Complications Ensue:
The Crafty Screenwriting, TV and Game Writing Blog


April 2004

May 2004

June 2004

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

October 2014

November 2014

December 2014

January 2015

February 2015

March 2015

April 2015

May 2015

June 2015

August 2015

September 2015

October 2015

November 2015

December 2015

January 2016

February 2016

March 2016

April 2016

May 2016

June 2016

July 2016

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016

November 2016

December 2016

January 2017

February 2017

March 2017

May 2017

June 2017

July 2017

August 2017

September 2017

October 2017

November 2017

December 2017

January 2018

March 2018

April 2018

June 2018

July 2018

October 2018

November 2018

December 2018

January 2019

February 2019

November 2019

February 2020

March 2020

April 2020

May 2020

August 2020

September 2020

October 2020

December 2020

January 2021

February 2021

March 2021

May 2021

June 2021

November 2021

December 2021

January 2022

February 2022


Thursday, June 08, 2006

As of May 31, it's no longer legal to smoke in a bar in Montreal. I know, we're a little behind California. The French influence extends to cheap day care and too much smoking. (Though, weirdly, there is very little contact between France and Quebec, except among highbrow intellectual circles. Montreal looks to New York more than anywhere else.)

On the other hand, I've noticed a resurgence of smoking in pictures ever since Pulp Fiction. For a while there, the only smokers on screen were villains and nutcases. Lately I've seen a few too many Cool Smokers.

Now kids, say what you will about film having to follow reality. If you're writing a tv series about fashion models, you have to have them all smoking like chimneys. 'Cause models do.

I call bullshit, to quote John Rogers. There's lots of things we don't put on screen that people do. I'm not just talking about going to the bathroom. I'm talking about taking forever to say something meaningful. TV and film are constructed realities. All you owe the audience is the emotional truth.

'Cause the only reason kids pick up smoking is to be cool. (Very few people are dumb enough to pick up the habit past 18. Which is why they invented Joe Camel.) If you make smoking look cool, you're convincing kids to smoke.

Personally, I think making a character cool by having them smoke is a crutch. Actors love to smoke on screen because then they don't have to put so much into the acting. Same thing in the action description. Give a character a cigarette and you can tell us all about how he's puffing, and that's so much easier than finding the right words to convey what we're seeing on his face, or the right words for him to say that seem like nothing but convey so much.

Some will argue that it is not our responsibility as writers to make society better. I disagree. It's everybody's responsibility to make society better, and we have more leverage than most. That doesn't mean you can't do The Sopranos; a convincing portrait of bad people can ask questions and open up conversations just as well as, or better than, a puff piece about Dr. Lucile. And I loooooved Thank You For Smoking.

There's "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem." And, "In order for evil to triumph, it is only necessary for good men to do nothing."

At a minimum, don't make things worse.

So: butts out onscreen. Villains and neurotics. It may seem like a cliché, but it's a cliché that there's something cool about cigarettes, too. There isn't.


baruch hashem.

Amen brotha.

By Blogger Al, at 11:53 PM  

Wonderful argument. It’s indefensible. I am so glad that every city in the world will eventually become the same. I thought the cool thing about Montreal was that it was not every other place in the world. It’s a Brave new world and thank God that Montreal is JUST like Mouse Jaw. There is a reason I avoided living I Saskatoon.

No matter what you think/say/believe smoking makes a character cool. Go ahead and throw any theory at me. You are wrong and you know deep down in your soul that smoking is cool. It ain’t a crutch. Its what people do. Hate me, hate me…but please let the last place people (even imaginary ones) be able to smoke is in a simple script.

No smoking in bars? If you spend more than three hours a week in a bar do you really care about your heath?

Please let imaginary people smoke. Is that too much to ask?

By Blogger DJ, at 12:18 AM  

Actually, Deej, I care much less whether you smoke in a bar than whether imaginary characters do. Your smoking in a bar just makes the bar a little less pleasant for nonsmokers, and there could be nonsmoking sections for that. It doesn't convince any 14-year-old girls to take up smoking.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 9:24 AM  

Point, Set, Match to Mr. Epstein.

By Blogger DJ, at 10:16 AM  

Smoking bans are becoming quite common and I think it's been a good thing.

Just think about
smoking and lung cancer when it comes to whether or not smoking should be banned in public places.

By Blogger Dori Sear, at 12:17 AM  

Hi. Thought you might find it interesting that more and more cities worldwide are going non-smoking. Beijing announced on Friday that it would ban smoking in time for the Olympics. The ban would cover most public buildings. According to the USAToday article, “restaurants, bars, and hotels can still allow smoking but must provide smoke-free areas or rooms.” In a city where “23% of those above age 15 smoke,” one restaurant preempted the ban and went smoke free last week. The restaurateur already reports improved business and customer satisfaction.

You should check out my challenge to the industry to go non-smoking. His blog on is at:

By Blogger Hospitality Lawyer, at 5:02 PM  

There is now a new quit smoking drug available in the market. This latest breakthrough is known as Chantix. It is able to help smokers snub out their addiction by working on the brain.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:53 AM  

Post a Comment

Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.

This page is powered by Blogger.