Monday, October 1, 2007

Smoking is bad!

Put down that pipe, Bilbo!

More big studios are beginning to play right into the hands of the heavy anti-smoking campaigns, which seem to be the new trend in current pop discourse. The New York Times' Michael Cieply reports that more Hollywood studios are beginning to buckle under the pressure of these mega-strong campaigns working to halt the promotion and glorification of smoking in cinema and entertainment:

"In July, the Walt Disney Company said it would ban smoking in its Disney-branded movies, like the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, while trying to discourage tobacco use in youth-rated movies from its Miramax and Touchstone units. A spokesman for the Sony Corporation’s Sony Pictures Entertainment said the studio — which showed tobacco use in all three of its PG-13 rated “Spider-Man” films — has a policy under which it tries to discourage the depiction of tobacco products in youth-oriented films.

Viacom is meanwhile scrambling to devise a smoking policy of its own, having been assured two weeks ago by Mr. Crosby and his allies that it was increasingly out of step with its studio brethren. That warning came about because antismoking groups had recently discovered that the News Corporation and its 20th Century Fox Film division were already on the bandwagon, thanks to a strict though intentionally unpublicized policy of rooting tobacco out of youth-friendly films for the last three years.

Since 2004, the studio’s production manual has mandated that no principal character can be seen to smoke in a film set in contemporary times and to be rated G, PG or PG-13 unless the studio’s president of production signs off on the scene. Tobacco ads and promotions are not supposed to be visible in Fox movies. Even antismoking messages on screen are not to have been provided by tobacco companies."

Thanks to the concerns of GE, Viacom, Time Warner, and Disney, parents of America can rest assured that their kids will not be exposed to the filth of smoking in entertainment. We can now feel safe tuning into American Idol, where the Coca-Cola logos on the judge's cups are all facing the camera, where we discover that we have it our way from McDonald's, that we can always save with low prices at Wal-Mart, that we can express ourselves with Botox, and that we can accomplish anything if we set our minds to from Nike.

Remember, though: Smoking is bad!


Jonathan Lapper said...

Surely the Disney Brand is much more debilitating to one's health than nicotine and tar.

I'm sure eventually sodas will be banned too (High Fructose Corn Syrup), snack foods (Too many saturated fats), and alcohol in any form until every movie resembles either THX 1138 or Aladdin. At that point, please put a bullet through my skull (if you don't have a gun you're going to have to push really hard).

Ted Pigeon said...

Well said, Jonathan. Besides that, my whole issue is that we have commodified the moving image to such an extent that we regulate its potential based on how it "promotes" certain products, which in turn promote certain lifestyles. Why images should be promoting anything is beyond me. Nevertheless, in popular cinema, where film language imposes itself, images are being commodified at an amazing rate. And it scares me.

I've posted a few times over the summer about this, so I initially hesitated over whether to write another short piece about this debate. I ultimately decided to because I think the issue is relevant and important. I promise though: no more serious or facetious posts about smoking!

Jonathan Lapper said...

Post 'em if you got 'em.

Ted Pigeon said...


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