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James Cameron’s symbolically flowing locks.

James Cameron’s symbolically flowing locks. (photo)

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When James Cameron showed up at the Golden Globes with hair that billowed in all directions, looking for all the world like a slimmed-down Charles Laughton, it was tempting to speculate about a life that involved so much money you’d never have to cut your hair ever again (who’s going to tell him anything about it?). With that in my head, I finally, finally saw “Avatar.”

That hair! No one told me that the way the Na’vi get in tune with their dragons, which Wikipedia tells me are actually called “Mountain Banshees,” is by taking their ponytails and shoving them into an orifice in the creature’s head-region, creating a lifelong bond. It’s oddly Cronenbergian.

Now, I’m not a total idiot. I realize the Na’vi have ponytails for the same reason Wes Studi is cast as the leader of the Na’vi — they’re Native American stand-ins. But indulge me for a second — in most Cameron movies, the characters have cropped hair. That’s how Arnold rolls, of course, and Sigourney Weaver had a frizzy-perm type thing in “Aliens” that still stayed out of her way as she blasted guns. And the coifs in “Titanic” are just period-appropriate.

01292010_abyss.jpgThere are, however, two cases of Cameron characters having symbolic hair, and I’m not even joking now. In “Avatar,” the Na’vi’s flowing locks make them the Indians versus the mercenaries’ big bad cowboys, but they also make them literally connected to the flora and fauna of Pandora (they wrap their hair around the Tree of Souls to communicate with their ancestors). And that connects them with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in “The Abyss,” whose long hair is a tip-off to how soulful she is — and indeed, she turns out to be the person who understands best how to communicate with and protect the aliens. A good move, since otherwise they would destroy the earth.

Obviously this is a matter of visual shorthand — jarhead crew-cut versus earthy spirituality — but in a movie overstuffed with oversimplified archetypes and all kinds of general shorthand, this has to be the weirdest. How do the Pandorans keep their hair in such shiny shape anyway? Are they Pantene Pro-V people? Can we get a tie-in?

[Photos: “Avatar,” 20th Century Fox; “The Abyss,” 20th Century Fox, 1989]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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