Repeat after me: ‘It’s not real; it’s just a movie’

I think we’re running out of things to be depressed about.

I say this because of a new mental health condition that psychologists are blaming on the blockbuster movie “Avatar.” The illness is called Post-Avatar Depression Syndrome. It’s what happens when you realize that you just paid $11.50 for a movie.

No, actually it’s a very real problem. According to CNN.com, some Avatar fans say they “have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts after seeing the film because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora.”

At first glance, you might dismiss these fans as nothing more than pathetic, misguided losers who deserve widespread ridicule. And you’d be right. Yet extraordinarily engaging filmmaking can lead the most psychologically vulnerable among us deep into a fantasy universe, where the inevitable post-film return to the real world can leave one with intense feelings of despair. I experienced this same thing after seeing the 1987 film ” Ernest Goes to Camp.”

So knowing these problems, let’s give a quick recap of “Avatar” for everyone in the world who hasn’t seen it yet. And here I’m talking about Lucille Snooklegrass of Paonia.

Basically, Lucille, the film’s plot is a classic struggle between civilizations that takes place in a magical, distant, undeveloped planet called Pandora. The planet is a beautiful, utopian paradise, by which I mean there aren’t any lawyers.

The central character is Jake, a young American who arrives on Pandora after a lengthy spaceship ride from Earth. To endure the voyage, his body is frozen and forced into tight quarters on a flight lasting over six years. Those of you who have ever flown United can relate.

Once on land, Jake tries to integrate himself with the odd-looking Pandoran locals. After meeting one of the native women — a 10-foot-tall, bug-eyed, aggressive hunter with an enormous head and blue skin — he falls in love with her. That’s what happens to guys who haven’t seen a female in six years.

Anyway, Jake and this big blue Amazon tramp spend their time frolicking around the jungle, hugging trees, and carjacking gigantic birds for joyrides, all the while trying to protect the land from being destroyed by an American corporation that is (and here’s a fresh take) evil and greedy.

The main message of the film is that capitalism is corrupt and immoral. On a side note, officially licensed “Avatar” T-shirts, hats and action figures are now available at a major retailer near you. So like I was saying, Lucille, all businesspeople are bad. The ones in “Avatar” go so far as to try to blow up a sacred tree that communicates with the natives. It’s called the: “Tree of Voices,” and it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. I once knew of a similar tree. It was right outside my fraternity house, and I’d often hear it talking to me at night while I was in the middle of a nasty tequila bender.

Fortunately, Jake and his blue chick, along with all her friends, eventually defeat the corporation’s large military security force by using high-tech weapons, such as bows and arrows, and birds. The evil Americans are sent home in shame. But because he is so in love, Jake decides to stay behind and live on Pandora forever, even though, frankly, he will admit that eating plants all day gets kind of old and oh-what-he-wouldn’t-give for a Quarter Pounder with cheese about now.

As the final credits roll, we see shots of the gorgeous, pristine Pandora landscape, which leads us back to this depression business.

Because of the incredible 3-D technology, you are transported into this ecologically perfect paradise. Then afterward, you have to walk out into the parking lot, where your senses are immediately hit with things like Beyonce ring tones, empty Sprite bottles on the ground and a 1991 Camry that parked three inches from your driver’s side door.

Depressing? Sure. Which is why, Lucille, I think you should skip the fantasies like “Avatar” and instead take in mature films — ones that are more real and touching, and that reflect a deeper, emotional human bond.

I recommend “Ernest Goes to Camp.”


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