Friday, May 11, 2007


It's official. The United States of America has officially become the wussiest nation in world history. Let's stop fooling ourselves and embrace that fact.

Along with beef, chain stores, wars of aggression, & freedom, I would think Hollywood is one our top cultural exports. One of those things that "define" us on the world stage. Well, with that utterly unsubstantiated assertion in mind, bear witness to this lil' blurb from AP:
Smoking will be a bigger factor in determining film ratings, the Motion Picture Association of America said Thursday . . . [the MPAA's] ratings board, which previously had considered underage smoking in assigning film ratings, now will take into account smoking by adults, as well. That adds smoking to a list of such factors as sex, violence and language in determining the MPAA's G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17 ratings. Film raters will consider the pervasiveness of tobacco use, whether it glamorizes smoking and the context in which smoking appears, as in movies set in the past when smoking was more common.
Before I even go on here, one little snippet from the article makes me laugh: "Violence"??? Since when has that had jack shit (uh, I mean jack crap . . . uhh, I mean jack doodoo) to do with ratings?

I'll be the first to admit that most movies feature way too much smoking. It just looks silly. People don't smoke as much as they used to, and when the supposedly glamorous or wealthy characters on screen smoke constantly, it looks inauthentic. I think many directors use smoking as a visual crutch: letting the character light up absolves them of the responsibility to create stronger, fresher images, or write more fully realized dialogue.

But that's their choice. Hollywood has long thrown money & marketing at hacks. It's the 'Mercan Way!

And that leads me to another funny part of this story. As always in the United States of Wussiness, it's all "about the children." But anyone who's ever been a teenager knows that an R rating does anything but discourage them to see a movie. If anything, it makes it more likely that teens and pre-teens will go. Has any teenager in history ever failed to get into an R movie because they were unaccompanied by an "adult or guardian"?

And what's next? What will they add to "Profanity," "Nudity," "Smoking," & "Thematic Elements," to earn that coveted R rating? "Intelligent Dialogue," "Pervasive Lack of Cartoonish Action," "Realistic Depiction of Violence"?

Any thoughts? Additional suggestions to the MPAA?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess they'll need to re-rank all those old cartoons as well. Man, we is getting soft and sensitive in this country.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Otto Man said...

"Hey Bart, we're going to sneak into an R-rated movie. It's called Barton Fink!"

10:14 AM  
Blogger Shane Rollins said...

Just another example of how parents no longer want to be parents this day in age. Why is it so hard for them to tell their children NOT TO SMOKE! I didn't start smoking cloves until I was in my early 20s, still haven't done drugs, and didn't drink in High School. Why? Cause my parents raised me right

10:15 AM  
Blogger George said...

How about a rating of NOA--No One Admitted. Give it to any film with a 3 at the end of its title or any film starring Adam Sandler (either the not-funny funny Sandler or the so-so sensitive Sandler).

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Toast said...

You really think Hollywood still over-uses smoking? Maybe I'm just not paying attention, but it seems like you rarely see characters smoking in movies anymore. Now, go back and watch a movie from 30-40 years ago...

12:19 PM  
Blogger DED said...

I have to agree with Toast. The number of people smoking in movies is waaaaaay down. Kinda limited to movies with lots of guns and dive bars.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I guess there's a lot less smoking on-screen than there used to be. But there's a lot less smoking, period.

It's the ratio.

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smoking is matter of factly portrayed as a part of the script now because it is still a matter of fact that some people smoke. Back in Bogart's day it was glamorized in the movies, not so much anymore.

10:57 PM  
Blogger maurinsky said...

mort, did you know they do censor old Warner Brother cartoons that have been deemed offensive?

I think there is less smoking now, but I would hate to think that period movies would now eliminate smoking or bump up their ratings. I'm not that old, and I worked in one office where people could smoke at their desks and another office where there was a smoking room next to the break room.

I just want a rating for crappy movies, I can deal with everything else they throw at me.

2:08 AM  
Blogger Edwardo said...

Hello Mike, I just wanted to say hi, an engage an a blatent act of poaching on your turf for the purposes inviting you and your fellow bloggers over to my site,

7:45 PM  
Blogger Edwardo said...

Ugh, Typos, typos typos. what a way to start things off. I endeavor to do better. With respect to your latest post, I am put in mind of JHK's comment that if the U.S. could somehow harness all the smoke it blows up its own ass, we would have no energy problem.

7:48 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Hey Edwardo. I added you to the blogroll. Welcome.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Mr Furious said...

"I can think of at least two things wrong with that title."
-- Nelson after watching "Naked Lunch", "Bart on the Road"

4:24 PM  

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