Thank You for Not Smoking





Thank You for Not Smoking

The movie, Thank You for Not Smoking, comprises a dark comedy, which follows Nick Naylor, a lobbyist for the tobacco sector in the United States. Portrayed by Aaron Eckhart, Naylor engages the audience into a discourse of the issues involving smoking. Written and seemingly directed by Jason Reitman, the motion picture adopts the mentioned serious topic and turns into a topic for sarcasm and satire. Nonetheless, the major focus of the film analysis involves the elucidation of the ideologies present. Apart from its sarcastic overtones, the movie reveals certain principles, which are rather influential especially to the audience. Therefore, an ideological analysis of the film will involve assessing the fight between good and evil and the freedom of choice, which undergo exploration throughout the movie.

The Ideology of Good versus Evil

An ideology comprises a collection of significant convictions, opinions, and values, which shape the understanding of an individual. Several disparate ideologies are evident in Thank You for Not Smoking, but the dominant one comprises the tussle between good and evil. In the modern society, individuals tend to connect the use of tobacco to evil and thus, view non-users are morally acceptable. However, in the film, such roles undergo a major reversal. The makers of the motion picture switch the moral and immoral guys by setting Nick Naylor as a caring and trustworthy person based on the way he conveys his arguments with confidence and the manner he exhibits his affection for his son (Thank You for Smoking). Accordingly, the audience views Naylor as good regardless of his support for a commodity that murders 5.4 billion individuals annually on average (Wand 43).

In contrast to Naylor, Senator Finistirre undergoes perception as a villain due to his insufficient eloquence and his obsession with the issue of smoking. However, he is considerably aware of the tobacco’s life threatening implications, which influence him to engage in a consistent battle for a healthy and smoke-free America (Thank You for Smoking). From this comparison between both characters, one would expect the film to brand Finistirre as a good person and Naylor as the bad one. However, the concept of good undergoes portrayal via Naylor. With the way in which he speaks and the manner he exudes love for his son, the film influences the audience to view this particular character as the tragic hero. Because of this, the Senator is viewed as the bad person due to his lack of expressiveness irrespective of his significant concerns regarding the mentioned issue and its negative effects on people.

The Ideology of Free Choice

Another doctrine present within the film involves the freedom of choice. Consequently, this tenet is evident in the society based on the way people engage in various activities. It influences individuals since it allows them to participate in anything they desire since they have the will to do so and the autonomy to engage in such (Mill 75). In Thank You for Not Smoking, Nick Naylor supports this doctrine by encouraging individuals to smoke in spite of the negative effects that smoking imposes on consumers such as cancer (Thank You for Smoking). Nevertheless, this is not what he believes. Indeed, Nick tells people that smoking is not dangerous and thus, it is useless to quit such an act. However, his words are untrue based on his personal convictions, which do not have the authority to restrict any person from engaging in their preferred activities while aware of the consequences (Thompson 56).

Moreover, Nick also asserts that he may buy a pack of cigarettes for his son after he has educated him on the dangers of tobacco (Thank You for Smoking). Accordingly, Naylor offers to forgo the life of his son on smoking, which interweaves free choice with the consumption of a commodity (Thompson 56). From this, it is probably better for Joey to smoke and pass away rather than lose the liberty to decide the product that he is willing to purchase and consume. Based on this presumption, it is evident that the film propels people to embrace the freedom of choice. Such an ideology is important since it allows persons to express their rights without infringement from the government. Hence, in overview, the motion picture asks, If you do not possess the freedom to purchase and consume what you prefer, provided that the law allows you to and that you are capable of affording it, then what meaningful autonomy do you really have?


In conclusion, the motion picture in question reflects on certain ideologies, which are present in the modern society. The film, as a way of evoking a response, satirizes these convictions by establishing a controversial ground for discourse among the audience. By focusing on the battle between good and evil and the doctrine of free choice, the movie illustrates the extent to which good acts largely undergo portrayal as immoral and the manner in which the freedom of choice innate within individuals can be under infringement. Therefore, the film acknowledges the manner in which the pursuit for morality, via legal means, may actually impose a restrictive effect on the people’s right to exercise their choices without restriction. Undeniably, Thank You for Smoking tends to be satirical and funny, but at the same time, explores societal issues in a serious manner.



Works Cited:

Mill, John Stuart. Utilitarianism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.

Thank You for Smoking. Dir. Jason Reitman. Perf. Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, Cameron Bright, Adam Brody. Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2005. DVD.

Thompson, Stacy. “Consumer Ethics in Thank You for Smoking.” Film-Philosophy 13.1 (2009): 53-67.

Wand, Kelly. Tobacco and Smoking. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. Print.

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