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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Avatards...

...and other fantasy fanatics, but mostly "Avatards:" Living in a world that some movie director came up with is not that cool. Sure, it can be fun for a while -I personally write fanfiction all the time- but would you really want to live there?

Pandora, the world in James Cameron's movie Avatar was, without a doubt, incredibly well-designed. Sure, the plot of the movie wasn't that great and many of the characters were stereotypes (or ripoffs from Dances with Wolves), but a lot of thought did go into making sure that Pandora was its own little section of the cosmos...

...Even if it was a LOT like Earth.

For example, I know that a MILLION people have pointed this out, but the Na'vi are way too close to humans to have evolved independently. They are a bipedal, mammalian, sentient species on the exact moon that Earthlings are trying to mine from. They look a lot like humanoid felines, right down to the limb count.

Despite every other similarity to Earth life that Pandora has, the Na'vi strike me as the most blatant mooch. Most things on Pandora have six limbs instead of four like on Earth.

OK, I'll buy that most of the things on Pandora are hexapods instead of tetrapods. So why do the Na'vi, out of all the fauna on Pandora, only have four? Because they're the dominant species? Surely a movie advocating harmony with the natural world cannot be so...species-ist, right?

Although the Na'vi are the dominant species, the more obvious answer is that everything about the Na'vi is meant to feel pretty damn human. Despite their wild features, they are clearly based off of loved animals as opposed to hated ones (unlike the far more common, reptilian-humanoid aliens of most sci-fi flicks), can control (effectively) every species on the planet, and, despite not having a human amount of digits, have a terrestrial amount of limbs. Not only are they 'too perfect' (another thing - what makes the gene pools of humans and an alien species so darn compatible, again?), but they are too human to plausibly be aliens. The people who want to be Na'vi are asking to be furry super-humans, not a species wholly different from their own. I can totally understand the Na'vikin popping up right after this movie came out.

One would think that the environmental nature of the film should have been seen by everyone. There was probably a reason that Cameron made Pandora so much like Earth; I'll buy convergent evolution to a degree, but some of the species are just so damn similar to ones on the green planet that the statement should have been obvious. Evidently, however, not everyone got the point:

Apparently, Pandora was so pretty that, instead of encouraging a sense of wonder about our own planet, people are tempted to kill themselves just to live on Pandora.



"When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first time yesterday, the world seemed...gray. It was like my whole life, everything I've done and worked for, had lost its meaning."

You know what? Our world IS Pandora. No, we do not have giant wyverns or blue cat people, but how many people feeling this sort of depression do you suppose researched the full extent of Earth's flora and fauna? There are a million creatures, past and present, that could surpass Pandora's awesomeness. Pick a place - a coral reef, rain forest, desert, or even that pond you sit by in the park - and look at what you're missing.

Now imagine all of it being gone, just like Pandora's amazing fauna could have been. Humans (even 'native' peoples like the Na'vi) have a nasty track record of eradicating awesome species. There are reasons that we do not have giant eagles, elephant birds, saber-toothed cats, or other such amazing creatures. Humanity, 'savage' or no, has wiped out more species during its existence than any other creature. The amount of species that humans have driven to extinction is getting to be on par with regular geological mass-wipeouts. There are no reasons for elephant birds not to exist on Madagascar anymore. Thousands of other animals and plants are facing the fates of the Tasmanian tiger, elephant bird, saber-tooth cats, and perhaps even a few dinosaurs.

Now, if you want to kill yourself because of this, go ahead. The last thing the Earth needs is more humans, and you will be removing yourself from the gene pool. If nothing else kills this world, it will die from human overpopulation. This has been known since Soylent Green. Still, wouldn't it be a lot better to try and fix some of the damage, or at least prevent more?

Save your own world before you start worrying about Pandora. Earth is the only planet with chocolate.

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