Under the Radar

James Cameron Will Not Be Intimidated by the Smoking Police

Smoking Avatar

With worldwide box office now over $1 billion, there's no doubt that James Cameron's Avatar will soon be the second-highest grossing film of all time, trailing only James Cameron's Titantic.

Avatar, dogged for years by advance predictions of failure and awfulness by online cynics, turned out to be an amazing breakthrough experience in 3D and a pretty good movie in 2D as well.

Stanton Glantz, director of the the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, went off Cameron last allowing Sigourney Weaver's character to chain-smoke in the film, telling the New York Times that her cigarettes were like "someone just put a bunch of plutonium in the water supply." He also gives Avatar a "black lung" review on his Scenesmoking.org site, a rating shared by Sherlock Homes and The Blind Side.

Cameron, surely irritated by all the negative reviews for Avatar before anyone had a chance to see the film, finally decided to fire back at one of his critics in a long response to the Times:

"I wanted Grace to be a character who is initially off-putting and even unpleasant. She's rude, she swears, she drinks, she smokes....Movies should reflect reality. If it's okay for people to lie, cheat, steal and kill in PG 13 movies, why impose an inconsistent morality when it comes to smoking?... Smoking is a filthy habit which I don't support, and neither, I believe, does Avatar."

Points to Cameron for believing his audience is sophisticated enough to understand a character who has both positive and negative traits. And points off for Glantz, who somehow thinks that smoking is so attractive that any exposure to cigarettes will hypnotize kids into getting lung cancer.

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