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Reasons I Laughed Out Loud, Offending Several Fellow Patrons, During The Major Motion Picture “Avatar.”

#1. Laphraoig.

I had some.

#2. “But its very name implies that it will be difficult, nay, impossible, to obtain!”

Even if you know that the rich vein of MacGuffin ore located in the planet is called “unobtainium” – which, yeah, not Cameron’s word, it’s a long-standing nerd joke, whatever – the first time Giovanni Ribisi leans over a mystical floating space rock and pronounces the word with deep, Ribisian seriousness, the merriment is irresistible.

#3. The Ultimate Intimacy.

Okay, so, what the mystical tribal people of (blue) color do instead of sex is to stick their exposed nerve clusters (they have them in their hair!) together and connect to each other’s nervous systems. That doesn’t seem all that exciting to me – although maybe it would if the nerve system you were connecting to were being stimulated by some extremely pleasurable activity, like, say, actually screwing – but they are hippies and mostly I’m just glad they’re not blowing bong hits into each others’ mouths and talking about their deep spiritual connection to the trees. Well: not talking about that more than usual. Talking about the deep spiritual connection to the trees is foreplay, as it turns out. But you know about the nerve-clusters-equals-fucktimes thing, yes? It’s on the Internet; it will be on the DVD; James Cameron has made it explicitly clear by this point that, when you directly access another entity’s nerve clusters with your nerve clusters, you are in fact engaged in fucking.

So, imagine my surprise when, about an hour in, our hero does it to a horse.

#4. My excuse for the drinking.

It went as follows: “What?! It’s gonna be a space movie, with some pretty aliens, and some dragons, and some explosions. I just need to see it, I don’t need to think about it. It’s not like there’s gonna be subtitles. Unless the aliens turn out to have their own special Elvish Klingon imaginary language that the dorks can all speak to each other at summer camp.” Ha ha, WHOOPS. Or, as the Na’vi would say, GRFLDSHAAAAAAGN’UH-OH.

#5. The Dragonriders of Perndora.

So, do you remember The Dragonriders of Pern? You know, that science-fiction book series? This is deep dork territory we are talking about; even knowing the name of the series singles you out as a current or former sad child who has trouble finding people to sit with in the cafeteria. But, among young dorks of a certain era, The Dragonriders of Pern was actually a really big deal. There are these special telepathic dragons, and they have to “choose” you, and once your dragon has “chosen” you are mated to it for life, and  you belong to a special dragon-centric warrior society, and also there’s a weird dick-measuring internal hierarchy of dragons where having the biggest and rarest and most impressively colored dragon makes you, like, King of the People Who Also Have Dragons. Truly, Pern is a unique and mystical world of dorkchantment.

So, anyway, guess which books James Cameron’s been reading?

Although, to give him credit, he did invent the bit where you have to battle your dragon for the right to stick your weiner nervous system into its special bonding orifice. That was fun.

#6. Mystical tribal religion dance party!

The most sacred activity these people share is gathering around Ye Olde Spirit Tree and, basically, doing Pilates at it. Maybe, if things get really spiritual, they wind up doing the Wave. Who knows, you guys? Theology is complicated like that!

#7. “You may now choose your woman.”

Is there a single white-straight-dude fantasy of being abducted into an perpetually-topless mystical tribal people of (blue) color society where the WSD doesn’t get invited to “choose his woman?” Basically, this movie seems very much like some guy – let us call him, for legal reasons, “Phlames Phlameron” – sat down and was like, “well, I like Star Wars. And I like masturbating to old copies of National Geographic. If only there were some way for me to combine these interests!”

#8. When they say “choose your woman,” they’re not fucking around.

So, I am sorry to keep going back to the sex thing, but the second that our hero, Jake, finally gets around to doing it with Space Zoe Saldana, she utters the words – with no small amount of seriousness, might I add – “we are mated for life now.” The VERY MOMENT HE GETS IT IN, she says this. Ladies: do you date dudes? Do any of these dudes like Avatar? Do you think that, at any point, you might have sex with a dude who likes Avatar? Because, if so, you need to say this shit during sex. I know I’m going to. I’ll adopt the deep, tranquil, stalkerly tones of mystical communion, give him the zonked-out blue-person googly-eye, all of it. Just to see how quickly he flies screaming out of the apartment, and whether he bothers to put on pants.


You guys, I was totally sad when I heard that Billy Zane was not going to be in this movie. I mean, of course I was! Who was going to be my ridiculous cartoon villain if the Zane didn’t show up? That’s what I was thinking. Little did I know, however, that this movie offers two – yes, two – Billy Zanes for the price of one. First, we have Billiani Zanebisi, who is playing the Chief Executive Officer in Charge of Being Incredibly Evil All the Time for Whatever Reason, who has a deep and murderous connection to the Sharper Image floating-rock paperweight on his desk, conveyed to us through Zanebisi’s patented “naturalistic” style of acting, which is to say everything twelve times and enunciate it really weirdly. (“Naaauh. Nah, nah, nahnahnah!” “So, um… ‘now,’ sir?”) And then! As if this weren’t enough! We have Corporal Zane, of the United Airborne Being Incredibly Evil All the Time Division! And he is, if possible, even more ridiculous! The scene in which he pronounces the name of a certain South American country as if it were four separate words, each one of which makes him want to vomit, before proceeding to climb into a gigantic mecha suit and rant against “limp-dicked science majors,” will uplift and delight you, and also haunt your dreams.

#10. I am immune to awe, beauty, and magic.

Well, sort of! Avatar really did look like a Lisa Frank binder had sex with a mid-’80s sci-fi paperback cover and their baby threw up on your face, which was great. And my eyes really were zipping all over the screen trying to catch the details, and I honestly was amazed by how many (fluorescent!) details there were, and how seamless it all looked. And I will probably see it in IMAX, if I get the chance! Because we were seated too close to the screen, as it turns out, so a lot of the 3-D effects just looked blurry and hurt my eyes. But also, when I see it in IMAX, I will still laugh when that one dude screws a horse. Because, yes, I am dead inside, but I submit to you that nothing is going to make that less than redonk.


  1. jfruh wrote:

    Technically isn’t Giovanni Ribisi the Paul Riser of this movie, rather than the Billy Zane? Oh, wait, Paul Riser was actually kind of good and non-laughable in Aliens, never mind.

    Also, I wish I had thought to bring up the “mated for life” thing with my very feminist stepmother who LOVED this movie when I was trying to convince her that it was in fact terrible. Yes, you have RUINED her, secret white man, with your penis! ‘Cause that’s what fuckin’ does to ladies!

    Monday, January 18, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Permalink
  2. Yvonne wrote:

    1) I was really glad that Ribisi was in this because otherwise I might have had to take the silliness seriously. I just kept having Friends flashbacks of him and the mom from “That Seventies Show” that gave the whole “mated for life” thing much more culturally resonant.

    2) It would have been awesome if Michelle Rodriguez had played Jake Skully instead of Vasquez Redux.

    3) Oh man. I *loved* Dragonriders of Pern.

    Monday, January 18, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Permalink
  3. Robin wrote:

    When we left the theater, I had two comments:
    1) That movie had a pterodactyl rape scene, right?
    2) Are we really still casting white people as humans and people of color as aliens in 2009? REALLY?

    Monday, January 18, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Permalink
  4. Quercki wrote:

    Hoot! LOL.

    Monday, January 18, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Permalink
  5. Scott wrote:

    and my eyes really were zipping all over the screen trying to catch the details, …, so a lot of the 3-D effects just looked blurry and hurt my eyes.

    The zipping around may have had more to do with the headache than the proximity to the screen. To get some of the 3D effects, certain parts of the screen are intentionally out focus. Trying to see those details can cause eye strain as you try to correct for it.

    And he stole the tribal dance scene from the Matrix.

    Monday, January 18, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Permalink
  6. Elizabeth wrote:

    Well, thank god there was someone else who couldn’t stop thinking about the Dragonriders of Pern during that movie. Also, Fern Gully! It was like a 6th grade flashback for me, that movie, right down to the part where I felt sort of nauseous and like there might be something wrong with me for not liking it as much as everyone else seemed to.

    Monday, January 18, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Permalink
  7. Maura wrote:

    After reading this, I can’t decide if I’m glad I haven’t seen Avatar, or sorry that I missed it. On the one hand, I *have* already seen it (Dances with Wolves, which is the only movie I ever walked out of). On the other hand… VENN. AHH. ZWAYYY. LA.

    Monday, January 18, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Permalink
  8. gatecrewgirl wrote:

    1. When I brought home one of Anne McCaffrey’s gems from the Manlius Public Library at the tender age of 11 my father put his foot down that I needed to branch outside of “fantasy” in my reading. I’m pretty sure Jean M. Auel’s novels weren’t what he had in mind…
    2. Christopher Paolini’s writing flirts dangerously with theft. (allegedly)
    3. I have yet to see James Cameron’s latest emotional manipulation, but I think some Basil Hayden might be just the thing to make it bearable. This post had me tearing up laughing!

    Well done, Sady.

    Monday, January 18, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Permalink
  9. Catburglar wrote:

    Wait, they don’t fuck?! But doesn’t the fucking come after the ponytail meld? I mean, she gives this gasp the moment she leaps on him, like she just spiked herself in record time.

    Oh well, I like your interpretation better, anyway. At least the horse and the dragon don’t spout terrible cliche’s before and after.

    Monday, January 18, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Permalink
  10. Lhasaluck wrote:

    Thanks for the scotch tip, now maybe I’ll be able to sit thru the movie when my daughter drags me to it.

    Monday, January 18, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Permalink
  11. Ennu wrote:

    “Avatar really did look like a Lisa Frank binder had sex with a mid-’80s sci-fi paperback cover and their baby threw up on your face, which was great.”

    I cannot even BEGIN to tell you how hard this made me laugh, because, like, yeah, totally.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 1:42 am | Permalink
  12. Gnatalby wrote:

    @Scott: If I were the Matrix I wouldn’t be trying to hard to claim that scene. It’s so ‘The kids are doing this thing… I believe it’s called ‘Rave?'” And the one PA is like “Have I traveled to 1995?”

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 3:09 am | Permalink
  13. Dude wrote:

    I didn’t have much motivation to see Avatar in the first place. I figured I’d catch it on DVD or on TV some day, even though the special effects were supposed to be its selling point. I was turned off by the Pocahontas story, which felt way too offensive from a post-colonial standpoint. I figured I’d save my 10 bucks for something that doesn’t have a white guy stealing exotic women.

    But after reading some of these, my desire to see the movie has all but vanished. What struck me as mediocre in the first place now seems to be something I can only describe with an emoticon: -_-

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink
  14. EmmATX wrote:

    Spot on! Especially about Lisa Frank.

    My personal favorite part of the movie was when the TOTES EVIL military commander is overseeing the dramatic destruction of the aliens’ tree home from a bomber plane, while holding a travel coffee mug the whole time. WTF???

    Anyway, the movie became more bearable for me somewhere in the middle, after I developed an absurdly strong crush on the actor who plays the lead (in human form, that is) and I was able to spend the rest of the movie imagining him in various inappropriate scenarios. Mmm, yes.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Permalink
  15. kristyn wrote:

    I had a similar relationship with the Sherlock Holmes film, because I was drunk on x-mas day watching RDJr. essentially play himself coming down off of heroin with over the top action and great costumes.
    The female lead in that film is actually pretty badass, even if she is ambiguously not on the side of ”good” — aka, the side of Holmes, who isn’t exactly good either; and the villain is soooooo evil that his lines basically all translate to, ”AY’M EEEVUL!” a la the Hitcher on the Mighty Boosh TV show.
    I kept waiting for him to start speaking in Cockney and rapping about his ”solo polo vision.”

    But kudos, Sady, for I don’t think I could take Avatar. Too much -isms for one film. Which is saying something, because I thought Twilight was so-painfully-bad-it’s-good. Yikes.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Permalink
  16. Lurker wrote:

    You know my sad, lonely, Pern-focused childhood all too well.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Permalink
  17. Sady wrote:

    @Everyone: Ok, I have to step in and correct? Because I was not the first person to make the Lisa Frank connection. Lauren Bans, of This Recording and Double X and a whole bunch of places, was! And she is great, and funny, and everyone should read her! And I feel gross because it is like I stole the joke now, whereas in actuality I am just a lazy writer and made a reference to something I liked without explaining/linking. (SAME THING???) Here is her review, which I’m also going to link to in the piece:

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Permalink
  18. Kelly wrote:

    Goddamn it, I have avoided everything Avatar – including seeing it – but because your Titanic review was the best thing ever I had to read ahead and now I have to watch the movie so I can enjoy your review even more than this time (which was an immensely enjoyable experience). WE ARE MATED FOR LIFE NOW

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Permalink
  19. dillene wrote:

    I think that I’ll skip this film. It’s been so over-hyped that it’s become a “duty film”; as in: if you are a member of modern American culture then it is your duty to see this film. I missed “The Dark Knight” for the same reason.

    Anyway, I never read the Dragonriders of Pern series. No, no- I went in for “Sword and Sorceress”, “Free Amazons of Darkover”, and “The Mists of Avalon” instead. I still have some of those books.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink
  20. Kelly wrote:

    You are telling me that you knew about an awesome dragon themed children’s series and did not recommended it to me? How are we even friends???

    Whoa look another Kelly commenting that’s not me. Hi Kelly!

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Permalink
  21. Laura wrote:

    I like your post. That means we’re mated for life now.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Permalink
  22. MsFeasance wrote:

    I have to say–I laughed so hard I woke up my S.O.

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 12:02 am | Permalink
  23. TheDeviantE wrote:

    Kelly, I wouldn’t exactly call Dragonriders of Pern “kids” books. A lot of them are all about the heterosexual, super maledom/femsub sex, which while I’m sure we don’t hear about the exact acts of thrusting, nevertheless I always found inappropriate as a child (and a little worried my parents/adults in my life would know I had read).

    On second thought, perhaps that makes it quintesentially a kid’s book?

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Permalink
  24. Sady wrote:

    @TheDeviantE & Kelly: Oh, right! The Mystical Powers of DragonRape! Where there’s this whole deal where, if you have a lady dragon, all the boy dragons (the IN-CHARGE boy dragons, as it is a mildly fascist and dragon-centric society) have to compete to mate with her, and then you wind up getting possessed by the Powers of DragonRape and doing it with whatever dude is attached to the boy dragon that is simultaneously doing your lady dragon. AND THEN YOU BASICALLY HAVE TO BE HIS GIRLFRIEND. This is a whole long plot point, in the first book: dude KNOWS that the lady he’s DragonRaping doesn’t like having sex with him, doesn’t like him, wishes that a different boy dragon had mated with her girl dragon, etc. And yet they keep boning! Because he knows he can make her love him if he just keeps having sex with her that she doesn’t want. There is a point where he LITERALLY SAYS he “might as well call it rape,” but resolves to keep going because “in time she would give herself to him.” And then they fall in love, so, I guess it worked!

    Um, no, I didn’t read these over Thanksgiving to see if they were as fucked-up as I remember. What?

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Permalink
  25. vertigo29 wrote:

    “Laura wrote:

    I like your post. That means we’re mated for life now.”


    Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Permalink
  26. The Pern series is anything but awesome. The Deviante and Sady have already described one of the many things wrong with the series. And don’t forget, Sady, that pretty much the same thing happens if you’re a boy who gets stuck with a girl dragon because Teh Gay is caused by tent pegs! And female characters who are “bad” in some way get lots of really over-the-top rage and sexualized violence aimed at them by male characters. And the worldbuilding MAKES NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. Yes, I am a huge nerd who cares about worldbuilding; therefore, I repeat that PERN MAKES NO SENSE from an ecological standpoint.

    Sorry about that. I ranted about Pern on LJ in the recent past, and I thought I had it out of my system.

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Permalink
  27. Kelly wrote:

    @TheDeviante and Sady: Oh right, I often get confused because Sady will be like Kelly there are these books that I read as a kid and you will like them. Then I think they are books for kids because I forget that as a kid Sady was reading Moby Dick and other enormous things I would have used to build forts with.

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Permalink
  28. Jillian wrote:

    Reading this makes me happy I gave into my mother and saw this instead of The Road. Pilates at the tree? Oh my goodness, yes. I tried not to laugh out loud in the theater because my family has barely forgiven me for stating that I hated Forrest Gump after we all saw it more than a decade ago. Still, I think this is better than when my mom wanted to see Waterworld.

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Permalink
  29. TheDeviantE wrote:

    Oh Gryphon’s Egg, also you shouldn’t forget that lots of the female characters who are bad, we *know* they are bad because they gasp like to do deviant sexual things like be Dominant, and have rough sex.

    Run for the hills! aggresive female sexuality!!!!!

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Permalink
  30. Sheena wrote:

    Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!

    Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 8:04 am | Permalink
  31. carovee wrote:

    This is the best post on Avatar EVAR!

    Oh and I loooved the Pern series until one day I thought to myself, “You know, if I was going to make up a completely fictional world, I really don’t think I’d make women sad, second class citizens that get treated like trash.” And that was the last time I read ANY novel by Anne McCaffrey. Although I still think an early Pern triology that was targeted specifically at children and had a girl protagonists were pretty good.

    Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 8:46 am | Permalink
  32. Neil in Chicago wrote:

    re #3: It actually could be worse. A few years ago there was a widely acclaimed novel about a Planet Without Men, which is a critical puzzle because How Do They Reproduce, so there’s a high-level spy insertion (“I’m not making this up”), and after most of the book’s adventures and travails, we discover that the way they make babies is to Stare Soulfully Into Each Others’ Eyes.

    Have you seen Pocahontas = Avatar? It’s one of the best summaries both of the movie itself, and of the issues.

    Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 9:49 am | Permalink
  33. This review is made of 100% awesome (and then I totally blew my day yesterday going back through your archives, but if I took the time to mention all your awesome posts, I’d lose today too. To summarize: hella good.)

    Friday, January 22, 2010 at 8:21 am | Permalink
  34. MsFeasance wrote:

    OK. I have to mention this: Vazquez Lite was originally supposed to confess her love for Scientist-Guy-who’s-One-of-the-Rotating-Interns-On-Bones-Not-That-I-Watch-That-Show-Anymore shortly before exploding.

    And also, apparently, back on earth people get antelope legs grafted on for no reason.

    Friday, January 22, 2010 at 8:31 am | Permalink
  35. radsaq wrote:

    The sex in the Dragonriders of Pern series may have been a bit fucked up, but who didn’t love the interstellar telekinetic sex of The Rowan series?

    Friday, January 22, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Permalink
  36. Great (and sharp) points! More on the shock and awe that is Avatar:

    Avatar: Jar Jar Binks Meets Pocahontas

    Lab Rat Cinema: Monetizing the Reptile Brain

    Saturday, January 23, 2010 at 6:29 am | Permalink
  37. Tournevis wrote:

    Darn! @Laura beat me to the punch. Loved this.

    Saturday, January 23, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Permalink
  38. hn wrote:

    maybe I fell asleep, but I used to wonder why they *didn’t* connect their USB hair during sex (like in Demolition Man!), I remember Jake connected to that tree, then they had old style sex…

    Also I chose to believe, “Unobtainium” was an in-joke of the writers, they forgot to edit it to something else, then it was too late because all the marketing material mentioning it had already been printed.

    Monday, February 1, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

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