Watching in 3-D was a different experience. As Jake and Neytiri darted through the forest, the special effects brought me into their world. The action did not just come forward as one frame, but instead wove me into the movement onscreen, the tendrils of plants and falling drops of water each reaching out from a different point in space. The Na’vi bodies appeared to have mass. It was hard to discern what was real or C.G.I., which led me to wonder, “Why even distinguish?” This, in turn, produced a twisted surge of delight at the prospect of man’s becoming God.
The history of recorded images might be described as an incremental quest to master the building blocks of consciousness — first sight, then motion, then sound, then color. With “Avatar,” Cameron revealed that human ingenuity could marshal even more: physics, light, dimensionality; the ineffable sense of an object being real; the life force that makes a thing feel alive.https://dnyuz.com/2022/11/30/avatar-and-the-mystery-of-the-vanishing-blockbuster/
This section was written as a throwaway line of whimsy but when I read it I felt the enormous weight of implication behind it. I think it captures the entire cultural phenomenon of Avatar and especially explains why it never felt like it was made for me (in contrast with, say, Harry Potter, which felt like it was sort of for me). It’s hard to sell primitivist transhumanism to fundamentalist Christians because we already have a heaven, the idea of poking God in the eye is unappealing because we already feel like he’s paying attention to us, and that “twisted surge of delight” strikes us as a bad and sinful feeling that should be avoided in the future.
Anyway, it’s dying off because nobody believes that idealistic shit anymore, it’s 2022 now. We appreciate power.
People understand now if you want a garden of Eden, you better have money for armed guards, a genetically healthy population to supply labor, and a big, beautiful wall. You gotta be fuckin’ rich, boiiii.
Divorced from the dazzle of visual effects, I could see the aesthetic universe of “Avatar” for what it was: a glorified World Market sale section. The Na’vi alone were just a tiki-bar mishmash of traits that white people perceive as foreign: dreadlocks, beadwork, body mods, loincloths, feathers, cowrie shells.
Maybe the real reason I’m not into anti-social, anti-civil primitivism is the accoutrements. I can get into a lot of foreign and fantastic and even horrifying aesthetics but body mods and loincloths are just unapologetically gross.