Smoking Libertarian: Thank You For Truthiness

Jason ReitmanThe Telegraph has a good expose of Jason Reitman, the libertarian director behind Thank You For Smoking:

[H]e describes his politics as “libertarian”.

As a Canadian citizen, he is not a member of either American party. “But I have a problem with both of them. The Democrats want to tell me how to spend my money and the Republicans want to tell me who to pray to.

“Americans have become hysterical in their mania for telling other people how to live, but I’m someone who wants personal choice and responsibility. And what amazed me when I went on a college tour across the US with my film was how much students related to Nick Naylor.”

The movie continues to smoulder nicely at the American box office, suggesting that many others share the sentiments.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, as I actually thought the wry humor might have been pointed back at the smoker’s right crowd, but my curiosity is piqued now that it seems this may be more of a personal responsibility flick than one that merely preaches anti-smoking rhetoric at the audience.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

9 Comments
  1. I saw the film a few days ago; good flick! Even though, initially, the humor seems to be against the tobacco industry, in the end, both corporations, the government, and ourselves are all held accountable for our own actions. The film is remarkably unbiased.

    I highly recommend it!

  2. I saw the movie when it came out and loved it. Great scenes include the MOD squad at their local watering hole discussing the day’s business. The end of the film perfectly defends individual freedom and responsibility.

    Like “V for Vendetta”, this one is a see over and over and then buy the video too kind of movie.

  3. I would also highly recommend the movie. The only problem with it was it made the gun guy out to be the stereotypical gun nut. Not to mention the fact that he was carrying a handgun in DC which is illegal to the thousandth power (although shouldn’t be).

  4. Funny that the MOD squad focused on ATF though, huh? Alcohol, Tobacco and Gun lobbyists as best drinking buddies. I do think that I could drink the Ms. Booze Lobby under the table though.

  5. I agree with Chance. At first it seems like the main character (Nick Naylor, a tobacco industry lobbyist) is being parodied. But at the end of the movie, he gives a short speech that made me proud to be a libertarian.

    I think this strategy for the movie works well; most people seeing the movie are hip liberalish people who probably come into the movie despising the tobacco industry (so the movie initially agrees with them), but hopefully by the end of the movie they’re more open-minded with respect to individual liberty and personal choice.

  6. Haven’t seen the movie, but I read the book several years ago. The book is the same way — you think the main character is being parodied, and then he gets attacked with the nicotine patches and the whole thing changes.

    Seems like they stayed pretty close to the book.

  7. I saw it last week. Most well-written stories are about the journey from slavery to freedom, though often the slavery is self-imposed.

    This character moves about freely. When he gets into trouble (boxed in) he gets out of it by acting freely (reminds me of Loretta Nall). I saw it with a very liberal, health-conscious, California audience, and they laughed the laugh of recognition whenever he made a good common sense point about choice even though it was in defense of smoking. I imagine this movie will turn teens off smoking while simultaneously encouraging the jury pool to put responsibility on smokers.

    I don’t remember anyone smoking in the film, but there was sex, alcohol and guns.

  8. It’s a beautiful film. *All* of the characters are morally dubious, from Nick Naylor, the tobacco industry spokesman, to the journalist doing a story on him, to Senator Finnistere, the Senate leader on an anti-smoking crusade. Everyone gets a well-deserved ribbing, although it’s the tobaccco lobbyist you end up sympathizing with in the end…

    And Sandra is right. There’s not a single instance of a person smoking a cigarette in the *entire* film.

  9. I saw an advance showing and then insisted others see it with me again because it was so good. Advocates of personal choice should dig this flick.

    Oh, and nice tee Stephen.