Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Now that we've got smoking out of our restaurants and bars — not that I'm complaining — and out of our office buildings — which is awesome, especially in wintertime, when I get to pass all these shivering office workers smoking outside their building lobbies — it looks like the next step is taking smoking out of the movies. I don't mean out of movie theaters, which I'm pretty sure we've accomplished, and now parents can bring their toddlers' fragile lungs to see Norbit without any risk of getting cancer, but off the celluloid itself. Which I was kind of aware of, since we all know there are those anti-art types who won't be satisfied until we're all forced to entertain ourselves by starting at a blank screen in total silence, and even then, they'll find some sort of subliminal message on the screen, corrupting our children, but I didn't realize that our society's tobacco warriors, protecting our freedom to harm ourselves after fifty or sixty years, were organized enough to purchase ad space on top of a NYC taxi cab.

It's the Smoke Free Movies campaign, spearheaded at UC San Fransisco, that's convinced that the reason why kids die from smoking isn't because they're nihilistic burnouts in a world that condescends to them, but because they saw someone cool, like Humphrey Bogart or James Dean, lighting a cigarette in the movies as a shorthand artistic device. Professor Stanton A. Glantz, who was clearly never cool, argues that if the Motion Picture Association of America, the industry watchdog group that arbitrarily hands out movie ratings, arbitrarily gave every movie to feature smoking an R rating, think of all the lives we'd save! Because teenagers don't see R-rated movies, and they don't think that the extra violence and sex in R-rated movies makes them cooler than their PG-13 brethren! If Glantz really wanted to demean smoking in teenage eyes, then smoking should earn a movie an automatic G rating, just like those sickeningly moralistic VeggieTales movies or something.