‘Post-Avatar depression syndrome’: why do fans feel blue after watching James Cameron’s film? – The Guardian

PADS isn’t a medically recognised situation, however the emotions folks enjoy are very actual
Sian, I simply read a headline about one thing known as “post-Avatar despair”. It feels like precisely what occurs to me every time I watch a deeply derided giant funds and relatively nonsensical movie – however I am getting the sensation that is … one thing else.
All of it started after the primary Avatar was once launched in 2009: folks began posting on a fan web site, 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 gave the impression out of step with the flora and fauna, they felt, particularly when in comparison to the non secular, environment-loving Na’vi.
“Ever since I went to look Avatar I’ve been depressed. Looking at the glorious global of Pandora and all of the Na’vi made me need to be one in every of them,” one wrote. “I even ponder suicide pondering that if I do it I can be rebirthed in an international very similar to Pandora and the the entirety is equal to in Avatar.” Some other requested: “Are there folks in the market who suppose humanity goes south?”
The thread won greater than 1,000 posts from folks all over the world experiencing identical emotions; it was so in style {that a} 2d thread was once created for more space, and the dialogue unfold to different fan websites. It was once picked up through the media in 2010, and in the end labelled post-Avatar despair syndrome (PADS).
Wait, what do you imply “labelled”? This isn’t a DSM-level analysis is it?
An important factor is that the sentiments folks enjoy are very actual, and frequently very troubling to them. However no, PADS isn’t a medically recognised situation – nor does it appear to be a PR marketing campaign. It’s an observable phenomenon.
Avatar is so gorgeous that it driven folks into despair. Did James Cameron get started this rumor? 😂 https://t.co/Ym7xTNMzrk
It sort of feels that Avatar does uniquely galvanize identical emotions amongst disparate folks, however the emotions it provokes – sorrow from feeling disconnected from nature, worries about the way forward for our personal planet and feeling disillusioned with fashionable lifestyles – are all very commonplace emotions to have given how we’ve constructed our global and societies. And it’s of word that most of the authentic posters on the ones boards had been younger males, who would additionally write about feeling lonely in class, or unsupported at house.
“It has taken the most productive of our era to create this digital global, and actual lifestyles won’t ever be as utopian as it kind of feels onscreen. It makes actual lifestyles appear extra imperfect,” Dr Stephan Quentzel, a New York psychiatrist, informed CNN in 2010 as approach of rationalization.
Apparently, PADS was once now not confined to when the movie got here out; folks have spoken about gazing Avatar for the primary time within the years because it was once launched and nonetheless reported having identical emotions. One fan recently estimated that 10-20% of folks the use of Avatar fan boards file experiencing it.
Is there a treatment?
Historical Wooded area Alliance, a Canadian non-profit devoted to the security of old-growth forests, advanced a three-step treatment for PADS: “Get out and enjoy nature, take motion to protect nature and get others to do the similar.”
Lovers additionally started sharing tips about tactics to cut back consumerism and waste, and find out how to interact extra with the flora and fauna. One Swedish fan, Ivar Hill, wrote at the discussion board when he was once 17: “Once I awoke this morning after gazing Avatar for the primary time the day gone by, the sector gave the impression … grey. It was once like my complete lifestyles, the entirety I’ve achieved and labored for, misplaced its which means. It simply turns out so … meaningless. I nonetheless don’t in reality see any reason why to stay … doing issues in any respect. I are living in a loss of life global.” However after talking to enthusiasts, he started studying philosophy and spending extra day out in nature through mountaineering. “Avatar made me really feel like I may just take a seat out in a wooded area and simply be,” Hill informed the New York Occasions final month; he’s now in his 30s and married to a woman he met on an Avatar fan forum he started.
And, as is frequently the case in fandoms, there’s a touching comradery to be discovered. In a 2021 episode of the documentary sequence How To with John Wilson, he sits down with a bunch for Avatar enthusiasts who started assembly up in 2020. A few of their assembly is solely nerds nerding, however a large number of it’s them speaking about their struggles with despair and the way they’ve discovered solace in every different.
“For me the post-Avatar despair hit exhausting as a result of I’ve this serial monitor report of seeking to break out my fact,” one says, tearfully recalling how a fellow Avatar fan stored his lifestyles after he posted on a discussion board about feeling suicidal. “In the long run it comes from a want to need one thing higher,” he muses, of PADs. “However simply because we’ve that want, I feel it drives us to make the sector that we are living in a greater position.”
Discovering your folks is a treatment for all ills.
The sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, is in the end out. How’s everyone doing?
Some are obviously, very excited. However superfan Hill informed the New York Occasions at the present time, it’s only some other film for him: “It’s going to be in reality attention-grabbing to look, but it surely’s now not like I’m counting down the times.”
It sort of feels that even for the massive enthusiasts, it’s a little bit bizarre having a sequel out for a 13-year-old movie described as “the most well liked movie that nobody recalls”. However who is aware of – possibly Avatar: The Manner of Water would possibly galvanize a burst of ocean-saving activism.
Disaster strengthen products and services will also be reached 24 hours an afternoon: Lifeline 13 11 14; Suicide Name Again Carrier 1300 659 467; Youngsters Helpline 1800 55 1800; MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78; Past Blue 1300 22 4636


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