A sequel to the “Avatar” movie by James Cameron is set to premiere this December, which will be called “Avatar: The Way Of Water”. Avatar is the highest-grossing film in the world, overtaken by “Avengers: Endgame” temporarily, only to take the top spot again when the former was re-released. It is the first film to gross more than $2 billion dollars. It won Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Visual Effects at the Academy Awards, and has earned several other accolades for its groundbreaking effects. The movie is also known for what it was able to pull off during its production–its creation required massive amounts of time and effort, not just from its actors and production crew, but from software companies and tech experts as well, wherein entirely new technology and methods had to be created in order to complete the movie.
But, quick–if you’ve watched Avatar, can you recall what happened in this scene?
Despite all these amazing feats and accolades, film enthusiasts and even regular online folks are starting to point out that Avatar doesn’t seem to have much cultural footprints, often stating that despite how beautiful the movie is, no one can seem to remember it what the movie is about. There is also a noticeable lack of quotable quotes from the movie, or characters that have had impact on the creation of other film or literary characters.
All everyone seems to remember is that Avatar is a stunning movie. But really, what else can you remember about the film?
In most recent memory, “Avatar” has taken on a new meaning–as more people now associate the word “Avatar” with the Nickelodeon series “Avatar: The Legend of Aang”. There are those who believe that the success of the animated series played a role in overshadowing the movie’s popularity online.
Mention “blue people”, and there’s a good chance you’d get a “Smurf”recall from people instead of “Na’vi”. It seems like the only time it gets specifically mentioned in posts or threads is when the conversation is about highest-grossing movies, new technologies in film, or best cinematic effects.
One of the best ways to tell whether something has made an impact, a least in pop culture, is the presence of memes, whether in good or bad form–it shows that the content itself was memorable. People on social media are claiming that their individual obscure content obsessions had more cultural footprint and impact than Avatar ever had.
Going by this standard, the Jared Leto snoozer “Morbius”, which is categorically not at par with Avatar in terms of story and quality, generated an abundance of memes and parodies on every platform, making it more culturally impactful than Avatar.
Another clear sign of cultural impact is the amount of fanfiction a show, movie, or book is able to generate. As pointed by a Twitter user, Avatar has a small amount of fanfiction on the popular fanfiction site “archive of our own” or “ao3”. Although this point is refuted by another user stating that the amount of fanfiction isn’t an accurate gauge of cultural impact since the effort of people willing to make the fanfiction isn’t proportionate to its fanbase or popularity, still–-it cannot be denied that few people are spending their time and energy writing more universes around Avatar.
There is also an evident lack of references to the movie in shows and media. However, while some people on social media have argued that the real issue of the movie is in the disproportional gap between its success and its cultural impact, others have pointed out that the movie’s real cultural impact is in jump starting the 3D movie wave in cinemas, inspiring moviegoers and film producers to be more interested in 3D movies.
Some social media users also believe that despite the movie’s critical acclaim and its overall visual masterpiece, the lack of cultural footprint is mainly attributed to its lack of iconic characters and dialogues, factoring in an unexciting plot with no particular hooks or scenes worth discussing outside of the cinema. Some have even made parallels with other movies to point out how overdone the story is.
Interestingly enough, some have made the argument that online discussions and debates from people saying that “Avatar has no cultural footprint”, and conversations regarding the movie’s lack of cultural impact is in itself the evidence of the movie’s cultural footprint (I know–totally mind-blowing). Some seem to think that the entire discussion about it not having a cultural footprint is pointless, stating how the stunning movie was a good watch and was ahead of its time, and that that should ultimately be the end goal of a movie.
Whichever opinion you fall into–whether you think Avatar has made an impact or not–everyone can still agree that it’s a visually amazing film which everyone should see, and it is deserving of all the awards and accolades it ever received.
The trailer for the sequel seems like it will follow the quality of the first film. Who knows, maybe the sequel will give the impact everyone’s searching for.
Anyway, here’s POP!’s contribution to the pool of Avatar memes, so we all don’t forget.
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