Straight Talk Advice

Jan 20, 2010

“Avatar” blues: Fans long for connection to Nature

DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: I have a grandnephew, 15, from Kentucky and a grandson, 16, from California. Both say “Avatar” is the best movie they’ve ever seen. When I asked why, I expected to hear about the amazing graphics. But they surprised me saying it was the storyline. Independently, they both mentioned the scene where the princess blesses the animal before killing it and the scene where Jake Sully is accepted into the tribe by all the linked hands. I’m interested in how other young people were impacted by this film. — John Wood, Carmichael, Calif.

Brie 18, Ashland, Calif. Ask me a question

The humans were going to wipe out the Na’vi for resources much like we did to the Native Americans. I felt depressed after the movie because such repetitive history on earth doesn’t end well like it did in “Avatar”. Would I move there? I would rather make earth a better place.

Gregg 18, Sacramento, Calif. Ask me a question

At first I was really depressed because I wanted to live on Pandora and knew I couldn’t. It was so real. I wanted to fly, ride horses, track things, hunt to survive, be able to “plug in” to all life and understand the whole environment. The scene that sticks out is when the princess kills that animal with honor and respect. I doubt a movie will have a lasting effect on people, but I plan to work toward living more like an avatar.

Lennon 23, Fair Oaks, Calif. Ask me a question

James Cameron’s created world strikes a deep longing for a world that once existed on our planet. By comparison, today’s world seems lifeless, full of amateur attempts to replace the longing. We envy the connection the Na’vi have with Nature. It’s a connection we could attain, too, if we would pull ourselves out of our technological tar pit and stop considering ourselves more important than the environment. Would I go live on Pandora? Duh.

Gabriel 18, Ashland, Ore. Ask me a question

When Jake Sully is accepted into the clan, I felt a deep belonging, a feeling of being ONE. When the princess blesses the animal, it is a message of honor and thanks for life given.

Maureen 17, Redding, Calif. Ask me a question

“Avatar” was definitely one of my favorite movies. It showed a world where people are connected to each other and to nature. It demonstrated the importance of both loyalty and civil disobedience. It promoted diplomacy by showing the disaster war and corporate mentality causes. Would I move there? It’s not right to damage our planet, then run.

Savannah 16, Folsom, Calif. Ask me a question

When the Na’vi connected with other life through their braids, it is similar to how we connect in the mental, inward way. Many people wish they could live on Pandora. I can see why.

Katelyn 15, Huntington Beach, Calif. Ask me a question

What made “Avatar” powerful was the stunning graphics and the terrible twisting of “God” into something like Mother Nature. It was like “Transformers”, but with garbage messages.

Geoff 24, Redding, Calif. Ask me a question

I’m appalled by the younger generation’s cash-infused bedazzlement with this film. “Avatar” is about moving beyond the guilt of white privilege — without losing the privilege. It’s marketed by some of the largest companies on the planet that are thriving on a save-the-earth message, while feeding right back into the corporate machine. Want a real story of change? Watch “District 9”.

DEAR JOHN: With a few exceptions, “Avatar’s” storyline awakened a deep longing in youth — so deep that many felt depressed afterward. I believe the hero could have been any color. The insanity of the military-industrial-corporate machine is becoming clearer to mass culture. What depresses is that nobody knows how to dismantle it and live on this planet peacefully and sustainably. Any ideas? Write us.

Editor’s Web Note: Could humans finally be weary of violence and exploitation? As of today’s date, the sci-fi film “Avatar” holds the spot for the second-highest grossing film ever made. For all the complaints from the intellectual community and the Christian right, Cameron makes a spiritual life of peace and ecological balance look sumptuously fulfilling. If it wasn’t for “abandonment guilt”, most young people would head to Pandora in a hot second. —Lauren

  1. By Dominic, 23, panelist, age , from San Luis Obispo, CA on 01/21/2010

    I thought Avatar was a good movie too, but really guys? This is Hollywood! I understand the theme was thought provoking, but the film’s impact on people just shows how much we are affected by the media. It is not about the message, historical parallels, or the environment. You really want nature? go out to the woods, not the movie theater. It disturbs me to see how misinformed and ignorant we all can be sometimes.

    I appreciate this movie for what it was; an entertaining blockbuster and a beautiful display of digital art which thoroughly enhanced a feelgood, cliche theme. Thank you Geoff for stating it a bit more eloquently than my rant.

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  2. By Nikki, age , from Yuba City on 01/24/2010

    “Avatar” opened a new meaning of life to me. I didn’t feel sad at all afterward, I felt as if I woke up and grew wings. The movie gave me a new connection to nature, who I believe is God, he created the world for us to live and care for. I believe that if we don’t take care of Earth, then we might murder our own home, a home created just for us. We should take good care for it, like the Na’vi did with Pandora.

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  3. By patricia maddox, age , on 01/25/2010

    The longing that these teens are feeling is the longing that we all have within us.  We were created to live in a garden in peace and in relationship with nature and each other.  It is at the core of our being.

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  4. By Lara, age , from Moraga, California on 01/25/2010

    The plot line was completely unoriginal and “hollywood” like Dominic said but I think what makes this movie so powerful is that it questions our humanity, (like most stories) and has us ask the big questions that examine what it means to be human. The graphics make it easier for us to feel empathy, putting ourselves into someone else’s shoes. Even though its unoriginal, the story obviously needs to be repeated over and over again before we get it and stop acting the way we do towards each other in war, racism etc.

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  5. By Stu, age , from Fairfield, CA on 02/08/2010


    Responding to ‘Avatar’ blues column. Here’s what young people can do to withdraw from what you appropriately describe as “the insanity of the military-industrial-corporate machine.”

    First, recognize that it is both a machine and someone else’s dream.  We are more than consumers.  We are spiritual beings in human form.

    Truth is, we are not bound by someone else’s dream, no matter how many messages they send out intending for us to sleepwalk or buy into their dream.

    I would offer that young adults find some practices like meditation, yoga, prayer for them to know the truth of their their True Self, their own Infinite Nature.  I have some exercises that people of any age can do so they can access this awareness in their body so it is a real experience, not just a concept or wishful thought.

    Then, young people cna congregate together, shae their dreams and visions for the world they want to create and start to take actions steps to make it their 3D reality.

    The best way to dismantle the insanity of today’s culture is to give it less and less energy, simply by focusing on what we do want to create.  Like sustainable, healthy organic food supplies.  Connecting with nature.

    As we live more loving, connected, and fun lives with each other by living our own Truths, and the Matrix, the old powers that be lose their grip on us, eventually collapsing because fewer and fewer people buy into their story.

    I’d love to discuss this with you directly if you’d like.

    It’s time to re-create the world!  And who better to lead us than the leaders of tomorrow!



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  6. By Ashley, 22, Panelist, age , from Auburn CA USA on 02/18/2010

    Hey so I finally saw this film and I know why everyone is depressed when they see Avatar. When they watch this movie it shows a way of life that humans once lived a way of life that every single person longs for. and the reason we long for this is because it is deeply embedded in our DNA and our very nature. Our ancestors lived like the Navi did maybe without riding on birds, but by living in nature and co-existing with it and thanking the animals we killed and praying and being connected too nature and god and all living things. Now all that we do is use nature and animals like they aren’t made of energy like all of us humans. We have forgotten who we are!

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  7. By Ken, age , from Redding, CA on 03/31/2010

    Lauren: Thanks for writing Straight Talk. I think it is a great resource for teens and is a valuable addition to the Record Searchlight newspaper.
    Due to an illness, I could not write sooner, but the column that appeared in the RS on Jan 25 really bothered me. I think you may have mislead many with your comment about the “insanity” of the military-industrial-corporate machine. It is said that those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat past mistakes over and over.

    War is a violent way for determining who gets to say what goes on in a given territory, for example, regarding: who gets power, who gets wealth and resources, whose ideals prevail, who is a member and who is not, which laws get made, what gets taught in schools, where the border rests, how much tax is levied, and so on. War is the ultimate means for deciding these issues if a peaceful process or resolution can’t be agreed upon.
    Wars have been going on since before recorded history, and certainly long before industry and corporations appeared. Wars are still going on today in areas of the world without significant industry or corporation presence.

    War can be seen as one of the facets of human nature. Many, like myself, believe that if we are not prepared to defend ourselves and our friends with a “big stick” then we are not prepared at all. So, while you see it as “insanity”, I see it as a prophylactic.

    As an aside, we can thank war, along with purges, disease and auto accidents, etc. for our relatively decent living conditions. Despite the heartache, suffering & pain loved ones may feel due to deaths, these things have not even begun to keep pace with another facet of human nature, that of “breeding like rabbits”. The USA probably has at least twice the population it should have, and the world should probably reduce its population to a third or forth of present levels just to get to a sustainable level.

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