What was most offensive about Avatar? Its length? The fact that Zoe Saldana had boobs for no reason whatsoever?
Its GCSE politics? The way that the 3D glasses made your eyeballs start to vibrate inside your own skull? No, you idiots, it was the smoking. Remember how Sigourney Weaver was all like “I sure do love to smoke me some cigarettes!” in Avatar and then she died? That was the most offensive thing about Avatar – apart from, you know, the whole thing being a bunch of gormless hippy bollocks.
In fact, Weaver’s Avatar smoking has riled some people enough to buy ads bemoaning all the free advertising the tobacco industry received as a result. And the tobacco industry has been quick to maximise on this, which explains all the ‘Cigarettes: Now Smoked By Butch Old Ladies Who Turn Into Aliens And Then Die!’ billboards you’ve been seeing everywhere lately.
It’s a well-established fact that, when you see something on a screen, it influences your real-life decisions. That’s why, when you see all the Coca Cola cups next to Simon Cowell on American Idol, you want to punch Simon Cowell in the mouth. Drink Coca Cola. We meant to say that it makes you want to drink Coca Cola. Yes, that’s right.
And it’s the same with Avatar. Why, when we saw Avatar, its complex power of suggestion made us want to demonstrate our Caucasian superiority by flying to another planet – or, if that wasn’t practical, flying to a slightly ethnic-seeming country – and showing all the stupid locals how much better than them we are by passing ourselves off as a sort of spurious Jesus figure as crassly as possible until one of them lets us have it off with her.
Oh, and smoke. Avatar made us want to take up smoking as well. Mainly it was the misinformed Jesus thing, but smoking a bit as well.
And it turns out we’re not the only ones. Members of Smoke Free Movies – a campaign opposed to the depiction of smoking in films aimed at the young – have become so incensed by Sigourney Weaver’s smoking in Avatar that they’ve decided to take out two full-page ads in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter bemoaning all the free advertising that the film has apparently given to the tobacco industry. The New York Times reports:
Advertisements in Hollywood trade papers accuse the film of providing the equivalent of $50 million in free tobacco advertising. For every $100 million it earns at the box office, “Avatar” will “deliver an estimated 40 million tobacco impressions to theater audiences,” said the ads, referring to scenes involving a cigarette-smoking character played by Sigourney Weaver.
James Cameron has already dealt with these claims in part, making the distinction between advocating smoking and simply portraying it. Which is a fair point – for most of Avatar, Sigourney Weaver is too busy being a simpering blue alien who babbles on about windchimes and dreamcatchers and God knows how many other kinds of pseudo-spiritual mumbo-jumbo to explicitly state that smoking makes you look both cooler and more grown-up. Which we heard it totally does, kids.
However, James Cameron has yet to respond to the latest batch of Smoke Free Movies ads. Maybe instead of issuing a formal rebuttal he should just send them a DVD copy of Ghostbusters. That filmcontains so much smoking that they’d probably end up pooing blood 15 minutes in.