Where there’s smoke, there’s ire.
Make no mistake, the MPAA’s announcement last week that smoking would become another factor in deciding the ratings of movies drew kudos from a range of child advocacy and health organizations that have long wanted such action.
But it could also be another example of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Some advocacy groups had been pushing for an automatic R rating for any film that depicts smoking, regardless of the context.
Two of the harshest critics of cigarette smoking onscreen — the American Legacy Foundation and Smoke Free Movies — dismissed the MPAA effort as not going nearly far enough.
“Wholly inadequate and will cost countless lives,” said ALF, which also disputed several of MPAA’s statistics.
SFM blasted the MPAA’s statement that historical context would have to be included in any evaluation of a movie rating.
” ‘Titanic’ was full of women smoking, but virtually no women smoked at the time,” says SFM director Stan Glantz. “And only rich men smoked. Leo DiCaprio‘s character would not have smoked.”
That kind of complaint is likely to resonate with directors and others, who in the past have knocked the MPAA ratings system in general as arbitrary and vague.
While ALF and SFM have pressed for automatic R ratings on movies with any smoking, MPAA topper Dan Glickman said that would be “extreme.”
No doubt true. But it would also be unequivocally clear.
Meaning if the MPAA were to do it, somebody’s bound to complain.