The preach factor seems like it'll be high, so my interest is rather low.
Have had more than my fill of Noble Savage worship, thanks.
Well, maybe you've used 'preach'
there in rather negative terms, perhaps?
At least, that's my rant
and I'm stickin' to it!
There is certainly a role for Science Fiction that merely entertains
... but many fans might say they also look to SF as being a genre that can provide alternative insights (even to the point of being 'alien' insights), societal commentary ... and raise important questions of the status quo and offer speculative solutions.
ALL of that could be characterized as being 'preaching' by someone who doesn't care for the message offered ... or ... as being relevant and challenging by someone who does agree with the message.
I agree that "the Noble Savage" can become both tired as a theme and embraced by hypocrites, armchair quarterbacks, and their kin.
But "the Noble Savage" can also be a fitting character to put into conflict against other characters who represent our (I'd offer) culture's shallow materialistic mindset and the despoiling tendencies of Capitalism and Greed, of "Progress" for a few at the expense of human and environmental well-being.
I agree that done badly
a story can become too-obviously "preachy" ... but that doesn't alter the idea that we may be living in a modern culture that needs to be "preached" to
before it suffers some terrible calamity.
I wish someone had "preached" to the mass audience about the dangers of economic collapse brought about by Wall Street greed and short-sightedness.
I wish someone had "preached" better about the dangerous of Terrorism and the self-destruction of an over-reaching over-reaction to an assortment of ills we find ourselves in.
I haven't seen AVATAR yet, so I can wiser (and more vaguely) reply here
rather than in your recent review thread ...
Maybe AVATAR sucks as a SF story, I can't offer anything about that until I've seen it! But I can suggest that not liking the Message
a movie offers is not the same as it being a defective movie or story. And that agreeing or not with the Message isn't what makes it "preachy" ...
I recall the great scene in the great movie ON THE WATERFRONT, where Karl Malden as a Catholic priest literally PREACHES to the labourers. His sermon is a vital and vibrant organic outpouring of the story and the character conflicts: but it is still PREACHING.
And that is what Science Fiction can do and perhaps should do, both as great ART and as a vital voice in directing its audience and our society as a whole to some speculative, future conflict or challenge: Preach.
Again, whether AVATAR does it well or not, I've read your review and may well agree with you after I've seen it!
But I probably won't disdain it simply because it preaches or because it has Noble Savages to hold up as alternatives to ... modern culture gone amok.
(And I know by your review that your negative responses to the movie involve MANY other issues, beyond the one I respond to here)
I probably won't abandon the idea that one of the great things Science Fiction can offer us is Speculation and Insight into the FUTURE challenges ... or Warning ... and if need be, "Preaching" of ways to deal with the human challenges of the Future.
Some folks I know disdain the entire realm of Space Exploration as a waste of money and technology ("They sent men to the moon for a few rocks, but people are homeless right here on Earth ..." etc)
To them, our thrill at exploring space is just the SF fan (and the science educated) being "preached to" and "worshipping" empty knowledge.
I would hope that one movie (some movie, any movie) might grab them and awaken them to the rapture of space exploration ...
I cannot help but feel that if that rapture came, to the mass audience, it would be in the form of a movie, rather than a book. But no doubt that movie (if it is to be rapture-inspiring) will come from a BOOK, and not the drivel that usually inspires movies (that is, a toy or a cereal box)
But I sure hope
AVATAR doesn't suck!