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Monday, 11 April 2016


I read recently (I've forgotten where) about an anti-smoking lobby group continuing to campaign for the banning of any reference to smoking on film posters and actual smoking in movies and TV shows.

Now, I am not a smoker (except for a week in the 1970s and a experiment that ended badly with my brother's pipe in the late 1960s) and I don't like be anywhere near smokers when they are a-puffin' but that's my preference. If people choose to smoke for enjoyment, that's nothing to do with me. If they are addicted to nicotine and find it difficult to stop smoking, hopefully help is at hand if they want it. But I'm not here to talk about smoking per se.

What interests me is the film poster thing and films in general. We are in an era of apoplexy, when with the merest twitch, someone somewhere will be offended. Say the wrong word or phrase and you'd better batten down the hatches. Speak the truth but only whilst wearing full body armour. Whatever you say, say nothing is not a bad motto for modern life. Show the "wrong" image on a poster, in a magazine or wherever and society is threatened.

If everything that does or might offend people was sucked out of movies, I reckon with a quick calculation that films would be about three minutes long, and even then someone, somewhere would still be narked.

Take out references to or actual sex, violence (war, westerns, gangsters, etc), crime (criminals, bent cops, etc), religion (take your pick!), cigarettes, alcohol, broken homes, animal cruelty, abusive comedy, too thin actors, too fat actors, perfect, beautiful actors, imperfect, ugly actors...... I could go on but you get the picture.

As a kid in Belfast, I played with plastic Winchester rifles, cowboy six-guns loaded with caps (the tiniest of tiny bangs to simulate bullets being fired). I had a toy Luger pistol and a bow and arrow. I owned a solid plastic Bowie knife. With my mates, I acted out war film scenes and western action in our front garden but growing up and into adulthood, I have never had any tendency to actually become a hand-grenade hurler or a gunslinger. Recently, I have developed an appetite for slap-bang-wallop Jason Statham action twaddle. But even if I could do a high kick, I have no inclination to do so.

Back to where I began and the smoking thing. Depicting Maigret without his pipe or Columbo without his cigar stub or Bogart as Rick without his ciggie (I know Bogie died from cancer) or Apaches passing round their peace pipes, well, again you get my drift. From film posters, it is not far from sanitising all the old movies and TV shows, removing the bits that don't seem to fit with some current opinions.

I think I'll start a campaign of my own - for the return of common sense, that is sense that is not as common as it used to be, more's the pity.

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