March 25, 2012

James Cameron, sci-fi hero

From the NYT:
James Cameron, the filmmaker whose credits include “Avatar” and “Titanic,” plunged on Sunday in a minisubmarine of his own design to the bottom of the planet’s deepest recess, sinking through the dark waters of the western Pacific to a depth of nearly seven miles.

As I wrote in my review of Avatar for Taki's Magazine:
Ultimately, I suspect that Cameron, despite his remarkable fluency as a visual storyteller, is less interested in making movies about science fiction heroes than in being a science fiction hero himself, an inventive engineer straight out of a Heinlein novel such as The Door into Summer
As Cameron’s aspirations have swelled, he’s made himself into an offscreen, yet central, figure in his own movies, perhaps more than any filmmaker since Cecil B. DeMille. Will Cameron go broke shooting Titanic? Will he revolutionize filmmaking and movie-going in Avatar? The looming presence of James Cameron in James Cameron films has become both intrusive and inspiring. 
This makes Cameron, in a strange way, more interesting than his own movies.


40 comments:

Matthew said...

"This makes Cameron, in a strange way, more interesting than his own movies."

Well, certainly more interesting than "Avatar."

GoyBoyToy said...

You said it in a review, Cameron is the sucessor of Heinlein.

Aliens was truer to the Starship Troopers novel than the Paul verhoeven parody of Fascism- Heck, Avatar is a Peacenik retelling of both Aliens and Starship Troopers, Mechas and Sigourney Weaver.

Anonymous said...

You said it in a review, Cameron is the sucessor of Heinlein.

Heinlein didn't hate the USA.

Heck, he lobbied The Gipper to build Star Wars.

Anonymous said...

Did Cameron make himself into central figure, or did others, The Media, do that?

?????

Ex Submarine Officer said...

I first read the excerpt, it sounded like he got killed in the venture. I had to read the whole NYT article before I realized he hadn't been lost in an accident.

Style note: when one is discussing submarines/submersibles, use of the words "plunged" and "sinking" automatically imply a catastrophe.

The administrative terms for routine stuff would be dove=plunged and descended=sinking.

Steve Sailer said...

I could be wrong, but I think James Cameron is part of The Media.

Nanonymous said...

minisubmarine of his own design

Umm, would that be his design in the same way as iP*D was designed by Steve Jobs?

morleysafer said...

Ex Sub Officer, all that technical mumbo jumbo is a distraction from the celebrity worship. You sound like one of those naysayers questioning how a manned mission to the ocean floor adds any scientific value

Mitch said...

Aliens is very obviously a remake of the ant movie, Them! Nothing Starship Troopers about it at all.

Felix said...

Ex Sub Officer, all that technical mumbo jumbo is a distraction from the celebrity worship. You sound like one of those naysayers questioning how a manned mission to the ocean floor adds any scientific value

I dunno about "scientific" value, but as far as plain regular ol' value goes it sure has a lot more of that than spending billions on a space telescope to look at faraway quasars at the edge of the universe. Let's say you find 50,000 new quasars, each more unreachable and irrelevant to humans than the last. That has plenty of "scientific" value, but it's worth absolutely nothing to humanity. On the other hand, improving technology that can be used to access more the ocean floor has quite a lot of potential benefits.

D.A. said...

Technically "dove" is frowned upon by grammar Nazis, though dictionaries generally list it as an nonstandard but acceptable. If you want to be insufferably pedantic - but correct! - you should used "dived".

Robin Leach voice said...

Ah, so it's not just for mere bragging rights among near-billionaire movie tycoons, but a critical step for helping other near-billionaires to personally explore the Marianas Trench some day. Custom designed minisub > Range Rover

Bill n' Melinda Foundation said...

10 mil... who knew adulatory press from the fanboy demo was so cheap! For our next project we're going to open an inner-city youth AP Calc course, in the Gamburtsev range, or possibly somewhere up the north face of K2

Mr. Anon said...

"This makes Cameron, in a strange way, more interesting than his own movies."

Cameron hasn't made a good movie since T-2. "Titanic" was an awful movie. It could have been an up-to-date and visually stunning "A Night to Remember". Instead he made it as a soap-opera, ala "Titanic" with Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck, only worse.

Wes said...

I don't find anything interesting about Cameron or his movies.

morleysafer said...

Recent history shows that turning a profit on hundred-millions of studio dollars is no sure thing. In that respect he is indisputably a genius on the Galileo/Lyell/Planck level

Anonymous said...

Man, Steve, you got a tough readership.

Anonymous said...

"In that respect he is indisputably a genius on the Galileo/Lyell/Planck level"

LOL

Matko said...

Cameron should collaborate again with Schwarzenegger. I can't forgive him for letting other mess with the Terminator franchise.

Anonymous said...

Cameron hasn't made a good movie since T-2.

I actually thought that there was really good chemistry between Nick Stahl & Claire Danes in T-3 [not to get all soap-opera-ish on you].

And The Sarah Connor Chronicles was [simultaneously] about the most profound & the most paleocon thing that I had seen on TV in, well, forever [which, of course, was why it had to be cancelled].

Didn't understand T-4, though: What a total waste of Bryce Dallas Howard & Moon Bloodgood.

You'd think Cameron would have cared more about the franchise than to have allowed T-4 to have been so catastrophically awful.

[Or maybe he signed away the rights to the franchise, and no longer had any control over it?]

Anonymous said...

OT:

It's time for what could be called a round of HBD March Madness, i.e. the public announcement of Harvard's Phi Beta Kappa junior class.

The list seems less Asian than the closely-studied National Merit lists. No doubt, PBK, like the Rhodes Scholar lists, reflects aptitude in the areas of "verbalism" and "leadership," notoriously derided by IQ fundamentalists because they are harder to measure, and susceptible to social bias. Nevertheless, they do tell us something about who will be the future members of our media-political elite, and in that sense, you may not be interested in Harvard PBK, but Harvard PBK is interested in you.

More generally, to what extent can pure IQ be converted into intellectual influence in society? For example, math prodigy Gabriel Carroll (Harvard junior PBK '04) shifted gears to economics, and is now one of the top econ PhD prospects this year. But his papers seem somewhat lofty and hard for mortals to understand. Will a Carroll ever have (or want) the influence of a Krugman or a Gladwell? Arguably, the "fuzzy verbalist" skills that the latter seem to possess matter a great deal, in terms of social power.

Furthermore, what is the balance of IQ vs. other skills at successive levels of achievement, i.e. National Merit to Putnam competition to Fields Medal to Nobel? Does the IQ cutoff just get higher and higher? Or do other skills start to matter more, or less?

I look forward to more Steve discussion on these topics.



http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2012/3/23/pbk-juniors-2013/

Carl Daher
Spencer L. de Mars
Tony L. Feng
Julian B. Gewirtz
Ike I. Greenstein
William P. Grogan
Adam T. Horn
Allan J. Hsiao
Jessica J. Hwang
Jillian J. Jordan
Andrew S. Kennard
Yacoub H. Kureh
Ann M. Morgan
Robert K. Nishihara
Camille S. Owens
William M. Rafey
Annmarie E. Ryu
Lee C. Seligman
Kevin M. Stone
William J. Sun
Sivakumar S. Sundaram
Emily S. Unger
Benjamin B. Wilcox
Alexa K. Zahl

Trayvon said...

If you want to be insufferably pedantic ...


Man, I wish I was white. If I coulda said that, I'd be alive now!

Marlowe said...

I for one salute him. It takes a special kind of courage to squeeze oneself into a steel coffin and dive 7 miles straight down into a black abyss. I wonder whether he expected to find the aliens down there. Heinlein only wrote about men stepping forth onto new worlds: Jimmy Cameron is one of those men.

I watched Avatar last night and found it an enjoyable yarn if overlong. Who can't feel for a gang of bright blue squirrels chased out of their tree by mean loggers? It came across as Born on the Fourth of July & Platoon ("The only thing that can kill Barnes is Barnes.") meets Apocalypse Now (Play Ride of the Valkyries over the helicopter assault scenes) meets Flash Gordon ("Dispatch rocketship Ajax to bring back his body!" "Hawkmen! Dive!" Guitar break) meets Dune ("Tell me of your homeworld Usul" "It is a prophecy that a young leader will come to them with a Bene Gesserit mother. It follows the familiar messiah pattern. " "He who controls the spice controls the universe."). Cameron has something in common with Oliver Stone I think - both are macho men who bare their breasts to demonstrate how much they care underneath the tough exterior. It can lead to strange juxtapositions.

Anonymous said...

"... plunged on Sunday in a minisubmarine of his own design to the bottom of the planet’s deepest recess, sinking through the dark waters of the western Pacific to a depth of nearly seven miles."

Let's hope he stays there. But don't worry. I'm sure some underwater creature will save him.

Anonymous said...

"Blogger won't display more than 200 comments per post. I will see comments #201+ while moderating, but, unfortunately, nobody else will."

If you wanna see more than 200 comments, then post anything and it will automatically take you to 200+ comments.

Anonymous said...

Bigger feat than raising the Titanic is raising his own ego for
Camera-moron.

David said...

Scorsese, Polanski, or Woo better get busy with buying a seat on the next space ship. It's on!

jody said...

i was just reading about planck. among other things, he's the guy who first came up with quantum mechanics. that places him among the great scientists of all time.

i don't think jim cameron is like that. he's more like a visionary. he's definitely a polymath genius of the highest order. active at the highest levels in several fields, somebody who is an equal to other people who are all time greats in their one single field.

as for planck, i now think it's a little unusual that outside of scientific circles, he is never referenced as one of the all time great scientists. guys who were less important are referenced regularly. the guy who came up with quantum mechanics, rarely.

the only thing i can think is that, being a german and being somewhat politically neutral during the nazi era, he's not allowed to be referenced as an all time great and key figure in human history. he was easily an equal and peer to einstein, working at the same time in the same place, and each of their most important works, quantum mechanics and relativity, are the two dominant theories in physics today. one has become one of the most famous scientists ever, the other remains obscure to the layman.

i think if you were an axis guy, you have to have been strongly anti-axis to be allowed to be spoken of positively today. it's ok to speak highly of fermi, but not of planck or heisenberg. von braun would be receiving the same treatment today if he had been captured by the russians and built their missile program, instead of building the american missile program.

cameron is a canadian, nominally on the "correct" side of a lot of political issues, as far as american liberals define them. so he will be treated well by most american commentary. personally i don't think he's as far to the left as others peg him. he does not seem to be overtly politically active, and i can definitely respect him for technical work. the guy is awesome.

Peter said...

Harvard Phi Beta Kappa list

Carl Daher
Spencer L. de Mars
Tony L. Feng
Julian B. Gewirtz
Ike I. Greenstein
William P. Grogan
Adam T. Horn
Allan J. Hsiao
Jessica J. Hwang
Jillian J. Jordan
Andrew S. Kennard
Yacoub H. Kureh
Ann M. Morgan
Robert K. Nishihara
Camille S. Owens
William M. Rafey
Annmarie E. Ryu
Lee C. Seligman
Kevin M. Stone
William J. Sun
Sivakumar S. Sundaram
Emily S. Unger
Benjamin B. Wilcox
Alexa K. Zahl


Let's see ... 24 names, I figure that six or seven are Asian (Feng, Hsiao, Hwang, Nishihara, Ryu, Sundaram, and possibly Sun), and between five and seven are Jewish (Gewirtz, Greenstein, Kureh, Seligman, Zahl, and possibly Stone and/or Unger.

swimming swan said...

"Let's see ... 24 names, I figure that six or seven are Asian (Feng, Hsiao, Hwang, Nishihara, Ryu, Sundaram, and possibly Sun), and between five and seven are Jewish (Gewirtz, Greenstein, Kureh, Seligman, Zahl, and possibly Stone and/or Unger."

And what does this signify, really? What are their majors? How hard is Harvard once you get in? Are a handful of institutions in the US plus a couple in the UK all of the high IQ college population each generation? What about Australia or New Zealand, any brains in those uni's? Germany? Poland?

How very provincial of you!

CJ said...

I applaud Cameron's underwater adventurism. It would be great if he used his millions to fund extensive research and engineering -- much much better than making nihilistic anti-social movies that show anyone in the military as psycho killers and anyone in resource industries as amoral greedheads.

BTW, Cameron, the child of parents who worked in the Canadian MINING INDUSTRY, moved from Ontario to California when he was 16 and AFAIK has never been back. His only nationality is Hollywoodian.

For the grammarians ... yes I've noticed this tendency to avoid well-established irregular verb/participle forms like dove or shone. I don't understand it. What's wrong with "the stars shone brightly"? 'Shined' might be okay for cars or shoes.

Saxon violence said...

"hanged" and "pleaded" are the 2 I always get wrong

Mr. Anon said...

"jody said...

i was just reading about planck. among other things, he's the guy who first came up with quantum mechanics. that places him among the great scientists of all time."

He didn't come up with quantum mechanics. He coined the term "quantum" for a discrete amount of energy, and his work strongly hinted at the quantization of energy. Schroedinger and Heisenberg are usually recognized as the inventors (discoverers?) of quantum mechanics. Of course their work was not done in a vacuum; it built upon that of Planck, Einstein, Bohr, DeBroglie, and others.

"He was easily an equal and peer to einstein, working at the same time in the same place, and each of their most important works, quantum mechanics and relativity, are the two dominant theories in physics today. one has become one of the most famous scientists ever, the other remains obscure to the layman."

Actually, I believe that Planck recognized Einstein as his (and everyone else's) superior in physics. Planck did one great thing. Einstein did three (maybe three and a half). That's not to minimize Planck's work in explaining black-body radiation. It was a singular accomplishment, which he published when he was in his 40s. Not too shabby.

Atoz said...

[Or maybe he signed away the rights to the franchise, and no longer had any control over it?]

He sold away the right for $1 so that he could direct the movie.


And The Sarah Connor Chronicles was [simultaneously] about the most profound & the most paleocon thing that I had seen on TV in, well, forever [which, of course, was why it had to be cancelled].

Are you sure about that? It featured a myriad of super-strong (both literally and figuratively) female characters and all the good characters are played by negroes and all the bad characters are played by Whites.

jody said...

mr anon you could be correct.

Truth said...

"mr anon you could be correct."

You might want to frame this screen capture, Bro.

Mr. Anon said...

"Truth" must have made a wrong turn back in Albuquerque. There's no blackness being discussed here.

Truth said...

Hey, Anon made a funny. That's got to be the first I remember.

Anonymous said...

Yacoub Kureh is not Jewish, he is Palestinian.

Anonymous said...

Kureh, Seligman, and Zahl all not.