Monday, 4 July 2011

My best friend went to Mauritius and all he brought me back was this lousy anti-smoking picture

Johann recently visited Mauritius and returned a chastened man. Not only because he had to keep up with The Indestructible Wife and their equally mad friend, A (two women who put the ‘rave’ in ‘depraved’), but also because the anti-smoking warnings on the cigarette boxes there are specifically designed to scare the hedonism clean out of you.

This picture* of a diseased heart in situ appeared on the carton of Dunhill he bought, and the pics on the packets themselves are equally terrifying. (Click here for an interesting story about the USA’s FDA’s decision to follow suit. But if you’re a smoker, you might want to light up first – you’ll need to calm your nerves.)

The recent history of the rise and fall of the cigarette is almost a modern parable about morality, and nowhere is this more obvious than on the endless (and I mean endless) repeats of 1970s, ’80s and ’90s movies we’re subjected to on poor-man’s DStv.**

In the 1970s and early ’80s, as seen on TV, everyone smoked – indeed, it wasn’t unusual to see a movie doctor in a hospital, delivering bad news to a woman (with big hair, shoulder pads and blue eyeshadow) in the waiting room, and offering her a cigarette as solace. Also, the good guys – both men and women – were seldom seen without a fag in hand at some point during the movie, giving added credence to the term ‘smouldering sexuality’.

In the late 1980s and ’90s, smoking started to fall seriously out of fashion. In movies made during this era, only the baddies smoked. In fact, that’s mainly how you could tell, ahead of their dismembering the non-smoking bikini-wearing college sex-kitten with a chainsaw, that they were baddies.

And I’m afraid I can’t comment on what’s happening in TV movies made in the 2000s, because we don’t get those on poor-man’s DStv.

On that subject, I don’t know how DStv station managers (or whatever they’re called) come up with their movie lists, but I assume it’s like this: someone, let’s call him Mr Universal, decides to start up a TV station – one that we who have poor-man’s DStv will get. Along with all the other capital costs, he invests in a modest stock (say, 20) of fifth-rate and/or decades-old and/or Canadian-made-for-TV movies, and these play on endless loops for the entire rest of the lifespan of the TV station, be this one year or one hundred.

Mr Universal also invests in an even smaller stock (say, 10) of ‘fillers’ called ‘Zoom In’ – these are ‘behind-the-scenes’ looks at usually good, mainstream movies that played on the circuit up to 10 years ago (and which, by dint of their very quality, will never, ever be shown on poor-man’s DStv). These are used as time-fillers between scheduled programmes, and it’s not unusual to see the same one several times in one day. This has the markedly double-negative effect of driving you almost out of your mind with boredom, and infuriating you because you know you’ll never actually see the featured movies on poor-man’s DStv.

* Johann didn’t really only bring me this. He also brought me two gorgeous cushion covers.
** Poor-man’s DStv = DStv compact.

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