Saturday, January 23, 2010

Now you know why there's so much smoking in the movies

Just concluded reading Dick Morris & Eileen McGann's 2008 Fleeced, which takes on a host of bad actors the authors say are ripping-off the public, from Washington lobbyists' successful peddling of Third World regimes with horrendous human rights records, to how Dubai - which gets great press (even in its current financial crisis) - is a huge boondoggle and exploitive nation to its women and imported workers....But my real concern is their chapter on how the motion picture industry colludes with Big Tobacco to make sure there is a whole lot of depiction of cigarette smoking in films....Virtually every new release I have watched in recent years has had characters smoking - and fairly noticably. I find this odd given the fact smoking has really declined in our society. Not that I'm entirely opposed to seeing characters smoke. Some people do smoke (and in period films most everyone smoked) and films should depict this reality. Still, it seems the amount of smoking in movies is out of proportion to the world around us.....And interestingly, given liberal Hollywood's bleeding heart concern over so many issues, no one, it seems, has spoken out against smoking in movies.....What the authors are particularly concerned about are films directed at children and teens. They say 39 per cent of all PG movies and 79 per cent of all PG-13 movies show characters smoking.....And many actually show kids smoking including Bad Santa, The Butterfly Effect and Monster. Admittedly these films were made in the first half of the past decade.....But even a more recent film like Juno had Ellen Page's pregnant teenage character with a pipe in her mouth, if only a prop. And the animation film The Incredibles (2004) had characters smoking......The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has now included smoking as a criterion in its ratings......That doesn't seem to have solved the problem. According to the web site Smoke Free Movies http://www.smokefreemovies.ucsf.edu/ smoking continues to be shown in new releases every week. For example in the box office's current Top 10, movies that "promote smoking" include Avatar (do Avatars smoke?), The Lovely Bones, Sherlock Holmes, The Spy Next Door and The Blind Side.

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