A Philosopher's Blog

Avatar Depression

Posted in Aesthetics, Technology by Michael LaBossiere on January 19, 2010
Avatar (2009 film)
Image via Wikipedia

One somewhat odd side effect attributed to the movie Avatar is depression and thoughts of suicide. Apparently when some folks see the movie, they find the return to reality to be a rather negative experience. Hence the depression and thoughts of suicide.

Of course, there is the obvious question of how widespread this phenomena actually might be. After all, the folks in the media tend to focus on what is likely to gain the greatest attention. There is also the other obvious question of whether or not this is an effect specific to Avatar. After all, it seems likely that people get depressed by the contrast between the worlds of fantasy and the real world.

Naturally, it is tempting to dismiss such depression as the mere weeping of nerds who are sad because they cannot have a big, blue girlfriend and ride dragons. After all, there are many people who face far more serious problems (for example, the folks in Haiti).

However, it can be argued that such depression (however silly it might seem) does cause real suffering for those who experience it. Perhaps they can ease their pain by working towards a better world. After all, having a purpose and staying busy can do wonders for that sort of depression.

It certainly says a great deal about our world that people can be driven to depression by a science fiction movie.

Although I saw Avatar, I did not suffer from any depression. Of course, this might be because I have been a sci-fi fan and a gamer for years, so perhaps I have a tolerance for switching between fantasy and reality. Or perhaps it is because Avatar, for all its impressive effects, is just a movie.

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  1. A.K.A.Alias said, on January 19, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Just a movie? :)

    http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/2010/01/19/as_china_avatar/index.html

    esp. this=
    There is also sensitivity to the movie’s plot, which revolves around the forced evictions of the alien Na’vi race by humans — a story line that some have said draws unflattering comparisons to China’s own, often brutal removal of millions of residents to make way for property developers.

    Columnist Huang Hung penned a commentary in the official English-language China Daily, saying the film had struck a chord with Chinese viewers.

    “All the forced removal of old neighborhoods in China makes us the only earthlings today who can really feel the pain of the Na’vi,” she wrote.

  2. Mr. Blue said, on January 23, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    I was very sad after seeing Avatar, but not depressed in any clinical sense. My sadness stemmed from recognizing the movie as throwing a mirror up for us to see disturbing human themes.

    Like genocide, psychopathic corporate and military entities, thoughtless stripping of resources.

    I identified with the idea of all living things being part of the same consciousness, and felt despair when their way of life and world was threatened.

    It was a good sadness that I felt. Because the moment I stop recognizing malevolent intentions and actions in our world is the moment I become just another mindless consumer.

    It’s also worth noting that evoking sadness — and other emotions of course — is one of art’s jobs.

    • Brian said, on April 28, 2014 at 10:55 am

      In working with The global Avatar forum community for the past 4 years , I can honestly say issues with Avatar depression “are not simple attachment to the films fantasy world , in doing research we have found the film has at it roots a very powerful “Mirror story” under its structure, that is “seen” and deeply related to by ones sublime inner core heartfelt understanding and reflects upon the core memory’s of our peoples past and present history and strongly on issues we see in the “real” world today “in some” this impacts at a profoundly deep core emotional level that the media “Cant not see”.
      Cameron has spoken on his intent for the film to be a waking dream experience and there are very strong indications but no absolute proof that these core memory’s are unique to each person and Reflect on there sense of “Ancestral Accountability at a very deep non topical level.
      Avatar in some seems to awaken”Strong Value” to a part of ones core understanding
      that normally sleeps in European cultural “world view”, they non topically experience a new “core” way of “seeing” our world through a new pair of eyes for them its a profound life changing experience
      a posable “Rebirthing experience” (and I don’t mean this in the New age sense of the word)

      (Search “Irayo film” on YouTube)

      (The Avatar experience seems to resonate very strongly with those with
      high function autism issues like Asperger’s).
      Through our research we have found “mirrored reflections” that connect with many deep emotional real world memory’s we all understand inside our “core underlying memory’s”
      The strongest and easiest to “see” is the twin towers of smoke from 9-11 Above the destruction of home tree
      being cut and pasted from the skyline of New York City into the skyline of Pandora
      There are very strong “reflections” from the story’s of our worlds native peoples
      take a look at the roots of the story of the Great Peace Keeper from the “Haudenosaunee” peoples
      This man of great wisdom and insight united the “five” clans “After a time of great sorrow”
      (listen to what Neytiri tells Jake about the “Turok Makto”)
      We all hold repressed multi generational “Subline Grief” inside and Avatar can let one experience and give value to ones inner insight, this can drive these “real world
      sublime memorys” to the surface give them core meaning and cause one to “reflect on ones own “core” Ancestral Accountability” this is at the roots of native healing practice and a part of Avatar as well.
      “But one may not realize the “core source” of these powerful sublime feelings and attribute them to the film itself ” this has been spoken on by John Landau the films director, (Rather you can articulate the source or not you will feel “something”)
      There is a possibly interesting unknown history and quite powerful speech on the impact of these underlying sublime
      memory’s and feelings upon everyone’s life (spoken by Native elder “Jake Swamp” at the 48 min mark in this example) again these are the “roots” of multi-generational healing practice understood by native peoples
      for generations to be of vital importance in reconnecting and giving strength to ones core “sense of self” as a
      “Human Being” finding and sharing with “The people” ones “true gift”
      (Search YouTube “Haudenosaunee,, language of peace”
      ( video is by the Smithsonian museum of the native American Indian) , there are more references I will give a hint ” The Fantasy Na’vi people in the film are called
      the “Omaticaya clan” this was done in core recognition to some of there underlying reflected cultural “roots” split the word “And you get “Olmec-Maya” there are many examples and cultural mythology story’s “mirrored” from many of earths indigenous peoples, ones inner self can “see” And Relate too this touches upon a core part of our innate underlying understanding
      as a “human being” and drives “questions” on the root “structure flaws” of our world view and leadership that are driving “a Sense of separation” from our people and the natural world.


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