slowly scraping away at the chipped layers to see what exists beneath…
Once upon a time I found a hilarious article by Adam Finley in an issue of IMPACT Press. I’ve been saving said article since 2004 and read it to myself every now and again to give myself a little giggle. I had forgotten about it for a while and just came across it again the other day. Yes, I read it to myself and had a good little laugh, and then I decided that it needed to be shared. So here it is, “The Little Mermaid: So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed.” You’re welcome.
Apparently, actors are smoking too much in movies these days. You might not be aware of this, but the University of California released a study that claims not only does smoking occur in many films, but those films glamorize the act in such an alluring manner that every child who leaves the theater immediately breaks into a 7-Eleven, steals every tobacco product, then hordes it inside a cave and guards it for the remainder of their lives with a non-functioning musket.
Many films, no matter what the rating, have at least one character who smokes. In Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” Jesus spends the last twenty minutes of the film unwittingly trying to grasp a cigar between his lips, which has been callously placed in his left hands, which in turn has been nailed to a two-by-four. As anyone can tell you, craning your neck in one direction for a long period of time can result in nasty muscle spasms. Believe me, I’ve had muscle spasms, and there’s no pain worse than that.
The study recommended that the Motion Picture Association of America should treat smoking the same way it treats swearing and rate each movie accordingly. Therefore, a movie such as Disney’s “101 Dalmatians”—whose nefarious villain Cruella De Vil smokes a cigarette from a slender holder—would be rated NC-17, whereas “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” which features no smoking at all, would be rated G and shown to preschoolers during church functions.
What this study failed to conclude was that the problem isn’t how movies are rated, but the ubiquity of product placement. If a character in a movie lights up a cigarette, it’s most likely because Phillip Morris reached deep inside its pockets and gave the producers a hefty amount of money to have that cigarette glowing on screen. Many people found this difficult to believe until this 1988 transcript of conversation between the CEO of Phillip Morris and Howard Ashman, the producer of “The Little Mermaid” was leaked to the public:
CEO: Okay, now the scene where Ariel emerges from the water onto that rock?
Ashman: Yeah, my animators spent months on that.
CEO: Right, right. I love that scene. Absolutely love it. She just needs to be smoking.
Ashman: You want her to light up a cigarette after she comes our of the water?
CEO: No, she should have the cigarette in her mouth when she comes out.
Ashman: Of the water.
CEO: Well, yeah. This is a fairy tale, right? We’ll say it’s a magic cigarette that can be lit in water. We’ll probably need a subplot for that.
Ashman: Uh huh.
CEO: And make sure the cigarette is big. I’d say it should cover about ninety five percent of the screen. Also, she should have it in her mouth for the remainder of the movie so that all action on screen is obscured by this fantastic magical cigarette. In fact, just chance the name of your movie to “The Fantastic Magical Cigarette.”
Ashman: I wouldn’t want to glamorize smoking, though. I mean, kids will see this movie.
CEO: Look at it this way: Is it better for a kid to smoke a cigarette, or to fall face first onto a cordless drill?
Ashman: What are you talking about?
CEO: I’m just saying that cordless drills kill more people every year in my mind than cigarettes give people cancer in real life.
Ashman: Do you even know what you’re saying?
CEO: I know that you can’t set a cordless drill on fire in a swimming pool.
Ashman: I have to go now.
Rather than feign concern for the public, the tobacco industry would probably do much better if it took over the movie industry completely. Essentially, every actor in a film would be smoking non-stop. In addition, all inanimate objects would have cigarettes and tobacco pipes epoxied to them to give the illusion that they are also smoking. It’s important to remember that smoking, just like drinking or spending valuable time writing up an idiotic study on smoking in movies, is a personal choice.
Marijuana smoking, however, should never be shown in movies marketed to children, as it will cause them to actually cook and devour their siblings. I don’t think any of us need a study to support the veracity of that claim.
Typically I would be more excited about something like this and would most likely have much more to say… but I’m so tired right now that I am literally hallucinating spiders. I think that means it’s time to call it a night. Sorry for the extremely lame content of this very first blog post. I’ll try harder tomorrow, but I’m not making any promises. Fucking spiders! I swear I see you, you disgusting little…
xxx – J