“The Pandora Effect:” James Cameron’s Avatar and a Trauma Studies Perspective
AbstractThe controverted responses to James Cameron’s Avatar (2009), as well as its use to support a variety of political and ideological agendas, seem to imply that there is something in this film for almost everyone. An analysis from the perspective of trauma studies suggests that the key to its impact may lie in the way the movie reflects the fundamental fear of human alienation from nature, which is part of the wounded condition of our contemporary culture. This article embarks on a study of the representation of and working through of trauma in the movie, both based on the reiteration of stereotypes and the recreation of ecotopia. It also reflects on the implications of the phenomenon known as the Pandora Effect, or the reported feelings of depression at discovering the impossibility of real immersion after watching the movie. It ends with a problematizing of the uncritical application of the trauma paradigm and a revision of the model into a culturally sensitive trauma theory that avoids neo-colonial appropriation and takes into account the historical unresolved grief of colonized peoples.
The authors retain copyright of articles. They authorise AEDEAN to publish them in its journal Atlantis and to include them in the indexing and abstracting services, academic databases and repositories the journal participates in.
Under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0), for non-commercial (i.e., personal or academic) purposes only, users are free to share (i.e., copy and redistribute in any medium or format) and adapt (i.e., remix, transform and build upon) articles published in Atlantis, free of charge and without obtaining prior permission from the publisher or the author(s), as long as they give appropriate credit to the author, the journal (Atlantis) and the publisher (AEDEAN), provide the relevant URL link to the original publication and indicate if changes were made. Such attribution may be done in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the journal endorses the user or their use of the material published therein. Users who adapt (i.e., remix, transform or build upon the material) must distribute their contributions under the same licence as the original.
Self-archiving is also permitted, so that authors are allowed to deposit the published PDF version of their articles in academic and/or institutional repositories, without fee or embargo. Authors may also post their individual articles on their personal websites, again on condition that the original link to the online edition is provided.
Authors are expected to know and heed basic ground rules that preclude simultaneous submission and/or duplicate publication. Prospective contributors to Atlantis commit themselves to the following when they submit a manuscript:
- That no concurrent consideration of the same, or almost identical, work by any other journal and/or publisher is taking place.
- That the potential contribution has not appeared previously, in any form whatsoever, in another journal, electronic format or as a chapter/section of a book.
Seeking permission for the use of copyright material is the responsibility of the author.