The Goddess Speaks
Smoking gets a boost in subtle ways
TELEVISION has become so prevalent, but it's often unclear how it affects our views or even our values. Formal studies should be conducted to measure TVs' effects or consequences for its many viewers.
As one who is supposed to be both an advocate and practitioner of communication, I find it important to weigh whether certain programs have managed to promote certain ideas, deliberately or otherwise.
A product or a belief can be sold in subtle ways. I notice this especially where smoking is concerned.
AS A COUPLE, my husband and I used to smoke. But because of the threat of lung cancer, and understanding that smoke endangered our children, there was no question for us that cigarettes were out.
Now we find that the TV movies we tend to watch after dinner make us susceptible to the notion that smoking can be quite relaxing, can even promote a social kinship. Maybe that perspective depends on what generation one belongs to.
When a movie is particularly well done or informative, or the actors or actresses involved are favorites -- such as Robert Redford or Paul Newman (playing a cowboy with a cigar dangling from his mouth) -- I find the trick quite fascinating.
It is of course best if your son, if still a boy, is not around to catch the scene.
BETTE DAVIS, whose aura lingers despite the years gone by, flares up at a lover who might have failed to give her the usual amorous embrace. She picks up a cigarette. He, of course, lights it and joins her in smoking. She struts around, with her manicured fingers flicking the ashes into a golden ashtray. She is a fashionable woman in the plot, obviously high society.
A man, clearly the CEO in a modern and expensive office, presses a bell and asks his secretary for a report. He reads it, clearly is displeased, yells at the woman, takes a cigar and puffs hard.
These scenes go on and on in practically every movie we watch, particularly noticeable in older films. Next time, I vow that if a 2005 or 2006 film is on, I shall watch closely to see if a character is smoking.
There is a clue I look for to check if a woman smokes. If there are lines just above her upper lip, besides the rest of the wrinkles unavoidable with aging, you can almost bet she has been smoking a lifetime. It can spoil her beauty.
I have a private theory: Old age will reveal how we have lived our lives.
Jovita Rodas Zimmerman is a former journalism and political science lecturer in the University of Hawaii system and retired from Frank Fasi's corporation counsel office in 1990.
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