The latest salvo in theTruth.com's ongoing anti-smoking campaign is "Fair Enough", a mock-sitcom supposedly based on actual Big Tobacco brainstorming sessions. Here's the transcript of one episode (available on the website) about an idea to market cigarettes to black people. I've omitted the laugh tracks.
SUPER: This episode of Fair Enough is based on a 1990 Big Tobacco proposal.Okay, I'll concede that the conversation is funny in a white-men-can't-rap kind of way. But is there anything especially damning about the content of this meeting? Is something unethical about the tobacco companies thinking of marketing their product to (gasp!) minorities? Keep in mind that with other products, company executives get chastised for failing to target minorities. For example, the NAACP issues a report each year on the insufficient number of minority characters on television shows. Marketing to minorities is a sign of minorities' inclusion in the larger economy. And if marketing campaigns try to account for their differing economic conditions, so much the better.
CUT TO SEVERAL BUSINESSMEN SITTING AT A TABLE
EXECUTIVE: We've talked about targeting young adults and women. What about a cigarette targeting inner-city blacks. Any ideas?
MAN 1: Blacks have less money. Let's offer a 10-pack.
MAN 2: Perhaps we could utilize the popularity of "rap" music.
EXECUTIVE: (using air quotes) "Rap" music, yes.
MAN 1: We should call them "Fat Boys." [The Fat Boys were a rap group popular in the late 1980s. -- GW]
EXECUTIVE: Yes, yes.
MAN 3: How about this: (reading from his notepad) "You know you're cool, you know you're the man, when you've got a Fat Boy in your hand."
FADE TO BLACK.
SUPER: It would be funny if it weren't true.
But when it comes to cigarettes, marketing to blacks is suddenly a bad thing. Now, I'm sure the folks at theTruth.com would love to ban cigarette marketing entirely. But is it somehow worse to market to blacks? The implication is that blacks are less capable than whites of evaluating the risks of smoking and making a wise personal decision. Need I even mention how incredibly patronizing this attitude is? Other "Fair Enough" episodes lampoon the tobacco companies' plans for targeting young people. Implicitly, then, theTruth.com equates blacks with children. Given the Executive's first line in the transcript, I wonder if they feel the same way about women.