The Weekly Queue – Thank You For Smoking

Thank You For Smoking (2005)

Think of the most despised corporations in America. Now think about how a person could in good conscience advocate for the rights of those companies to operate. Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) is a lobbyist for a tobacco company. He is the “sultan of spin.” His job is not only to argue that his tobacco company is a legitimate business, but a respectable one. And he does it all in the name of “paying the mortgage.”

How could a movie center itself around a protagonist that has such questionable morals? Well, that’s the genius of Nick Naylor. Even though you as the viewer are told by Naylor that his company is responsible for the death of 1,200 people every day, you still can’t quite resist the ingenius way that he can argue and defend his company. While testifying before a Senate Judiciary Meeting, he is able to turn the accusations against his company on to the Senate member who is interviewing Naylor. He informs the Senator, who is from Vermont, that heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, not cigarettes, and that Vermont is implicated in those deaths because of their production of cholesterol-laden cheese. The Senator falls for this line of red-herring argumentation by exclaiming: “That’s ludicrous – The great state of Vermont will not apologize for its cheese!”

So who does Naylor surround himself with in his personal life? He, along with two other friends, formed the “MOD squad,” an acronym for “Merchants Of Death.” One is Polly Bailey, who works for the Moderation Council, and is credited for getting ” the pope to endorse red wine,” and herself has been a drinker with a tolerance “reserved for Irish dockworkers.” The other member is Bobby Jay Bliss, who is an advocate for firearms. Naylor tells the audience that Bobby was motivated to join the National Guard after the Kent State Shootings, because “he too, [wanted to be able] to shoot college students.” But even these MOD members have their limits. They all concede that clubbing baby seals is “kind of cruel.”

While some of the argumentation that Naylor uses seems as if it would never work its magic in the real world, the spin that he uses whenever he appears in public seems hauntingly familiar. The film obviously revels in being politically incorrect and outrageous, but it presents a not altogether unbelievable account of what must go through the mind of a lobbyist whose job it is to put a positive face on some of the most hated and despised corporations in the world. Naylor uses his family as the justification for his job in the beginning of the film, but towards the film’s close, it comes down to the fact that he believes it is his calling in life. How does Naylor live with himself? Well, “Michael Jordan plays ball. Charles Manson kills people. I talk. Everyone has a talent.”

Thank You For Smoking Movie Trailer