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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2 Responses

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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.


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