Avatar Fans Forced to Cope with Depression After Coming Back to Reality


This is either really sad or really good marketing… I’m not sure which. There’s an article on CNN this week that examines the supposed phenomenon of post-Avatar depression. It seems that some people are so disappointed after seeing the beautiful and immersive landscapes in the movie and then returning to the real world, that they are actually starting to have suicidal thoughts. In particular, they point to a popular thread on the Avatar Forums called “Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible”, which generated over 700 responses. Is this for real?

I suppose in some ways it’s not that much of a stretch, considering that some people have similar feelings about addictive and social video games like World of Warcraft. Of course, if these kinds of things persist, I’m sure it will also generate a familiar backlash from various special interest groups saying that Avatar is dangerous and that 3-D films need to be stopped at all costs! It seems to me that anyone who actually feels this way might have some other issues going on in their lives as well, but hey what do I know? I still haven’t seen it in IMAX yet! But I guess this might at least explain why a woman was shot at a recent Avatar screening in Albuquerque. All James Cameron needs right now is a few Avatar suicide pacts and he’ll definitely reach that $2 billion plateau. What do you think, can you identify with these feelings of depression? Is Avatar so amazing that it actually caused you to become disillusioned with reality? Or is this all just absolute nonsense?

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  • fuckingshits

    Despite the fact that you are crazy in that why, why the fuck would you get depress by coming out of a movie you consider good? Why depression?

  • KeithTalent

    Give me a fucking break. The only thing that depressed me was paying $17.00 for a damn IMAX ticket.

  • The Man

    People are fucked up.

  • everyone can laugh it off, or, we could try and understand why and expand our understanding of film in general. I’ve commented several times about my fascination with the DESIGN in Avatar and Cameron’s ability to touch a nerve on a global scale. I know very little about the FilmJunk crew, but I sense both Jay and Sean are interested in design. Anyone else? Maybe we can talk about this in the context of other groundbreaking “designed” films such as Bladerunner and Alien.

    Personally, I’ll admit I could leave my work right now (which includes struggling to develop new business opportunities in a deep recession) and go escape to Avatar for a few hours. Its a visual wonderland, with greater immersion than anything we’ve seen. I’m not depressed over the real world, but I do wish we were far enough along were we could frolic in a virtual Avatar playground during a lunch break!

  • Years ago, I actually thought about making a forest in my basement. It was more as an exercise in making a film-set rather than for my well-being although I think it’s cool to be able to sleep outside without actually having to sleep outside. It would have been hard re-directing sunlight into my basement though.

    I had dreams of building tunnels leading out from my basement since my backyard opens out into a field. But I thought I might get into trouble if I actually made my dream into reality.

  • Funny how the Avatar video game got such mediocre reviews.

    I honestly never felt like Pandora was a world I wanted to live in. It’s impressive in terms of how real it looks, but it’s not like it gave us entirely new visuals we haven’t seen before. For the most part, it is similar to stuff we can see in our own world… just a lot bigger.

  • How would you get into trouble Reed? You answer to no one! You should definitely do it.

  • I’ll admit from a design standpoint Avatar uses some pretty cheesy stuff: the colors and glow in the dark vegetation would be really cheesy in the smallest of amusement parks. he doesn’t go to far with creature design and his geography is absolutely there to create the most bang-for-your-buck visuals.

    I do think what he got right, as a designer, is the research and justification for everything. All the things in Pandora are based on rules and laws the design team developed. Sean might be able to explain this better than me since this affects video games, but having that background can assist in the audiences acceptance and enjoyment.

    this is the problem I have with Guillermo Del Toro’s films – all of the great little designed creatures and spaces are there just for WOW and do not relate to each other or a larger cinematic world at all.

  • Well, Sean, I figure that when the field behind my backyard got sold for development purposes, a backhoe would start digging and find my tunnel system filled with my Star Trek crap in storage. I figure there would be some bylaw that I would be violating. But in the 20 years that I’ve been in my house, the field has sat vacant. So maybe if I did build a tunnel system, no one would find it until after I had passed away. Of course, there would be a strong likelihood that my death would be a result of a tunnel collapse.

  • Falsk

    This “phenomenon” is better documented in films like “Second Skin” in regards to immersive video games like World of Warcraft…. but even so, this is just showing the problems of having an addictive personality, I think. If you use movies and video games as escapism, of course you’re going to be more attracted to a fantasy world than, you know, being unemployed or having a shitty job, etc, etc.

    I think the more pressing issue right now is that Reed wants to make a forest in his basement. Because that is AWESOME -and- reality.

  • Falsk

    Oh, hey, look at that. You mentioned WoW in the second paragraph. I read, I swear!

  • JakeTheFatMan

    Depression is a pretty strong word. Theres a set of DSM IV criteria someone usually needs to fill to be diagnosed with depression.

    Sounds like a bunch of kids throwing the word around and trying to better each other in a forum.

  • Mike

    it sounds more like those people are already depressed and the movie is one of the few things that made them happy.

  • is this what you have in mind Reed?


    you are a sick sick man….

  • Robot

    You should totally do that Reed. It would be really interesting project and you could even make a documentary out of it. It may be a bitch to maintain it would be interesting. BTW, any idea when is the next Cantankerous coming out? It’s been a while since the last one.

  • The Man

    Go plant a tree save the rain forest. But come the fuck on…

    Again people are fucked up and have to much time on their hands.

  • Nick Robertson

    I mean, I LOVE movies – but I don’t think I’ve ever felt depressed after returning to the real world… Although, the first time I saw behind the scenes footage of Seinfeld (my religion) I was devastated to finally have proof that the show wasn’t a documentary and that my heroes didn’t exist. I was probably 8-9, however.

    Reed – I’m hoping no one makes a Vietcong joke at your expense!

  • Jesus Christ Reed, making a jungle in your basement and a tunnel system is the best idea ever! Not joking!!!

  • I prefer dark city alleyways filled with prostitutes and the homeless to Pandora, but thats just me.

  • jones the cat

    The Man is responsible for braking all ours balls & we toil & slave . . we [the ‘fuck ups’] seek entertaintment, escapism to enrich our lives as we toil for ‘the man’. this is our right.

    Avatar-if it was possible we would all love to go control & experience life in that 20′, blue cat-like body on Pandora. living as 1 with the planet & the Na’vi would be life as it should be.

    but then again i’m ‘fucked up’ with ‘too much time on my hands’ to know whats right & wrong.
    true words spoken from a real heartless bastard! fuck ‘the man’ & all he destroys!

  • jones the cat

    let’s hear it for Drew!

  • Maopheus

    I would say that it’s a stretch to be depressed after leaving any kind of movie no matter how good it is. But I will say that while maybe not bordering on depression as defined in a clinical manner, the really good movies that do draw you in very deeply almost certainly affect you to a point where you feel a little, I don’t know, let down that the movie has to end. But I think you get that feeling more with a series of movies like for example the Lord of the Rings trilogy, especially the extended versions. You definitely go on a ride in those movies and especially anything that takes you into a very distinct, well defined and different reality, which LotR certainly does. Then again, you have to wonder about the particular personality types who are drawn into these kinds of fantasy worlds. They are generally those who don’t a very grounded or good hold on reality itself. They probably already have depressive aspects to their personality or are predisposed towards depression. The more intense and immersive the experience perhaps the more strongly those depressive feelings are felt when you are taken back to reality. I think it’s silly to look at the movie as having any real contributing effect on depression. What’s more important is to look at what’s going on with the people who are saying this. Some of them might very well be depressed or on the road towards it.

  • Mr. (or is that Ms.?) Robot, Jay is currently sitting on the next Cantankerous in which we wished everyone a Happy New Year. Now it might be appropriate to release it just before the Chinese New Year which happens to fall on Valentine’s Day this year.

    With all this talk about depression, I’m reminded of my favourite quote from a television series: “I wish there was something wrong with me so that I’d know why I feel the way I do.” – Jennifer Love-Hewitt’s character on “Party of Five.”

  • livingston

    people are fucked up. Depression is not actually the matter of fact. they got fucked in their mind in desire of such wonderful pandora.

  • Mike

    i wanted to kill myself after watching Transformers, but that was for a different reason

  • Human mind should be sensitive to the events happening around him and should react accordingly.But if some one goes for suicide after observing fictitious events it is nothing but sickness.

  • Robin


  • Robin


  • T.Katz

    no. 13 has got it almost right, i think.

    But let’s consider this: If you live in a world that seems to consist mostly of concrete walls, cheap crap, junk food, dirt, crime and corruption (yeah i paint in dark colors here, but i think most will get the picture), and you think that this is normal, because you know nothing else …

    … and then you are told how different and maybe better(, healthier, fairer, whatever) your world could be, and you are told that in the most persuasive way (and immersion into nice and even 3d – pictures is the most persuasive way i can think of)…

    …would you not be a bit sad about the situation you are living in?

    really not? You would have neither heart nor brain then. Heh.

  • T.Katz

    Yes, i know that we are not living in such a bad bad world i depicted, for now there is more than concrete, crap and crime.
    Though – if you are awake and take a look behind the curtains (e.g. if you try to participate in politics, then you see very fast), or if you get the numbers what is really going on in the rainforests, oceans and other habitats, you can get the impression that our western style of life is like driving a car without brakes and blocked gas pedal full speed into a wall.

    There are a lot of ways to cope with that:
    1. deny it, look away, play it down, declare TINA *
    2. escape into fantasy worlds and forget about reality,
    3. act.
    I think you see which ways are easy and which ways are healthy. And yes, unfortunately not the same.

    * “TINA” for those who dont know: “There is no alternative”. Every time TINA is declared, you can be sure there is at least one alternative they want to hide :)

  • Carl

    I agree with T.Katz here. Many of you that have commented here are have no heart or soul. It wouldn’t matter what some of these people are feeling, imaginary or not…have a little bit of compassion. Or is that something that in your quest to be the best that modern can get, you’d much rather write off as just sentimentalism.

    Do you really want to know why these people feel the way they do?? Probably not, but I’m going to tell you anyway. It’s because after seeing Avatar, it’s reminded them, in no uncertain terms, just how critical things are in the world today. Not just with the environment and how we treat the planet, but also how we conduct ourselves as individuals and as a society. The film had a message, one which most of you seem not to be able to see because you’re too busy living an illusion yourselves

    Honestly, you people worry me. It’s not the people who feel sad, or depressed or anything else after seeing Avatar who should take a real good look at themselves and re-evaluate their lives, it’s you, the ones who would be “normal” that need to do so. take a look at the state of the place, a real look. If you seem to think that everything is hunky-dory than you need to take those blinkers off and smell the pile of cow dung sitting under your noses. It’s been sitting there for most of your lives, you just haven’t noticed it. Oh, and checkout the pile you’re wading in, because whilst you’ve been too busy dreaming it’s now sitting up under your necks.

    Quite frankly I don’t know whether I want to laugh or cry. If most of the comments made here are the shining example of what it is to be “normal” then I have little hope for this world ever making it much past the stage we’re at now. Instead of thinking about yourselves for a change, think about others and think about the legacy you’re going to leave behind. I dare say future generations are going to be none too happy.

  • Aga

    Yes, I agree with Carl and T.Katz. I was really sad after Avatar. First that came to me was the fact that wherever “we” come we distroy it. We leave machines, guns and concrete. the nature around us is hurt. We kill our planet and each other. This is not good.
    We simply don’t see! This movie is all about love, balance, understanding our nature, understanding the connections in the universe. And yes, our planet is sad, very sad and depressed. It’s all about money. It’s sick and it’s getting worse and worse. I am not surprised that some of us get depressed after seeing Avatar. Because seriously, there are way too many blind idiots out there on earth!!

  • you know, for all the people hold Avatar and Cameron up as an ecological beacon, noone ever mentions the fact that he adopts the celebrity habits of owning his own planes and helicopters, lives in multiple houses, nor has there ever been a story about “green sets” or “green productions” associated with his name. I’ve worked on Hollywood productions and they are the largest waste of energy and materials you will ever see. I know a woman that worked in Laura Ziskin’s (producer on the Spiderman films) office and she was instructed to Fedex bottles of Ziskin’s favorite water to New York from LA – that is shipping water! They also drove back and forth everyday to her Malibu home to get her gourmet meals. Cameron made multiple designers commute to his Malibu home to work in his guest house every day. I worked on the Dark Knight here in Chicago and they built restrooms in the production offices then tore them out and put all the fixtures in the dumpster because it was easier than getting a building permit and making a legitimate addition to the building. Its such bullshit!

  • Aga

    well, yes it is bullshit. there is always something behind the screen. people are addicted to luxury. all of us. i suppose i would be too if i had millions of dollars. would i share it with people that really need it so they can just survive next day? i hope so!
    it’s easy to judge someone, but to see the real motives behind is difficult. the movie is beautiful. someone had to first imagine it and then create it. he did a great job whatever motives he had, was it making money? maybe. it’s quite obvious to me that the costs were huge too.
    but movies sell great. why? because we got addicted to this unreal world, we tend to escape from reality instead of acting. we need it so it is partly our fault that making movies is not “green”. why movies at all?? movies are fun. we are like children. we only play here on this planet instead of thinking and really living. but i guess this is the way it is supposed to be. this planet of sorrow is a place we cannot avoid on our way of becoming inteligent being, simply we still have a lot to learn.

  • I just hope all the people that are going to obviously use Avatar as a beacon of their personal and political agenda DON’T hold Cameron in the same regard until he convinces people that he deserves it.

    I’ve stated here in these boards I like Cameron’s work and I think he is a modern day showman like P.T. Barnum – “he gives the world entertainment that the world didn’t know they wanted”. He did it on Titanic and he has done it again on Avatar. But like Titanic, I really think his motive is to find a story device/theme that can have huge universal appeal and much less about civic responsibility. Titanic – world known historical event, in the “world’s collective subconscious”. Avatar – world known ecological concern, in the “world’s collective subconscious”.

    He is happy Avatar is causing everyone to feel multiple emotions, happy all the way to the bank!

  • Aga

    yup :) good for him then.

  • jones the cat

    i will always avoid the horrible creatures that surround me. occasionally though i’ll have faith in the humans & leave my hiding hole. . . hmmm . . these bloody humans

  • sam

    Avatar is a beutiful film and tes i do kinda really wish it was real but im not gonna commit suicide!

  • Ada

    I think films like this just attract looserish, video game playing, living in moms basement type people that are naturally depressed. They probebly got depressed after watching the little mermaid too. They need to put down the video games and fantasies and get a real life.

  • DII8

    I was also somewhat touched after seeing the movie. Not so much over “Pandora” or caring about living there but more over the way that two different species ultimately fall in love and overcome everything to be together.

    The people who have been touched by the movie in whatever way are not the strange ones. I would say the people who haven’t are the ones with the true problems.