The masses are moving to have smoking on the silver screen restricted to more mature movies so that it doesn’t influence the impressionable youths. Personally, I think this is a stupid move and continues Americans refusal to accept responsibility for their actions. The point of this article is not to defend smoking because it is a very unhealthy habit, one that has many severe consequences.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, every year more than 400,000 kids start smoking because they saw it on the big screen at their local multiplex. This is a large number of “new” smokers each year but is it really all to blame on the movies.
I have two arguments against the staggering high number of smokers being attributed to movies. One, where are the parents of these children and why aren’t they instilling knowledge into their offspring. No matter how it boils down, this is an issue of horrible parenting in America where the TV or a video is a kid’s main teacher. On the more extreme side: in 1999 when two kids shot up their school (Columbine High) fingers were pointed at video games, media and Marilyn Manson, but the truth is the blame lies solely with the parents. Instead of allowing their children to spend hours in a basement without any sort of interaction was neglect. They breed this behavior from their children and others had to suffer for their mistake. The same is true for smoking. Nowadays, parents don’t take an active role in their children’s lives instead forcing schools to teach their kids about sex, drugs and cigarettes. But, school is just not cool and they need to be a strong role model in their lives. I believe if parents did their part the number of smokers would only be a fraction of what it is now.
In defense of the movie industry: they have put anti-smoking ads in front of a majority of DVD releases and even offered last spring’s poignant, Thank You for Smoking. I do believe they have been doing their part in the fight against youths smoking. To mandate that all films that contain smoking be slapped with an R rating is a form of censorship and I don’t agree with that. Parents don’t seem to complain about the bloody, gut-soaked news that is broadcast into their living room every night and somehow a person smoking is disgusting.
I mentioned earlier that there was a second point to the rather alarming number of smokers and here it is: children lie. Isn’t it conceivable that a good portion of these children are just blaming the movies for their decisions? It is completely possible and the situation also played as background story to an episode of South Park, where the children lie and blame the tobacco company for making them smoke. I really wish people would get this in their head; No one can make you smoke. It is a decision you make and one that you should more than willing to accept the consequences of. While children lie as to what possessed them to smoke their parents are busy blaming McDonald’s for making them fat. Have we become a society where we just search for someone else to blame? Whatever happened to the concept of self-responsibility?
Instead of urging for an R rating for films, we should work together in bettering ourselves. And if we can’t do that then what is next. In the coming years movies will have to issue R ratings for movies containing caffeine, drinking an alcoholic beverage and for eating a greasy, Big Mac. You might snicker now but this is where we are heading if stupid people are allowed to make decisions for all of us.
Final Thought: Shut up, leave the movies alone and spend the time crusading for an R rating and talk to your children. That’s it, just talk to them and there is a good chance you will reach them better than any piece of celluloid.