Monday, June 16, 2008


Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar - Sigmund Freud

The New York Times is reporting that a physicians group is opposed to the constant smoking of General Thunderbolt Ross, played by William Hurt, in The Incredible Hulk. I have a problem with their objections: he's smoking cigars. Here's the story:

The Times writer, being not an idiot, has this to say: "Presumably, the physicians’ association worries that children who identify with the authoritarian general — who wants to annihilate the Hulk, played by Edward Norton — may be tempted to pick up the habit."

I'll forgo that subtlety and say this: Anyone who worries that children or young adults will take up smoking CIGARS because the villain in a new movie smokes them is a complete an utter idiot. "Look mommy! The aging 80s sex symbol is smoking a giant smelly turd while he tries to annihilate my hero! Can I have one too?"

I must confess, I'm a bit ambivalent on the subject of rating movies R because of cigarette smoking. On the one hand, Hollywood smoking does probably encourage kids to smart smoking, undoubtedly to the great pleasure of evil, cigar chomping tobacco execs. On the other hand, smoking looks cool on film and is perfectly legal for adults, and making it unviewable on film for anyone under the age of 17 seems kinda stupid. I mean, should we retroactively rate Casablanca R?

But that's all besides the point. Evil authoritarian Generals who smoke cigars while attempting to murder popular comic book heroes will undoubtedly reduce cigar smoking in the under-18 set. Certainly, there will always be Hollywood villains whose behavior is attractive to kids. But "Thunderbolt Ross" isn't that kind of villain. And if America's doctors think that he is, well, maybe the U.S. health care crisis is worse than I could have ever imagined.


Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

4 out of 5 egomaniacal psudeo-dictators smoke Antony y Cleopatra!

Sarah said...

i dunno--i think i would put "but it looks cool!" in the reasons-to-r-rate-cigarettes category, not the favorable one. because isn't that the only possible reason for kids to start smoking, because it looks cool?

Graham said...

Yeah, by "it looks cool!" I meant cinematically - as in, there's nothing prettier than the Coen Brothers filming cigarette smoke in black and white. Certainly, the other kind of looking cool deserves to go in the rate-them-r category.