This is not about Hollywood attacking the cigar industry, as the title may imply. It probably should be. There undoubtedly is a strong, anti-cigar bias in movies. To quote the Editor’s Note in the latest edition of Cigar Press magazine:
Pop culture is largely responsible for defining and creating a negative image of the quintessential “cigar guy.” Until now, we have been depicted by a slew of horrible traits: arrogant, hot-tempered, wealthy, greedy, insensitive, sexist, and that just skims the surface.
While I disagree that having wealth is a “horrible trait” (I plan to actually accumulate a bit myself one day), I absolutely agree with the sentiment. When was the last time you a character in a movie smoke a cigar when he hadn’t just committed some mortal sin or broken the law? But let’s save this this discussion for another time. (I know, I’m such a tease.)
What I am talking about is how surprisingly similar and at the same time very dissimilar both the movie and cigar industries are. Both have their stars. Both are the subject of reviews, speculation and gossip. Both industries are actively trying to affect politics and legislation. Both inspire fanatical fans. And ten bucks in either industry can buy you two hours of entertainment (or two hours of nausea in some cases). It’s surprising how much alike they are when you think about it. But what’s far more telling is the differences.
You Can Meet The Stars
Unless you happen to be a star yourself, your chances of meeting and having a chat with a Hollywood star are somewhere between slim and none. There are two reasons why. Practically, the ratio of stars to fans is just too heavily skewed toward fans. Even if a celebrity made it their goal to meet a new fan daily, the chances are, you’d still never meet them.
That brings me to the second reason: Hollywood stars just aren’t interested in meeting their fans. Not really. Think about it. When a new movie comes out, where do the stars go to promote it? They go on Letterman or Leno. That’s about as far from the fans as you can get and still be seen. On the other hand, when a cigar manufacturer releases a new cigar, they go right to the cigar shops to meet fans and promote the new stick. Instead of watching Jay Leno ask a set of pre-approved questions, you get to walk right up, shake the cigar celeb’s hand and talk about the subjects that are important to you. Don’t believe me? Check out the cigar events for your area on Cigar Cyclopedia. In no time you could be smoking a Nub with Sam Leccia, or shaking hands with Rocky Patel.
The Cigar Industry Want To Give You What You Want
In my mind, there is no clearer indication that Hollywood doesn’t care what the viewing public wants than the tremendous load of preachy, politically-charged tripe that has been pouring out of the movie houses the past couple of years. In spite of flat-out box office failure, movie after movie that the fans don’t want to see keep bubbling up through the Hollywood muck like noxious gas bubbles in a tar pit.
And again, the cigar industry couldn’t be more different. Cigar enthusiasts clamored for larger ring gauge cigars, and look around, everybody’s got ’em. To the point where it can be difficult to find a smaller cigar to smoke. Recently there has been a lot of interest in the lancero-sized cigars, and guess what. You look around and there’s a sudden increase in lanceros. The same holds true for maduro wrappers, and corojo and ligero tobacco. And who can forget the budget smokers out there? It seems like everyone produces an inexpensive bundled cigar, because that’s what the fans want! And you know what? The cigar manufacturers are able to do this without “compromising their artistic integrity.”
Foreign Films vs. Foreign Cigars
And to end this on a comical note, who here doesn’t like to get their hands on a cigar from a little island south of Miami? And who isn’t a fan of Dominican, Honduran or Nicaraguan tobacco? I happen to enjoy tobacco from Brazil, Ecuador, Cameroon and Sumatra too.
Now who’s up for a subtitled foreign movie? (Excluding Kung Fu movies and British comedies with thick accents, or course.) I rest my case.