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Avatar’s Dr. Augustine Smokes Because You Play Too Many Video Games

People whose job it is to be up in arms over these sorts of things are up in arms now over the smoking scenes in Avatar, the Times reports today. A gentleman named Stanton A. Glantz, the director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the UCSF, caught the movie during the holidays and was scandalized by the cigarette habit of Sigourney Weaver's character, Dr. Grace Augustine, a botanist working on planet Pandora in 2154: "This is like someone just put a bunch of plutonium in the water supply," he says, rationally. Additionally, SceneSmoking.org, a site that reports on smoking in films, has awarded Avatar its coveted "black lung" rating. So the Times' poor Michael Cieply had to drag James Cameron away from whatever world-changing technological breakthrough he was working on yesterday for comment.

As one might expect from such a masterful screenwriter as Cameron, there's a symbolism-related reason for Dr. Augustine's nicotine dependence. The HMFIC explains:


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.

As one might expect from such a masterful screenwriter as Cameron, there's a symbolism-related reason for Dr. Augustine's nicotine dependence. The HMFIC explains:

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."

Smoking, Mr. Cameron concluded, "is a filthy habit which I don’t support, and neither, I believe, does Avatar."

Also, join the Avatar Facebook group and buy the Avatar video game.

‘Avatar’ Joins Holiday Movies That Fail an Antismoking Test [NYT]