This Is Your Addictive Fantasy World?

I thought I'd comment on "Avatar Withdrawal Syndrome", which is where people become despondent over the fact that Pandora's not real. Yes it has a name; let's all weep bitter tears for the human race. Someone actually said he didn't even want to play World of Warcraft anymore! Give me the Night Elves any day over the Na'vi, AKA "giant shaved blue ewoks".

I mean, I sympathize with their trouble, processing the quality disparity between fantasy and reality, I really do; Lord knows I've had more than my share of grappling with that. But Pandora, seriously? What's to like? The planet's just not that impressive. Maybe it's 'cause I'm from Arizona (my parents met working in the Grand Canyon), but what, precisely, about that planet is remotely different from this one? That it looks like a bunch of fake aquarium plants? I'll concede that unfamiliar things often look fake, but the real problem with Avatar is, they had the planet designed to much more realistic specs than the unjustifiably humanoid critters that sit at its apex. They had Barlowe, of "Guide to Extraterrestrials" fame, do the concept art for the rest of Pandora's ecosystem, but they didn't have him design the Na'vi, with the result that they look no more native to their planet than the humans do. Speaking of, the Na'vi are unconvincing Mary Sues, more on that in another post.

But I think really, the problem people have is not that Pandora isn't real. It's that none of it is real. If only we could jump into Cameron's child-universe where business and the military are simply evil, scientists are always good, and natives are never murderous torturing gang-rapists whose economy is founded on robbery and enslavement. The movie hits all the right buttons, it rings every bell the dogs are conditioned to salivate at. And yet—I don't know if it's because other voices are actually being heard in the culture, or what—people's minds aren't taking the infusion like they used to. That's why so many people root for Quaritch. I think their disgust with the real world, when presented with Pandora, is actually just their displaced disgust with the fact people are questioning the ideological "truisms" the film needs you to believe in order to work. They'd rather live on Pandora because Pandora is a world where left-liberalism is actually true. Don't misunderstand me; when people realize the fatal flaws of right-wing ideology, movies based on those cliches will cause "withdrawal", but that's not where we are just now.

Or maybe I really am being too generous. Maybe they're not having a subconscious reaction to the movie's echoing of their political illusions, just as those illusions are at risk of being shattered—maybe they're just a bunch of stupid kids who couldn't handle losing their pretty colors.

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