[FoRK] A comment on Avatar

Jeremy Apthorp nornagon at gmail.com
Wed Dec 23 20:22:12 PST 2009

2009/12/24 Simon Wistow <simon at thegestalt.org>:
> On Thu, Dec 24, 2009 at 10:16:44AM +1100, Jeremy Apthorp said:
>> James Cameron clearly wasn't trying to construct a deep, plot-heavy
>> film. Have any other James Cameron plots been anything but tissue
>> paper and cellophane? I mean, seriously, 'unobtainium'? 'Flux vortex'?
> Just to be clear 'unobtanium' is a sort of inside sci-fi joke to mean
> some sort of McGuffin or just as short hand for materials that have very
> strong properties.
> It's even spilled over into real life - for example Skunkworks engineers
> used the term instead of Titanium in documents whilst building the
> SR-71.
> That said, I'm not necessarily arguing that inside jokes belong in
> movies, especially when they have a potential to come across as just
> plain dumb. See, sort of, the use of "Sabotage" in the last Star Trek.

It's pretty obviously an in-joke; I was pointing out the fact that
Cameron uses that to emphasise the fact that he doesn't want you to
concentrate too hard on the details of the plot -- just that they're
here to get something which the Na'vi are stopping them from getting.


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