Let me start off by saying that in the process of deciding in which virtual world I would most like to live, I’ve realized that I’m probably a pretty good example of an escapist. Whether that’s a good or bad thing I haven’t decided, but there you go.
You see, I could have picked the gorgeous natural landscapes of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, with elves and trolls and plenty of heroic battles. I could have chosen Rowling’s Hogwarts, where I could fly on a broom, apparate from place to place, and wield unimaginable power with the flick of a wand. However, despite the hundreds of gorgeous, exciting fantasy worlds out there, the one which appealed to me most is completely beyond the scope of the human race. Because honestly, if I could live in any virtual world, I would choose the lush paradise of James Cameron’s Avatar.
You can laugh all you’d like, but after seeing that movie, the sheer beauty and wonder of the Na’vi’s planet, Pandora, was all I could think about. The flora and fauna were astounding, the natural landscape awe-inspiring. The world seemed leagues above our own, free from all of the evils perpetuated by the human race. There was no greed, no lust for power, no desire to rip down nature’s beauty and build up cities of steel. Maybe it’s a bit “anti-society” to say it, but what I loved most about Pandora’s world was that WE had no place in it.
To be honest, I wanted to live in that world so badly that, in the hours after I left the theater, the realization that our world would never be so beautiful was actually painful. Like the Pandora of Greek mythology, all the movie could give me was hope, ridiculous yet indispensable. I longed to literally become one of the Na’vi, for their world presented the perfect form of escape. Life there was simple, yet somehow filled with meaning. There was no future to worry over, for there were no colleges, no loans, no imaginary currencies. Life boiled down to the relationships between you and the people you cared about, without the distractions of failing economies, corrupt governments, or any of the other flawed systems we’ve created to make life “easier”.
To use the words from an escapist viewer like myself: “One can say my depression was twofold: I was depressed because I really wanted to live in Pandora, which seemed like such a perfect place, but I was also depressed and disgusted with the sight of our world, what we have done to Earth. I so much wanted to escape reality.” (see link below for source)
So yes, while I could be defeating dark wizards at Hogwarts or destroying rings in the fires of Mt. Doom, all I truly desire is the chance to be a 10-foot tall, blue skinned alien on a planet light-years away from here. Because when all is said and done, I’d rather spend my life surrounded by the natural beauty of the Na’vi’s world than materialistic happiness of this one.
“All the best stories are but one story in reality– the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape.” –A.C. Benson