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Maybe Don’t Praise Audiences Going Out in COVID Surges, James Cameron?

Ronal, a Na'vi with a large shell on her forehead, puts her hand on her chest in Avatar: The Way of Water.

Despite what people may think, I genuinely enjoy most of James Cameron‘s work. It is his constant need to put his foot in his mouth that drives me up the wall. And so it is yet again that I’m annoyed by something he said while seemingly not realizing how bad it came across.

When Cameron went to the Golden Globes, he was on the red carpet and talking about the success that Avatar: The Way of Water has found around he world, which is a testament to how beautiful Cameron’s films are and the draw to see them in theaters. (I have plans to go and see Titanic during the rerelease, too). But what is irresponsible about his statement is that he should be aware that it might not be that safe to go to the theaters right now.

Currently, China is undergoing a huge surge in COVID-19, and Cameron, on the red carpet, seemed to be excited by the numbers that Avatar: The Way of Water was getting worldwide despite that.

“I’m not thinking of it in those terms,” Cameron said. “I’m thinking of it in the terms of we’re going back to theaters around the world. They’re even going back to theaters in China where they’re having this big COVID surge. We’re saying as a society, ‘We need this! We need to go to theaters.’ Enough with the streaming already! I’m tired of sitting on my ass.”

You know, movie theaters—also famous for not making you sit on your ass?

It’s not a good thing!

Look, I love going to the movies; I am there multiple times during the week. When COVID lockdowns had movie theaters closed, I was upset by the fact that I couldn’t go to my favorite thing. But I also waited to go back until after I was fully vaccinated, and I’m one of the few people who still wear a mask. As someone who was just exposed to COVID at a press screening, looking at things through the lens of “this is great because even though it is dangerous people want to go to the movies and hooray, people are saying enough with being careful” is not a great look.

And he’s not the only director who has this stance. As much as I love Christopher Nolan, he also had some bad ideas about movies and COVID back in 2020. It’s their love of movie theaters and the experience overshadowing the fact that there are concerns that are much more important.

And labeling streaming as a problem is … also a problem!

Streaming is accessible

The second part of Cameron’s quote, where he took it further and shamed streaming for some reason, has its own issues. Streaming is something that many who cannot go to the theaters can instead enjoy to be a part of movies and the conversation.

He wants movies to go back to the way they were when I was a kid. Movie theater adventures every weekend. But that’s just not a reality for most families. Streaming is. So while I know for a fact some parents would love to go to the movies, it means getting a sitter or paying for the whole family, and it is a lot for one night at the theaters. Having streaming means still watching movies while being with their family, and that’s not a bad thing.

Please, James. I’m begging

I don’t want to shame James Cameron. Because he was probably just thinking off the top of his head and didn’t mean for it to sound this way. But it does come across as someone who cares more about movie theaters than health. If we kept a mask policy or even a vaccination policy like what existed here in New York for a while?

Fine, the quote wouldn’t be horrible. It still is brushing away the public health concern, but with how cases currently are and how everyone is ignoring the fact that COVID is still very much here? This kind of shot fired at the whole idea of being cautious is just really irresponsible.

Jim, I want to like you. I love your movies! I just think that you say things and want people to talk about it. But this moment is one that is a bad look. This is James Cameron and his own wants projected onto mass audiences without thinking about the implications. And we really should not be encouraging people to go out places when COVID is surging!

(featured image: 20th Century Pictures)

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Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast.