Light up a cigarette in your movie, get an "R" rating!
March 12, 2002 4:13 PM   Subscribe

Light up a cigarette in your movie, get an "R" rating! Under a proposal from this UCSF professor/anti-smoking activist, any movie that shows someone lighting up a cigarette will automatically get an "R" rating.
posted by xochi (36 comments total)
 
Next thing you know, any movie where people give eachother dirty glares will get a PG-13 rating.
posted by trioperative at 4:19 PM on March 12, 2002


I'm a firm believer in ratings systems... but this? This is just silly, not to mention counter-productive.

Should this ever pass (and I doubt it would), it would imply that children under the age of 18 -- even with parental guidance -- aren't able make moral judgements vis a vis smoking.

My word.
posted by silusGROK at 4:23 PM on March 12, 2002


Probably belongs in this thread from yesterday.
posted by liam at 4:26 PM on March 12, 2002


I quit smoking about two years ago. It's the little things like this and cocky PSAs like those from thetruth.com that make me want to start again, just to spite them. I didn't quit because of in-your-face advertising or over-the-top censorship. I quit because I understood, as do the majority of smokers, that I would be healthier for me. It's ridiculous to think that, in this day and age, there is anyone in this country that doesn't understand what ill effects smoking has on you.

I know that's very reactionary, and it's probably partially, minutely so, the nicotine urge talking, but what is giving an R rating to films for cigarette use going to do to curb smoking in this country? LAME.
posted by eyeballkid at 4:27 PM on March 12, 2002


Er. Strike that... it would imply that children under the age of 18 need parental guidence in-situ to make a moral judgement about smoking.

I mean, I could entertain the thought that maybe drug use of any kind (including smoking or alcohol use) may warrant a PG-13, where parents are encouraged to give guidance to their pre-adolescent children... but an R?

Again: My word.
posted by silusGROK at 4:27 PM on March 12, 2002


that I would be healthier for me

and see what smoking all those years did to my typing skills?
posted by eyeballkid at 4:28 PM on March 12, 2002


That should make it particularly difficult to produce viable educational anti-smoking videos for grade school students.

Why would anyone want to do that?
posted by shepd at 4:37 PM on March 12, 2002


I actually think this is a great idea. I've never much understood the ratings board (for instance, in the usa Stand by Me was rated R and Batman was pg-13). Having blanket things like this (with logical motivations behind them) make sense.

eyeballkid: It's ridiculous to think that, in this day and age, there is anyone in this country that doesn't understand what ill effects smoking has on you.

Yes, it is ridiculous. What's more ridiculous is that these people continue to smoke. Worse, youngsters start every day.

Like it or not, people are influenced by images they see on the silver screen. I see no problem with hollywood taking a responsible step in attempting to cut down on smoking.
posted by dobbs at 4:41 PM on March 12, 2002


Pinocchio. Now rated R.
posted by drinkcoffee at 4:41 PM on March 12, 2002


**takes deep drag and blows smoke ring**

This is absolutely ridiculous. Kids can walk down the street and see someone smoking, but they need to be accompanied by a parent to see a film of someone smoking? We have now officially entered Bizarro World.
I have officially decided that I will never quit smoking just to piss this guy off.
To Professor Glantz and any other zealot trying to shove their personal rules of conduct down my throat-please put a sock in it and mind your own business.

posted by jonmc at 4:41 PM on March 12, 2002


Maybe they could give an R rating to movies with eating too!
posted by srboisvert at 4:44 PM on March 12, 2002


After colorizing the classic films, is decigarettizing now in order? I wonder how the famous scene in To Have And Have Not, where Lauren Bacall asks for a light, is going to play.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:48 PM on March 12, 2002


jonmc said: To Professor Glantz and any other zealot trying to shove their personal rules of conduct down my throat-please put a sock in it and mind your own business.

Vague pronouns sometime result in funny sentences!
The image of a health zealot shoving a sock down your throat had me chuckling.
posted by srboisvert at 4:49 PM on March 12, 2002


*follows jonmc's lead*

So let me get this straight, all the gratuitous sex and violence is OK, as long as they don't swear and we don't see blood but smoking equals R rating.

Fuck this. Thank God I'm old enough to see whatever movies I want, regardless of rating but, still, this is crap.

Smoking is a part of everyday life, for smokers and non-smokers alike. Violence and death, however, are not everyday things -- thankfully. As such, I don't see why smoking is held to a higher standard. Smoking kills, but then so do guns, and I've seen plently of PG-13 movies chock-full of guns and people being killed by them.

This is why I hate this planet. Too many people trying to tell other people what to do, and not even acting with any sort of uniformity in their censorship -- just mindlessly singling-out the things they personally don't like.

I don't like hardcore drug use, nor do I like gratuitous sex. But I'm not hoping onto my magic pedastle and telling everyone not to watch it in their movies, or who should watch it and where they should watch it. Why? Because, in this instance anyway, I'M NOT A FREAKIN' IDIOT!
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:49 PM on March 12, 2002


OK, now I am convinced that Glanz is over the line, notwithstanding my remarks in the earlier thread. A well-meaning person, but one whose professional concerns are excluding all other considerations from his views.

Two other things that interested me in this article:

"Depictions of smoking in movies have been steadily increasing, with nearly 85 percent of the top 25 highest-grossing movies released from 1988 to 1997 showing tobacco use, according to a study released in 2001 by Dartmouth Medical School. " This is very intriguing, since in most Western countries smoking rates among adults are declining, while teenagers are taking it up more. It's annoying that the article doesn't tell how how much that percentage has increased, or what is counted.

And this just made me laugh: "The association's ratings board currently takes into account theme, violence, nudity, language, sensuality and drug abuse when assigning a rating". Sensuality?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:04 PM on March 12, 2002


It's the little things like this and cocky PSAs like those from thetruth.com that make me want to start again -eyeballkid

Hear hear. Every time I take a drag(which is rare), I feel like I'm spiting thetruth.com, which is run by the American Legacy Foundation, funded by the tobacco settlement. I wish I could be as cool as those fake commercial kids created by marketing mavens.

They're making it easier and easier to rebel these days, since everything is taboo.
posted by insomnyuk at 5:08 PM on March 12, 2002


a) dobbs said:Yes, it is ridiculous. What's more ridiculous is that these people continue to smoke. Worse, youngsters start every day.

b) jonmc: I have officially decided that I will never quit smoking just to piss this guy off.

c) insomnyuk: Every time I take a drag(which is rare), I feel like I'm spiting thetruth.com

Which of these people doesn't understand the mind of a smoker and therefore doesn't understand why rating a movie based on the appearance of a cigarette isn't going to do a damned thing? (I'll give you a hint... it's "a") The problem here is not that smokers don't understand the risks or that the teenagers that pick it up in high school don't know it's bad. The problem is that PSAs and the like don't actually speak to the people they should be speaking to. Drug, alcohol and tobacco anti-commercials all to the same thing, they condescend. So does this ratings plan.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:28 PM on March 12, 2002


The image of a health zealot shoving a sock down your throat had me chuckling.

As long as it's not one of my socks. I'm behind on my laundry.
posted by jonmc at 5:59 PM on March 12, 2002


If this ridiculous proposal were to be adopted, it seems to me that there's something inherently unjust about a movie like Big Daddy getting rated PG-13 for its lamebrained scatological abominations and The Big Sleep getting an R simply because Bogie lights up a Pall Mall every other scene. Then again, what's to prevent these nutbar organizations from CGing the cigarettes out of all movies ever made? Lauren Bacall blowing smoke into Bogie's mouth in To Have and To Have Not? Forget about it. We'll skip the sexiness because it kills. Such a digital decimation would make Fritz Lang's absolutely gorgeous German Impressionist films downright unsalvageable.

And what would happen to all of the hard-boiled detective novels? Or the Bond novels? If we were to start with films, would we start "fixing" literature in the name of these crazed values?

Man, if only E. Nesbitt was around today, the author who rebelled by demonstrating that women were just asentitled to smoke during the latter part of the Victorian days as men were. The Fabian Society would be laughing their asses off.

Making a film R-rated because of cigarette smoke will also deny a significant audience demographic a major aesthetic quality within cinema. Say what you want about cigarettes, but smoke has and will always looks damned good on film.
posted by ed at 6:10 PM on March 12, 2002


The problem here is not that smokers don't understand the risks or that the teenagers that pick it up in high school don't know it's bad. The problem is that PSAs and the like don't actually speak to the people they should be speaking to.

i agree that PSAs are useless. i don't see how this suggestion is the equivalent. the anti-smoking campaigns i've seen are all ridiculous and i completely understand people who smoke to spite them.

you can say rating a movie based on the appearance of a cigarette isn't going to do a damned thing?, but i think you're missing the point.

it's hoping that hollywood curbs the use of cigarettes in cinema in order to avoid the R rating in the first place.

you can say that i don't understand the mind of a smoker all you wish, but, as ed says: Say what you want about cigarettes, but smoke has and will always looks damned good on film.

i understand that and so does the person pitching this idea. this legislation (or whatever you want to call it) is attempting to affect the filmmaker's decisions prior to shooting, not after.

it's simply trying to say "let's have less people smoking in films." and it's attempting to say it in a way that hollywood understands: affecting the bottom line by rating the ilm out of a certain target market. whether you're a smoker or not, i don't think it's difficult to follow the logic behind that statement.
posted by dobbs at 6:55 PM on March 12, 2002


you can say rating a movie based on the appearance of a cigarette isn't going to do a damned thing?, but i think you're missing the point.

it's hoping that hollywood curbs the use of cigarettes in cinema in order to avoid the R rating in the first place.


and

it's simply trying to say "let's have less people smoking in films." and it's attempting to say it in a way that hollywood understands: affecting the bottom line by rating the ilm out of a certain target market. whether you're a smoker or not, i don't think it's difficult to follow the logic behind that statement.

....and in two years, all of the films look the same, after they bully all of the innuendo, 'dirty words', scowls, political statements, points, symbolism, etc. out of the films. Any filmmaker or studio that would change the film in order to get a lower rating won't be getting my six bucks.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:16 PM on March 12, 2002


So let me get this straight, all the gratuitous sex and violence is OK, as long as they don't swear and we don't see blood but smoking equals R rating.

This reminds me of a story about the South Park guys who said that everytime the ratings board complained about the movie they'd take out something sexual and add violence. The morons didn't even get the sexual connotation of Bigger, Longer & Uncut.
posted by owillis at 7:18 PM on March 12, 2002


Depictions of smoking in movies have been steadily increasing, with nearly 85 percent of the top 25 highest-grossing movies released from 1988 to 1997 showing tobacco use...

This is just stupid; the top twenty five movies cannot be used as an accurate sample. Differences in what kind of story is popular, what kind of setting is popular, changes in the moviewatching demographic, and a hundred other things will affect those numbers. A comedy is less likely to have smoking than a drama, a fantasy less likely than something set in modern times, and so on.
posted by Nothing at 7:32 PM on March 12, 2002


it's simply trying to say "let's have less people smoking in films." and it's attempting to say it in a way that hollywood understands: affecting the bottom line by rating the ilm out of a certain target market. whether you're a smoker or not, i don't think it's difficult to follow the logic behind that statement.

yeah, censorship without just cause.
posted by eyeballkid at 7:48 PM on March 12, 2002


Are they gonna digitally take out cigs in old movies??? Replace them with enormous water bongs????????? HLAUAGHAGGHGHG sputter.

Stupid, stupid stupid. People smoke because it is COOL.
posted by Settle at 9:35 PM on March 12, 2002


Well, since they give an 'R' for one use of the F-word...
posted by phatboy at 9:43 PM on March 12, 2002


This whole discussion is sort of moot, you know, because the rating system is completely arbitrary.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:57 PM on March 12, 2002


Geez, I might just have a talk with Mr. Glantz myself (my mother is a friend of his).

He's always been researching the tobacco industries, and he did start muckraking by releasing a lot of the secret documents from the industry, but I've never seen him take a stand like this against the films themselves, and in such a unwarranted manner as to demand an 'R' rating for any depiction of smoking.

He's usually against Big Tobacco, not Hollywood and filmmakers. That's out-of-character, even for him.

He's certainly not a zealot, though. …Unless zealots are known to have a conversation while laying on the floor.
posted by Down10 at 12:00 AM on March 13, 2002


> Kids can walk down the street and see someone smoking...

So far, but don't be surprised if smoking is banned from most public and private places in America soon. Beside being an official health hazard and an affront to puritans everywhere, smoking is a fire hazard. Cities wouldn't have a hard time arguing that smoking must be restricted to certain fire-proofed, specially ventilated, enclosed areas. Areas unlike, for example, most private homes. Yes, it's your home, but the law decides which fire hazards are permissable, especially when a fire in your home would endanger others. And public places will have to get a smoking license dependent on fire regulations and ventilation and so on.
posted by pracowity at 12:22 AM on March 13, 2002


I hate cigarettes. They killed my mom (OK, it was her doing, but they were the vehicle she used for her long, slow death). But even before she got lung cancer, I thought smoking was about the dumbest thing a person could do. To say it's cool is nonsense, unless you think it's really hip to smell horrible and have yellow teeth.

That said, an R rating for any movie with smoking in it? That's nuts. Not only would it inevitably make the ratings system even more convoluted (for all the reasons already posted), but just try to make a halfway realistic movie that doesn't show any smoking. Not likely, especially if there are scenes set outside the United States.
posted by diddlegnome at 1:12 AM on March 13, 2002


If they propose a Rate "S," for Stupidity, or Suicidal, the cigarette-featured films can get that. Until then, this is an inappropriate proposal.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:31 AM on March 13, 2002


To Have And Have Not, where Lauren Bacall asks for a light, is going to play.

Miguel, they'll probably give her a breath mint. Product placement for Altoids?
posted by xochi at 6:14 AM on March 13, 2002


We rented Disney's "Atlantis" this weekend for our son to watch. Count that one as an 'R' as well...
posted by glenwood at 7:06 AM on March 13, 2002


I hope next they'll have warnings about crappy music in movies.
posted by HTuttle at 8:27 AM on March 13, 2002


"I have officially decided that I will never quit smoking just to piss this guy off."

You are not going to piss anyone off doing that. He could care less if you drop it or not. What you're really doing is you are going to drop dead faster, and i'm sure they would like that very much.

Just a thought.
posted by spidre at 8:45 PM on March 13, 2002


I don't know if anyone else here has seen Double Indemnity lately...the main character actually stops at a drive-in on the way home, and orders a beer, which he drinks in his car. That'll be a XXX.
posted by bingo at 1:42 AM on March 14, 2002


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