Oh, smoking. You've had a tough time these last few decades. When will the negativity stop and things can go back to normal when smoking was cool? (Please sense my sarcasm...)
According to an article in today's New York Times, non-smoking advocates are attempting to petition the movie studios to halt smoking in movies with ratings of G-PG-13.
The move comes specifically from Universal Pictures, the sixth largest movie studio in America. In reference to the New York Times:
General Electric, the corporate parent of Universal Pictures, decided last April that, with few exceptions, “no smoking incidents should appear in any youth-rated film.”
As a non-smoking advocate myself, I somewhat agree with this decision, at least for movies that have a rating of G or PG. I don't think that kids, especially those watching animated films, should see adults or other children or teens puffing away like a chimney. Because, let's face it, no matter what anyone tells you, smoking does look cool when pretty people are doing it. ESPECIALLY if it is done by someone who you look up to and wish to emulate. Also, kids and the new generation of "tweens" are very driven to do things that their parents tell them that they should not be doing or things that look dangerous or wrong. It is part of growing up.
However, we must take into consideration the timely effect that smoking has on a film. What if it took place in 1945? Smoking was as prevalent back then as eating and sleeping. It was a part of every day life and to not include that in a film, especially in a biographical piece would be wrong. People should be able to see the way life was lived before anti smoking legislation became like the plague.
According to Bill Condon, who wrote and directed the Oscar winning film, Dreamgirls:
“Movies are supposed to reflect reality. You’re taking away a detail that is one of the more defining aspects of a lifestyle.”
Another large aspect of the article surrounds the fact that if you take smoking out of movies, shouldn't you take guns, drugs, alcohol and everything else that is bad out too?
Yet Hollywood is also waking to the realization that a committed band of advocates is rapidly changing what is permissible in the movies. And that precedent could embolden other groups campaigning to rid movies of portrayals of gun use, transfat consumption or other behavior that can be proved harmful to the public.
This is a tough call. I guess the question to whether or not children are affected by seeing others who smoke in Hollywood films needs to be answered to decide whether or not smoking should be banned.
For a fun tidbit, however, the article talks about a website, scenesmoking.org, which is a watchdog site for smoking in movies. Reading bits from the site is sort of hilarious. Here is a quote from the Bourne Ultimatum:
"Its easy for Jason Bourne, in The Bourne Ultimatum, to jump from building to building, drive in high speed chases and fool the bad guy when he doesn’t have the negative affects of tobacco slowing him down.”
Andrew P., TUTD Reviewer
We'll see how this continues to play out...