Thursday, March 11, 2004

R ratings for smoking?

That's the policy that Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco, would like to see the MPAA adopt. Glantz thinks that smoking should be treated like like profanity and that it should cause some movies to earn an R rating. Glantz is the co-author of a recent study on smoking in the movies. According to the study, smoking appears in 50% of all G and PG rated movies and in 80% of all PG-13 rated movies. Glantz believes that much of this smoking is totally unnecessary and is designed to glamorize smoking in the eyes of youths who are permitted to see such movies without adult supervision.

I see Glantz's point, but if Glantz is successful in getting smoking equated with profanity for MPAA purposes, the ratings system will become even more meaningless. It will no longer by any kind of a content guide for discerning viewers. Such classics as Casablanca and It's a Wonderful Life would likely earn an R rating while movies that glamorize promiscuity and contain the f-word or brief nudity could continue to remain PG-13. If this becomes the standard, you might as well not rate anything at all.

But, I do have to put in one good word for Mr. Glantz. While I disagree with the need to change movie ratings based on smoking, I am glad that Glantz is appealing to the MPAA and not seeking government intervention.