Why all the smoking and drinking?

Would someone please send a 2017 calendar to all the publishers and producers out there. Somehow they haven’t gotten the word that people don’t smoke anymore, not most sane, admirable people anyway. I’ve noticed a trend in books and movies recently that feature leading characters, i.e. the “heroes” and “heroines” of the stories, who smoke and get drunk all the time. Supposedly these are sympathetic characters. These behaviors, however, do not make them look very admirable.

The days of Mad Men cocktail parties and chain smoking are long gone. I cannot remember the last time I saw anyone smoking in real life. It has been months, maybe years. I can’t think of anyone I know who smokes. It’s interesting that you can tell the demographic a movie or TV show is going for by who smokes. For the mainstream broadcast channels now like ABC, NBC, CBS, if a character smokes in one of their series, he or she is probably a bad guy. They’ve figured out that it is mostly the low-lifes who do (no offense to the non-low lifes who do as I know you exist). In fact, often the person doesn’t smoke until it is revealed that the person is a bad guy. However, in many movies and on the cable channels or “arty” or counterculture channels, the lead characters smoke. Supposedly they are, or look, cool by doing this. I don’t get it. They just look like idiots, definitely not sympathetic. Maybe the demographic they are targeting is the low-life demographic.

Examples of this trend in books: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough, The Girl Before by JP Delaney, The Muse by Jessie Burton. All three of these are written by British women, but Pleasantville by Attica Locke, and American, can be added to the list. On TV, examples of shows where the “cool” leads smoke are Better Call Saul and Sneaky Pete. All of these drink quite a bit, too, although that varies. I’m afraid series and books like these will inspire some impressionable young people to take up smoking. The only good thing I can say about them is that these lead characters are all pretty much losers in life. If these kids pay close attention (good luck with that) maybe they’ll see that smoking is not the way to a good life.

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