Smoking In Movies And Modern Mass Media

Smoking in moviesIn recent years the issue of smoking in modern American movies has turned into a point of interest of many different people, from usual parents and teachers to sociologists and medical specialists. Along with growing rates of violence, sexual abuse, and drug usage in the majority of Hollywood movies, it appears to bring considerable danger for normal development of little kids and adolescents, who may happen to watch R-rated movies any day at TV or in the cinema.

Smoking used to be one of the most favorite and practicable instruments of Hollywood movie directors to demonstrate the mood or psychological condition of a character. The way a character smokes could tell spectators, whether the character is stressed out, or depressed, or bored, or exhausted. Overwhelming majority of movie personages, both male and female, smoke cigarettes when they are waiting: such a trick intrigues spectators and gives a pause before some new wave of action.

Besides, it is important, what exactly characters smoke. A wealthy banker or oligarch can pull out expensive luxury cigars, showing off his financial opportunities. Cowboys and “machos” smoke Marlboro, of course; it is an entire culture, which goes with its roots deep into the 60th and the 70th. Dirty homeless street inhabitants smoke whatever they can find on the streets. Deep thinkers and intellectuals, like Sherlock Holmes, are always equipped with a pipe to smoke it with serious pomposity.

It is possible to name some examples of excessive and bothering smoking in Hollywood movies. For example, there are two quite popular movies, where smoking became an important detail of the development of action. First is widely advertised horror movie of Francis Lawrence Constantine, in which Keanu Reeves, an idol of all modern teenagers, appears almost in every second scene with cigarette in his mouth. According to the plot, his personage was supposed to die from lung cancer in order to be reborn again and understand meaning of his life. Another movie is called The Jacket, in which a character played by Kelly Lynch died in an accident. He fell asleep with a cigarette in his hand, which caused fire, so the scene resulted in tragic death of this character.

Obviously, the most sensitive target of bad influence of smoking in movies is little children and teenagers, whose life views and personal principles are only being developed. Specialists tried to estimate and analyze such influence of smoking in movies on kids and teenagers as an encouraging factor to try smoking. Surprisingly, the results of different studies and surveys vary.

One “longitudinal” study took place in 2009 in Dartmouth Medical School. More than 2,500 children from 10 to 14 were followed for 13-26 months after watching some movies with numerous scenes of smoking. The conclusion was: 52% of the kids tried to smoke after watching these movies, so the effect was estimated to be much bigger than the one from different tobacco ads. According to the data of this survey, in our country daily 1070 kids start smoking because of the movies, and 330 of them will die because of smoking caused diseases (Landmark Study).

The other study is much more optimistic, it was carried out by a group of medical specialists headed by Dr. Omidvari. The major founding of this study was: characters in modern Hollywood movies do not smoke more, than usual people of the USA. The rate was estimated as 23.3% vs 24.8%, respectively. The researchers found total similarity of the circumstances of smoking in the movies to the ones in real life: (1) positive heroes smoke less than negative, (2) men smoke more than women, (3) poorer people smoke more than richer people.

(to be continued)


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