Film: Thank You For Smoking Forum
Hosted on Serendip
Comments are posted in the order in which they are received, with earlier postings appearing first below on this page. To see the latest postings, click on "Go to last comment" below.
Date: 2006-04-05 15:38:33
Link to this Comment: 18845
Greetings one and all and welcome to the Bryn Mawr Film Institute's online discussion of Thank You For Smoking on Serendip. It is our hope that this forum will allow people to share their insights and questions about a film that has already generated a tremendous amount of interest.
Thank You For Smoking is currently playing at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute. You can find out more about the film at the BMFI website.
See the film and then come back here to ask questions, provide answers, and join the conversation.
Date: 2006-04-06 18:02:52
Link to this Comment: 18881
More to the point about the film: If we can agree that such arguments might be reasonable, isn't the film falling short in its intention to be satirical? Doesn't the film turn into more of a direct social commentary and abandon the style and technique of ridicule and satire for which it has been touted and with which it was so effective in earlier scenes?
Date: 2006-04-07 10:54:48
Link to this Comment: 18892
|Not seduction, failure|
Date: 2006-04-07 11:22:03
Link to this Comment: 18893
|not seduction or failure: freedom of thought|
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2006-04-08 12:32:30
Link to this Comment: 18903
Always so interesting to hear, here, the varieties of views on a film.
One text, many decoders. So...
here's how it looks to me.
There is nothing wrong w/ this. In fact, I would say that--w/ the important addition of teaching children how to think critically, by gathering and evalauting evidence on their own--this is the one right thing parents should do. By my lights, Nick Naylor gave the wrong answer in his final Q&A: He shouldn't buy his 18-year-old son his first pack of cigarettes--but he should take to the Supreme Court the right of his son to buy his own pack when he turns 18.
The value here is not deciding for other people what is right for them; it's preserving their right to decide for themselves how they want to live their lives. Smoking's a great example of a space where the government has intervened--I think inappropriately--in a matter of private choice. I'm not a smoker myself, but I've been flabbergasted by the current craze for policing other people's health habits...
So: no faulty premise--and no faulty conclusion.
Where I actually think the film is most clever (and most complicated) is in the way it s-l-i-d-e-s from defending the right to "think for yourself" (my primary value) to celebrating the power of advertising and politicking to manipulate our thinking for us. Nick is a spinmeister; his advocacy for independent thinking and good argumentation is done in the service of making money--for himself and his clients. And that's where this all gets tricky.
As it happens, the night before I saw Thank you for Smoking, I had rented the 1996 Milos Forman film, The People vs. Larry Flynt, an idealized representation of the controversial pornography publisher's winning a free speech case before the Supreme Court (tagline: "You may not like what he does, but are you prepared to give up his right to do it?") The issues in that film were in some ways "cleaner" (though Larry Flynt's primary interest was also money-making). Where "Smoking" is more complicated--and so more interesting--is that it plays w/ that line where freedom of choice is altered by advertising and politicking.
A couple of years ago, I attended a really interesting discussion, Bucks, Values and Happiness, in which a Bryn Mawr College economist, David Ross fretted about the notion that advertising is not simply information: it has the capacity to change fundamental wants, and intervene in our thinking (so that we might come to imagine, for instance, that buying something we don't have will make us happier).
What I realized, in the course of that good session, was that it was a mistake to assume that any of us has "immutable," predetermined and fixed desires, which the market should not attempt to alter. We are all of us alterable. (This is a good thing.) We can't decide which product is better, without the information that advertising supplies. And--if we have learned to think for ourselves, and taught our children to do the same--we need not fear any system/structure creating a need we don't want to...
Thank you for not being so self-satisfied.
|Not Smoking for real|
Date: 2006-04-09 20:46:35
Link to this Comment: 18925
Date: 2006-04-14 15:42:55
Link to this Comment: 19034
Date: 2006-04-14 17:11:51
Link to this Comment: 19035
Date: 2006-04-22 12:06:56
Link to this Comment: 19119
Date: 2006-05-20 22:01:19
Link to this Comment: 19411
Name: Sean Gould
Date: 2006-05-28 10:42:27
Link to this Comment: 19431
|book v movie|
Date: 2006-06-04 12:08:04
Link to this Comment: 19461