This morning an article on CNN entitled "Audiences Experience 'Avatar' Blues" came across my desk. In the article, author Jo Piazza claims that the movie "Avatar" is such a realistic experience for fans that they are literally becoming depressed and suicidal because they yearn for the world of Pandora to be real.
My first reaction? You've got to be joking! I don't want to minimize anyone's experience of depression - maybe they are already prone to depression and the realism of the movie is simply contributing to what they are already feeling? - but, to me, this seems to making light of what is in reality a very serious condition.
As I read the article further I found that there is a forum called "Avatar Forums" in which an entire thread of more than 1,000 posts has been devoted to people experiencing feelings of depression as a result of the movie. As I read some of the quotes from forum members, I quickly realized, however, that no one really seemed that depressed or even suicidal. Apparently the movie paints a vivid picture of a world in such strong contrast to our own that it creates a sense of longing for what could/should be in our own.
At this point I was confused. The article initially seemed to be suggesting that people were truly depressed about this movie. I looked back at the introductory paragraph. Yes, she did claim that fans were experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts. But, did the fan quotes back this up? Not really. Let's take one of the more extreme quotes as an example.
Ever since I went to see 'Avatar' I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na'vi made me want to be one of them. I can't stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all the tears and shivers I got from it," the fan wrote. "I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora and that everything is the same as in 'Avatar."
One can clearly see based upon his last comment he is not clinically depressed or seriously considering suicide. It's all hyperbole on his part to express just how emotionally moving the film is. Which bring me back to my original thought. This article is indeed making light of a very real condition. No matter how moving this movie may be, it can not compare to the pain of clinical depression. To suggest that fans of any popular movie are "depressed" or "suicidal" simply to write a sensational story is a slap in the face to those who actually do have depression. While I don't doubt that what these fans are feeling is a real phenomenon, I think it's irresponsible of the article's author to imply it in any way resembles clinical depression.
What are your thoughts?