We all know smoking is bad (mmkay, kids?), but now the very idea of even looking at a cancer stick is something HBO Max is apparently trying to put an end to.
It was recently discovered that HBO Max has completely removed the implication of smoking—that is, cigarettes and cigars—from the accompanying artwork on certain films. The two glaring examples right now are for Robert Altmans McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) and John Milius’ The Life and Times of Judge Roy Beanas seen in the tweet below:
Of course, it’s going to take a hell of a lot more from HBO Max than removing cigarettes and cigars from the hands of Warren Beatty and Paul Newman to make them uncool. Although now it looks like Beatty is trying to give a lecture and Newman is twirling his mustache like a creepy cartoon villain.
It should be noted that not all the key art of smoking has been changed. For example, Jack Nicholson is still holding a cigarette in the 1990s The two Jakes.
There is generally nothing wrong with promoting a healthier lifestyle, but by removing smoking, HBO Max is also now enforcing a new act that needs to be called up. By taking something away from the artwork, they are taking away from the artists and even the films themselves. Altering their work (with or without permission; this remains unclear) seems a harmful act not only to the artists (the great Richard Amsel among them), but changes the immediate perception of what can be expected.
HBO Max has not yet commented on the situation.
What do you think of this decision by HBO Max to remove implications of smoking from some important art?