Monday, December 19, 2022

The Cultural Impact Of Avatar

Avatar: The Way of Water came out this weekend and I’m seeing it tomorrow. I’ve heard good things and I’m looking forward to it. 

There’s been some discourse on Twitter in light of Water’s release about the cultural impact of Avatar. Obviously, it’s the highest grossing film of all time (not adjusting for inflation; Gone With the Wind somehow remains undefeated). However, some seem to feel that despite its popularity, Avatar hasn’t had the same impact as other movies of similar size and favor. While the Na’vi are certainly recognizable, are any of the characters? Does the average person remember Jake Sully or Neytiri in the same way they remember the names “Luke Skywalker” or “Tony Stark”? Does it have famous lines that people quote?


I think these are fair questions that bear some merit. Ultimately, I disagree and to be clear, this is not an argument on the quality of the film overall, just one suggesting that Avatar was and is culturally significant. 


There’s a condition known as PAD, which stands for Post-Avatar Depression. Essentially, a lot of people are depressed that they don’t live on Pandora, the colorful planet where Avatar takes place. Let that sink in: there is a specific genre of depression in which people are depressed specifically because they do not live in the fictional world from Avatar. I don’t know of any medical conditions relating to Tatooine or the Shire (although I am depressed I can’t live in the Shire). Culture: impacted.


Duolingo is an app that helps you learn languages. Like many of its users, I briefly tried to learn Spanish on it and then gave up after a few weeks, all while I got passive aggressive emails from its owl mascot that I wasn’t completing my lessons. Duolingo offers over 40 languages, including Na’vi, the language spoken by, you guessed it, the Na’vi from Avatar. There are real-life human languages that Duolingo does not offer, but it does offer that which is spoken by the tall blue people. Also, you can therefore only surmise that there must’ve been a demand for this feature in the first place. Culture: impacted. 


Further reading on PAD:

Thanks for reading!


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