by I. Anderson
LINK #1: Dolphin Sex
LINK #2: Avatar Blues
So, the above two articles have had me thinking lately. I’m sure a lot of you remember my review of Avatar, wherein I tea-bagged Jim Cameron’s ego. This does nothing to change the way I feel about its merits as a work of art, but it does make me appreciate its social importance.
People are leaving Avatar depressed. Such a shame, really, as I left feeling better than I had in ages. Granted, it had little to do with the three-hour distraction factory, but this still strikes me as somewhat odd. What is it about these movies that made people depressed? I found myself thinking to myself as I read this headline on CNN News: “Audiences Experience ‘Avatar’ Blues“. Could it be the realization that some sense of one’s impact on the world has percolated down into the masses, striking a humanistic vein hitherto unknown to modern man, and awakening feelings of inadequacy and horror at the ecological monster that is contemporary human society? No, not really. After further thought, I realized that people were depressed over one thing and one thing only: they want to make love to a porpoise.
Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have a pretty open mind about who sleeps with who. To be blunt, I don’t care, so long as both persons consent and are responsible for themselves and each other, and one of them isn’t a child. But there’s something about this that just screams, “weirdo!” to me.
I was raised on “Flipper”, among many, many other television shows. Do you know what stands out for me about “Flipper”? It wasn’t how hot the fish was, but how to avoid barracudas and moray eels. (I know, they’re not fish, but there’s no way it can survive on land, so let’s ignore propriety for the sake of humorous insight for a moment.) Not even during the ‘90s series did I find anything remotely sexual about this fine show starring a pinniped, and that one had Jessica Alba in a bikini. To be fair though, I was probably a bit young, and also don’t get the generational crush that everyone seemed to have on Molly Ringwald.
That being said, let’s stop taking things so literally. Okay, so the dolphin isn’t really a dolphin, it merely represents something else. What on Earth (or beyond) could that be? Other than Zoe Saldana? Or to BE Zoe Saldana?
People want to live in the world of Avatar. They want to live in it so badly, that some are thinking about killing themselves in hopes of being reincarnated in a fictional reality. This is bad. This isn’t bad because the masses have decided to bow down and worship a superficial piece of fluff, or because they feel so utterly despondent over never being able to live in an ecological utopia like Pandora, or even because they want to play Barry White at SeaWorld. This is bad because so many people are missing the point here: we already live in a fictional world, and are able to change it with our actions. Yes, like Gandalf, or even Flipper, we are powerful beings. We’re a bit more concrete than Gandalf, or Flipper, or Gandalf/Flipper slash fiction. No narrator guides our lives, writer’s block will not impede our journey, and nobody controls our bodies through scientific fantasy. What people are failing to understand when walking out of the theater is that we are no more or less important than the things we are attached to. In this case we just seem to be attached to 10-foot-tall blue things instead of Mark Hamil’s youthful looks or a species of aquatic mammal.
I’m hardly one to point fingers, however; many of my heroes come from a stable of criminals and psychotics. After all, Hunter S. Thompson was practically a Batman villain. I’m sure he’d have done whatever the Scarecrow and Bane had lying around. Just imagine that man Hulked out, seeing nothing but Nixon everywhere.
And that’s really the nut of it, isn’t it? It isn’t what inspires, but what’s taken from it. I guess in a lot of ways, James Cameron is owed thanks for making so many people happy. Lars Von Trier made me miserable as hell for a long time, but I took something from that screening, other than a total fear of logs and scissors. I guess I may as well admit this now: I took something from Avatar, too. It just wasn’t that kind of profound resonance that others seemed to have.
But, I also think dolphins are bastards.