Forget swine flu, there’s a new epidemic sweeping the nation, with a slightly lower mortality rate: “Avatar” fever!


I haven’t yet seen director James Cameron’s amazing new masterpiece, but millions are saying it’s changed filmmaking forever by achieving something we’ve never seen before: Blue people! Well, technically blue aliens. With tails. And their eyes are slightly farther apart than human eyes.


Cinema will never be the same.


In the past, if Hollywood wanted to make a movie about blue aliens, they were forced to use an actor covered in expensive blue “paint” or hire actual aliens — who are notoriously poor performers. Neither method was very convincing. Only the man behind “Aliens,” “Titanic” and “Piranha 2: The Spawning” (look it up!) could find a solution.

James Cameron spent over twelve years working on what was then titled “War of the Space Smurfs” in order to invent new technologies capable of creating blue people so realistic they only look like computer effects 96 percent of the time. And he didn’t stop there. He created an entire kind-of-fake-looking world full of things that don’t exist on earth, like waterfalls and trees. The result is astoundingly almost-realistic!

There’s no telling how the introduction of passable blue people will change filmmaking. I assume from now on audiences, unable to go back to the old blue people-less ways, will demand fairly lifelike blue people in all their movies. The real question is whether we’ll go back and insert blue people into classic films to make them bearable, as we’ve previously done with Jabbas the Hut and fart jokes.

If “Avatar” has a single flaw — and it doesn’t — it’s that there are still some actual people in it. But it’s at least a step in the right direction. We’re almost at the day for which every filmmaker from D. W. Griffith to Ingmar Bergman to the Coen Brothers has striven toward — the day when all actors can be replaced by fake-looking computer images. And blue is just the beginning. James Cameron has opened the door to a new world where people can be any color we want them to be.

– Elliott Kalan is an Emmy-winning writer for “The Daily Show.”

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