Gone are the days where a close-mouthed kiss or bang-bang, blood-free shootout will impress viewers. Every shocking scene has led to the next, until we became smothered in a nice lathering of the three mainstays of the U.S. rating system: sexual content, violence and coarse language. The R films of yesterday are the PG films of today, and as the years pass, we find more things to be acceptable. Now, however, it seems that some people are itching for a fourth mainstay -- smoking.
According to the Social Climate Survey of Tobacco Control, 81% of adults think kids are more likely to start smoking if they see it in the movies, and 70% of respondents support a film being given an R-rating if it contains tobacco imagery -- unless the imagery is there to warn about the dangers of smoking. Not only are these percentages high, but they seem to be growing like wildfire. The study also states that the R-rating support has jumped 12 percentage points in the last year. Two-thirds want anti-tobacco commercials to show before films with tobacco imagery and over 60% of those polled want the smokey stuff completely out of all movie scenes (a jump of almost 7 percentage points.)
Is it really that prevalent? According to KeyT3, 1-in-6 of the top-grossing movies showed or mentioned a tobacco brand, and 2-out-of-3 flicks featured tobacco in 2006, 68% of which were in PG-13 films. Okay, I understand that it's a problem to make smoking look cool, but is this the right step to take? Some adults clearly believe that kids will start smoking because of movies, but is that actually the case? Furthermore, should we really be changing the ratings system for a risky vice? Yes, it's a dangerous habit, but it's not the only danger we face. Speeding isn't safe, nor is violence, daredevil antics or even gorging on mass amounts of fried fast-food -- where do we draw the line? And can we trust a poll that says that most people want ad spots before the movies? I don't know anyone who would be willing to sit through more ads. What say you?