Is Avatar Deep?


I recently received an email requesting contributions for a book on Avatar and Philosophy. I’m not averse to contributing to these ‘popular culture’ books, and I have contributed in the past, but Avatar? Nice effects, I admit, even though I felt nauseous for the first half-hour whilst my brain adjusted to the 3D, but I did not come out of the cinema feeling as if it had engaged me in any intellectual (or even emotional) sense. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen (been forced to watch) Disney’s treatment of Pocahontas, but is this really any different?
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5 thoughts on “Is Avatar Deep?

  1. I know there has been some debate in the academic philosophy community over the value of these types of popular philosophy books but arguably any film can be thought about in a philosophical way. Yes, I do hold a degree of cynicism that these types of books are primarily driven by ulterior (and not necessarily virtuous) motives, and yes, some films might raise more explicit links to philosophical issues, but perhaps if even just a handful of readers that are interested in the stimuli end up being acquainted and engaged in philosophical questions are arguments, then perhaps it's not such a bad thing.

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  2. I got to watch Avatar in 3D at an IMAX screen the other day and have to say for me it was an amazing surreal experience. Although i agree with roy that it was not 'philosophically deep' it definitely does have some philosophical connotations (including ethics about war and a type of pantheism etc). Perhaps not enough as films like The Matrix or The Fountain. So writing a book on philosophy and avatar would be very difficult indeed. I thought the film did have some emotional scenes too.

    Perhaps one critique of the film is that it dabs into too many themes and then doesnt fufil the watcher's desire to know more.

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  3. I agree that it is shallow and long. And it does touch on a lot without giving substance to any of the (interesting?) issues raised. I felt like I was watching a very clever jumble of 30 or so years of past films, great and otherwise.

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