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precarious since 1997 | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Is there an anti anti-smoking backlash forming?

Some people are bitching about the smoking in Avatar, which is more of the same-old, same-old we’ve been hearing for years now: smoking is evil, won’t someone think of the children, lighting up is worse than murder (at least on film), etc. Now, I’m not a smoker and I never enjoyed being in a smoky bar or — worse — a smoky restaurant, and I do think that smoking is probably one of the most dangerous legal things you can do to your body. But I get really pissed off at the prim puritanism behind the anti-smoking cadres, as well as at the denial of reality that accompanies calls for images of smoking to be banned or heavily regulated in our entertainment. People do smoke: other people need to deal with that fact.
And I wonder whether there isn’t a bit of a pushback happening against those attitudes. There’s Mad Men, of course, the 1960s-era series of which every episode floats along through a haze of cigarette smoke. (A few years earlier, the U.K., which has been going through its own creeping tobacco prohibition, saw a similar historical reveling in smoking in the 1970s-set Life on Mars. The American version, conversely, acted as if no one in 1970s New York ever smoked.) And now we have the just-debuted Caprica, in which Eric Stoltz’s technology mogul smokes… and he’s not even an outright villain, for whom cigarettes are typically reserved these days. And there’s also Legion, in which the modern mother-to-be of the next Jesus smokes unrepentently while pregnant… and she’s certainly no villain, either.

Is this all just coincidence? Or is there an anti anti-smoking backlash forming in popular entertainment?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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