Thursday, July 5, 2018

Over-smoked: the miracle of Marlboro








                                                                                   

The "miracle", of course, is that these ads were allowed to run at all. They have a bizarre beauty to them, a sort of otherworldliness which I HOPE reflects how much attitudes have changed.

Or not?

CAN attitudes change on a sort of mass level? If they don't, where are we headed? Will this be a slow process, or will we all too quickly plunge headlong into the abyss ?

I grew up in the '60s, when anything seemed possible. Civil rights, women's lib, enlightenment towards the disabled and mentally ill, hope for the poor and marginalized.

What has happened to all that passion and progress?

I feel a great sucking force dragging us backwards. It's not a simple matter of  being "over-smoked". The news is becoming more intolerable by the day. When I was a kid, shows like The Twilight Zone were already trying to tell us how intolerable it would be to live in a world run by technology.

There was also this recurring theme of political oppression, a leftover from the Second World War when Fascism came terrifyingly close to achieving world domination. 

Is political oppression winning now? Don't ask me, I'm not political, but I do care. I suppose it's too late for me, but I care about the sort of world my grandchildren will inherit.

So the point of all this rambling is: should I have hope? In a few short decades, these cute ads showing babies selling cigarettes became distasteful, then shocking, then completely unacceptable. Having been normalized and even considered a social necessity, cigarettes became heavily stigmatized and thrust outside the bounds of acceptability. Compared to the usual rate of social change, all this happened at light speed.

Can this happen with other things? I mean, right now? WILL it happen, and what will be our fate if it doesn't? The ruthless unravelling of all the passionate progress I've ever seen is  breaking my heart. Our chains are being buckled back on, and it looks like there's nothing we can do about it. It's over, that great experiment in social enlightenment which (supposedly) changed everything. 

Isn't it? Tell me it isn't - I will take any good news I can get.


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