It’s nearly Christmas, but there is another important holiday season upon us: Avatar: The Way of Water release season, and you bet some genius in marketing decided to smash these two things together in unholy matrimony. But in doing so, they have opened a very different kind of Pandora’s box than presumably whatever Jake put Neytiri’s gift in for Christmas.
The official Avatar YouTube channel has released “12 Days of Christmas, a Pandoran Christmas Carol” to celebrate the Yuletide and the existence of an Avatar movie at the box office again. Alas, unlike practically any decision James Cameron has made about opening his mouth when it comes to The Way of Water in the last few weeks, it is a video of profound cowardice, because instead of having anyone actually sing the Pandoran lyrics to “12 Days of Christmas,” it’s just an instrumental of the classic carol. What, you couldn’t even ask the Weeknd?
Anyway, that’s not the thing that has set my mind agog about “12 Days of Christmas, a Pandoran Christmas Carol.” I mean, it is that, but it’s primarily the everything else about it too. Who is this for, when the lyrics include not just character names you can barely remember because they’re largely from the first movie 13 years ago instead of The Way of Water, but even include deep cuts for the Avatar heads out there who remember characters like Sylwanin, Neytiri’s dead sister only mentioned in the extended cut of the original film? Why is this happening, other than the fact that it’s the week before Christmas and James Cameron wants Avatar to be absolutely everywhere?
But also, what does it mean that there is a Pandoran version of a Christmas song? Did the humans bring Christmas with them when they came to Pandora? Did Jake try to carry on the tradition after he decided to stay on the world and raise a family with Neytiri? Did Jake and the remaining humans singlehandedly spread the idea of Christmas to the Forest Na’vi? And if so, which version, the commercialized holiday or the Christian theology behind it? Do the Na’vi have an awareness of who Santa Claus or Jesus Christ are? Did anyone at any point in the making of literally any detail about the worldbuilding of the Avatar franchise, let alone this specific moment, stop to consider the colonial undercurrent of introduction Earth holidays to a species with its own widely adopted spiritualism?
I don’t know. But I do know that it’s kind of weird that most of the gifts in this version of the carol are local fauna and then you just get some military grade hardware thrown in too. Who’s gifting these?
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