Not so long ago, we read about how cars are like cigarettes in that they both are sexy and carcinogenic.
Now comes the latest from the American Medical Association Alliance, a confusingly named group which demands that any movie featuring smoking be rated R, apparently for "Reprehensible." In talking up the latest X-Men franchise flick, the group 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," Frost said. "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."
The last time I checked, increasingly fewer humanoids were enjoying anything about Wolverine, but let's let that go for the moment. The group insists that fantasy smoking leads to real-world smoking:
"Research has shown that one-third to one-half of all young smokers in the United States can be attributed to smoking these youth see in movies," said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, head of the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.
Fielding cited another study that he said "found that adolescents whose favorite movie stars smoked on screen are significantly more likely to be smokers themselves and to have a more accepting attitude toward smoking."
It goes without saying that "research" has shown just about anything anyone ever wanted it to. Back in 2005, Reason's Jacob Sullum shows where the movies-cause-smoking-myth goes wrong: Among other things, the claims of cinematic smoking's behavioral effects are vastly larger than those attributed to good ol' fashioned advertising.
If this sort of nannyism is annoying in its own right, the entertainment industry's quisling response is even more frustrating (and rooted in the same delusional fantasy that movie audiences are automatons who do whatever screen stars do). Two years ago, the industry agreed to use smoking as a criterion for assigning ratings. And look at this:
A spokesman for Twentieth Century Fox, the studio responsible for the Wolverine movie series, said Jackman's cigar was never lit and it was limited to just two scenes.
In one scene, the cigar is shot out of his mouth, prompting Jackman's Wolverine character to suggest its loss would lead to clean living—an anti-smoking statement—the studio spokesman said.
He said that while the Wolverine character has a cigar in his mouth in almost every panel of the comic book series, producers made "a conscious decision" to limit the cigar in the movie.
Please, Twentieth Century Fox, couldn't you have included more scenes of Wolverine cleaning his room and making his bed? Seriously, the day my kids look for clean-living messages in films about mutants with adamantine claws is the day that Nanny 911 becomes a SWAT team.
Last year, Reason.tv asked the question, How far will smoking bans go? To glimpse the answer, watch below.