Weinstein’s Whine

I don’t mean to be harsh. Quitting smoking is a good thing, right?

When film studio honcho Harvey Weinstein quit smoking circa 2006, he ordered that anti-smoking messages be shown before his movies that included people smoking. It was his responsibility, he said. For the children. http://articles.courant.com/keyword/harvey-weinstein

The ad spots were zealous – in one, a score or more of people fell dead to the ground in front of tobacco company headquarters. In another, a man sings in a mechanical voice meant to evoke one of those artificial larynxes while stunned Manhattanites look on.

“You don’t always die from tobacco,” he croons, sounding like a Stephen Hawking with a head cold. “Sometimes you just lose a lung.”

No info on the larynx.

Anyhow, the poster for the DVD of the Weinstein Co. movie “Nine,” says its PG-13 MPAA rating is for “Sexual situations and smoking.”

I try to keep my eyes open, but this was the first time I saw smoking (tobacco) as a ratings issue, outside of those little promo booklets they give you at the video store. You know, the ones that tell you the precise number of F-words and “Deity name used as expletive” in a particular movie.

Now, to be fair, smoking plays a big part in “Nine.” The film is about a crazed Italian movie director who’s having some sort of stress breakdown over work issues, complicated by his responsibilities herding a bevy of headstrong Italian women. He has a cigarette nailed to his lip. He smokes to relieve stress.

Mr. Weinstein, why even make this movie if you’re so anti-smoking? I couldn’t guess.

But I will give him points for allowing a movie with such heavy smoking to be made. Respect the realities of times gone past, without feeling like smoking in the past threatens the future. It’s much better than the people who are scouring old films free of cigarettes “1984”-style.

In the old “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride at Disneyland, the animatronic swashbucklers made themselves busy sacking a coastal town. One leering buccaneer chased a fair damsel — at least the adults assumed – for some heavy petting and more.

Those darn kids must have asked too many questions! Because a few years later the buccaneer no longer chased the damsel for herself, but for the succulent apple pie she now held in her slender hands.

Some day, the cigarettes in “Nine” may be digitally replaced with carrots. Or breadsticks. Yeah, breadsticks, they’re Italian. Make it breadsticks.

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