In breaking news, people who won't shut up about how bad smoking is for you continue to be the most annoying people on the planet. Especially when it comes to movies.
Antismoking advocates have long lobbied Hollywood studios to curb the depictions of smoking onscreen and, in recent years, have achieved some success in at least making the industry aware of the kind of messages they are sending when characters light up. Last year, the MPAA announced that it would start taking into consideration all depictions of smoking in its ratings classifications, after limiting such judgments only to illegal teen tobacco use.
But some health advocates are pressing for even more stringent guidelines and have been ever more critical of summer blockbusters that feature characters who puff away. The American Medical Assn. Alliance last month complained of "unnecessary smoking" in Hulk, in which a villain played by William Hurt is almost always shown with a cigar, and have called for an R rating on any film with "irresponsible or gratuitous tobacco images."
Jesus. But wait! Says Variety:
Five major studios will begin including antismoking public service announcements in youth-rated DVDs of films that include tobacco use.
PSAs will be shown before the DVDs of such movies as The Incredible Hulk, 21, Leatherheads and American Teen, all of which have scenes of smoking. The public service announcements that will appear were made under the direction of the state's Tobacco Control Program, and the PSAs will direct viewers to the website TobaccoFreeCa.com, where they can get information on quitting.
The agreements with the studios run through 2009, and the Entertainment Industry Foundation is paying associated talent costs for 21 months for the use of the ads. The first spot, "Icons," will appear on Sony's DVD release of 21, which goes on sale on July 22. The ad contrasts the tobacco industry's images of a cowboy, hip-hop DJ and twenties-era flapper to that of a dying male smoker in a wheelchair.
Wait... perhaps I spoke too soon. Why, I think these antismoking advocates might be on to something! God knows today's tobacco-crazed teens are smoking up a storm because they're desperately imitating flappers from the '20s! I heard The Great Gatsby was going to get a surgeon general's warning on its cover next month, too.
(Ka-ZING! There's a bit of American Lit 201 humor for you! To think Mom said my creative writing major was a waste of time and money!)