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Thank Your For Smoking

I didn't seem to like this one as much as most of my friends who've seen it have. To me, it was very uneven, with a few genuinely great moments but also some scenes that were more groan-inducing than funny. What's more, I object to the portrayal of the "mod squad" (i.e., merchants of death) lobbyists for the tobacco, alcohol, and firearms industries as hyper-cynical. The world contains plenty of perfectly sincere libertarians who would regard defending the right of citizens to use potential dangerous products more-or-less unimpeded as a perfectly respectable way to earn a living and a good dose of sincere conviction would be useful in that line of work.

March 19, 2006 | Permalink


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I don't remember it clearly, but that was my reaction to the book; some nice moments, but pretty thin and uneven overall.

Posted by: Scott Lemieux | Mar 19, 2006 3:33:18 PM

Matthew, it's just too late for this book to become a movie. When it first came out in 1994 (I bought the 1995 paperback), Thank you for Smoking was palatable as parody and the over-the-top tobacco lobbyist received his (also over-the-top) condign punishment. But what's funny about hyper-mercenaries today? Moral vacuity is today's coin of the realm and the characters from the pages of Thank you for Smoking are now cabinet secretaries in the Bush administration. And that's not very funny.

Posted by: Zeno | Mar 19, 2006 3:53:43 PM

Effective salesfolk as a rule believe in the product; if they don't, it's harder to sell. It's the pragmatic theory of truth, or cognitive akrasia: less a clear-eyed commitment to a right to choose badly than a case of It makes me money, it's got to be good.

Posted by: Dabodius | Mar 19, 2006 5:18:23 PM

I haven't seen the movie, but as far as I'm concerned there's a big moral difference between alcohol and cigarettes. And therefore between the lobbyists for the same.

Posted by: Peter | Mar 19, 2006 5:19:35 PM

I'm with Peter, I think. (I assume he likes the alcohol people better than the tobacco people.)

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Mar 19, 2006 9:54:37 PM

Speaking as someone who works on pro-smoking communications issues, I can say that, while not exactly well-paid, I found the portrayal to be pretty accurate. There aren't many of us who believe smoking is some sort of moral good. Smokers and non (I'm non), we all understand the health risks. The important thing to us is, as with Naylor, to defend choice and fight government intervention. And if you're inferring that Naylor had serious qualms about his work, that didn't seem to be the case in the film -- it seemed like he had qualms about the perception of his work, especially from his son, rather than about the job itself.

Posted by: big tobacco | Mar 20, 2006 9:50:20 PM

It's called satire Matt, Hellllloooooo! It's satire, not a libertarian PSA.

Posted by: Brian in Oakland | Mar 22, 2006 11:25:13 AM

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