what i'm watching: thank you for smoking

We're on a roll with movies now, because baseball season is fast approaching, and because I've pared down our ZipList to only our high-priority films.

Last night we watched "Thank You For Smoking", Jason Reitman's movie based on the Christopher Buckley novel of the same name.

The main character of "Thank You For Smoking" is a lobbyist for the tobacco industry, and the consummate spinmaster. How do you do sell a product that kills 12,000 people a day? By obfuscating and twisting the truth, and generally corrupting language until it has no meaning, and can mean anything you want it to mean. TYFS's Nick Naylor can make the tobacco industry look like victims or defenders of freedom. In his business, there is no objective truth, there is only who is the better spinmaster.

According to Wikipedia, Reitman says "Thank You For Smoking" is meant to make fun of so-called political correctness, but I didn't see that. To me this movie is about PR, and spin, and how they distort the truth. It won't change your life, but it's an amusing little movie.

If you want to see something about the dark side of Big Tobacco, try "The Insider," based on Jeffrey Wigand's heroic whistle-blowing of former tobacco giant Brown & Williamson.

Going public with his knowledge of the tobacco industry's lies and deception ended Wigand's career, ruined his marriage, and threatened his life - but he spoke out anyway. "The Insider" focuses on Wigand's and relationship with "60 Minutes" producer Lowell Bergman, who convinced Wigand to go public, only to have CBS kill the story for fear of being sued by B&W. It's a very compelling and frightening story about moral courage. If I recall correctly, it's also a very good movie.

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