James Cameron: Today’s Gamers Are The Future’s Smokers

James Cameron: Today’s Gamers Are The Future’s Smokers

According to the New York Times, someone out there thinks that James Cameron’s Avatar is big budget mental poison, because of its on-screen tobacco usage. Let’s start there, as we walk the winding path toward Avatar‘s video game association.

The someone who thinks that Avatar showing a fictional character smoke is “like someone just put a bunch of plutonium in the water supply” is Stanton A. Glantz of the centre for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco. Glantz is referring to actress Sigourney Weaver’s character Grace Augustine.

James Cameron has taken that assessment seriously, responding to the Times.

He says that “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.”

Now, I’d be offended by that, ever so slightly, but I just ate enough candy to make myself nauseated and plan on being motionless in front of the TV tonight playing Bayonetta. So maybe you’ll be offended for me.

‘Avatar’ Joins Holiday Movies That Fail an Antismoking Test [NY Times via Wired GameLife]


  • Ugh. The one thing i hated about this movie was how pretentious it was, and it looks like that won’t wear off anytime soon.

    Grats, Cameron, for making the stereotypical fat gamer social outcast call.

    • “Ugh. The one thing i hated about this movie was how pretentious it was, and it looks like that won’t wear off anytime soon.”

      Your comment is far more conceited than than avatar, everything about the film was on front street, from the experience to the story line, it was never trying to be highbrow cinema.

  • Garbage, smoking is bad for you and people around you, if games have ANY negative effect on normal people (note I dont mention the psychopaths who are affected by things like this and all violent material by extension, but that’s like 0.01% of the population), they’d only affect the person playing the game.

  • Since when did smoking in movies become so taboo?, I remember in the 50’s and 60’s a leading man wouldn’t even be taken seriously had they not been sucking down smoke every 5 mins. I hate when movie reviewers talk about this kind of stuff, if you are going to start smoking because you watched Avatar why not just watch a movie with the main character not smoking right after because you’re obviously a 16 year old mindless teen that takes all your advice from MTV . Besides who’s filmmaking opinion are you going to trust?, James Cameron who has the highest grossing movie of all time, and another movie that looks to top that one, And let’s not forget he made the best movie of all time Terminator 2. Or some guys from The new York times whose job it is to review SNL weekly?.

    • You’re joking, right Andrew? Your argument is “in the 50’s they smoked all the time, what’s the problem?” In the 50’s they also had no qualms with characters beating their wives, they constantly had ads like the infamous misogynistic Goodyear ad (look it up on Youtube if you need to) and many other wonderful ideas. So you go ahead and smoke up (after all, Fred Flintstone was in cigarette ads and doctors used to recommend them so they must be good for you!) because it’s not like we’ve discovered smoking can cause cancer, cardiovascular disease and countless other types of ailments in the last 60 years…

      Oh yeah, and as for Avatar being watched by “16 year old mindless teens”? You’re either a troll or legally retarded. You don’t expect 16 year olds to see a movie rated M? You don’t think that younger children aren’t going to see the movie with the giant CGI Smurfs? Smoking in Pulp Fiction is fine, but you can’t honestly say “What kind of impressionable idiot is going to be affected by the main character in Pokemon smoking”. Avatar is a kid’s movie. It’s rehash of Ferntree Gully. It’s aimed at kids. So no, smoking by the protagonist is not ok.

      • “Smoking by the protaganist is not okay”

        Anyone who raises the “think of the children!” banner isn’t entitled to lecture others.

        • “Anyone who raises the “think of the children!” banner isn’t entitled to lecture others”

          Anyone who raises the “you’re just being hysterical and irrational!” banner without supplying arguments or proof isn’t entitled to lecture others.

        • You think I’m being irrational in saying “A movie aimed towards children should not promote smoking”? Really? How about porn? Should that be aimed at little kids? What about extreme horror and gore? Bestiality? Rape? Torture? Should we put them all into movies aimed at kids so we don’t look too conservative? What if she was smoing a joint? Would you still say “that’s fine, she’s a fictional character”?

          Don’t be an idiot. There’s a clear difference in a movie aimed at kids that adults can enjoy (Shrek, Avatar, etc) and movies aimed at adults that children are shown by their parents. Avatar is a kid’s movie, plain and simple.

      • I’m not a troll or legally retarded for that matter, it’s just my point of view, no need to go on a rant. I don’t think this movie will effect anyone, movies and games get a bad rap for shit like this all the time, its honestly got nothing to do with them, parents just lay their bad parenting hang-ups on them as a scapegoat, if your kid is smoking at age 13 then it’s not because of a move he watched or a game he played. Point the finger elsewhere. I do agree that in the 50’s things were different, but you’re taking things to the absolute extreme, Smoking on film and beating women are incomparable. Besides why should directors take cues from people pissed off people anyway?, they should make the movies they want. If we got rid of everything from movies that offended people we would be left with nothing.

        To me smoking is a decision, no one is forcing you to watch Avatar or you kids, if you think they will be scarred mentally for life then just don’t take them. If you think the Smoking reference is too harmful why not educate them on the dangers of smoking?.

  • Avatar doesn’t glorify smoking at all, Grace is grouchy as hell until she gets her fix and then she puffs on the ciggie for a couple of seconds, hooray..

    The *problem* I suppose was the old movies where the hero smoked after or during doing something cool or impressive.

    I doubt many kids are rushing to grab a ciggie cause (admittedly still in good nick) Weaver brayed at her staff like an old mule until one of them grabbed a fag for her.

  • Heh, I would’ve thought that in a future where they’ve created the technology to control another living thing with your mind, they’d have also created cigarettes that don’t harm you or people around you. Maybe that’s just my wishful future…

  • So movies are not allowed to portray real humans anymore now? Smoking is still the most widely used calming method for people. Clearly this movie doesn’t advocate smoking it just SHOWS THAT SOME PEOPLE DO IT. Bloody hell everyone needs to lighten up.

    However the comment from Cameron is just as crazy. If it is a negative comment on society then why did…


    Sam ended up living forever in his avatar? Doesn’t that say that your avatar life is more interesting than your own dull reality?


    You can’t claim to make a negative comment when your film is clearly all about glorifying the problem.

    • I don’t think I need to remind you that his human body was practically useless in the Na’vi world, especially when the rest of the humans and presumably their entire supply of oxygen was taken with them.

      So adopting the Na’vi body was the only way he was ever going to live a practical, and long lasting life on Pandora.

  • why is everyone blaming the movie?

    if anything its the companies and people that produce the stuff and then all the consumers who don’t give a fuck about anyone else other than themselves getting their fix.

    i try to go to a shopping centre, there’s people all outside smoking and i have to walk through that.
    cafes, outside dining, i have to walk past that.

    pretty much any public place there are smokers who think they have the right to smoke anywhere anytime they want because its not against the law. unfortunately they do.

    i’ve lost count how many times i’ve wanted to beat a smoker down that blew their smoke out into my personal space.

  • “which again is a negative comment about people in our real world living too much in their avatars, meaning online and in video games.”

    Wait, what? Isn’t the guy who SAVED THE PLANET the one who lived too much inside his avatar?!? That’s a bad thing suddenly?!

  • James Cameron is a legendary writer/director, but to take a shit on peoples’ virtual lives after making a movie in which the main character ends up abandoning his human body in order to live out his life in his avatar is the height of hypocrisy. (and lets not forget his ludicrous 45min speech at E3 about the (then) upcoming Avatar videogame.)

    As for ‘showing a fictional character smoke is “like someone just put a bunch of plutonium in the water supply”’…

    Yeah, you know, as opposed to all the real people we see smoking around us every day, and all those packets of cigarettes we see on shelves… Did the movie portray smoking as ‘cool’? Was the smoker a cool/admirable person? No, she was a rude bitch. Yeah, there’s some real positive reinforcement for teh kiddehz.

    These days everyone knows that smoking causes numerous incurable diseases and shortens your lifespan, and yet people still smoke – anyone who honestly thinks that this sort of thing is the source of the problem needs a fucking bullet.

  • Forget the genocide and rape of a planet, GET THE SMOKER!

    How will this attention-seeking moron respond if he ever sees a film where someone poisons a water supply with plutonium? Think about that.

    You guys are defending him. He’s comparing the representation of a fictional character engaged in a legal activity (who knows, maybe future-cigarettes are even GOOD for you?) with a literal act of mass murder.

    Beat a smoker down? You got issues.
    If threats of violence and comparisons to terrorism are all you’ve got I’m going out to buy a packet of smokes.

    You don’t like smoking, I get it.
    At least keep it real ffs.


    Anyway, I thought Avatar was utterly boring.

  • This movie is fictional, it shows people smoking, it shows people becoming blue people…..If a kid ends up wanting to smoke becuase of this movie it would mean that he would also want to become a tall blue man that jumps around in the amazon…..
    The question is why havent we seen kids dressing up as blue people and jumping around in trees with cigerettes????
    Becuase the parents stop them.
    Its a parents job to teach a child the dangers of life (including the risks of smoking) and right from wrong.
    It’s wrong to critisise the entertainment industry for presenting things that happen in Real Life such as murder and smoking….these things happen. Deal with it and if you have a fucking problem with it just dont watch it or better yet do something about it like attack the cigerette companys.

  • Know what else is addicting, water, oh and food. Dose that make those people supposedly ‘addicted’ to such things the future drug addicts. I think not.

  • Is it just me or does that Death Duck guy make a fool of himself in those rants? Anyway…

    I honestly didn’t take note of the smoking. Mind you i’m not a 15 year old & i hate smoking. But i don’t think the smoking was put in their for a reason. There is smoking in PLENTY of movies, it just happens that Avatar has grossed over $1 Billion dollars at the box office in less than a month, something that has taken over movies more than 2 months to accomplish, even 3.

    Oh thats right, its also James Cameron’s newest movie so they’re looking for things to pick at blah blah blah…

    I’m not saying i’m everyone, but after seeing the movie and loving it, i cannot predict how many times she had a cig hanging out of her mouth. Its clearly something i didn’t take note of and i’m sure many others didn’t too. Most took note of the scenery or what was really going on and what was important.

    I really think people need to grow up.

    I also wouldn’t blame smoking on bad parenting. It’s clearly a choice that a child or teenager makes when they want to start smoking. Same with an adult. There are kids out there that do it to copy, but you cannot call it bad parenting, unless however they leave their cigs out for their kids to take, offer them one or don’t discourage it.

    Theres two sides to ever story or in this case, an action. Smoking in movies can influence kids, but its not done as much these days in movies. It was splashed all over classic films back in the day because no one knew what smoking really caused. They used to promote the habit. But at the same time, smoking in movies isn’t put in their to promote it. I guess its also a reason to describe a character and tell us something about them.

    But you could also look at Modern Warfare and how Infinity tried so hard to show off their pretty looking game engine and how well it shows smoke by shoving a cigar in Price’s mouth making it look “cool” and repeating the same thing in MW2 with Soap.

    Either way, i believe smoking is a choice not something someone, whether it be a kid or an adult, is forced to partake in.
    Avatar in no way, encourages the act of smoking and films rarely use the act of smoking in modern cinema to do so.

Log in to comment on this story!