A Glimpse at Future Healthcare from Pandora

Friday, December 25, 2009

Good news and bad news from the year 2154. The good: continued medical advancements allow the regeneration of crippled extremities. The bad: access to such care is apparently still limited to the privileged, there is no public option, and veterans’ benefits fall short of making them whole again.

James Cameron’s creation is catching flak from many corners. Much of the criticism is presumptuous and out of context. It is true that what you see depends upon where you stand and we stand in the middle of perplexing times. So what is really a fairly simple storyline depicting a clash of cultures consistent with recurring historical themes and created as a framework upon which to hang some magnificent special effects has taken on meaning from the confusion of this moment in time. Without seeing the film, detractors have characterized it as anti-military. Sorry, don’t see it that way.

Though not a movie review, I must point out that a deficient screenplay is saved by the production quality. Also, the screenplay was not inspired by the situation in Southwest Asia or the global warming debate, but is a product of the aspirations of an innovative filmmaker who conceived the project two decades ago looking for a universal theme. That a perspective transcends time and takes on immediacy at another moment speaks to the resilience of the theme. What Cameron has given us is Exxon Mobil in combination with Xe nee Blackwater some century and a half from now.

And it wasn’t global warming or the “war on terrorism” that haunted me through Avatar, it was that a century and a half from now a paraplegic Marine Corporal has to travel light years and subjugate himself to the beneficence of the military industrial hierarchy for a chance to get his legs back. He cuts a deal with a Xe-like paramilitary organization for healthcare benefits. Apparently there will still be no equity for veterans or equal access to healthcare in the 22nd century either. Maybe that’s the message that really eats at some who object to this story’s theme; or should be.