Wrap Your Lips Around It
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Other times it’s a big fat phallic symbol. Just ask this guy. Ditto for cigarettes.
No, there will be no whining today, only a merry trip down a smoky memory lane.
I love the coy innuendo of this ad—it’s three kinds of wrong, all of it delicious.
Yeah, I know, the tobacco industry is too easy a target—they’re everyone’s favorite dead horse. I don’t care. I had a thing for old ads long before Mad Man. Advertising is not about selling a product, but about selling an image. It is designed to make you believe that using the product will make you respectable/cool/ruggedly handsome/etc.
Of course it’s easy to see their falseness from the distance of a couple of decades, and laugh. Today’s advertising isn’t any less ridiculous, though. The industry has always had an unstoppable ability to use whatever going on in the world at the time to its advantage. The “You Came A Long Way, Baby” Virginia Slims ads linking smoking to the feminist movement look as scary as they do clumsy today.
The truth is though, smoking used to be sexy. Bogey and Bacall did it, and so did Marlene Dietrich. And they looked damn hot doing it. I like old movies, and so I’ve seen plenty of smoke curl from lightly parted lips, or dames blow smoke into the faces of tough guys.
In my first book, Hanging Loose, Nate, the narrator, shares my obsession with Classic Hollywood. He even paraphrases a line from Now Voyager. It’s probably one of the best “bad” movies ever made.
Bette Davis plays an ugly-duckling spinster living with her overbearing mother. Her only act of rebellion is smoking in secret. She manages to spend time away from her mother, and it boosts her self-confidence. She meets the married Paul Henreid and they fall in love. The also light up a lot—at this point cigarettes become a substitute for all the sex they’re not having. There’s some melodrama, and then they end up together. Sort of. The times being what they are, it has to be a platonic relationship. In the final scene they stand in a window and Bette utters one of the corniest lines in film history: Oh, Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars.
Paul Henreid (Jerry) lights up two cigarettes and hands one to her. Ssssmoking!
It would’ve been healthier if they’d chucked the ciggies and got down to bonking, but it would’ve lacked a certain cinematic finesse, I must admit.
So what do you think, lung cancer and emphysema aside, is smoking sexy or not?
Check back on Friday for a giveaway of Hanging Loose, which has no smoking—well, not of tobacco, anyway—but plenty of bonking.
Under a prickly, cynical surface Lou Harper is an incorrigible romantic. Her love affair with the written word started at a tender age. There was never a time when stories weren’t romping around in her head. She is currently embroiled in a ruinous romance with adjectives. In her free time Lou stalks deviant words and feral narratives.
Lou’s favorite animal is the hedgehog. She likes nature, books, movies, photography, and good food. She has a temper and mood swings.
Lou has misspent most of her life in parts of Europe and the US, but is now firmly settled in Los Angeles and worships the sun. However, she thinks the ocean smells funny. Lou is a loner, a misfit, and a happy drunk.