Tobacco

Hugh Jackman's Movies Are Like Matthew Modine's Cars: Guilty of Cancer!

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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.

More here.

Last year, Reason.tv asked the question, How far will smoking bans go? To glimpse the answer, watch below.

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  1. If AMAA had been around in Shakespeare’s day, they’d have demanded that Falstaff not be shown drinking.

  2. Wolverine (and J. Jonah Jameson, and every other Marvel character) hasn’t smoked in the comics for years. Joe Quesada, Marvel Editor in Chief, put that policy in place some time ago. He also explained that Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson had to have their marriage dissolved by a deal with the devil, because showing their divorce would be too traumatic for the kids.

  3. As Relevant’s “Slices” put it, “This being the case, Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes would land an NC-17 easily.”

    (Scarily enough, “Slices” also beat H&R today concerning Wikipedia’s ban on edits by the Church of Scientology.)

  4. Sweet Jumping Jesus, since when does smoking a cigar now and then count as “smoking”?

  5. Ugh, I have a friend (my girlfriend’s former roommate) who thinks the movie industry *already* rates movies R for smoking, and EVERY TIME she watches an R-rated movie that has smoking in it she says, “This movie is rated R for the smoking you know!” She even said it once while my girlfriend and I were watching I think “Pan’s Labyrinth”… and I was thinking, “Oh, right, the smoking… never mind the fact that it’s about a little girl whose Fascist step-father goes around torturing and murdering political insurgents.”

    She also complained once that she was nearly died of “third-hand” smoke while standing behind a woman in Walmart who smelled like cigarettes.

  6. Are we to understand that the jacket is not a symbol of your individuality and belief in personal freedom?

  7. Dear people of the world, and particularly Dr. Jonathan Fielding:

    Seriously, “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”?

    Seriously? You think that we could simply banish 33-50% of all smoking by “young” people by not showing it in movies?

    Perhaps you should consider putting away the crack pipe before you criticize others’ smoking habits.

    Love,

    Mike

  8. the entertainment industry’s quisling response

    Good one. Hollywood is capable of commiting any depravity, and collaborating with the anti-smoking nazis is all in a day’s work, especially if the act earns them an extra buck or two.
    Integrity is for suckers.

  9. Gaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

    The pop-cultural illiterates among us never cease to amaze me.

    Logan, aka Wolverine, is a mutant.

    One of his more important mutant powers is his “healing factor.”

    If smoking gave Logan cancer or emphysema, his healing factor would cure him.

    I suppose Marvel and Fox could add an eater egg PSA to the credits, wherein Jackman explains this to the kiddies, and warns them that “smoking is bad, m’kay?”

    George Reeves never had to warn me about jumping off roofs, either.

    Kevin

  10. He’s got cause and effect screwed up. Smoking appears in movies because kids think it’s cool, and film execs want to make movies that appeal to teens – that have an air of ‘authenticity’. Teens think it’s cool in part because of the ‘forbidden’ allure. Just like drugs and alcohol.

    Removing smoking from film and television will have little effect on whether kids think smoking is cool or not. It’s just make the movies seem more ‘fake’ to the hipper teens, who want their characters to act like real people, not public service announcements.

    Ultimately, there is very little you can do to combat the perception that any mind altering substance is cool, short of convincing all the teens to join a fanatical putiatanical religious movement. i think this is the only means in history that has ever suceeded in making youth less bohemian.

  11. Research shows that 33-50% of the incidence of young people implanting retractable claws in their fingers and slashing alleged evildoers can be attributed to this being shown in movies.

  12. “Increasingly fewer”? Ouch.

  13. If “24” can convince generals that torture is ok, why can’t movies convince kids that smoking is cool?

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