Anti-smokers: Get off of Hollywood's back

By Gary Korb

An article I came across last week titled "Hollywood Urged To Rid Child Movies Of Smoking" caught my attention for two reasons. First, I'm a movie fanatic, and secondly, I'm sick and tired of special interest groups telling filmmakers how to make movies. According to the lead, one year ago the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) said it would make films marketed to children smoke-free. Here are a few excerpts:

"We are still waiting for Hollywood to do the right thing," state Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., said today. "The MPAA must act now to protect children from the harmful influence of movie stars smoking gratuitously on film. We cannot sacrifice the health of another generation through indifference and inaction."

"Research shows that deaths attributable to youth exposure to on-screen tobacco will be greater in the U.S. than drunken driving, drug abuse, criminal violence and HIV/AIDS combined," Commissioner Daines said.

Today the American Medical Association objected that in the new movie "The Incredible Hulk," the character Gen. Thunderbolt Ross, played by William Hurt, is rarely onscreen without a cigar in hand. The PG-13 movie opened on Friday. "This is a bad-guy character, but that's not a justification to portray him as a smoker," Dr. Daines said. "There are plenty of bad guys in the movies who don't smoke."
Let's get real. I don't want to see underage kids smoking any more than most reasonable people do. I've got a 10 and a 6 year old, myself. But movies are protected by the First Amendment. Moreover, they reflect society, and like it or not, society has a certain segment of people who smoke. Let's not start prohibiting screenwriters from creating characters who have a proclivity for smoking cigarettes or cigars. If you don't want your child seeing a movie that has characters smoking, don't take your kids to see it. Plus, I wouldn't classify "The Incredible Hulk" as a "child movie." "Mary Poppins" - now that's a child movie.


Anvil said…
It seems to me -- and stick with me here, because I know this is a difficult thought -- that when a movie is rated "PG-13" it is not a kid's movie. It is at worst a "teen movie," and if your thirteen-year-old is not at least basically competent enough to judge whether or not smoking is potentially harmful you are doing something wrong.
Anonymous said…
Are you kidding?
Now you expect parents to actually "raise" their children properly *AND* teach them right from wrong? That is absurd. Parent, much like their children, or anyone else for that matter, cannot be held accountable for their own choices/actions. Everything we do is because we saw it on tv/video games.

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