Hollywood vs. The Cigar Industry

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Hollywood vs. The Cigar Industry

Movies and CigarsThis 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.

enjoying cigars since 1997

10 thoughts on “Hollywood vs. The Cigar Industry

  1. This is just further evidence that if you are not a conservative-leaning person when you start smoking cigars, you will eventually become one. The author of this well written post seems, please excuse me, a bit surprised by Hollywood’s loathing of cigars. Not only are cigars in the tobacco family (which liberals are out to eradicate like Polio) but cigar smoking is a very masculine pastime, representative of a day when “good ole boys” [read: white men] ran the world. The more pervasive that cigar smoking becomes, the more hellbent on demonizing cigars the liberals become.

    A liberal friend of mine was appalled to learn that I try to buy from cigar retailers that send cigars to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. You should have seen the look of revulsion that crossed his face as he asked, “why would you go out of your way to do business with people who are trying to kill the troops”? Sometimes I want to ask him the same question.

  2. Don’t forget Hollywood’s depiction of La Cosa Nostra. Cigars and this society are virtually synonymous.

  3. I think Hollywood probably does care what the public wants, because the public pays for the tickets and DVDs. Same for the cigar industry. It’s just that as cigar smokers we simply have better taste 🙂

  4. If Hollywood really cared about what the public wants, they would make more of the movies the public wants to see. The movies that put butts in the seats are ones with positive messages where the good guys win. Or family movies that get the whole family to the theater. One needs only to look at the declining box office receipts and the success of family films (as well of the lack of success of “message films” like that that have been offered up about Iraq) to see that Hollywood does not care enough about what we want.

  5. Thanks for the compliments guys, this one almost wrote itself!

    I’m inclined to agree with Kevn D. Korenthal, Hollywood is less interested in giving us what we want and more interested in providing us with what we should want. And when we take our business elsewhere, they lament what a bunch of stupid hayseed hicks we are that we don’t watch. (And then blame pirates for losses in revenue!)

    Sorry if I came off as “surprised”. I avoid getting into politics any more than necessary. Real cigar smokers can be found in all political groups. I think my diplomacy comes across as surprise. LOL

    Anyway, Hollywood could learn a lot from the cigar industry. You give your customers what you want without being patronizing, and you’ll find business is good, even in tough times.

  6. “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.”

    Actually, some of my favorite movies ARE subtitled foreign movies, for precisely the reason that Hollywood didn’t have a chance to ruin them. 🙂

  7. Brian, I agree with the context of your message and I have no love lost for most of the Hollywood set. But, I don’t blame the stars at all for avoiding fans. It’s not really fair to equate cigar lovers who know how to act in the presence of cigar industry icons to completely irrational fanatics who obsess with the lives and most mundane activities of movie stars. Those people are scary and dangerous and the stars know it. Movie stars have been stalked and killed by nuts out of touch with reality. I know Rocky Patel has done some cute, tongue-in-cheek “reality” videos about his office, but no one looks at Rocky and says, “If I can’t have you, no one can.” Guys like Rocky who are icons in the industry make themselves accessible to their fans because they know they can with relative safety and security.

    I also found Kevin’s comment about most cigar smokers as being either conservative going in or converting once they’ve been involved for a while. I’d invite him to visit my local B&M any night this year after a presidential primary and hear some of the comments. The core regulars are very liberal. I have to bite my tongue or just keep a cigar in my mouth to keep from starting a riot most of the time.

  8. That was great Brian!! Loved it!! When it comes to Hollywood Vs the tobacco industry, I always think of the Southpark episode, “Butt out.” If everyone hasnt seen it, watch it. You can find it on the internet for free. It is so great!! You may not like Southpark, but it is a great episode.

  9. While I agree with what has been said about Hollywood’s negative take and equally negative projection on many of the values most of us seem to share, let me take a brief departure and ask if anyone has been following the John Adams series on HBO. A Tom Hanks production (not your typical Hollywoodite) of a David McCullough book (also not a Hollywoodite), nearly every episode shows our hero, played by Paul Giamatti as the 2nd President of these United States enjoying, probably, a home grown stogie in several scenes. I found it particularly gratifying to watch this true-to-history detail depicted so faithfully.

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