“I SEE you,” repeated by the protagonists of the hit movie, “Avatar,” captures the empathy of persons who are in communion with others despite their manifest differences.
In the scifi vision that James Cameron wrote and directed, an unexpected bond develops between a crippled mercenary and the humanoid he has spied on and will betray in exchange for a new pair of legs.
When the earthling and the Na’vi exchange the lines after a devastation that strips away the lies and pretences, I see how the moment redefines a popular romantic notion of love.
As the saying goes: love is blind.
In the moon called Pandora, orbiting somewhere in the depths of the Alpha Centauri star system, love is not love until you see the other, the self masked by skin, whether tinged a luminous blue or dull with a dying Earth’s pallor.
Though I did not see the movie on the wide screen and thus missed out on the three-dimensional effects that partially catapulted the Cameron opus to fame, I like this particular work of his.
To echo what is tantamount to a moment of realization among the moon-dwellers: I see you, Cameron.
He has been criticized as a filmmaker lavish with spectacles but myopic and simplistic in his view of the internal, more telling changes.
With “Avatar,” the man reminds us how quickly we fall into traps when we see without knowledge and understanding.
In computer jargon, an avatar is the recreation of a human being into a computer image. A three-dimensional model, a talking head or a real-time reproduction of an image is given a complete identity, which is called a telepresence.
In order to interact with others in a virtual environment, the human must become a virtual being.
Geeks did not invent this concept; it’s what happens in real life.
Recently, it was reported that the Cebu Pacific Airlines faces a P5-million civil suit for attempting to offload a child with developmental disability.
Last Dec. 23, Marites Alcantara and her son, John Arvin, was pressured by Cebu Pacific's purser and cabin crew to get off a plane bound for Manila from Hong Kong.
John Arvin has Global Developmental Delay, also known as Autism. The crew cited airline company rules that ban two special children from boarding the same flight.
The Alcantara family’s legal counsel said that the Cebu Pacific violated several laws, among these Republic Act 7277 or The Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.
After the filing of the lawsuit, the company released a statement that the crew’s attempts to refuse John Arvin from boarding his flight came from a “misinterpretation of government regulations designed to assure the safety of passengers."
The company also said it has “no policy that discriminates against persons with special needs.”
I first heard the news of the civil suit while waiting in a mall lounge. When John Arvin’s developmental disability was mentioned by the news anchor, I heard murmurs from the crowd I was with. “Abno diay (he’s abnormal after all).”
In “Avatar,” the traitor, before becoming the redeemer, is the operator of one of the Na’vi avatars, genetically engineered so that the humans can relate with and gain the trust of the Pandora natives.
In his interview with Time magazine, Cameron said that the movie “Avatar” was inspired by all the science fiction he absorbed as a child. In the nebulous future, scientific advancements make it possible to inject a human’s intelligence into a virtual and remotely located body.
On the other hand, in explaining what the movie’s title meant, Cameron also cited an older, pre-computer meaning of the word. “Avatar,” in Hindu, is a god reincarnated in the flesh.
In relating with people with disability, whom do we see: flawed others or people embodying the divine essence called life?
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* First published in Sun.Star Cebu’s Jan. 31, 2010 issue of “Matamata”