Monday, January 11, 2010

Escapism, Suicide, and James Cameron

Remember when I blogged about audiences needing forms of entertainment other than escapism? This article from CNN documents responses to an Avatar (2009) forum thread entitled "Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible." According to CNN, the thread has received over 1,000 responses from individuals battling with depression and even suicidal thoughts after watching James Cameron's $500 billion dollar film.

Forum member "[Ivar] Hill, 17, explained that his feelings of despair made him desperately want to escape reality."

He told CNN: "One can say my depression was twofold: 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 the sight of our world, what we have done to Earth. I so much wanted to escape reality."

CNN explains that the reason for such emotional attachment to the film is that Cameron's special effects, in conjunction with that newfangled 3-D contraption, make the film "very lifelike."

This simply does not make sense to me.

Now, I have not seen the film yet, and perhaps the special effects are amazing (with that budget, they fucking better be). But I still don't understand how a fantasy can be "very lifelike." Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the Avatar Forum members are especially susceptible to "very lifelike" renditions of alien planets and races. Maybe James Cameron wants everyone to commit suicide. Maybe CNN has morphed into an alarmist, sensationalist 24 hour news outlet with nothing better to report on than internet forums. Maybe the Avatar fans are all bullshitting us.

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