Opinion Brief

'Avatar' depression syndrome?

People are reporting 'suicidal' feelings after seeing 'Avatar' because they miss the beauty of its hyper-realistic world

Some Avatar fans are reportedly feeling as blue as Na'vi aliens once the movie ends. According to CNN, online forums have sprung up to support people experiencing depressed, even suicidal thoughts "because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora," the film's intricately rendered 3-D setting. Despondent fans have unleashed over 1,000 posts on one site, Avatar Forums, expressing their disgust with the relatively non-idyllic planet Earth and the human race. Has a new kind of filmmaking triggered a new kind of audience response? (Watch a report about the "Avatar Blues")

Have the movies changed — or have I? I can remember being strongly affected by films when I was younger, says Ann Althouse at the Althouse blog. But "when I walked out into the light after a great movie, my experience was that things seemed sharpened, intensified, and refreshed. The real world felt newly real." The effect was "the opposite of depression." One wonders: "Is it something about the movies that has changed? Is our relationship to film different now?"
"Ever since I went to see Avatar I have been depressed"

This is hardly surprising: Given the huge numbers of people who've gone to see the movie, it's hardly surprising that at least a few of them are "going to get depressed," says Kyle Anderson at MTV. (Personally, I was kind of "bummed out" after seeing it — but that was regret over "spending $20 on a film that contains the line 'That's the flux vortex.'") For those who do leave feeling a little blue, remember the obvious: "It's just a movie."
"'Avatar' leaves some fans feeling legitimately blue"

This is an insult to the truly depressed: This whole notion of post-Avatar depression is just media "hyperbole," says Nancy Schimelpfenig at About.com's Depression blog. The CNN story that started the meme takes quotes out of context. Suggesting that an emotional reaction to a movie "in any way resembles clinical depression" is a "slap in the face to those who actually do have depression."
"Avatar movie makes people depressed?"

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