My life is usually news-free. I don’t live in an insulated cocoon, I just choose to ignore the prefabricated news that are fed to us via the intravenous line of our media. I’m a much happier (and hopefully a little more balanced) person that way. But once in a while a bit of info catches my attention and makes me react, as is the case today. Introducing our society’s latest absurdity contest: the effort to ban smoking from…. Movies!
Yes you read this right. We’re not talking about banning the physical presence of tobacco in public areas, which is an effort I support entirely, nor are we discussing ways to reduce the frightening power acquired over the years by the tobacco companies.
We are talking about banning the act of smoking in Hollywood movies, because "it might influence youth to smoke…" Hello, people, wake up! Everything that is done in movies will eventually influence someone. Our society partially regenerates itself by creating fashions and trends through movies. Then the education system comes in and weakly attempts to channel that impact by setting up values, arguable do’s and don’ts. Rather than censor movies blindly, let’s educate efficiently in real life!
The bottom line is this: movies are made to represent reality, not to be politically correct. They depict vice as much as greatness. They are about stories and characters brought to life by their own intensity. Some of those will be bad, others will be good. Some will smoke.
Now, did we ever consider banning war from movies? Wars are what’s tearing our world apart, not cigarettes. Did we ever decide to ban drugs, corruption and violence from the screen? We can’t, because it would be censorship of an art that has gained some of its most prestigious awards by rendering vice and contrasting it with beauty. Have we banned alcohol from the giant screen? Yet how many people does drinking and driving kill? How about ladders? They are dangerous, you can fall from them. Should we ban them too? Or dangerous toys? Plastic bags? And what about love? Ask Romeo if love doesn’t kill. Should we go ahead and ban love all together?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not insensitive to the issue of smoking; my old man died of lung cancer, among other things. But he was in a war, too, and that scarred him worse than cigarettes ever could, despite the fact that they eventually took him.
So to whoever is behind all the trendy fuss, I’ll say this: setup a rating system that includes smoking, and I’ll cheer for you. But for God’s sake, get your priorities straight; movies are just movies. Deciding to try and ban smoking from them altogether is an absurd waste of time and a mis-allocation of resources ! You’re addressing the issue like modern medicine deals with illness: trying to cure the symptoms rather than the cause – but then again, isn’t that what mankind is best at? We stick our head in the sand and assume we have become invisible.
Movies are about telling stories. Stories involve all kinds of characters. Characters at time have nasty habits. Smoking is a nasty habit. Stop the sale of cigarettes, not the movies showing them.