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Hollywood Harms Youth’s Health?

Parents, activists, and numerous other adults have been afraid of the corruption that media such as comics, television, and movies have on the youth that they are aimed towards.  David Hajdu’s The 10 Cent Plague was all about the moral panics and issues that comic books caused throughout the United States.  In Chapter 5, Puddles of Blood, Hajdu talks about the shift in superhero comic books to crime comics.  When this change came about, many people were outraged and did not like the idea of kids reading about crime (granted they were aimed towards young adults, not young children).  People were afraid kids would start acting on the things they read about.  They were worried the youth would become a violent and immoral generation.  While these youth (now adults) did not grow up to be extremely violent people, we still have similar issues with today’s culture.

Hollywood is responsible for just about everything we see on television and in movies.  Lots of adults still worry about the violence and gore involved in these movies, but we have developed more recent panics.  One of the most often talked about: smoking.  Just about every movie or television show aimed at teenagers or older has a plethora of scenes in which people are smoking.  More specifically: young adults.  You may not always notice it (because it is so commonplace most people tend not to think about it), but it is definitely there.  Many adults think that kids will take after the actors they see and pick up the harmful habit of smoking.  This frightens parents the most.  A lot of parents don’t address this issue, while some parents simply talk to their kids about it.  Others, like the ones in Saratoga, Warren, and Washington counties in New York will take action.  Last Wednesday, 300 adults and children gathered at a movie theater in Clifton Park, New York for “The Smoke Free Movies Initiative International Week of Action” – an anti-tobacco campaign lead by the youth to teach the youth.  For some kids, it is easier to listen to someone they can relate to more (around the same age) talk about these kinds of things than adults, who may seem old and outdated in their thinking.

While I do agree that smoking is bad for your health, I do not think that these images in movies and television shows lead kids down a path to smoke.  It is important for these organizations to be running anti-tobacco campaigns, targeting movies and television may not be the best strategy.  I have found that the majority of young adults tend to pick up smoking from peers at college, rather than from the images that Hollywood engrains in their heads.  If these organizations could find ways to bring these campaigns to campus’ around the country, that may be more effective than to high school and middle school age kids.

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