Monday, January 11, 2010

Are "Avatar" Fans the New "Get a Life" Crowd?

Back in 1986 William Shatner did a hilarious bit on "Saturday Night Live" in which he told a bunch of Trekkies to "get a life." Will James Cameron be doing the same before long? I haven't seen "Avatar" but it is the phenomenon right now. I honestly haven't been that interested in seeing it because most of the reviews I have read say that while the movie is visually stunning, the script is fairly weak and cliché. However, virtually everyone I know has also told me that must see this movie on the big screen-- many of them people who are not particularly smitten with science fiction. It also appears that I have been completely disconnected from the impact "Avatar" is having on audiences. From CNN~ James Cameron's completely immersive spectacle "Avatar" may have been a little too real for some fans who say they have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts after seeing the film because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora. On the fan forum site "Avatar Forums," a topic thread entitled "Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible," has received more than 1,000 posts from people experiencing depression and fans trying to help them cope. The topic became so popular last month that forum administrator Philippe Baghdassarian had to create a second thread so people could continue to post their confused feelings about the movie. "I wasn't depressed myself. In fact the movie made me happy ," Baghdassarian said. "But I can understand why it made people depressed. The movie was so beautiful and it showed something we don't have here on Earth. I think people saw we could be living in a completely different world and that caused them to be depressed." A post by a user called Elequin expresses an almost obsessive relationship with the film. "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," Elequin posted. A user named Mike wrote on the fan Web site "Naviblue" that he contemplated suicide after seeing the movie. Read the rest of the article HERE I have to admit this kind of leaves me flummoxed. Suicidal? Over a movie? I wonder if this is a real phenomenon or something overblown by media hype. Because if this isn't hype, then it's just sad. Or am I just being judgmental? Star Trek TOS - William Shatner SNL - Get A Life - MyVideo

10 comments:

paulawestonotherworlds said...

Great post.

I think the fact Avatar is such a visually rich film - and the 3D aspect really draws you into that world - it feels more real than it should as a predominantly digital film. It's certainly stayed with me (and I am keen to see it again on the big screen), but the viewing experience left me elated and remembering why I love fantasy so much ... not depressed or suicidal.

As you say, if that reaction is real, it's pretty tragic. But I'm glad to hear support groups have cropped up already!

Sullivan McPig said...

In my opinion 3D should be a tool and not a purpose on it's own. Avatar sounds to me like they have forgotten about that and just made the movie for the 3D effects.
The story sounds like it might just as well have been set in America in frontier times.

Charles Gramlich said...

People are actually depressed because it isn't real? Ok, now I say instead of a life, they need to get a bit of imagination. It can be real in your head if you want it to be.

SQT said...

Charles-- I'm sure that a lack of imagination is only part of the problem. I'm no psychologist, but it sounds as if these people have a serious problem with perspective and separating fantasy with reality. I think the stalker mentality is one in which the person has an inability to separate their fantasy life with the real world and this seems similar to me. Only their obsession this time is a movie.

S.M.D. said...

I suspect it's a collection of real phenomenon and media hype. The result of the latter is that the phenomenon gets bigger as attention-desperate yahoos search for new ways to feel accepted. Most of them probably aren't actually suicidal, but saying you are gets attention. (Some of them, though, likely are, just not the overwhelming majority of those claiming suicide as a result of seeing a movie).

It's sort of like people who latch on to fictional characters from Twilight. Some of it is real infatuation, and some of it is just a way of expressing previously held internal desires and the like.

I've been reading too much Freud and Lacan, though...

writtenwyrdd said...

I went to see it reluctantly, and was very impressed with it despite my misgivings. (I did NOT see it 3D however. I hate 3D. gives me a headache.)

The thing uses all the standard tropes and is totally a feel good plot that's been done a thousand times...but it was done well, like Star Wars did it well in that first awesome movie. And that is what it is, not intellectual, not groundbreaking (except for the cgi stuff.) I think it'll stand the test of time.

SQT said...

Writtenwyrd--thanks! That makes me feel a little better about the prospect of seeing it.

Carl V. said...

I listened to all the "you HAVE to see this on the big screen" talk and decided to go see it with my wife on Thursday night. My feeling about the experience...Meh. While it cannot be argued convincingly that it was not visually stunning, I think I read too much hype because I guess I suspected something more than I got visually. Beautiful, yes. Wonderfully rendered, yes. Characters that were a step up in motion capture, yes. Some nice 3d effects, yes. But I still didn't find it such a massive leap forward that I would want to see it again.

The story is very cliched, which doesn't always bother me if I am entertained, but honestly there were a couple of times that I was just plain bored. The movie was way too long.

I think it is pretty sad to think people could have this strong of a reaction to a film, and at first I am tempted to make fun. But then I realize that some people have really rough lives and it probably isn't that much of a stretch to think that they could have that kind of experience with the film.

Carl V. said...

Should be "expected" something more, not "suspected". It is my intellect that is suspect! Ha! Typing while watching football playoffs is probably not a good combination.

Andrei said...

@Sullivan McPig
Sounds to me like you have not seen the movie.
Cameron did a brilliant job blending 3d with great cinematography.
After 10 minutes you forgot, that Avatar was 3d.