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Cultural footprints

Since Star Wars: The Force Awakens is poised to overtake Avatar`s domestic box office record today or tomorrow, I stumbled upon an interesting question earlier. Why does Avatar, as the highest-grossing movie of all time (at this point and I think it will keep the global record) have little to no pop-cultural impact?

Personally, I saw it pretty late in theaters and was pretty disappointed the first time around. I knew it was an "event movie" because of the visuals basically but because it was so hyped during that time, I expected it to be like other "event movie" where beyond the technical gimmick there would be a story/character(s)/mythos to really move and grab me. This didn`t. Like, at all. In a subsequent viewing, where I didn`t expected to be woo-ed, I liked the movie much, much better. Basically, like a fun popcorn flick.

It`s not a problem of simplistic stories and/or somewhat clichéd characters can never work because some of the most iconic movies/stories of all time basically have just that, if you get down to it. The storyteller just has to find a way to make them connect with people in a lasting way. This is an area where I think Avatar fell down. It works okay when I watch the movie but afterwards it`s done and gone. I had to actually look up the lead character`s name just now. Gone with the Wind is decades old and I know the lead is named "Scarlett O`Hara". My genre-hating Mom will happily hum the Imperial march from Star Wars. If I lower my voice and attempt a bad Italian accent, most people get the Godfather reference.

As such, I can totally understand why Avatar didn`t really seep into pop-culture. Beyond remembering the visuals that is. They were stunning for their time.

I only just learned there is a trilogy (seriously?) of sequels planned. Which, I will certainly see those movies and am open to them being good but this ain`t 2009. If Avatar did have an impact it was studios forcing 3D onto everything under the sun, to the point where people now go "I`m sick of 3D". So, that gimmick will no longer fly. And technology hasn`t advanced to the point where something is really new and groundbreaking. If a movie comes out in 4D or in interactive holodeck form or something, I believe then we`re talking again. That day has not yet come. So, Cameron has his work cut out for him.


( 4 have dazzled me — Dazzle me )
Jan. 6th, 2016 08:13 am (UTC)
Everytime I read that Avatar was the highest-grossing movie ever, I instantly go, "Huh. Really?". (Every time, because I keep forgetting it.) And I don't think it's because I've never actually seen the movie. It's just that it occupies no space in my pop cultured-filled brain, probably because it had, like you said, next to no impact on pop culture.

I have no idea where I am going with this :D Just ... yeah. Highest grossing movie of all time is still beyond me. It just makes me go "But why?"
Jan. 6th, 2016 05:05 pm (UTC)
Yeah, me too. Looking at other high-grossing movies, I can understand how they got there. Even if they aren`t my cup of tea - I might be the only person on Earth who just feels blah about E.T. - but I can understand why it became a hit.

Even with Avatar, I could understand if it had been a huge blockbuster because of the 3D effect and visuals being the new kewl thing back then. But it played like no other movie internationally and it just baffles me. Was the entire world high that year?

The insane gross of Jurassic World this summer baffled me too but at least it played more or less "normally" overseas.

For a movie as huge as Avatar the oddest thing is almost that it made no lasting waves. No merchandizing, no popculture influence, not making brand names of the actors starring in it. It played in the theaters for months and yet afterwards seemed quickly forgotten.
Jan. 7th, 2016 03:20 am (UTC)
I couldn't watch Avatar in 3D because I knew I would get sick. But even in 2D, the special effects amazed me. I wasn't expecting anything amazing with the plot, so I wasn't really let down in that aspect.

I find myself watching Avatar most times I see it playing on TV...I think I still find myself a little amazed that they accomplished so much back then (as if it was sooo far away, lol). James Cameron has already said that he plans to film 2, 3, & 4 back-to-back, so I'm quite curious to see what big/new things he will come up with.
Jan. 9th, 2016 09:28 pm (UTC)
I can`t actually see 3D effects so any movie I watch in 3D, I actually still only see in 2D. Sometimes, when it`s really obvious, I can make out where the 3D effect is supposed to be but it never really looks like an object actually coming out of the screen towards me. Just some weird defect with my eyesight. :)

So I knew going in, I wouldn`t get some of the hype of it but this hasn`t been a detriment with other "3D" movies for me either. Somehow, though, the visuals just never grabbed me that much. They looked cool and all but without connecting to the characters or story, it couldn`t sustain my interest over the entire lenght of this movie. Not even half of it.

These days, when it is on TV and it is in the ballpark of the final fight, I will leave it on. Because I really like that part. Everything before that, I just get bored with it too easily.
( 4 have dazzled me — Dazzle me )