Inching towards mediocrity.


Pandora’s box. (Now with 30% more o’dem “Avatar” blues!)

I saw James Cameron’s “Avatar” over the weekend. For whatever reason, the previews for this movie left me a bit cold, and it really wasn’t at the top of my list of movies to see this year. Despite being a huge fan of Cameron’s work, and despite this movie supposedly being a “huge game-changer” for cinema, my expectations were startlingly low. But this isn’t a review of “Avatar.” (Though I’m sure some of my thoughts on it will leak into the article). No, instead I’ve decided to focus on a far more disturbing subject. For you see, apparently James Cameron’s “Avatar” leads to severe depression and suicidal thoughts. And no, I’m not making this up.

This is a real thing, apparently…or at least real enough to appear on CNN. Audience members, or at least the more impressionable ones, have become so enamored with the beautiful splendor and wonder of the alien world Pandora in “Avatar” (home planet of the Na’vi, Cameron’s blue-skinned Native American stereotypes) that the finale of the film, and the subsequent return to reality, has left many feeling depressed and hopeless. I however came out feeling mostly bored and somewhat ambivalent about the whole experience. And not just because it was basically a 300 million dollar production of Disney’s “Pochahontas.”

This also works with "Dances With Wolves." Or, to a lesser extent, "FernGully."

This also works with "Dances With Wolves." Or, to a lesser extent, "Fern Gully."

Listen: “Avatar” isn’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a phenomenal film to look at and, yeah, as far as visual effects go, I suppose you could call it the “cinema game-changer” that so many people seem to think it is. The world of Pandora that Cameron has created is fully realized and gorgeously rendered, and the 3D technology he’s employed only enhances that. Unfortunately, when a film focuses too much on special effects, it’s only natural that the plot, story and characters will suffer. Cameron thought up this incredibly diverse and immersive world, that he became so enamored with creating it onscreen, that the plot and everything else became almost secondary, background noise to the visual symphony he was creating. He became so focused on whether he could he didn’t stop to think about whether or not he should.

"What've they got in there, King KongBLUE ALIENS?"

And, just as Ian Malcolm predicted, James Cameron’s ambition has resulted in the opening of a veritable Pandora’s box (snicker) of epic proportions and Tyrannosaurus Rex sized disappointment (hide your lawyers!). In creating a world that is as realistically tangible as it is pure and stunningly beautiful, he has left many viewers feeling disgusted and unimpressed with this hard and grim world we call “reality.”

Not too shabby.

Pretty fucking shabby.

I don’t disagree. Pandora is a helluva lot nicer than what we’ve got going on here. I’d even say it’s one of my top five fictional places ever. The key word here of course being fictional. Apparently it’s a difficult distinction for some people to make; but it’s also a very important one.

See, when you make statements like this –

“That’s all I have been doing as of late, searching the Internet for more info about ‘Avatar.’ I guess that helps. It’s so hard I can’t force myself to think that it’s just a movie, and to get over it, that living like the Na’vi will never happen. I think I need a rebound movie.”

I feel genuine concern for the state of the human race. (This quote from the article, by the way, was courtesy of the “Avatar” board member “Elequin” – a man who, I can only assume, probably doesn’t know enough about the real world outside of his basement to really make a statement either way).

Another forum member (of what appears to be the most goddamn depressing message board on the internet) by the name of “Mike” admits to even contemplating suicide hoping that his death and subsequent rebirth will find him on Pandora, living amongst the Na’vi, and hopefully no longer retarded.

Good luck with that, Mike! Let us know how it goes!

Again, I can “somewhat” understand where these folks are coming from (though in a much, much less deranged way). Pandora is a beautiful world that is being ravaged so mankind can obtain the mythical mineral “unobtanium.” (Say it out loud for an extra dose of “this movie is fucking stupid”).

Such a plot device is certainly akin to what happens to our planet on a seemingly daily basis. Add to that the fact that the Na’vi clearly represent Native Americans and are somehow mystically connected to every living creature on their world, and you can see why people might start to get some less than friendly ideas about the human race. And, add to that the fact that this movie’s message about indigenous people, saving the environment and the evils of corporate America are about as subtle as…well, ANY other James Cameron film, and suddenly reality, well, yeah…it does seem a little shitty.

(And, as a sidenote to all those people who want to live on Pandora…y’all saw the scenes with the giant space panthers, right? How is THAT better?!?)

Here’s a quick little thought, though. Rather than bitch and whine about how perfect Pandora is, and how horrible our little rock is, why not try to do something about it? Sure, it’s not like you’re going to change the environmental situation on Earth overnight, but it certainly can’t be less productive than sitting in your basement crying on a movie forum about something you can’t change. (Pandora). Earth is something you can change – or at least make an effort to. Could Earth ever be as beautiful as Pandora? But there is beauty out there, and it’s REAL beauty. An entire planet that you can see and taste and touch and smell. You want to moan about how you’re not on Pandora? Fine. I’m not gonna stop you. I’m just here to remind you that we have our own Pandora in better 3D than James Cameron could ever imagine. And absolutely no space panthers.

So we got that going for us. Which is nice.

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