For a while there it seemed like every environmental group was painting its cause as the real-life Avatar, so much so that I sort of tuned out. In so doing, the Xingu River tribes of the Amazon basin got lost in the shuffle. But over the weekend James Cameron revealed plans to shoot a 3D documentary on the tribes. The back story is that last week, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gave the go ahead to a massive dam project that would dry up a 60-mile stretch of the river, “devastating the indigenous communities that live along it.” That spurred Cameron to announce his documentary, and makes this a perfect time to revisit the New York Times piece about Cameron’s first visit to the Amazon a few months ago and my God this is amazing:
“The snake kills by squeezing very slowly,” Mr. Cameron said to more than 70 indigenous people, some holding spears and bows and arrows, under a tree here along the Xingu River. “This is how the civilized world slowly, slowly pushes into the forest and takes away the world that used to be,” he added.
As if to underscore the point, seconds later a poisonous green snake fell out of a tree, just feet from where Mr. Cameron’s wife sat on a log. Screams rang out. Villagers scattered. The snake was killed. Then indigenous leaders set off on a dance of appreciation, ending at the boat that took Mr. Cameron away. All the while, Mr. Cameron danced haltingly, shaking a spear, a chief’s feathery yellow and white headdress atop his head.
Oh man. Does it make me a bad person for finding that account hilarious? Honestly, I think it’s a pretty cool move for James Cameron to take time out of his busy schedule sewing runway models to each other for his own amusement in the basement of his yacht to go help prevent an environmental disaster… but would it be too much to ask that the natives worship him like a God and give him a portly sidekick who calls him “Mr. Jim”? Because that would be amazing.