Constantine Will Not Be Allowed to Smoke on TV

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Constantine Will Not Be Allowed to Smoke on TV

John Constantine will be tobacco (and cancer) free in new NBC series

Fans of DC/Vertigo character John Constantine, aka "Hellblazer," have been anticipating the upcoming NBC TV series based on the character as a corrective to the 2005 movie with Keanu Reeves - which made extensive changes to the character's mythos and behavior. But it's now been revealed that Reeves' version will remain closer to the original in at least one respect: TV's Constantine will not be a smoker.

The question of whether or not the character's signature chain-smoking habit (and attendant cancer affliction) would be part of the series has been in question from the beginning, as most U.S. TV networks have strict rules against portraying heavy tobacco use. In an interview with Collider, pilot-episode director Neil Marshall was asked point-blank about the detail and answered:

"No we're not. It's the one thing, a compromise I guess. On network it's the one thing you can't smoke on network. That's one of his character traits. We're working around that. We're trying to get aspects of it in there as much as possible. We'll see."

Created in 1985 by Alan Moore in the pages of his famous Swamp Thing run, John Constantine is an occult detective who investigates/battles demons and other supernatural threats. He will be portrayed by Welsh actor Matt Ryan.

Source: Collider

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I have never understood this about American TV. You can have a show about a cannibalistic serial killer but one guy smoking is going too far?

I will still give the show a chance but does this mean we will not get the Cancer story line?

I love how the thumbnail frame is of him with flames pouring out his hands next to a headline about not being able to smoke.

Noticeably even the fire is failing to emit smoke however, NBC dont fuck around.

Disappointing, but an understandable change. If the networks says you can't do it, then there's not much to be done(except pitch the idea to HBO instead).

lol No.

Seriously, it's like Batman not having a cape and ears. Except a lot more important.

Gizmo1990:
I have never understood this about American TV. You can have a show about a cannibalistic serial killer but one guy smoking is going too far?

I will still give the show a chance but does this mean we will not get the Cancer story line?

The thing is, most people have a strong disposition against being a cannibalistic serial killer whereas it's not out of the bounds of possibility that someone may indeed take up a cigarette. The tobacco companies used to pay heavily to make all the cool characters in films chain smokers and it totally worked. They managed to create the perception that spending money buying their products was cool, when they were already bribing researchers to bury the health risks. There have probably been few more effective advertising campaigns than that one to be honest, they created a whole genre of cinema where chain smoking was meant to be a character trait.

I think these restrictions on the portrayal of smoking are effective to. I don't know about where you are but in the UK smoking has a pretty big stigma attached to it nowadays when it used to be the opposite way round. Now people do the apologetic face when they tell you they smoke. The public ban helped* that to because there are few sights more sad than seeing someone stand outside in a shelter during the rain because they'll get twitchy otherwise, but the TV restrictions and advertising restrictions helped.

Maybe they could do a Sherlock and make him an ex-smoker and do the cancer subplot from there? I've never read Constatine so I don't know if it's feasible.

BrotherRool:

Maybe they could do a Sherlock and make him an ex-smoker and do the cancer subplot from there? I've never read Constatine so I don't know if it's feasible.

Constantine is not the type to quit smoking. He has this whole "Ah, fuck it!"-attitude going that doesn't work well with self-improvement.

BrotherRool:
The thing is, most people have a strong disposition against being a cannibalistic serial killer whereas it's not out of the bounds of possibility that someone may indeed take up a cigarette. The tobacco companies used to pay heavily to make all the cool characters in films chain smokers and it totally worked. They managed to create the perception that spending money buying their products was cool, when they were already bribing researchers to bury the health risks. There have probably been few more effective advertising campaigns than that one to be honest, they created a whole genre of cinema where chain smoking was meant to be a character trait.

I think these restrictions on the portrayal of smoking are effective to. I don't know about where you are but in the UK smoking has a pretty big stigma attached to it nowadays when it used to be the opposite way round. Now people do the apologetic face when they tell you they smoke. The public ban helped* that to because there are few sights more sad than seeing someone stand outside in a shelter during the rain because they'll get twitchy otherwise, but the TV restrictions and advertising restrictions helped.

Sure, but there's a big difference between "Tobacco company paying to advertise smoking" and "Main character is dying of lung cancer because of smoking". If your aim is to put people off smoking, banning even negative portrayal really doesn't make sense.

That said, there's probably a much better argument to be made for such a ban on the grounds of actor health. Even if the actor is already a smoker themselves, forcing them to smoke a load more for their job is surely going to open you up to all kinds of suing if they actually do end up getting cancer.

If you aren't going to do it right why even do it at all... Love how they're acting like that's the only compromise with the source material, if SMOKING won't make it through I seriously doubt the violence, asylum time and political commentary will either. I mean, if you want to make Supernatural just make Supernatural, don't pretend you're making a Hellblazer series, it just gets our hopes up...

Kahani:

BrotherRool:
The thing is, most people have a strong disposition against being a cannibalistic serial killer whereas it's not out of the bounds of possibility that someone may indeed take up a cigarette. The tobacco companies used to pay heavily to make all the cool characters in films chain smokers and it totally worked. They managed to create the perception that spending money buying their products was cool, when they were already bribing researchers to bury the health risks. There have probably been few more effective advertising campaigns than that one to be honest, they created a whole genre of cinema where chain smoking was meant to be a character trait.

I think these restrictions on the portrayal of smoking are effective to. I don't know about where you are but in the UK smoking has a pretty big stigma attached to it nowadays when it used to be the opposite way round. Now people do the apologetic face when they tell you they smoke. The public ban helped* that to because there are few sights more sad than seeing someone stand outside in a shelter during the rain because they'll get twitchy otherwise, but the TV restrictions and advertising restrictions helped.

Sure, but there's a big difference between "Tobacco company paying to advertise smoking" and "Main character is dying of lung cancer because of smoking". If your aim is to put people off smoking, banning even negative portrayal really doesn't make sense.

That said, there's probably a much better argument to be made for such a ban on the grounds of actor health. Even if the actor is already a smoker themselves, forcing them to smoke a load more for their job is surely going to open you up to all kinds of suing if they actually do end up getting cancer.

The health of the actor is actually a very good argument. In a series, the guy would be forced to smoke a lot. They could CGI the smoking but this would not be very reasonable.

I'm with you about Constantine: he would be portraying smoking as a bad thing and it is nonsensical to prohibit that.

I'm okay with this, smoking is bad for him anyway.

Meanwhile, back in the good ol' days of children's programming...
image
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image
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It is interesting seeing how standards can change, where the stuff you watched as a kid is no longer fit for even adults to watch on network TV.

Hmm, while I wouldn't care that much with most shows, the whole smoking thing is kinda core to Constantine's character.

OK then, no smoking, no profanity beyond what's allowed on network prime-time and (probably) no Swamp Thing. So... Supernatural with only one protagonist?

Kahani:

That said, there's probably a much better argument to be made for such a ban on the grounds of actor health. Even if the actor is already a smoker themselves, forcing them to smoke a load more for their job is surely going to open you up to all kinds of suing if they actually do end up getting cancer.

zinho73:

The health of the actor is actually a very good argument. In a series, the guy would be forced to smoke a lot. They could CGI the smoking but this would not be very reasonable.

I'm with you about Constantine: he would be portraying smoking as a bad thing and it is nonsensical to prohibit that.

I'm sure they have cost effective ways of preserving the health of the actor, just because he'd be portraying a smoker, doesn't mean he'd actually be smoking, fake cigarettes with cgi smoke, or prop cigarettes that let out water vapor, give them a little credit, special effects have come a long way.

I'm more interested in the moral discussion surrounding the whole thing. That it's bad to show smoking of any kind period, even though it's showing the negative consequences. Would kids really buy cigarettes if their favorite character was smoking them and had cancer because of it? It's not as if it's being portrayed as a cool thing and people should do it. Is it really a good thing to pretend smoking just doesn't happen? It's certainly not realistic[1] and takes away a vital character flaw.

---
Also
Good Smoking, Evil Smoking

[1] Whether that matters in a series like Hellblazer is a different discussion.

Trishbot:
Meanwhile, back in the good ol' days of children's programming...
image
image
image
image
image
image

It is interesting seeing how standards can change, where the stuff you watched as a kid is no longer fit for even adults to watch on network TV.

The silly thing is that at least half of those examples are unambiguously putting smoking in a negative light.

Isn't having Constantine smoke a lot and then get cancer a far better anti-smoking message than having him not smoke at all?

Do NBC allow lung cancer awareness adds on their channel?

They can't be seen to be "Promoting smoking"?

He has FUCKING CANCER because of it?

Gizmo1990:
I have never understood this about American TV. You can have a show about a cannibalistic serial killer but one guy smoking is going too far?

Because it's advertising for tobacco companies, I think? No-one profits from cannibals on TV. ...at least I hope not.

Also, American network TV. Not American cable TV.

Soxafloppin:
They can't be seen to be "Promoting smoking"?

He has FUCKING CANCER because of it?

Depressing though it is, they're probably going to try and paint him as some kind of role-model or something and just completely remove all the negative elements of his character (which is pretty much every thing about him) so they'd 'sort of' be promoting it just because you're meant to like him more. Whereas in the comics he's a complete dick who routinely gets all his friends killed and does large amounts of drugs/crime with usually realistic repercussions.

I just don't see why they're doing it, every interesting character in the comics won't make it to the screen and if they DO they'll be neutered and sanitised (I seriously doubt we'll see John's gay friend Ray kicked to death by homophobic cultists for example)

I always find this idiotic. Taking smoking out of tv shows doesnt take it out of real life. Its part of his character, same as Columbo smokes cigars. The fact that Constantine has cancer should be enough to show smoking is bad. Funny to think smoking is bad but death and destruction is ok. lol

I don't know about you guys but I've been on the fence about getting cancer for a long time so if one of my heroes on TV got cancer I would just fold right away and get it myself as I'm very impressionable. So I think they're doing the right thing in not promoting cancer.

Seriously though, I think the show can still be great even without that specific trait. I still think he should be a smoker since it's seemingly a big part of his character, that of a guys who doesn't really give a shit (I think?) so something is definitely lost.
But it's not necessarily ruined. I guess we'll see.

Yep not watching, not interested anymore. Of all the creepy agenda pushing weirdos I can't stand it's the totalitarian anti-smokers who are the worst. I don't even smoke, but I hate those self-righteous control freaks so much I would hate to give them a victory.

Well, it's a death sentence for this series - for me. Why will I bother watching something if it will lose one of the moth recognizable elements of its image? It's like making a Doom movie without demons... Wait, OH SHI...

Somehow, when I saw the headline and the accompanying video screengrab, I was about 90% sure this was going to be about him not emitting smoke when on fire.

K12:

The silly thing is that at least half of those examples are unambiguously putting smoking in a negative light.

Isn't having Constantine smoke a lot and then get cancer a far better anti-smoking message than having him not smoke at all?

Do NBC allow lung cancer awareness adds on their channel?

You know what it reminds me of?

The Comic Code Authority. They once self-governed comic books as well, and they had similar rules that you could not portray drugs or drug use in comics at all. Stan Lee, however, wanted to tell an ANTI-drug story to help keep kids off of drugs, but the CCA denied him, telling him that even anti-drug messages violated their zero-tolerance stance on drugs in comics.

Stan Lee basically said "screw it" and released the comic without their permission and without their stamp of approval.

image

The story broke grounds, crippled the CCA's power and influence, and got its message across.

How strange to see a comic book character, nearly thirty years later, finding themselves facing similar issues on network TV.

zinho73:

Kahani:

BrotherRool:
The thing is, most people have a strong disposition against being a cannibalistic serial killer whereas it's not out of the bounds of possibility that someone may indeed take up a cigarette. The tobacco companies used to pay heavily to make all the cool characters in films chain smokers and it totally worked. They managed to create the perception that spending money buying their products was cool, when they were already bribing researchers to bury the health risks. There have probably been few more effective advertising campaigns than that one to be honest, they created a whole genre of cinema where chain smoking was meant to be a character trait.

I think these restrictions on the portrayal of smoking are effective to. I don't know about where you are but in the UK smoking has a pretty big stigma attached to it nowadays when it used to be the opposite way round. Now people do the apologetic face when they tell you they smoke. The public ban helped* that to because there are few sights more sad than seeing someone stand outside in a shelter during the rain because they'll get twitchy otherwise, but the TV restrictions and advertising restrictions helped.

Sure, but there's a big difference between "Tobacco company paying to advertise smoking" and "Main character is dying of lung cancer because of smoking". If your aim is to put people off smoking, banning even negative portrayal really doesn't make sense.

That said, there's probably a much better argument to be made for such a ban on the grounds of actor health. Even if the actor is already a smoker themselves, forcing them to smoke a load more for their job is surely going to open you up to all kinds of suing if they actually do end up getting cancer.

The health of the actor is actually a very good argument. In a series, the guy would be forced to smoke a lot. They could CGI the smoking but this would not be very reasonable.

I'm with you about Constantine: he would be portraying smoking as a bad thing and it is nonsensical to prohibit that.

The health of the actor would be a very good argument if there weren't already plenty of alternatives. I did a film gig once where a lot of the characters smoked, and props had sourced dozens of packs of 'herbal' cigarettes that contained zero nicotine, tar and other nasties and had no disagreeable effects whatsoever besides tasting like ass. I think they were mostly derived from rose petals and marshmallow leaves.

So, yeah. This just comes back to the networks putting dubious health arguments in front of artistic integrity (I say dubious because there's not gonna be a whole lot of non-smokers rushing off to light up after watching a show about a cancerous supernatural detective).

I actually think this is a very good idea. Let's face it -- young people are affected by what they see on TV, and if they see John smoking they might start to believe that not everybody who smokes is a horrible, horrible person. And we couldn't have that, now could we?

Kameburger:
Yep not watching, not interested anymore. Of all the creepy agenda pushing weirdos I can't stand it's the totalitarian anti-smokers I can't stand. I don't even smoke, but I hate those self-righteous control freaks so much I would hate to give them a victory.

Who's to say it's the totalitarian anti-smokers pushing an agenda here? Wouldn't showing a character who smokes and suffers the very real consequences of it be a stronger anti-smoking message than not showing smoking at all? Perhaps maybe the tobacco companies would rather no smoking at all than showing that, or more likely it's just NBC not wanting to do anything "risky" or piss off the wrong people either way.

Eclipse Dragon:

Kahani:

That said, there's probably a much better argument to be made for such a ban on the grounds of actor health. Even if the actor is already a smoker themselves, forcing them to smoke a load more for their job is surely going to open you up to all kinds of suing if they actually do end up getting cancer.

zinho73:

The health of the actor is actually a very good argument. In a series, the guy would be forced to smoke a lot. They could CGI the smoking but this would not be very reasonable.

I'm with you about Constantine: he would be portraying smoking as a bad thing and it is nonsensical to prohibit that.

I'm sure they have cost effective ways of preserving the health of the actor, just because he'd be portraying a smoker, doesn't mean he'd actually be smoking, fake cigarettes with cgi smoke, or prop cigarettes that let out water vapor, give them a little credit, special effects have come a long way.

I'm more interested in the moral discussion surrounding the whole thing. That it's bad to show smoking of any kind period, even though it's showing the negative consequences. Would kids really buy cigarettes if their favorite character was smoking them and had cancer because of it? It's not as if it's being portrayed as a cool thing and people should do it. Is it really a good thing to pretend smoking just doesn't happen? It's certainly not realistic[1] and takes away a vital character flaw.

---
Also
Good Smoking, Evil Smoking

Y'know they have herbal cigarettes for non-smoking actors with smoking parts

[1] Whether that's okay in a series like Hellblazer is a different discussion.

zinho73:
The health of the actor is actually a very good argument. In a series, the guy would be forced to smoke a lot. They could CGI the smoking but this would not be very reasonable.

Given that there exist personal vaporizers (so called e-cigs) that are approximately the same size as a regular cigarette (and with some money and effort you could probably manufacture one that looks exactly like an actual cigarette) and you can load those up with fluid that doesn't contain nicotine, I'm not sure actor health is a real issue.

Disappointing but by no means surprising. I can't wait to start hearing about all the things that are going to be cut from the AMC series based on Preacher.

Eclipse Dragon:
I'm more interested in the moral discussion surrounding the whole thing. That it's bad to show smoking of any kind period, even though it's showing the negative consequences. Would kids really buy cigarettes if their favorite character was smoking them and had cancer because of it? It's not as if it's being portrayed as a cool thing and people should do it. Is it really a good thing to pretend smoking just doesn't happen? It's certainly not realistic and takes away a vital character flaw.

I actually kinda liked how in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo you have all these characters just puffing away. It was like seeing an old friend again. It's also nice to see that, yes, people do in fact have bad habbits, one of which is smoking.

Also, and I'm sure people will look down on me for saying this, but smoking is just plain cool. I can't explain why exactly, but there's an undeniable coolness factor to it. This doesn't mean I like smoking in real life, but on film it just works - Kinda like guns. I remember playing the first episode of The Wolf Among Us, seeing Bigby light up and thinking 'Aww yeah, you smoke that sucker, pal!' There's a devil may care attitude to it that can really punctuate a character. And the image of a grizzled guy lighting up is classic noir.

Stupid change or stupid reason behind the change, cant really tell.

With the stuff like CGI and e-cigs(that can produce steam instead or smoke) it shouldnt be too expensive.

So better reason behind it would be "smoking kills and kids like to copy their hero"? While that could be true it also breaks character to some extent, Max Payne is a drug addict and i dont recall anybody doing it. Several 90s shows or movies showed a lot of "bad" stuff too like drugs, guns , gore and other bad role models and things never seemed to get out of hand.

Most of my friends that i know started smoking because of peer-pressure or because they related with other kids that were bad influences, not because their hero did it, in fact i know people who started drinking because their father had a driking problem and usually ended up hurting their kids or wife.

Casual Shinji:
[quote="Eclipse Dragon" post="7.854002.21136415"]
Also, and I'm sure people will look down on me for saying this, but smoking is just plain cool. I can't explain why exactly, but there's an undeniable coolness factor to it. This doesn't mean I like smoking in real life, but on film it just works - Kinda like guns. I remember playing the first episode of The Wolf Among Us, seeing Bigby light up and thinking 'Aww yeah, you smoke that sucker, pal!' There's a devil may care attitude to it that can really punctuate a character. And the image of a grizzled guy lighting up is classic noir.

That has more to do with what the element portraits.

Guns usually represent power while smoking usually show a person that is calm and generaly has the upper hand.

Just my 0.02 on the smoking, how would they showcase it in positive light considering Dangerous Habits? Regardless if the show actually goes there, which is still up in the air considering this is network.

Casual Shinji:
I actually kinda liked how in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo you have all these characters just puffing away. It was like seeing an old friend again. It's also nice to see that, yes, people do in fact have bad habbits, one of which is smoking.

Also, and I'm sure people will look down on me for saying this, but smoking is just plain cool. I can't explain why exactly, but there's an undeniable coolness factor to it. This doesn't mean I like smoking in real life, but on film it just works - Kinda like guns. I remember playing the first episode of The Wolf Among Us, seeing Bigby light up and thinking 'Aww yeah, you smoke that sucker, pal!' There's a devil may care attitude to it that can really punctuate a character. And the image of a grizzled guy lighting up is classic noir.

It's cool because tobacco companies put years and years of advertising into making it look that way, it's interesting to see the power these companies once commanded and the cultural influence it had. I'm though, way too young to talk about that with any idea of what I'm talking about, to me it's this long, distant thing, a day and age in which is was okay to show Fred Flintstone advertising cigarettes like he does Fruity Pebbles.

Although it's bad history, it's still history and I'm not sure how I feel about the portrayal of bad things being completely wiped from media as if they never happened. The fact that I only know vaguely of the influence as if it was a footnote in a history book is frightening, this is the world my parents grew up in, it's also a part of film history and that old adage of course "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it".

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