• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments


So James Cameron now has two $1 billion movies. I saw the first one, which was supposed to be this magic combination of chick flick and guy movie, but my friend (a chick) and I (a guy) both had the same reaction: Will you please stop with the schmaltz and just sink the damn ship already!!?!??

I'm not all that interested in "Avatar," either. The thought of watching all those special effects in support of a bunch of flying Smurfs babbling about being in harmony with Great Planet Mother leaves me cold. But I have to admit this warms me up to the movie a little and makes me think a lot more highly of Mr. Cameron:

Having caught up with James Cameron's 3-D science fiction thriller, “Avatar,” over the holidays, Stanton A. Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, said his Smoke Free Movies initiative would soon come out swinging with an informational campaign aimed at what he saw as the movie's pro-smoking message.

“This is like someone just put a bunch of plutonium in the water supply,” Mr. Glantz said in a telephone interview last week. He was referring to scenes in which an environmental scientist played by Sigourney Weaver drags lovingly on a cigarette as she works to save the moon Pandora sometime in the 22nd century.

[. . .]

In a statement sent by e-mail over the weekend, Mr. Cameron said he had never intended Ms. Weaver's character, Grace Augustine, to be “an aspirational role model” for teenagers.

“She's rude, she swears, she drinks, she smokes,” wrote Mr. Cameron. “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.”

Speaking as an artist, Mr. Cameron 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.”

Well, he wimped out some with that last statement. Most kids start smoking because one or both of their parents smoke and/or because they fall to peer pressure. How many really take up the habit because a character they admire in a movie does it? Any artist who feels compelled to feed the "role model" beast that's been stalking the public discourse should be forced to watch Frank Capra movies for seven days straight, if he can stay straight for seven days.

But the argument that "Movies should reflect reality" is dead on. As I was saying to one of my Na'vi friends just the other day before he flapped his wings and took off, "Got a light?" 

Posted in: All about me, Film


Bob G.
Mon, 01/04/2010 - 11:35am

Love that last paragraph...LMAO!
My counter to the "movies/reality" gig is that Stanton needs to pay attention to the specific GENRE of the movies he's watching...
You want reality - watch Serpico.
You want fantasy - watch Lord of the Rings.
(smoking in BOTH movies, btw)
...Thank the Maker that there's NO intrusive Big government in Middle Earth, eh?)

I'm just sayin'...