As many of you know, my primary research field in grad school is children's media, particularly movies. I just read this story about the amount of smoking in the new animated movie Rango, featuring Johnny Depp. I wan to hear from you parents out there. What are your thoughts on this?
Many children's groups and parents are upset about the number of times characters in this movie are lighting up. Some even want this film to be rated R because it depicts smoking. Can you believe that?! What is the world coming to?
While I do believe that films can certainly influence young minds, I also think that adults should also step up and talk to their kids about these issues. Letting advocacy groups and ratings gurus make these decisions is ultimately just letting parents off the hook.
Does the movie need to show these characters smoking? Probably not. But I think parents should use this film as a springboard for discussing the dangers of smoking with their children. We can't shelter them from everything. Make this a teachable moment. Don't just stick your head in the sand.
(Disclaimer: I have not seen Rango, so I do not know exactly how the smoking is being depicted. Although, according to the article, it does seem to be excessive.)
I don't want you to think I'm letting movie makers off the hook. Like I said previously, they really don't need to include this in a kid's movie. Instead of banning smoking, maybe these films should include an anti-smoking PSA before the film starts. There are certainly ways that Hollywood can step up and
make sure these kids see and know the consequences of smoking. But, ultimately, it needs to be Hollywood and parents working together to teach their kids about what tobacco use can do to your body.