By ANCHORAGE DAILY PLANET
Imagine our surprise over this past weekend to hear that the prevailing theory now is that kids are influenced to smoke tobacco or pot by watching movie stars smoking on the silver screen or television. Who knew?
In truth, almost anybody with a lick of common sense.
Netflix, in particular, has come under fire for the high number of its shows depicting smoking in popular programming. It has announced it is cutting back on such scenes for general audiences after being called on its monster summer hit, “Stranger Things.” That show features more tobacco than any other program on streaming, broadcast or cable, NPR’s Weekend Edition reported. There is tobacco in every single episode.
Earlier this month, 43 state attorneys general asked streaming companies for better practices when it comes to showing tobacco use on screen. Some public health experts think pot should be next on the agenda. Netflix and others, it turns out, have not been so quick to move on marijuana in their programming.
To say there is more than a fair amount of monkey-see, monkey-do among younger Americans is a laughable understatement. It almost goes without saying that if some kids see “cool’ people smoking they will try to do the same, setting themselves up to be trapped in a terrible addiction. Do not ask us how we know.
But you have to wonder: If TV and movies can glorify tobacco and dope to influence younger folks to smoke, what about other things? What about the effects of nonstop violence in television and movie programming.
While studies of tobacco and dope’s effects are pretty clear on how dangerous they are, studies on the effects of violent programming are inconclusive, Hollywood tells us; that there is no concrete evidence that constant depictions of mayhem influences anybody to do anything. Movies, video games, television programming. No influence.
It really does not make much sense. On the one hand, the media are powerful enough to lure the young into smoking tobacco or dope, but not powerful enough desensitize younger Americans to violence.