April 8, 2010

Avatar blues abound in America

James Cameron’s visual masterpiece Avatar has, to date, brought in over $2.6 billion, making it the highest-grossing film in history. For many movie-goers, however, Avatar represents something far more than just a cinema marvel.

The film’s visual effects, which won it an Oscar, have caused some fans to experience depression and suicidal thoughts when they realized that the planet Pandora does not actually exist.

“I sometimes…wish I [hadn’t] seen the movie,” remarked a user called I-Heart-Neytiri on the fan Web site Avatar Forums. “It’s to the point where it’s kinda hard to think of other things except [it].”

A thread was started on Avatar Forums titled, “Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible,” and within months had received so many posts that three additional threads had to be made.

“I’ve just given in totally and let thoughts of [Avatar] consume my entire existence,” said user Nightweaver20xx. “I’m just going to let it wash over me like a cool waterfall.”

Avatar tells the story of an expedition to the alien world Pandora in order to obtain its rare minerals. In the process, the humans clash with the native race of Pandora, the Na’vi, as they try to strip Pandora of its mineral wealth. Pandora, thanks to state-of-the-art digital effects, is vibrant with color and beauty, making it a rich utopia in stark contrast to the environmental destruction-taking place on Earth.

“I was depressed because I really wanted to live in Pandora, which seemed like such a perfect place, but I was also depressed and disgusted with…what we have done to Earth,” said user Eltu.

For many fans, Avatar Forums and similar sites provide places to vent their frustrations and receive advice on how to cope with their depression. Suggestions range from playing Avatar video games to the more extreme, including reminders that a world like Pandora might still exist.

“Pandora is based in the Alpha-Centuri star system. We are pretty close to being able to discover whats [sic] inside the star system,” claimed user –[Pandora]-. “If we find something in Alpha-Centuri, how good [will it] feel?”

Another thread on Avatar Forums proposes a method by which one can actually become a Na’vi, which has been met with praise and excitement by fellow forum users.

According to the thread, if one listens to the Avatar soundtrack, goes out into nature and opens one’s mind, one will become a Na’vi.

“Don’t do this unless you’re truly committed to it,” said user Opal kiobi. “Once it’s done, there’s no turning back.”

Actor Stephen Lang, who plays Colonel Miles Quaritch in the movie, says he can understand fans’ sentiments.

“Pandora is a pristine world and there is a synergy between all of the creatures of the planet,” he said in an interview with CNN. “I think that strikes a deep cord with people that has a wishfulness and a wistfulness to it.”

Whatever the forums suggest, they help depressed fans know that they are not alone, which can help bring about recovery.

“After I watched Avatar [for] the first time, I trully [sic] felt depressed,” said user okoi. “Now I listen to the soundtrack and share my views in this forum. It really helps.”

Anna Meier

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