Saturday, February 17, 2007

Should smoking cause a movie to get an R rating?


The media is full of reports that the AMA and other groups want to pressure the motion picture industry to apply R ratings to all films showing smoking. I don't know if this is just cigarette smoking, or would include cigars (or pot, for that matter). I recall that the first Apprentice winner, Bill Rancic, had operated a "cigarsaroundtheworld.com" business.

Many classic films (as on TCM) show smoking, and what I think is more constructive is for young people to know that smoking was much more socially acceptable a couple generations ago than it is now. There are reasons for this. World wars and depressions occurred, and life spans were shorted. In subtle ways, life was valued differently then. Teens, anyway, should learn this in its proper historical and sociological context.

I don't like to see "role model" characters cigarette smoking. But in fact, you don't. For example, Superman is never shown smoking today, and neither are any of the role model teen and young adult characters on TV series (Clark Kent, Chloe, Lana, Dean and Sam, Seth, Ephram, etc.) On a soap like "Days of our Lives" it's easy for me to imagine Sami, Chelsea, Bonnie, or Kate ("Katrina") smoking, although they don't. And definitely not Nick, Max, Shawn, or Belle.

R ratings supposedly affect box office receipts big time. I wonder about this, as many R films do very well.

But, no, applying an automatic R to a movie for showing smoking is an overraction.

For a note on "This film Is Not Yet Rated", go here (look for Sept 15 entry).

Update: (2007/3/7)

On March 7, 2007, the DC Examiner, on p. 34, carried a brief sidebar "R-rated movies may boost teens' smoking rates."

Update: IMDB story on May 12, 2007.

Picture: This was the Granada Theater on Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence, Kansas (aka Smallville, near KU).

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