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Avatar Film Had a Huge Impact on Pop Culture

Avatar Film Had a Huge Impact on Pop Culture

It’s somehow become a meme in the popular consciousness that Avatar, the highest-grossing movie of all time worldwide, is remembered by nobody, had no lasting impact on pop culture, and was nothing more than a 3-D gimmick.

(This despite reports of massive fandoms at the time experiencing depression that they couldn’t actually live within the world of the film.) One of the earliest major takes on the topic came from Forbes writer Scott Mendelson, five years after the movie’s release, and while his was simply a financial analysis that gave the film itself a lot of credit, extremely vocal online fans have repeated the meme to bash the movie, along with Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s insultingly glib characterization of Avatar as “Dances With Smurfs.” (Never mind that an enduring meme is itself a validation of its impact.)

As the film enjoys a remastered re-release ahead of its sequel, Avatar: The Way Of Water, it’s easy to see why some of the more aggressive “Nerd Twitter” voices would deride Avatar. Relative to current sci-fi blockbusters, it’s achingly sincere about its environmentalism, possesses no ironic-distance humor, and it’s also unapologetically horny. Neytiri was specifically designed to be attractive to director James Cameron’s “all-male crew of artists,“ and echoes of the scene in which she cradles the much smaller Jake at the end of the film can be seen in the dating episode of the current She-Hulk TV series. It’s culturally safer, and less open to possible ridicule, to wear a T-shirt featuring Captain America than a naked blue cat person. But it’s not like there were T-shirts to begin with; indeed, a lot of the “no cultural footprint” arguments, including Mendelson’s, are partly inspired by the lack of merchandise upon its original release in 2009.

Avatar had a massive impact on pop culture, despite what you’ve been hearing lately

It’s somehow become a meme in the popular consciousness that Avatar, the highest-grossing movie of all time worldwide, is remembered by nobody, had no lasting impact on pop culture, and was nothing more than a 3-D gimmick. (This despite reports of massive fandoms at the time experiencing depression that they couldn’t actually live within the world of the film.) One of the earliest major takes on the topic came from Forbes writer Scott Mendelson, five years after the movie’s release, and while his was simply a financial analysis that gave the film itself a lot of credit, extremely vocal online fans have repeated the meme to bash the movie, along with Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s insultingly glib characterization of Avatar as “Dances With Smurfs.” (Never mind that an enduring meme is itself a validation of its impact.)

As the film enjoys a remastered re-release ahead of its sequel, Avatar: The Way Of Water, it’s easy to see why some of the more aggressive “Nerd Twitter” voices would deride Avatar. Relative to current sci-fi blockbusters, it’s achingly sincere about its environmentalism, possesses no ironic-distance humor, and it’s also unapologetically horny. Neytiri was specifically designed to be attractive to director James Cameron’s “all-male crew of artists,“ and echoes of the scene in which she cradles the much smaller Jake at the end of the film can be seen in the dating episode of the current She-Hulk TV series. It’s culturally safer, and less open to possible ridicule, to wear a T-shirt featuring Captain America than a naked blue cat person. But it’s not like there were T-shirts to begin with; indeed, a lot of the “no cultural footprint” arguments, including Mendelson’s, are partly inspired by the lack of merchandise upon its original release in 2009.

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