James Cameron Defends Avatar From Anti-Smoking Watchdog Group

By Perri Nemiroff 2010-01-04 17:41:18discussion comments
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James Cameron Defends Avatar From Anti-Smoking Watchdog Group image
Now that Avatar is way beyond being a certified hit amongst moviegoers and critics, James Cameron’s got to take flack from someone and that someone is Stanton A. Glantz of the Smoke Free Movies Initiative. As reported by the New York Times (via BlackBook), Glantz announced that his organization will wage war through an information campaign targeting the movie’s pro-smoking message.

Wait, when is there smoking in Avatar? It took a serious double take to recall that Sigourney Weaver’s environmental scientist lights one up during the film. Just a couple of drags earned Avatar a ‘black lung’ from Scenesmoker.org, which rates films based on the inclusion of cancer sticks. Also given ‘black lung’ status is Avatar’s fellow holiday moneymaker, Sherlock Holmes.

Cameron isn’t taking the issue too seriously. In a statement delivered via e-mail he said Weaver’s Grace Augustine is not meant to be “an aspirational role model” for teens. “She’s rude, she swears, she drinks, she smokes.” He continued, “Also, from a character perspective, we were showing that Grace doesn’t care about her human body, only her avatar body, which again is a negative comment about people in our real world living too much in their avatars, meaning online and in video games.”

Moving on to a more general standpoint, he said, “I don’t believe in the dogmatic idea that no one in a movie should smoke. Movies should reflect reality. If it’s O.K. for people to lie, cheat, steal and kill in PG-13 movies, why impose an inconsistent morality when it comes to smoking? I do agree that young role-model characters should not smoke in movies, especially in a way which suggests that it makes them cooler or more accepted by their peers.” He wrapped up the message by adding that smoking “is a filthy habit which I don’t support, and neither, I believe, does Avatar.”

Wow! Go Cameron! Of course I’d never approve of any form of media that condones smoking, but Glantz’s plan of action is unreasonable. It’s a terrible thing, but smoking is part of our lifestyle as are many things that can be considered unhealthy and dangerous. You can point a finger at just about anything from tanning to speeding and say it shouldn’t be depicted in films because it could influence younger moviegoers. It’s downright ridiculous. The only good thing that comes from this issue is this fantastic rebuttal by Cameron.
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