Is it unusual to portray characters smoking in modern times?


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Thread: Is it unusual to portray characters smoking in modern times?

  1. #1

    Is it unusual to portray characters smoking in modern times?

    I am writing screenplays and setting them in modern times, making them less costly to shoot. I like a lot of old film noir movies and westerns, where you see a lot more smoking.

    But you never see it movies or fiction anymore it seems hardly, so if I write characters doing it, since I take inspiration from film noir and westerns, does it come off as strange for modern times do you think?

  2. #2
    Plenty of people still do smoke, but it is more frowned-upon in modern times, and it is becoming increasingly taboo to feature characters smoking in media. I remember when I was a teenager in the 90s many comic book characters who I idolized smoked. (That's not what drove me to pick up the habit, but it did reinforce its acceptability.) Nowadays, at almost 40, I look back on those creators like, "why? Why would you target young teenagers and depict their idols smoking cigarettes?" It just seems irresponsible.

    I'm not for censorship, but unless you have a compelling reason for your characters to smoke, I just wouldn't.

  3. #3
    Oh okay, well my stories are more aimed at adults I think that teens tastes, but I'm not sure if I do have a compelling reason, it's just more of a stylistic atmospheric one like in film noir, if that makes sense?

  4. #4
    It does make sense. One of my favorite movies of late is Blade Runner 2049 and the main character, K, at times smokes cigarettes. It does add to the "noir" feeling of the movie, even though it takes place in the future.

  5. #5
    Oh okay, Blade Runner is an example, but it seemed like he was the only one, so if just the main character is doing it, would he stick out as a sore thumb compared to the others therefore?

    I guess one movie I can think of set in modern times with lots of smoking is The Departed (2006), but has a lot changed since 2006?
    Last edited by ironpony; July 31st, 2019 at 07:22 AM.

  6. #6
    In today's culture, yes. Netflix recently had a thing where they said that the only reason they would depict a character smoking cigarettes was if it was historically relevant, or something to that effect.
    But that's not to say you shouldn't do it. Plenty of media aimed at adults to this day features characters smoking. And you did say your screenplays were aimed toward adults. So I say go for it if that's what you want to do. If you were writing YA fiction I might advise you otherwise.

  7. #7
    Oh okay, I just thought it might be an eyebrow raiser still since it seems to be hardly seen anymore in fiction, even aimed at adults.

  8. #8
    Vaping is common some places and would give a story a modern feel. I see it in London more than smoking. Not sure it's very noir though.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    I am writing screenplays and setting them in modern times, making them less costly to shoot. I like a lot of old film noir movies and westerns, where you see a lot more smoking.

    But you never see it movies or fiction anymore it seems hardly, so if I write characters doing it, since I take inspiration from film noir and westerns, does it come off as strange for modern times do you think?
    Nope. Especially not if you're trying to give the piece a nostalgic feeling or imply some subtly self-destructive old school machismo.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  10. #10
    I think it might add that noir nuance you're going for, set it apart from a strictly modern story even though it's written in modern times.

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