Not only has smoking cigarettes all but been eliminated in Hollywood films, it’s also controversial in Bollywood.
Hollywood had a long and sordid history with smoking. Directors had their characters constantly smoke in movies beginning in the 1930s and Hollywood played a HUGE role in defining cigarettes as cool and hip.
About 20 years ago, people started becoming really alarmed by this, especially when it was revealed that beginning with Superman (yeah, Superman, the 70s film … you know, the one aimed at kids), the tobacco industry started paying Hollywood studios millions to place their products in kids’ movies.
Even after the tobacco payments were exposed and stopped by the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, Hollywood continued including smoking in PG and PG-13 films … again, long after they were getting a dime from the tobacco industry (as far as anyone knew). It was like running on inertia. Hollywood was stuck in this time warp believing that smoking made you (and your character) look cool.
Anyway, about three or four years ago, the MPAA finally decided to add smoking to what makes film R-rated. Studios hate R-rated movies because they’re hard to market to families, so that effectively killed the chronic smoking in Hollywood movies.
Anyway, India has this strange rule requiring an anti-smoking message be shown on the screen if a character lights a cigarette. One director, Anurag Kashyap, is fighting this requirement for his newest film, taking the case to high court of Bombay. Woody Allen also recently pulled his latest movie, “Jasmine,” to protest the requirement.
(Funny anti-smoking ad from India)
“Such unreasonable conditions clearly fetter the rights of filmmakers to free speech and expression enshrined by the Constitution of India,” said Kashyap’s petition, according to a statement from his publicist. “Running a scroll not only destroys the aesthetic value of cinema but also diverts viewers from the film,” he added.
I dunno, this is a strange way to deal with the problem.