Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Who Really Owns the Hollywood Studios?

Coming off a new year and all I had a lot of time on my hands when I was away on holidays. I was in Thailand for a couple of weeks with access to a DVD player. As most people know first run movies can be purchased on the streets of Bangkok for about $1 or so. I suppose the legitamite DVD distributers know this and correspondingly reduce the prices on their legal DVDs.

I was able to pick up many older but still quite good movies for about $2.50 each. I managed to see about 15 movies that were produced in the late 90s to the middle of the last decade. I also saw a couple of the currently showing films in the theaters.

The one thing I noticed about all of these movies was that there is an awful amount of tobacco smoking displayed on screen. In fact, out of about 16 or 17 movies that I saw, only 1 did not have any tobacco smoking scenes in it at all.

In most of the movies the cigarette smokers were the main stars of the movie. Regardless of them being male or female, the likelyhood of the main star of the movie smoking cigarettes was quite high.

In some of the movies the brand of cigarette was very prominent but most of the time the brand was not easy to see. It seemed like the star of the movie would glamorize smoking by lighting up when things started to look up for them. In a few cases the star would smoke when things went wrong to drown their sorrows.

Most of these movies were not rated adult or restricted, in fact none of them were so rated. A couple even were aimed at children and still depicted main characters who lit up cigarettes.

There are many studies that can be found online that link the glamorization of smoking in the movies with an increase in teenage and adolescent smoking. All this is known and still about 99% of the movies show some or even a lot of smoking.

This can only mean one thing, and that is big tobacco owns or has a significant investment in the Hollywood studios.

Many of the popular movie stars support a lot of the public awareness campaigns, yet they still smoke on screen. The only answer I can see is that big tobacco is pulling the strings and nobody else can veto them.

In fact only about 25 to 30% of the population smoke but close to 95% of the Hollywood movies that I saw over the last 2 weeks showed a major role smoking. No, not all of the actors were smoking but enough of the main characters and important characters were.

I already do not spend much money on seeing movies, but now I really feel like any money that goes to the Hollywood studios is going directly into the pockets of big tobacco. I will limit or even totally boycott movies unless I know beforehand that there will not be any glamorization of smoking tobacco in the film. Is anyone with me on this?

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