This Friday (March 4th) the new animated movie from Paramount called Rango featuring the voice of star Johnny Depp will be released. However, before the public has watched even a minute, the movie has already caused some controversy and has upset the organization Smoke Free Movies.
Smoke Free Movies, is an organization like it's name seeks out movies to eliminate the depiction of tobacco use in motion pictures. The movie has a Western cowboy theme, so like all classic cowboy movies, some of the supporting animated animals (characters) can be seen smoking cigarettes. Smoking is no stranger to Hollywood movies but with Rango having a PG rating and being sold to the target audience of children, is why there is some controversy now.
Smoke Free Movies took out a whole page ad in last week's Hollywood Reporter with the headline "How Many Studio Execs Did it Take to OK Smoking in a 'PG' Movie?". The ad claims that there is "scientific evidence" that depending on how much smoking on screen a child sees as early as grade school, that it can predict whether they will start smoking as teens.
Rango is not the only movie that has a PG or PG-13 rating and depicts smoking, but the ad also states that 21 of the 2011 Oscar nominated movies depict smoking and over 40% of them are either PG or PG-13. Also included in the ad is the following chart that breakdowns the total "Tobacco Impressions" of the Oscar nominated movies.
The numbers are staggering and some times you do not even realize the impact certain images/scenes might have on children.
Paramount of course does not see it the way Smoke Free Movies does and has released their own statement about Rango:
"Rango is an animated action comedy that features the protagonist chameleon, Rango, as the hero of a woebegone western town populated by talking owls, rats, lizards, turtles and prairie dogs. The images of smoking in the film, which primarily involves the animals, are portrayed by supporting characters and are not intended to be celebrated or emulated. Rango is never depicted as smoking."
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