Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mad Men and Wowsers

Here's a fabulously stupid idea, which will no doubt get implemented, if only in Liverpool. I must admit this SmokeFree Liverpool organisation had so far escaped my attention - but this confirms that it does indeed exist, and is every bit as ghastly as one would expect. Happily, what they seem not to have noticed is the proliferation of TV dramas in which - gasp - men smoke! A lot. All the time. The new US import Mad Men (the best thing since The Sopranos, and from one of that show's producers) features men - and women, even pregnant women! - smoking as if they're in training for some kind of international all-comers' smoke-off with huge cash prizes. Of course, all they're really doing is what people in their milieu in 1960 did - which includes equally heroic drinking, and world-beating elegance in the wearing of superbly cut suits and stylish hats.
On a less exalted level, in Ashes To Ashes (1980s) and its far superior predecessor Life On Mars (1970s), the action takes place in a thick fug of tobacco smoke. A forthcoming gangster drama, He Kills Coppers, which begins in the 1960s, features similar dizzying levels of nicotine intake. Why this spate of smoke-filled dramas - all, happily, taking place outside the scope of the BBFC? I think a powerul nostalgia is tugging at us, nostalgia for a recent past that seems so distant already - one where men were men, wore hats, smoked, drank and just got on with it, unimpeded, in a world that was very much theirs. Yes, distant indeed - and in all kinds of ways (and for all its faults) deeply enviable. These dramas touch a nerve, but maybe it's just a passing fashion. If the likes of SmokeFree Liverpool have their way, they'll soon be done for. The wowsers are bound to notice sooner or later and turn their attention to TV. Enjoy it while it lasts.

1 comment:

  1. ...The push - backed by the city council - comes amid research showing young people pick up the bad habit from watching films containing smoking.

    Certainly, then, that would also appear to explain the bad habit young people have picked up, from watching films containing violence, of knifing each other.

    But then, it is all a matter of priorities, I suppose.