OBJECTIVE: Watch Avatar once per every week of 2014.

WHEN: April 18, 2014, 3:50am. (Week 16, Apr 13-19.)

WHERE: In my apartment in Portland, ME.

FORMAT: DVD on a 19” AOC LED computer monitor; digital download on an iPhone 3.



Blue cat-people! Crazy dragon things! Hair sex! Avatar is a busy film, and since almost all of it takes place on a distant alien moon, it’s easy to forget that it’s set almost 150 years in the future. While it’s easy to point out some of the major leaps in technology that have taken place (interstellar travel, mech suits, half-alien clone-bodies you control with your mind), if you pay attention there are a number of little hints of what life on Earth is like in the year 2154.

As Jake is disembarking the shuttle to Pandora, the crew chief shouts, “Let’s go, Special K, do not make me wait for you!” From this we can assume that Kellogg’s premiere diet cereal is still being produced and consumed on earth. Why, in 2154 those bland but healthy flakes would only be two years away from celebrating their bicentennial! Perhaps pervasive advertising leading up to this anniversary was what inspired that crew chief to use the phrase “Special K” to mock Jake’s physical disability (unless he’s just implying that Jake is a recreational user of ketamine).


Part of this complete tour of duty.

One might have expected that 150 years from now smoking would have finally fallen out of cultural favor. Hell, it certainly seems to be in decline. Well, apparently something turned that around, because the moment Dr. Augustine wakes up, she’s asking for her smokes.


 Inside a lab no less.

What with Pandora’s poisonous atmosphere, there’s no stepping outside for a quick drag, so apparently corporate management is okay with Grace regularly lighting up inside their scientific complex. So, has smoking made a big comeback? Is Augustine smoking just to be an old-timey badass? Either way, someone back on earth is still producing those lovely little rolls of tobacco. Sorry guys, I guess everyone’s favorite lung cancer dispensers are here to stay.

Tie. Nicely tucked-in button-up shirt. Golf club. Parker Selfridge wouldn’t look terribly out of place in any modern office building. Which is actually really weird when you think about it. Why, in the near 150 years between now and the events of Avatar, has corporate fashion come to a complete standstill? Doesn’t seem strange that strange to you? Check this out:


I guarantee that this chart is well-researched.
There’s no way I just slapped it together using pictures from Google image search.

Huh. Weird. I guess modern office dress just wasn’t able to be improved upon. Unless it’s “dress like it’s the 21st century day” at the office, or some such bullshit. Otherwise, the future looks an awful lot like now, clothing-wise.

But hey, it isn’t just clothing. Military slang doesn’t seem to have changed all that much either. Avatar is peppered with military sayings currently in use today, words like “gyrene,” “shavetail,” and  “Oorah.” We think of the Military as a group with a strong sense of tradition, but even within its ranks 150 years is a long time. Don’t believe me? Go up to a service member and say, “Tell that dog robber this embalmed beef is too tough to cut with an Arkansas toothpick!” Chances are, they won’t understand what the hell you are saying. (For the record, it means “tell that soldier acting as a cook that this canned meat is too tough to cut, even with a big fuckin’ knife”). That’s because that civil war-era slang has fallen out of our lexicon. But apparently our current crop of phrases will stick around for for another century-and-a-half. Who knew?

Good news, fellow Luddites! It looks like ebooks aren’t the wave of the future after all. Even light years away from earth, people are lugging around physical tomes of ink and pulp.


We never see Jake read one, though.
Maybe he just thinks it’s a doorstop.

One might have suspected that, even if the printed word in some way survived the onslaught of digital media, that ebooks would at least be used in the depths of space, where each extra pound of cargo significantly increases the transportation costs. But hey, apparently physical books are still beloved enough to be hauled to the furthest reaches of the explored universe. You won’t hear this bookworm complain.

Jeez, not much has noticeably changed in the last 150 years. Food, tobacco, clothing, vocabulary, and print media are all as they are now. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that Earth has reached a point of complete cultural stagnation. So, get used to the status quo, guys. If James Cameron’s right, things aren’t going to be changing any time soon. Except for mech suits. We’re totally getting mech suits.


Woo, mech suits!