Entry by Stacey Gill Dastis…
A fresh controversy has just premiered at box offices around the country. Should movies be rated R if they depict smoking or even mention cigarettes?
That’s what anti-smoking activists want, and they are taking on Avatar. Despite its titanic popularity, Avatar is stoking the flames of this debate and has gotten some audience members fired up about lighting up in a movie that’s rated PG-13 according to an article in the Sunday New York Times.
For all its moneymaking and record-breaking prowess, the film has managed to spark the ire of moviegoers with a single line. Sigourney Weaver’s character generates the heat when she searches for a cig. But it is, after all, her character that craves a smoke.
The movie doesn’t attempt to lure little kids into a lifetime of lung abuse. As its rating indicates, the film is made for young adults and adults. Are teenagers really incapable of viewing smoking? Yes, teenagers are impressionable and prone to dangerous behaviors, but if watching an actor play a role in which he or she takes a drag is all it takes to convince a teen to smoke, I’d venture previous problems were in play.
A film’s goal is not to promote codes of conduct. It’s to create believable, engaging characters and an engrossing storyline. And, of course, to make money.
But one need not watch movies to witness untoward behavior. Try flicking on just about any channel on T.V. especially those aimed at school-age kids (they now show entry-level MTV videos starring/branding their child-actors). Or walk past certain teen stores in the mall (you don’t even have to walk in to be exposed to and repelled by the life-sized signage at the entrance). Or browse through any teenager’s video game collection (Grand Theft Auto, anyone?). I’m more concerned with my children growing up to be obnoxious, ungrateful, superficial, anorexic brats with a proclivity for violence and sexually-loose standards given the media that surrounds them than taking up smoking.
Not to mention the film is more about genocidal warfare than cigarettes. But I suppose we’ve become desensitized by all the fantastic violent and hyper-sexual images bombarding us that cigarettes seem to be the biggest threat to our children. Certainly, I don’t want to minimize the deadly nature of cigarettes, but I do want to place it in some perspective.
As a disclaimer, I have abject disinterest in this movie, even slight disdain for it due to a whole host of other reasons, but smoking isn’t one of them.
What say you?