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Old 03-11-2012, 08:49 PM
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Default Unobtanium

Just started reading "Fried" by Joan Borysenko (it's about burnout). It contains an interesting interpretation of "unobtanium." I'd always had a bit of a snork at the word in Avatar, since it's used by scientists (and s-f fans) to represent materials with impossible physical properties to use in thought experiments. Always seemed like a bit of a placeholder that snuck through to the final script by mistake.

But Borysenko, a psychologist, has a different take. She sees it as a deliberate metaphor for something that we keep seeking but cannot have in our lives. The mineral represents to her the technological chimera of our consumerist world, the attempt to find the experience of peace and harmony in a materialistic acme that cannot possibly supply those things.

Makes me think that name was chosen with a lot more care than I previously assumed. Hmm.
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Old 03-11-2012, 09:07 PM
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I think that if it were supposed to be an abstract stand-in for all human wants, Selfridge probably wouldn't have a lump of it on his desk.
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Old 03-11-2012, 09:25 PM
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Not the stuff itself, in the movie, but the choice of the name.
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Old 03-11-2012, 09:48 PM
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My only problem with the word was that it reminded me of the awful movie "The Core," which I almost walked out on. (The only other movie I've seen that uses the term.)

Don't they only use the term "unobtainium" once in the actual movie? When Selfridge is lecturing Grace? Or am I forgetting another? If only the one time, it could also simply be seen as a tool for Selfridge to emphasize the relative importance of the material next to Grace's Avatar program. That was sort of how I'd interpreted it.

EDIT: Never mind, I'm recalling now that Jake uses the term in the Special Edition--when he describes the floating Mountains, I believe.
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Old 03-11-2012, 10:15 PM
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Honestly, after seeing it the first time, that was the only detail that put me off. I don't really have a problem thinking of it as a colloquial expression though, kitchy as it may be
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Old 03-12-2012, 12:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sempu View Post
Just started reading "Fried" by Joan Borysenko (it's about burnout). It contains an interesting interpretation of "unobtanium." I'd always had a bit of a snork at the word in Avatar, since it's used by scientists (and s-f fans) to represent materials with impossible physical properties to use in thought experiments.
I always heard it as being ideal properties, and it makes sense when such a compound is discovered which has such properties.

Quote:
But Borysenko, a psychologist, has a different take. She sees it as a deliberate metaphor for something that we keep seeking but cannot have in our lives. The mineral represents to her the technological chimera of our consumerist world, the attempt to find the experience of peace and harmony in a materialistic acme that cannot possibly supply those things.

Makes me think that name was chosen with a lot more care than I previously assumed. Hmm.
Weird - I think it is possible to overanalyse such things, but it could be true, I guess.
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Old 03-13-2012, 06:35 PM
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I actually laughed when they called it unobtainium, I kinda liked it. Maybe it's cause I hadn't seen it a movie before?
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Old 03-17-2012, 02:17 AM
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Well, the whole scene between Grace and Selfridge is what's known as an "infodump" in the writing trade. It gives the reader/viewer important background information they need to understand what's going on. Clearly Grace, having been on Pandora for years, was fully aware of what unobtainium was and why the RDA was there, etc. etc. Selfridge's monologue was for us, not Grace. As such things go it was a well done infodump that got everything across in just a few seconds. Although actually, it would have worked as well without Selfridge actually saying the word "unobtainum". "This is why we're here. Because this little gray rock sells for twenty million a kilo." The end. Works fine and you don't have to use the funny name.
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