OBJECTIVE: Watch Avatar once per every week of 2014.

WHEN: July 12, 2014, 11:30 am. (Week 28, July 6-12.)

WHERE: In my apartment in Portland, ME.

FORMAT: DVD on a 19” AOC LED computer monitor; digital download on an iPhone 3.


PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Pleasantly caffeinated.

Alright. I’ve been watching James Cameron’s Avatar every week for more than half a year now, and I still have almost no idea what’s going on with RDA, the giant quasi-militarized mining corporation in charge of despoiling Pandora. So far, I know that they’re digging up unobtanium, because it “sells for 20 million a kilo.” I know that they’re beholden to investors who are displeased by bad quarterly statements. I know they seem to be fond of blowing shit up.

Hell, I wouldn’t even know the company’s name was RDA if I hadn’t looked it up a while back, because though the letters are plastered all over the various pieces of company equipment seen in the film, it’s never mentioned in dialogue.


For all I know, this dump truck was manufactured by Rabid Dildo Appliances.

So, before this viewing, I decided to expand my knowledge of this fictional corporation by reading its page on the Avatar Wiki. Does this wealth of new information clear up the film’s many ambiguities? Nope! Watch the fuck out. Shit just got convoluted, wonky, and stupid.

So, what exactly does RDA even mean? Apparently it stands for Resources Development Administration (which kind of sounds like someone just picked three random corporate sounding words and slapped them together). The name itself really couldn’t be more vague. The wiki informed me, however, that it was “the oldest and largest of the quasi-governmental administrative entities (QGAEs).” Wait, what? That’s not particularly helpful. So, RDA is an entity that administrates the development of resources in a quasi-governmental capacity? Ugh, I hate this.


Corporate douche? Government douche?
Do I even care?

Quasi-governmental entities tend to be corporations owned in whole or in part by the state, so is that the case with RDA? If so, that doesn’t mesh super well with Parker Selfridge’s constant concern with the shareholders’ perception of his mining progress. Maybe the government is only a minor investor, and the company is primarily publicly traded? God, I don’t know. I’m not an expert on publicly owned utilities, and I’m not about to start reading up on them just so I can figure out what’s going on with the fake company in Avatar.

I’m working on the assumption that the goal was to make RDA seem too intimidatingly complicated for us to really understand how it operates. This would be all well and good, if it didn’t have the side effect of really pissing me off.

It is mentioned that, in addition to mining unobtanium, RDA has a couple of other business interests on Pandora, including, among other things, cosmetics. Now, this actually makes a lot of sense. There’s all manner of new life on that distant moon that could conceivably be pureed into high-end face creams and such. Despite being logical, however, I find this idea inherently ridiculous. You know that menacing quasi-militant mining complex? Somewhere inside, there’s a guy testing shades of lipstick on the the indigenous wildlife.


It’s the job duckface goat was made for!


Something I’ve always been curious about is the actual function of unobtanium. I know, I know, it’s not important to the plot to know why it’s such a pricey item, but it’s always bothered me a little not knowing. Well, this paragraph on the early days of RDA clears away that troublesome mystery:

After only a few decades, the company had the capital and stature to propose the construction of a world-spanning rapid transit system that would allow entire population groups to conveniently commute hundreds or even thousands of miles to perform work where it was needed, without impinging on the cultural values of host populations. This led to the current global network of maglev trains that require the superconductor material known as unobtanium for their continued operation.

So, let me get this straight, in a world where we have the ability to fly to Alpha Centauri, unobtanium is absolutely essential because people want a convenient 1000-mile commute? Also, what jobs in the 22nd century are going to need massive labor forces? Jeez, it’s hard enough to find a demand for physical labor today. But okay. Sure. Trains. We need them. Fuck it.


Something something, Atlas Shrugged joke, something something.

Whenever Selfridge would hold up that little blue rock, I always assumed it was curing cancer or stopping volcanoes from destroying the west coast or something. Now, just when I thought the film couldn’t be more disappointing, I know it’s just there to keep the choo-choos chugging.

Well, congratulations, Avatar Wiki; I didn’t think I could have less respect for this film, but you have proven that behind every rock, tree, and pencil pusher, there is more stupidity to be found. I hope you’re sincerely proud of yourself.