Archive for smoking

Anti-Smoking Advocates are Buttheads

Posted in opinion, pop culture with tags , , , , , on October 25, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Lately there seems to be an increase in anti-smoking advertising on Iowa television channels. In South Dakota, there is a huge campaign to institute a smoking ban similar to the ones already in place in Minnesota and Iowa.

I have no problem with these ads or these campaigns. What I have a problem with is the manner in which they’re getting their message out.

The Truth Campaign generally has some excellent advertising. Sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they’re serious, but they get their message across in a tasteful way. Truth is behind the latest clever campaign, the Shards O’ Glass company.

However, in Iowa, there is a campaign called Just Eliminate Lies (JEL) that eschews tasteful and reasonable in their advertising. The commercial that bothers me every time I see it has a man who is supposed to be a Big Tobacco executive. One commercial has the exec saying that he wants to make billions off of people trying to look cool. In another commercial, the exec dismisses the ill effects of chewing tobacco by saying, “So what if it causes mouth cancer and you have to have part of your jaw surgically removed? Are you a man? Or are you a coward?”

This commercial bothers me, only because it demonizes tobacco executives. It seems to be a common trend in these anti-smoking campaigns. Rather than trying to inform the people about the ill effects, and offering some sort of reasonable way to quit, they resort to scare tactics and portraying smokers and anyone associated with them as evil, disgusting, or otherwise terrible people.

In all honesty, I’m wondering why these groups even exist. By the time I was in ninth grade, I knew so much about the ill effects of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs that I could have made anti-smoking commericals myself. But if these tactics were so effective, why do people still smoke? Why are there still smokers in the world if everyone knows it’s so bad for you?

Surprise, surprise, it’s personal preference.

I have many friends who get reminded by other people that smoking is bad for their health. And all they can say back is, “I know,” and take another drag.

People who smoke are going to smoke. Short of getting rid of every pack of cigarettes in the world, no amount of campaigning is going to get everyone to stop smoking. Even though, in ninth grade, I knew all about how bad smoking was for my health, it still didn’t stop me from buying a pack and trying them out when I turned 18.

Singling out and demonizing smokers is an in effective way to make a point. If you truly cared about the well-being and health of people who smoke, you wouldn’t attack them and ridicule them, destroying their sense of self and making them feel worse.

Make your point, just eliminate any sort of hostility and animosity toward smokers that are so obvious in these advertisings.

James Cameron’s “Avatar”: An Equal-Opportunity Offender

Posted in pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on January 20, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Before I begin, let me just clarify: I don’t get out much, which means that when huge blockbuster movies come around, I rarely get out to see them. I make a big effort to go out and see the “Saw” series (though I missed Saw VI) and the Harry Potter series. I’ve seen all three Lord of the Rings in theatres. But for some reason, despite it’s technological mastery and fantastic visual imagery, I have no desire to see “Avatar”, James Cameron’s latest epic about the friendly blue giants called Na’vi.

And from the looks of it, it’s probably a good thing, as this movie (that has already made over $1 billion dollars, I might add) has set out to offend everyone. James Cameron, what have you done to the world?

Special interest groups everywhere are up in arms about this movie because it has offended them. The Vatican claims that “Avatar” is offensive because it promotes nature worship over religion. The military claims that “Avatar” portrays soldiers as “fanatical crazed killers who have joined a military mercenary force to destroy a civilization so that corporations can capitalize on some rare commodity”.

But it gets stranger than that: anti-smoking groups claim that the movie promotes smoking as a positive trait. Left-wing groups claim that the movie is racist because an exotic culture needs to be saved by a white human. Disability groups are upset twice: first, because the synopsis for the movie describes Jake Sully, a disabled Marine, as “confined to a wheelchair”, and secondly because Commander Quaritch promises that Jake will “get [his] real legs back”.

But what is really mind-numbing is that LGBT groups are protesting “Avatar” because it depicts heterosexuality as continuing to be the sexual norm in the future. And what’s even worse that that mental health experts claim that the movie is causing depression in many who see the movie, because the world of Pandora is the perfect Utopian society, and as one man was quoted as saying, “I can’t stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all the tears and shivers I got from it. I even contemplated suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora.”

Really? All this over a sci-fi movie?

Of course, this isn’t the first time that special interest groups have rallied together to protest movies. A short list of movies that have been boycotted in recent years include:

  • Bruce Almighty,” which shows a human using God’s powers, despite being a lesson in letting God do God’s thing.
  • The Harry Potter series, which indoctrinates children into becoming witches and wizards, despite the fact that both the movies and books say that wizardry is hereditary.
  • “The Ringer,” which makes fun of disabled people, despite the fact that producers worked directly with the Special Olympics to avoid being offensive. And,
  • Tropic Thunder,” which uses the term “retard.” To be fair, it was used as a commentary on special needs roles as compared to Oscar wins–if you go “half-retard,” like Dustin Hoffman in “Rainman,” you win; if you go “full-retard,” like Sean Penn in “I Am Sam,” you lose.

The only problem with all of these arguments against James Cameron and his nifty little movie is one that nobody seems to see: the movie is science fiction. The key word in that last statement is fiction, a word that means, “It’s not real.”

The real issue behind all of this “controversy” is that people love to be offended, and nobody does it quite as well as Americans. The fact that we’re being offended by works of fiction, and quotes taken outside of the context of situation, character, among other factors, is disgusting.

Then again, look at the world around us: we’re recovering from a horrific economy. America is fighting two wars. Haiti is still recovering from that horrific earthquake. The world is an absolute mess, so maybe it’s great that we can escape to the perfect world of Pandora, and all the peace and harmony that it stands for.

But being offended by nearly every aspect of the movie? That’s ridiculous and unacceptable.

My suggestion to the world: snap out of it. Not everything has a hidden political agenda, and if you’d open your mind and stop trying to make everything politically correct, you might be able to enjoy yourself every once in a while.

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