Update: A gaggle of readers have pointed out a few flaws in the logical in this article and upon review, changes have been made to make it more succinct and clear.
The Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act is a United States federal law, passed in 1970, designed to limit the practice of smoking. It required a stronger health warning on cigarette packages, saying “Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined that Cigarette Smoking Is Dangerous to Your Health”. The Act also banned cigarette advertisements on American radio and television.
A complete ban on all cigarette/tobacco advertising on the TV and radio was passed and put into effect in early 1971 [by the Federal Communications Commission]
With this in mind (and we will return to this point later), ask yourself this question: with this ruling decades ago, why did NBC decide to make a TV show about a chain-smoking hero?
Here is another one: Hannibal Lecter on NBC’s Hannibal can murder people graphically on-screen in every conceivable way possible but John Constantine can’t smoke a single cigarette? Since Constantine’s smoking eventually causes a fatal health problem for him, wouldn’t allowing his smoking and what that leads to ameliorate the anti-smoking cause or is it naive to think people would make that connection?
Smoking is one of the chief characteristics of John Constantine, so much so that it was one of the main plot points of his character in the film adaptation of his story-line. Why strip that and the cancer storyline attached to it away?
How desensitized to mayhem and murder is NBC, its corporate sponsors, and the world when gory violence is allowed and advertised ad nauseum with one hand and smoking tobacco is censored with the other? NBC does not just glorify violence on Hannibal, they dissect it. They get beneath the underpinnings of people’s predilection towards it to the root of their individual compulsions through short (an episode) character studies.
Hannibal is fascinating because of its violence.
No imagine if NBC decided not to make Dr. Hannibal Lecter a cannibal as they have decided not to make John Constantine a chain-smoker?
Do you see how that would directly affect the character’s dynamics?
Smoking offends people and NBC doesn’t want to be one of those provocateurs. That is admirable (NBC has stockholders to answer to).
With that in mind, here is that aforementioned question once more: If NBC did not want to offend people or brush up against the FCC with a main character of a new show that chained smoked cigarettes, why green light that show in first place? Why not pick a different comic book character to make a TV series about for the coming Fall season?
NBC and the FCC are afraid of an impressionable youth watching Constantine smoke and then emulating that behavior. This apprehension is completely understandable and justified. Where is that same fear for that person watching Hannibal murder another human being on TV for his own amusement and doing like-wise?
We as a society are desensitized to on-screen, visceral content. There is no denying that but not to the point where watching fictionalized smoking supplants the damage caused by watching fictionalized murder repeatedly. Are we?
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