Tuesday, January 19, 2010

No, "Avatar" Did Not "Kill a Guy"

Supposedly, a Taiwanese man died while watching the movie "Avatar." Here's one report from Yahoo!7 Movies:
TAIPEI (AFP) - 42-year-old Taiwanese man with a history of high blood pressure has died of a stroke likely triggered by over-excitement from watching the blockbuster Avatar in 3D, a doctor says.

The man, identified only by his surname Kuo, started to feel unwell during the screening earlier this month in the northern city of Hsinchu and was taken to hospital.

Kuo, who suffered from hypertension, was unconscious when he arrived at the Nan Men General Hospital and a scan showed that his brain was haemorrhaging, emergency room doctor Peng Chin-chih said on Tuesday.

"It's likely that the over-excitement from watching the movie triggered his symptoms," he told AFP.

Kuo died 11 days later from the brain haemorrhage, and the China Times newspaper said it was the first death linked to watching James Cameron's science-fiction epic Avatar.

Film blogging sites have reported complaints of headaches, dizziness, nausea and blurry eyesight from viewers of Avatar and other movies rich in 3D imagery.
Hmmm. "Identified only by his surname Kuo," huh? Here is another report of the alleged incident, from News.com.au. I won't bother copying and pasting it in my blog because it is word-for-word exactly the same as the report I copied and pasted above. Ditto the story as it appears on foxnews.com. And perthnow.com.

The story was originated by "AFP," or Agence France Presse. You can see that in the dateline in the story copied and pasted above.

Here is how CBSNews.com lays it out:
Here's one tagline the blockbuster film "Avatar" probably doesn't want: It's so good it might kill you.

A 42-year-old Taiwanese man with a history of high blood pressure apparently died from a stroke while watching the film, Agence France Presse reported.

The reportedly felt ill while watching the film earlier this month, then headed to the hospital. When he arrived at the emergency room, he was unconscious, a doctors told AFP.

The man died 11 days later.

"It's likely that the over-excitement from watching the movie triggered his symptoms," Dr. Peng Chin-chih told AFP.
We don't even get the "Kuo" in this report. But we do get that quote from Dr. Peng Chin-chih. And AFP is listed as the source of the story. The original AFP story is pasted into this blog posting, above.

How confident are you in the veracity of that story? Apparently a lot of news organizations are very confident in it, because it is all over the internet right now-- with no one bothering to do any actual checking-- just reprinting the AFP report, usually verbatim. Of course I don't believe it because, as I've written before, internet news sources love to publish unchecked stories about strange things happening in Asian countries. Remember how playing video games killed a man in South Korea?
The 28-year-old man collapsed after playing the game Starcraft at an internet cafe in the city of Taegu, according to South Korean authorities.
The man, identified by his family name, Lee, started playing Starcraft on 3 August. He only paused playing to go to the toilet and for short periods of sleep, said the police.
It's striking how the man is "identified by his family name, Lee," in the video-games-killed-a-man story from 2005, and "identified only by his surname Kuo" in the Avatar-killed-a-man story from 2010.

If it's new, exotic, different, or makes some people a little uneasy (like video games, the internet, or 3-D movies), you can bet there's an editor ready to jump on anything that can serve as a "warning" to all the kids out there that they shouldn't oughta be doing it-- it's bad for you. And as proof, here's this story from an exotic, different, faraway land on the other side of the world, suspiciously sourced but just too good not to run as the absolute truth.

No, "Avatar" did not "kill a guy."

UPDATE 1/20/10 @12:38 PM:

This is interesting. Apparently, Chinese theaters have pulled the movie "Avatar" for political reasons.
The communist nation's state-run movie distributor, China Film Group, unexpectedly began pulling the blockbuster science-fiction picture from 1,628 2-D screens this week in favor of a biography of the ancient philosopher Confucius.

Paul Hanneman, co-president of international distribution for 20th Century Fox, the movie's distributor, confirmed the move, which the studio learned about Monday evening.

According to the Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, the switch was made at the urging of propaganda officials who are concerned that "Avatar" is taking too much market share from Chinese films and drawing unwanted attention to the sensitive issue of forced evictions.

Millions of Chinese have been uprooted to make way for high-rise buildings and government infrastructure projects in the fast-growing country. In "Avatar," human colonists try to demolish the village of an alien race to obtain a precious energy source buried under it.
Are Chinese "propaganda officials" responsible for advancing the story that "Avatar" killed a man in Taiwan? Was the western media duped as part of China's master plan to remove "Avatar" and its anti-infrastructure message?


shampoo said...

yet another proof that if the newactors tell you it's raining you'd best check for yourself.

if people are looking for reasons not to see avatar, I can help them out. I haven't seen it, but james cameron gets on my nerves, so to his movies I do not go. hehe

out of all the people who've seen the movie, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine someone maybe died 11 days after. of course, this exact story is pretty sketchy so maybe not in this case.

did we run out of news in this country? seriously. because this story is reaching.

shampoo said...

I mean reaching the way the major news networks reported it. your story is interesting and covers one of my most beloved ranting topics. :)

Ricky Sprague said...

Thanks, shampoo.

It is interesting to me the way news outlets in the west will just lazily regurgitate some *s*e*n*s*a*t*i*o*n*a*l* story from China, or Taiwan, or South Korea, or North Korea, or any other Asian country, without bothering to check anything about it. If news organizations want to show just how important they are (and why they need a "bailout"!), they should stop doing things like that.

I haven't seen Avatar, either. The last 3D movie I saw made me feel dizzy and headachey. I am waiting for "feelies," as presented in the book "Brave New World."

shampoo said...

ha!ha! the "feelies", i'd forgotten about that. sadly, the closest we've come to that is john waters handing out scratch n sniff cards (so, not close at all).

they're lazy all around, even stuff they pick up from u.s. outlets sometimes. i've noticed with stories I so happened to know about, they just accepted whatever info they were given and the only questions were things like "why aren't you making it easier for me to run your press release as an investigative report"? o.k., that's not a direct quote.