James Leroy Wilson's blog

Monday, July 30, 2007

Thank You For Smoking

I read Christopher Buckley's Thank You For Smoking in 1995 and saw the movie on DVD tonight. The novel's wit was terrific and translated well onto film, and the film's writer/director Jason Reitman improved its plot.

The story is largely a satire about spin, about talking. But whereas Buckley "chickened out" at the end of his novel, Reitman remains true to its libertarian themes. And the libertarianism is only secondarily about defending private businesses from federal harassment and regulation. More important is how tobacco lobbyist Nick Naylor "spins" his position: he challenges individuals to question authority, investigate the facts, and make decisions for themselves. He promotes parental and individual responsibility.

In the end, is it ethical to promote the interests of Big Tobacco? That's not for me to judge, but what could be more ethical than defending personal freedom?

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