As reported in the New York Times and elsewhere, the Motion Picture Association of America has revised its movie ratings system to include images of smoking in assigning ratings. A film that glamorizes smoking may get a more restrictive rating, and “descriptions of tobacco use will be added to the increasingly detailed advisories that accompany each rated film.” TU (Warning: Contains graphic images of tobacco use) will go up there with Adult Nudity, Graphic Language, and–soon, I’m sure– FF (Warning: Contains graphic images of fast food consumption).
I’ve been thinking about this all day and still I cannot find the words to convey how inane this is. It’s a great idea if the object is to fetishize images of smoking, to imbue them with the allure of the forbidden. I fail to see any sense in imposing an R-rating for behavior that is, unlike violence and graphic sex, both legal and commonly witnessed in public places. (No, I did not just say that sex is illegal. I said it is not commonly seen in public places.)