COMMENTS: Of Mice & Smokes

In their own ways, both ABC and CBS contemplated the destructive power of entertainment from the moving image. CBS had Richard Roth examine the content of the "familiar and comforting" children's fare on Hamas' TV channel in the Gaza Strip, starring a giant Mickey Mouse lookalike who mimes firing imaginary guns. The mouse's co-host is a girl names Sara: she tells her viewers "to drink their milk, pray five times a day and resist what they call the oppressive Zionist occupation," Roth told us.

ABC chose images of cigarette smoking on the silver screen. Dan Harris (subscription required) reported the public health criticism that it is shown as a normal, even glamorous activity, rather than an unhealthy one. Hollywood's MPAA has agreed to add depictions of cigarette use--along with depictions of nudity and violence--as factors in deciding whether to R-rate movies as adults-only fare. For example, "if a studio wanted to make Casablanca today, to keep its G-rating Bogart would have to lose his butts," Harris suggested. Harris could have added that cigarettes were, literally, the death of the actor.

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