~ kusala
[ ku-sa-la: Pali term meaning wholesome, skillful, good, meritorious. ]
[ Action characterized by this quality (kusala-kamma) is bound to result (eventually) in happiness and a favorable outcome. ]


2006-03-29 - 12:43 p.m.

Cuidado! Queso Peligroso

I ventured forth last weekend to see Thank You for Smoking, a film by Jason Reitman. I highly recommend it.

Reason #1: The hunky and delicious Aaron Eckhart. Alone worth the price of non-matinee admission. Hubba. Who said I was "over" my WASP fetish?

Reason #2: Really clever and well-designed opening credits. Come on, when was the last time you actually noticed opening credits? The designers of these definitely deserve some awards.

Reason #3: Lots of witty comedic dialogue and all-around good entertainment. The pace was crisp, the acting was great, and even though "Hollywood" is written all over it, sometimes that is what we go to the movies for.

Reason #4: The issues. Even though it's easy to cast the subject of this film off as facile, the core issue is worth deeper consideration. Words and phrases that spring to mind are Ethics, Personal Responsibility, Libertarianism, Regulation, Commerce, Lobbyists, Big Government, Legislative Overreach, et al. Whew. All from a scrappy little "comedy."

In summary, Eckhart plays a P.R. spokesperson and lobbyist for a Big Tobacco consortium, and we see several facets of his personal and professional life play out. The inside games, the ethical dilemmas, the seemingly-mundane question of "paying the mortgage."

I found myself thinking about the issues raised through the fleshing out of Eckhart's seemingly soulless, unethical Mephistopheles of a protagonist, Nick Naylor. Now, I have nary a sliver of sympathy for anything remotely related to "smokers' rights," despite (or perhaps due to) the fact that several members of my family did or do smoke. I feel that it's been a case of a huge, highly-profitable industry in massive denial at best, malevolent dishonesty at worst.

However, at one point in the story, Nick Naylor tries to make an analogy between cigarettes and Vermont cheddar, declaring that both are products about which the risks to health are well known, and that attempts to promote stricter warning labels on only one amounts to simple hypocrisy, or perhaps unfair and unequally-applied regulation. I took this issue to heart, and ultimately I think I agree that what one could call "unwise dietary choices" probably are ultimately more detrimental to public health than smoking, drinking, or all manner of other "vices." [I'm putting aside for the moment the effects of poverty on this diet-health equation, and confining it hypothetically to the middle-upper classes.]

more to come...

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