Ali Plumb has always been an ally. Typically, his interviews for the BBC Radio1 are so much fun that fans flock to them, so when he sat down with James Cameron, he did what no one else could do: He asked about Papyrus.
To set the scene, it was October of 2017, a very different time for us but an even more wildly different time than 2009, when the first Avatar movie came out. Ryan Gosling is hosting Saturday Night Live when, in a digital short, he starts screaming about the giant blockbuster’s lazy use of the font known as Papyrus, and the rest is history.
For years, we’ve talked about it and now it is clear that Cameron is aware of the sketch. He told Plumb that he’s shocked they could do a short set around such a “wispy-thin concept” but hey, that’s Saturday Night Live Jimmy!
“It’s haunted me,” he said. “No really. It is pretty funny. I’m just astonished they spend that much money on a little cinematic vignette that’s around such a, you know, wispy-thin concept! I said, ‘Alright guys, we are now doubling down! We’re using Papyrus for everything!” Both Plumb and Cameron make a joke about the make-up truck saying “make-up” in the Papyrus font before Cameron goes on. “The funniest thing about that whole story is I didn’t even know it was Papyrus, nobody asked me! I just thought the art department had come up with this cool font.”
So … what did he really do? Use the Papyrus font a lot more.
“Well whatever they did, it wasn’t enough“
The sketch came out of nowhere. Truly. It was 2017 and it was nearly ten years since Avatar was in theaters. But the sketch really encapsulated that ability we have as cinema watchers to find something to fixate on. We may forget for a while how mad it made us but it always comes back to us.
It’s iconic, it’s perfect, and it is the SNL sketch that I think I think about most. Especially now with Avatar: The Way of Water in theaters—which, yes, does include liberal use of Papyrus. Pouring one out for Steven and his sanity.
What this now means though is that Ali Plumb’s interview needs to be its own Saturday Night Live sketch with Gosling returning because the fact that Cameron said he didn’t even know it was Papyrus, dismissing his anger as “wispy-thin,” and then just doubling down on all of it would, I think, drive Steven to complete madness. I feel for his poor wife and therapist and their lives with Steven constantly screaming about a font.
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