Thank government interact to influence the choices consumers

 

Thank
You for Smoking does a great job showing the role of lobbying, bribery, unethical
marketing and government interference in business. It also portrays the
effectiveness of argument and the art of “spin” – communicating an idea, or
product in this case, in a way that changes
the way people are likely to perceive it. Spin is a special skill that the main
character, Nick Naylor, has perfected.  Lobbying
plays a huge impact on the regulations and laws that are passed for variety of
categories.  Though about the cigarette
industry, the message of this movie generalizes with so many industries. This
film also does a great job presenting how business, media and the government
interact to influence the choices consumers make.

Lobbying
skills are essential for a businessman to have. These skills can be defined as
persuasion, negotiation and being diplomatic and respectable in what one says
and how he presents it. Though lobbying, like bribery and unethical marketing,
can be put as shrewd tactics, they are essential to promote a company or
industry and its product. At times, companies will also go to extreme extents
to obtain publicity, like leveraging on the kidnapping in the film. In the
film, Naylor gets kidnapped by extremist who cover him in nicotine patches and
nearly kill him. When he wakes up in the hospital the doctor tells him that cigarettes
saved his life, because no nonsmoker would have survived with that much
nicotine in their body. He later spins this statement and uses it as a positive
statement when interviewed by the media. The company uses the kidnapping as
good publicity and an attempt to gain sympathy. This is a perfect example of
how often public figures and the press attempt to use events, good or bad, in their
advantage to gain sympathy and support for their cause. This is a very common
practice in both business and politics, and even for actor and actresses in Hollywood.

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The
film depicts the very real idea of bribery in business. Nick Naylor, the lobbyist
for the tobacco company, pays a visit to the old Marlboro Man, who is dying
from lung cancer. Naylor brings a brief case full of money to bribe the sick
man to stay quiet about the health problems tobacco has caused him. Naylor uses
his negotiation skills to convince the man to keep all the cash. This scene
does a fantastic job bringing up the unethical use of bribery in the business
world. Bribery may be unethical; however, it is a tactic used in the business
world to safeguard a company’s stance over its competitors.

The
film also briefly touches base on the nature of unethical marketing to children
and other audiences.  In an attempt to
make it seem like Naylor doesn’t want kids and teens smoking he says that he doesn’t
want the teenager with lung cancer to die, because then they lose a customer. With
this statement, Naylor has gone from hated to loved with an easy play on
emotion.  Cigarette packaging is aimed at
teens with the bright colors and characters such as “Joe Camal.”  That is
why Senator Ortolan Finistirre wants to make it mandatory that all the packages
have skull and crossbones on them to indicate that the substances within are
poisonous. Towards the end of the movie, in front of congress, Naylor states
that most people know that cigarettes can be dangerous, and the Senator rebuttal’s
that the skull and crossbones will be on the package for those who don’t, like
children.  The notion that the tobacco
companies are marketing to children definitely touches on the idea of unethical
marketing. I believe that it is unethical to exploit the fact that children do
not understand that the substances within are harmful and that teenagers at a
young age simply do not care and become addicted, so that by the time they do
start to care about their health, they cannot stop smoking. Going along with
the use of marketing in the cigarette industry, Naylor knows that smoking isn’t
seen publicly as it used to be and convinces his boss that cigarette smoking
needs to been seen as cool again, and the way to do that is to incorporate them
back into Hollywood movies. Movies use to portray smoking as luxurious and glamorous;
this suggests such marketing tactics as product placement in films.  

As
mentioned above, the tobacco company was also faced with the problem of
governmental interference. The senator wants the symbol for poison on every
pack of cigarettes to help inform the public about the harmful effects of
smoking. For a long time, tobacco companies would ignore the effects of smoking
and claim that there was no scientific evidence proving the dangers. When Naylor
testified in front of congress he agreed that cigarettes are harmful however,
said that the people should have a right to choose without government interference.
I agree with Naylor, I don’t think the government should be able to interfere
with personal choices especially if the dangers are clearly knowledgeable. Government
interference presents itself in many industries, such as the three presented in
the film: alcohol, guns, and tobacco.

Nick
Naylor often uses deliberative arguments to get his points across. This can be
seen a lot in the closing scene at the hearing in front of the congressional
committee. Naylor argues that people should not be influenced by poison symbols
on packaging and be able to make their own decisions. He argues that people
should educated their children and themselves about the harms of smoking, along
with anything potentially harmful. Naylor also does an efficient job of
disguising fallacies as legitimate arguments. He uses fallacies throughout the
film, but in the congress scene he includes faulty analogy, ad hominem, and red
herring. Naylor uses faulty analogy when comparing his companies funding to
Senator Finistirre’s campaign contributions. He utilizes the ad hominem fallacy
when he suggests putting warning labels on products such as cars, airplanes,
and even cheddar cheese. This is Naylor’s attempt to convince the audience that
cigarettes aren’t the only dangerous products on the market. He claims that if
we’re going to label one harmful product why not label them all. At this point
Naylor has clearly won the approval of the audience.

Clearly
in the film, Nick Naylor’s lobbying, bribery, unethical marketing, deliberative
argument and spin skills get him much further than they would in reality. In
reality, government influence plays a huge role in industries like tobacco and
likely always will. Cigarette packaging does contain a surgeon general warning stating
the products harmful effects that reads, “SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, and May
Complicate Pregnancy. SURGEON
GENERAL’S WARNING: Quitting Smoking Now
Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health.” This warning has not always been
printed on cigarette packaging, in fact, congress required that all cigarette
packages in the United States have this warning in 1965. I believe if congress also
wanted to add the skull and crossbones symbol to the packaging, it would hold
up in court against big tobacco companies, as the surgeon general’s warning
did. Nick Naylor comes out on top in this film because he grows to be a very
likable character. You can see his progression throughout the film from a heartless
big tobacco spokesman who will say anything to get you to believe his point, to
a caring father who is looking out for the best interest in his son.  

Movies
such as Thank You for Smoking play a major role on how society portrays a certain
topic, which I find ironic because in this film Nick Naylor stresses the
importance of thinking for yourself. Films such as this do play a role in
propaganda without the knowledge of the public. However, this film does give
off a bad stereotype for lobbyist and PR representatives. Although Naylor is
portrayed as a sleazy lobbyist throughout the film, we do see him find his morals
and make a turnaround at the end when he denies the job offer.  Though this film is a satire, it does a great
job of outlining the tactics used in business and politics mentioned
throughout. 

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