The American Medical Association Alliance is at it again, making a push for any and all movies that include some form of smoking to be given an R-rating. Dr. Jonathan Fielding of the AMAA drops the heavy research evidence that 1-in-3 kids who see smoking in movies, or whose favorite superstar smokes in a movie, are much more likely to start smoking themselves. Also, that 56% of movies of the past couple of years that were “youth-rated” G, PG, or PG-13 included smoking.
The MPAA quickly corrected the very obvious fact that they had no G-rated films with smoking, and that the others were rated appropriately for their content. The MPAA also reaffirmed that they have been including the act of smoking in their rating systems for a while now and that of the 55% of all movies that included any kind of smoking, only 21% were given a PG-13, with 5% being PG — leaving 75% of the movies getting an R.
This isn’t good enough for the AMAA, who again want any movie with ANY kind of smoking to be rated R. Their “case-closed” example of the year is the recent hit X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which had Hugh Jackman apparently smoking a cigar for two-hours straight in a cinematic homage to the late, great George Burns. AMAA President Sandi Frost called the cigar smoking featured in the film “gratuitous” and had this to say…
Millions of children have been exposed to the main star of the film, Hugh Jackman, with a cigar in his mouth in various scenes. I’m willing to bet that not one child would have enjoyed that movie or Mr. Jackman’s performance any less if he hadn’t been smoking.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Fox explained that they did consciously cut down on the smoking showed in the movie, even though the character of Wolverine is always smoking a cigar in his natural comic book appearances.
The AMAA doesn’t stop there though. They have a mobile billboard — which you can see a photo of at CNN — that features a young girl asking the important question, “Which movie studio will cause me to smoke this summer?” to all who care to stop and ponder. They even went as far to create a Facebook Movie Smoking Scorecard page with a summer movie report card! Oh, yes, you can go there and keep track of this summer’s movie slate and which film will get the worst rating for its inclusion of smoking. This movie will be the star of a new mobile billboard at the end of the summer. You can follow the link to join the fight, or yell at them like everyone else seems to be doing.
Alright, that’s the news — now comes the rant.
This is another example of our “free” country being slowly-but-effectively censored in every single possible way. First and foremost, I’m all for the AMAA looking out for people’s health and doing what they can to make sure people do what needs to be done to live a much better lifestyle. What I’m not for is their incessant and completely ignorant efforts toward completely destroying movies in an attempt to make themselves look like they’re doing something good.
I personally was a smoker for almost ten years. Obviously, this was because I saw Casablanca and thought, “Wow, Humphrey Bogart is SO cool — I simply MUST be doing that immediately, even if it’ll kill me!”. As you might have figured out, I was being super-duper sarcastic just then. The truth is: we don’t need freakin’ scientific research, and we don’t need doctors telling us these things — it’s COMMON KNOWLEDGE that smoking can kill you. It’s not magazine ads, movies, or movie stars, TV shows, or any other kind of media causing people to smoke. The AMAA needs to stop pointing the finger at everything else and just accept the fact that we ourselves are the ones who choose or choose not to smoke. I chose to smoke, and I chose to quit; just like everyone else chose whether they wanted to smoke or not. MOST people I’ve talked to that do not smoke, are people who have tried it and hated it, leading them to never do it. So even if the image of a god-like movie star smoking leads you to try it, you still f’n choose whether you want to keep doing it or not. These are plain and simple facts.
I’m not going to say that movies should just have everyone smoking and there should be no problem. But if there’s a character like Wolverine who is someone that smokes cigars, then his character should smoke cigars! The filmmakers should not be punished for staying faithful to a character like this. Hell, even if an original character is written as a smoker in a movie that has minimal violence, language, and sexual content, then those filmmakers should be able to make their movie without worrying that it’s going to get an R-rating because someone is puffing away.
This brings me back to two things: the classics, and the real life. As I already mentioned, Casablanca is one of the greatest and most-loved movies of all eternity. Casablanca also features star Humphrey Bogart heavily smoking throughout the film. So are we going to go back to this and the many, many other classic films that featured a ton of smoking and make them ALL rated R? No, we’re not going to do this, because the MPAA and the AMAA very likely love and cherish those movies and would happily show them to any man, woman, or impressionable child. No, these cats are gunning for all of the new movies and new media that hasn’t even had the chance to become loved and appreciated. After that, there’s the lovely real life. Even if you go and destroy movies by forcing filmmakers to make all of their characters bland, boring soccer moms, you’re still going to have the news, magazines, and shows like TMZ showing all of our favorite superstars doing normal, everyday things — and some of them will be smoking. Oh, and let’s not forget all of the kids who just see their parents, or some random dude on the streets smoking. You see it everywhere, whether you like it or not; forcing artists to censor it is just a waste of resources.
There you have it, kids. If you don’t smoke, then don’t start.. it’s not worth it. If you do smoke, do your best to quit. It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever attempt, I know this to be true, but it can be done, I promise.
To the AMAA, do us all a big favor: concentrate on helping people to make better conscious decisions in their lives and STOP trying to force everyone and everything to have to be what they are not against their will. Again, this is a free country and it’s about time we stop slaughtering the foundations that our forefathers laid out for us by forcing people to adhere to unnecessary standards. This country has so many more important damn problems that we should be working on instead of making sure that Denis Leary only smokes in the basement of an abandoned house where no one can see so that he doesn’t cause all the kids who ever see him smoke to run out and buy a pack of Marlboros.
[Source: via Film Drunk]
And of course Fox got it wrong as well, for Wolverine does not smoke in his comics. There is a ban on all smoking in Marvel Comics because Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada’s father died of lung cancer.
Comment by Ranma — May 30, 2009 @ 7:21 pm
This is a good article and it is great timing. They want any movie with smoking to be R-rated while the beautiful schlock of Drag Me To Hell is rated PG-13. Blood spraying, bug vomiting, grave robbing, and little kids plummeting to their deaths before being dragged to Hell is cool, but nobody better smoke a cigar. Christ.
Question. Do you guys list the contest winners? If so, where do I find them? Sorry, I may be looking over them. Has anybody won the DMTH contest yet?
Comment by Herb West — May 30, 2009 @ 9:04 pm
Damn, I so need a cigarette after reading the bu!!s$@T spewed forth by the AMAA. Really, the warning label should be a pretty good clue that the product you’re about to purchase includes some potentially serious health risks.
“No kids, bullets to the head didn’t kill that man, it was the cigar in his mouth that did him in!”
Comment by burning_chrome — May 30, 2009 @ 10:56 pm
Yet another way to let bad parenting off the hook..
Next thing you know they wont allow sharp objects or open flames on the sets of movies..
This reminds me of a bar I went to:
I ordered 2 flaming Dr Peppers.. the bartender says to me “sorry sir, we are not allowed to have an open flame at the bar” – so i look around and there are people smoking near the bar (in an outdoor area), there are those little candle mood things ON the bar, and i ask the guy “so how the fuck are u cooking ur food in the kitchen” (located right behind the bar)…
Comment by Siah — May 31, 2009 @ 12:24 pm
I hope the AMAA is successful in their endeavors. Anyone who has a problem with branding all smoking movies with an R rating, obviously doesn’t have children of their own.
Comment by Devon — May 31, 2009 @ 4:25 pm
AMAA is trying their best to social engineer us. Now since being overweight is the number one killer health wise in the U.S. why don’t they make any movie that has an over weight actor rated R? I mean come on, it makes about as much sense. People have to learn to take responsibility for themselves and quit blaming others for their faults. I smoke. I cannot blame anyone else but myself. It wasn’t Bogart, Eastwood, or any other superstar that lit that first cigarette for me, I did. If you are so concerned that movies are going to start your kids smoking, then don’t take them to a movie or sit down with them and explain how smoking is bad. Stop haven’t agencies do your parenting for you.
Comment by David — June 2, 2009 @ 2:39 am
This is the problem with Hollywood and society in general. The time being wasted on this just illustrates the mind-numbing idiocy of people in positions of power. They really have nothing else better to do. So damn sad!
Comment by StrontiumDog — June 3, 2009 @ 4:50 pm
It is both amazingly sad the lengths antismokers go to in their jihad of hatred, and scary that anyone listens to them or takes them seriously. Imagery of war, violence, alcohol, sex and other non-child-appropriate activities also frequently receive less-then-R ratings, but these are never subjected to the same witchhunts – only smoking.
Comment by Common Sense, Please — September 20, 2011 @ 9:15 am