture, we caution against such hasty generalizations.  After all, the story's not yet over.

Or maybe it is, and maybe this story's as predictable as Avatar's own.  Thursday's release, priced anywhere from $19 - $26 retail, will offer no extras on either DVD or Blu-Ray format; only the film and corresponding menu will be there so that, according to claims made by Fox Home Video, the disc's entire storage space can be utilized to provide the highest quality optimal picture and sound.  That digital tidbit sounds (extravagantly) dubious to us, and we're not alone.  It also smacks of an all-too-hastily released home video product, but who are we to say? 

It is what Cameron's saying, however, and it's the slim rationale supporting the November release of Avatar's Special Edition, which will contain all the bells and whistles that shoppers won't be buying this Thursday. But even Avatar SE won't offer movie fans a 3-D experience; that's still to come. 

Ever altruistic, Fox has announced that it will be launching an interactive "Avatar Program" to help fans bridge the gap between the film's April and November releases.  By using a unique code found inside the Avatar Blu-ray/DVD, consumers can register at avatarmovie.com to  gain exclusive access to  bonus material and special content their new purchase doesn't provide. Even better, only registered fans will be able to adopt one of the one million trees being planted on behalf of Earth Day --  and receive a 'virtual home tree' they can locate on a map to see where it's actually planted.

Back up two paragraphs and re-read Fox's reason for Thursday's bare-bones release. Content cramming, in light of the film's virtual tree gimmick, seems to be nothing more but an excuse for Avatar's Earth Day marketing scheme. Compounded with the costs of buying Avatar at least twice, the paper, petroleum, and manufacturing costs of producing Avatar at least twice, and the gasoline consumed from car trips and SUV trips to the store at least twice, we can't possibly fathom how anyone could claim in the least that Avatar is a friend of the Earth. 

Yet someone does. James Cameron does.  The time of hasty generalizations has passed; our story, for now, is over. James Cameron is a hypocrite.  And at this juncture, we'd caution against believing otherwise. 
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Still not convinced that Cameron's a hypocrite? Stick with the comicsblog, because we've got another story that'll make your inner skeptic turn blue! And if you're planning to buy Avatar this Thursday, spare the air and save yourself a trip to Wal-Mart by buying from our online Amazon shop! Click the links to purchase Avatar (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) [Blu-ray]  ($19.99) or Avatar single-disc DVD ($15.99)!!

And dabblers -- don't forget your Back Issues! We want to hear you weigh in Avatar! More to come...

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