If the self is like a bowl (see http://tiny.cc/Htik4), it is also like a ship. Thus it seems fitting that in a culture gripped by collective narcissism (i.e. lack of cohesive selves) Titanic, a movie about a grandiose ship that gets a gapping hole and sinks back into the ocean of the unconscious would be a perfect metaphor for the close of the last century.
Likewise, Avatar, a movie about the awakening of consciousness, is a hopeful harbinger of a century that is just getting its footing and forming its nascent millennial identity. The fact that these impossibly giant and expensive movies were made by the same man behind the curtain offers a curious window into both the collective consciousness and also child development—writ XX Large.
“Kids” who are developmentally forming an identity inflate around ages three and four into super heroes and fantastic princesses; if all goes well and they are fully seen, they calm back down and end up with a cohesive bowl of a self. In a culture where this process has gone off the rails, we have had legions of collectively mal-mommied so-called grown-ups behaving like entitled enfants terribles.
While people sometimes speak disparagingly about artists “selling out,” I’ll be the first to admit that I tried to sell out and no one would buy. Hollywood is an enigma, and when someone succeeds they are as much beneficiaries of luck as they are of talent and hard work. When luck happens (because many movies that fail, even if they are bad, still took a lot of work and often represent the misfiring of authentic talent) this kismet may offer a glimpse about what the zeitgeist truly has to say at any given moment be it Hitler’s Germany, W’s America or James Cameron’s “King of the world” bravado; king of which world?