Why Do People Want to Have Sex with the 9-Foot Tall Natives in 'Avatar'?
Fantasy and sex go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Geeks have always known this. Books and movies featuring quests, dragon-riding, spaceships and magic, also tend to have a fair share of scantily clad, hot, young, single characters.
Usually, those sexy characters are human or human-like, so not much of a stretch to see why they appeal. And the non-human-like characters have tended to be pretty gross. Who, but the most ardent alien fetishist, wants to have sex with Jaba the Hut, the alien from Alien, or even the prawn-like creatures in District 9? Eww.
Yet the Internet and theater lobbies are full of people talking about how they want to have sex with the 10-foot-tall Na'vi aliens from Avatar. With over a billion dollars in ticket sales (or as one critic put it, a movie projected to earn all the money in the known world by spring), projections of nine Academy Award nominations, and a general consensus that its 3-D effects have created the next movie paradigm, Avatar is no obscure fetish flick. So many people have been seduced by this movie that lusting after blue aliens could become a part of mainstream culture (possibly putting to bed, ahem, stale schoolgirl and French maid themes…please). The question is why.
“The only thing i can think of after seeing Avatar is ‘when are they gonna make avatar porn?’ wrote one person on Texts From Last Night. “Is it weird that I found myself thinking of that blue chick from Avatar while [my girlfriend] gave me head after the movie?” wrote another. “lol. im a girl and i agree. i would les out for Neytiri, but i want Jake :)" responded another. Most commenters enthusiastically approved of the posts about alien lust, and some even offered to don blue suits to satisfy interests. Only a few said these fantasies were signs of a weird fetish, gross, or perverted.
But is it weird? James Cameron’s comments in interviews suggest the reaction is actually pretty vanilla, and by design.
Early designs for the Na'vi “were much more alien," according to Cameron, the creator and director of the movie. In the early drawings of Neytiri, the young female love interest, “she had fins on her back and gills and all kinds of weird protuberances and so on in odd places."
The beta testing went something like this: “We just kept asking ourselves—basically, the crude version is: 'Well, would you wanna do it?' And our all-male crew of artists would basically say, ‘Nope, take the gills out.' It was pretty simple.”
In other words, Neytiri was created to be a sex fantasy. As one of my male friends said, it’s as if they took Gisele Bundchen and made her even taller with longer legs, and elongated her already slim waist, which is a super signal to the male, of fertility.
Even the blue part isn’t so strange. As a female friend of mine said, blue is everyone’s favorite color. It’s like water. It would be different if they were diarrhea-colored or yellow or something. That smart friend also said the eyes are key—the Na'vi have big eyes like a baby's, a creature we’re programmed to find irresistible.
The Na'vi ability to create pleasure is also appealing, like the fact that they have nerve sensors at the ends of their tails, called queues. Wrote Annie Barrett on EW.com, "The whole point of meshing your queue with another queue is to achieve direct contact between two nervous systems. Judging from the characters’ 'O' faces during said contact, it also happens to feel great. In human terms, this is like plugging your iPod into your computer except that at the moment when one recognizes the other and they begin to sync, you have an orgasm…this is terribly sexy…I especially enjoyed when a queue would sync up with a tree."
But in addition to all the sex doll stuff, doesn’t it seem likely that all the lusting has as much to do about wanting the Na'vi world? I mean, in the movie, the humans come from an almost post-apocalyptic planet wracked by environmental devastation, war and an overemphasis on technology and weapons. The leadership is greedy, authoritative and corrupt, and in order to make money and survive, ordinary citizens have to deal with it. People with consciences (like the scientists) are treated as quaint and inconsequential. (Apparently, they cut a scene that depicted Earth as a cold, concrete place where "people wear clean-air breathing masks, the world is cluttered with ads," which is still implied if not actually portrayed.) Sound at all familiar?
Then Pandora is this resource-rich, healthy, egalitarian place where people run around outside all day, look gorgeous, and experience—gasp—pleasure and happiness. Could it be that our brains are telling us to mate with beings like that as a kind of survival instinct?
Apparently, many moviegoers are "plagued by depression and suicidal thoughts at not being able to visit the planet Pandora.” No kidding. As I look outside at the traffic and the rain, I kinda wish I could board a spaceship.