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Dick Methia
By Dick Methia
Posted on Nov 18,2009
Filed Under Entertainment , Local Style,

Photo by John Arundel/Local Kicks <br /> <br />Sienna Miller and Rachel Nichols walk the red carpet at a
Photo by John Arundel/Local Kicks
Sienna Miller and Rachel Nichols walk the red carpet at a "GI Joe"
screening in July at Andrews Air Force Base. Both Hollywood
actresses have said no to scenes with butts.

ALEXANDRIA, VA - Hollywood has joined the war against Big Butt.  
No, I’m not talking about the starlet’s perpetual battle against cellulite.  Movie studios are banning cigarettes from all future flicks, discouraging “cancer sticks” from the silver screen by threatening smoke-filled movies with an “R” rating.  Instead of a Lucky Strike, future Bogarts will cradle a granola bar between their fingers.  In Die Hard XXIV, Bruce Willis — who will be 76 by then — will suck on a straw.

I am no fan of tobacco.  I have never smoked in my life. (OK there was that attempt to smoke a pipe second year of college. But I trashed my stash of cherry tobacco when I burned three holes in my navy blue blazer.)

Like most of our societal crusades, this one is allegedly supported by research.  Someone somewhere did a study that purports to show that kids who watch movies in which smoking is glamorized are more likely to smoke than kids who don’t watch those movies.

The obvious inference?  When kids watch actors on the widescreen, it motivates them to behave likewise.  I hope that isn’t true because with the dozens of wildly popular slasher movies that fill Blockbuster shelves, nobody’s body parts will be safe.

Benjamin Disraeli cautioned us against using data to engineer social change.  “There are lies,” he said, “damned lies, and statistics!”   Before we leap headlong into a no-cigarette-on-celluloid crusade, can we be certain that smokeless movies will make a difference?   

While well-intentioned, this anti-smoking crusade may be missing the point.  The vast majority of movies that teens watch in which smoking occurs are also laden with drugs, booze, gratuitous gore and violence, obscenity, and crude sex.  Maybe kids who enjoy these flicks are more apt to smoke for other reasons than the alleged “glamorizing” of the cigarette?  Could these teens have generally unhealthier attitudes that lead to a lifestyle in which smoking is just one of a number of noxious behaviors?  

Smoking is as much a moral issue as a health issue.  Like the grotesque body piercings that are so popular among many teens, it reflects disrespect for one’s own body.  This crusade against on-screen tobacco may be ignoring a deeper problem far more insidious than smoking.  

Have you visited your neighborhood movie store lately?  For every family friendly movie there are four to five times as many DVDs glorifying depraved, sadistic, inhuman behavior.  Now that’s a statistic that is truly worrisome.  

Why do so many of our grandkids find their role models on the big screen rather than in real life?  You can’t blame Hollywood (or R. J. Reynolds) for that spiritual hole in our kids’ souls.

If we adults want to use our political and social capital to fight smoking in movies, fine.  But let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that by banning butts in flicks we’ve gotten to the real heart of the problem.  Don’t let the smoke get in our eyes.
Humorist Dick Methia lives in Springfield. His column is exclusive to Local Kicks.

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