‘Put up-Avatar melancholy syndrome’: why do followers really feel blue after watching James Cameron’s movie? | Avatar: The Method of Water

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Sian, I simply learn a headline about one thing known as “post-Avatar melancholy”. It appears like precisely what occurs to me every time I watch a deeply derided massive funds and pretty nonsensical movie – however I get the sensation that is … one thing else.

All of it started after the primary Avatar was launched in 2009: individuals began posting on a fan website, Avatar Boards, that they had been feeling down and unhappy with their lives after seeing James Cameron’s movie, about humanity’s try to colonise a pristine planet known as Pandora, house to the Na’vi, a blue humanoid race. Humanity appeared out of step with the pure world, they felt, particularly when in comparison with the non secular, environment-loving Na’vi.

“Ever since I went to see Avatar I’ve been depressed. Watching the great world of Pandora and all of the Na’vi made me need to be considered one of them,” one wrote. “I even ponder suicide considering that if I do it I will probably be rebirthed in a world much like Pandora and the all the pieces is identical as in Avatar.” One other requested: “Are there different individuals on the market who suppose humanity goes south?”

The thread obtained greater than 1,000 posts from individuals around the globe experiencing related emotions; it turned so widespread {that a} second thread was created for extra room, and the dialogue unfold to different fan websites. It was picked up by the media in 2010, and finally labelled post-Avatar melancholy syndrome (PADS).

Wait, what do you imply “labelled”? This isn’t a DSM-level analysis is it?

An important factor is that the emotions individuals expertise are very actual, and infrequently very troubling to them. However no, PADS is just not a medically recognised situation – nor does it appear to be a PR marketing campaign. It’s an observable phenomenon.

Evidently Avatar does uniquely provoke related emotions amongst disparate individuals, however the emotions it provokes – sorrow from feeling disconnected from nature, worries about the way forward for our personal planet and feeling dissatisfied with fashionable life – are all very regular emotions to have given how now we have constructed our world and societies. And it’s of be aware that lots of the authentic posters on these boards had been younger males, who would additionally write about feeling lonely in school, or unsupported at house.

“It has taken the most effective of our know-how to create this digital world, and actual life won’t ever be as utopian because it appears onscreen. It makes actual life appear extra imperfect,” Dr Stephan Quentzel, a New York psychiatrist, advised CNN in 2010 as approach of clarification.

Apparently, PADS was not confined to when the movie got here out; people have spoken about watching Avatar for the primary time within the years because it was launched and nonetheless reported having related emotions. One fan just lately estimated that 10-20% of individuals utilizing Avatar fan boards report experiencing it.

Is there a remedy?

Historical Forest Alliance, a Canadian non-profit devoted to the safety of old-growth forests, developed a three-step remedy for PADS: “Get out and expertise nature, take motion to defend nature and get others to do the identical.”

Followers additionally started sharing recommendations on methods to scale back consumerism and waste, and learn how to have interaction extra with the pure world. One Swedish fan, Ivar Hill, wrote on the discussion board when he was 17: “After I awoke this morning after watching Avatar for the primary time yesterday, the world appeared … grey. It was like my entire life, all the pieces I’ve completed and labored for, misplaced its that means. It simply appears so … meaningless. I nonetheless don’t actually see any motive to maintain … doing issues in any respect. I dwell in a dying world.” However after chatting with followers, he started studying philosophy and spending extra trip in nature by mountaineering. “Avatar made me really feel like I might sit out in a forest and simply be,” Hill advised the New York Instances final month; he’s now in his 30s and married to a lady he met on an Avatar fan discussion board he began.

And, as is usually the case in fandoms, there’s a touching comradery to be discovered. In a 2021 episode of the documentary collection How To with John Wilson, he sits down with a bunch for Avatar followers who started assembly up in 2020. A few of their assembly is simply nerds nerding, however quite a lot of it’s them speaking about their struggles with melancholy and the way they’ve discovered solace in one another.

“For me the post-Avatar melancholy hit exhausting as a result of I’ve this serial monitor report of making an attempt to flee my actuality,” one says, tearfully recalling how a fellow Avatar fan saved his life after he posted on a discussion board about feeling suicidal. “In the end it comes from a need to need one thing higher,” he muses, of PADs. “However simply because now we have that need, I feel it drives us to make the world that we dwell in a greater place.”

Discovering your individuals is a remedy for all ills.

The sequel, Avatar: The Method of Water, is lastly out. How’s all people doing?

Some are clearly, very excited. However superfan Hill advised the New York Instances nowadays, it’s simply one other film for him: “It’s going to be actually fascinating to see, however it’s not like I’m counting down the times.”

Evidently even for the massive followers, it’s a bit bizarre having a sequel out for a 13-year-old movie described as “the preferred movie that nobody remembers”. However who is aware of – possibly Avatar: The Method of Water may provoke a burst of ocean-saving activism.

Disaster help companies will be reached 24 hours a day: Lifeline 13 11 14; Suicide Name Again Service 1300 659 467; Youngsters Helpline 1800 55 1800; MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78; Past Blue 1300 22 4636



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