"Avatar" as Metaphor for the Fantasy Craze

So a year ago it seemed every acquaintance I bumped into asked the same thing, “Have you seen Avatar yet?” With chagrin I’d admit that, no, actually I had not, any minute now though, I can’t wait. They would frown. “You have to see it! It’s, like, the best movie ever! And go soon! You have to see it in 3D! It will change your life!” Whenever I hear that a movie will change my life, I cringe slightly. I know right away that it has an uplifting message. Something spiritual, even. Watch the antihero groan and rub his eyes. “O Good Lord. Just what I need.”
Fade to black. The screen opens on an lovely autumn day, the legend says, “November 2010, Pennsylvania.” A man watches a silly movie about alien planets and evil capitalist corporate villains and aboriginal aliens.  (The Nav’i! Like Native Americans, only blue. And taller!) Am I changed? Am I changing?
Well, not exactly. (“But you didn’t see it in 3D!”)  Avatar does seem a handy metaphor for the 21st century fantasy craze. Not that fantasy hasn’t always been popular, but it does seem (at least slightly, if only for the media frenzy) more popular than ever, what with the Harry Potter hoopla and all the Potter wannabes and couldhaves and shouldhaves. (“Skyline” looks cool to me. Badass aliens breathing down our necks, with big ships. Leslie Kean is right! Invasion is imminent!)
The metaphor: the crippled marine who gets (somehow quite improbably) inserted into a healthy Nav’i body and frolics on Pandora in tall, slender form is like all the (somewhat lumpy, god bless ’em) readers/viewers (see U.S. population soars to 42% obesity rate) who glory in imaginary, fantastic worlds, or play video games and become their own avatar of themselves, only in virtual splendor. Help me, Will: “O wonder!/How many goodly creatures are there here!/How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world! That has such people in it!”

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