Ethical Issues in Thank You for Smoking

Thank you for smoking [Motion picture]. (2006). 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The 2006 comedy/drama motion picture, Thank You for Smoking, features several ethical issues found within both everyday life and the marketing communications field. The film, directed by Jason Reitman, follows the life of Nick Naylor, a public relations professional working for big tobacco companies. Throughout the film, Naylor attempts to defend the tobacco industry and cigarettes as they come under scrutiny due to their alleged health related issues. Additionally, he spends his time out of the public eye attempting to raise his son. After Naylor is kidnapped and nearly killed, he changes his stance on the tobacco industry and the laws regarding cigarettes.

In regards to the ethical issues present within the film, the concepts of transparency and harm are clearly evident. Time and time again, we as the audience observe Naylor spinning the truth about cigarettes and the tobacco industry so as to frame them in a more positive light. In doing so, he withholds various pieces of important and relevant information from the public so as not to alter their perception of cigarettes and their parent tobacco companies in a negative light. For instance, at one point in the film, Naylor goes into his son’s classroom for the school’s “bring a parent in day.” During his time speaking with the children, Naylor lacks transparency as he consistently leaves out how cigarettes are bad for you. At one point, Naylor is even asked by a student if cigarettes are good for people and Naylor answers not with a yes or no but by relating to the kids in a manner that would make them try smoking.

The concept of harm is even more profound throughout the movie. However, some instances are more prominent than others. For example, a clear display of harm can be observed in the harm being done to society and the general consumer. Through Naylor and the big tobacco corporation’s transparency, consumers are not allowed to make an appropriately informed decision about purchasing cigarettes. A less clear example of harm can be seen in the harm being done to Nick Naylor’s son, Joey Naylor. Due to his father’s general dislike from the public and Nick’s antics at Joey’s “bring a parent in day,” Joey is painted in the same light as his father and therefore has his social interests set back because of it.

Ethical Issues of Privacy in Edtv

Howard, R. (Director). (1999). Edtv [Motion picture]. United States of America: Imagine    Entertainment

edtv_poster Edtv is a film that focuses mainly on the issue of privacy in the entertainment industry. The story centers around Ed Pekurny, who was a nobody in his society up until he agrees to have his life recorded and broadcasted to the entire country on a television show called Edtv. Throughout his short-lived television fame, he comes across many ethical issues regarding the privacy of himself and the people around him (Edtv, 1999). This film is a great example of the struggle that reality television stars face when it comes to privacy.

Ed’s issues with privacy begin in the very beginning of his filming, when his drunken brother accidentally spills family secrets about his sister and her boyfriend on the air. Unlike the reality television shows that we are familiar with, the Edtv footage is not edited and everything is shown in real time, so this mistake could not have been taken back (Edtv, 1999). The problems continue as Ed still is not used to the fact that he is living with the camera crew. He shows up at his brother’s apartment to find that his brother is cheating on his girlfriend. This situation is also aired on live television, which creates problems in the relationship between Ed and his brother (Edtv, 1999).

008d50d4 Because Ed had signed a contract to be the star of the television show, his basic right of privacy was taken away from him. The only time that he gets the privilege of privacy is late at night for a couple of hours before he wakes up again in the morning. From the moment he wakes up until he falls asleep everything that he does as well as everything that the people around him do is broadcasted to the nation. This unfortunately, and naturally, creates a strain on his close relationships between his family, his friends, and his girlfriend. It is unnatural to have your life displayed to the public 24/7, and although the personal aspects of Ed’s life were entertaining for a while, the audience soon understood the struggle that he had been put through and were supportive when he decided that this life was too much (Edtv, 1999).

Edtv is different from reality shows that we know because his content was not edited. However, we get to see some sort of truth in the story when we see that the directors and producers begin to dabble in Ed’s life by setting him up in situations without his knowledge just to gain ratings (Edtv, 1999). This is similar to the reality television that we know, where stars are often told what to say or what to do to enhance the story line. Edtv is definitely a dramatic version of what we see on television every day, but it does make the audience think about the rights of privacy that these stars are being deprived of.

How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying: Ethical Analysis

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying [Motion picture]. (1967). USA: Mirisch Corporation.

how to succeed in business

How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying was directed by David Smith and is based on the 1961 musical that is in turn based on the book by Sheperd Mead. The film is based in 1967 corporate America. J. Pierpont Finch is a window washer who buys the book How To Succeed in Business, and by doing so begins to climb the corporate ladder. The tactics in the book are questionable at best but help him rise to chairman of the board. The core ethical dilemma posed by the film is person gain at the expense of others. The book directs J. Pierpont Finch to lie, steal, and pass blame in order to get ahead of his colleagues. Finch, with the help of this ethically questionable book rises from a window washer to vice president of advertising.

Finch uses many unethical tactics in order to rise through the company. In one part he learns that the president of the company is making advances toward a new employee, Finch quickly uses this information to move up in the corporation. The president’s nephew also tries to use this information to his advantage, however in the end Finch beats him to the job of chairman of the board. Using the secrets of others for personal gain is obviously not something to do in personal or professional life.


Finch uses many more of the unethical advice form the book in order to move up in the company. One of the first things he does is talk his way into working in the mailroom, then from there gains the level of executive. This is unethical because Finch stole the job of someone who was more qualified than him. The company was unethical in this situation as well because they were not just in their promotions. Finch is able to move up faster than anyone else, which is not fair to the other employees of the company. Once Finch gains the position of executive he manipulates more employees to get to the top, including the CEO. Finch fakes his hours and pretends to have been working late into the night when he had not. He fakes pulling all nighters in order to look better. Lying is obviously unethical, especially when doing it for personal gain over someone. Finch can also be seen spying on his colleagues throughout the film, which is an obvious unethical invasion of their privacy.

Media Ethics: The Truman Show

the-truman-show-wallpaper-3There are many ethical issues throughout the movie The Truman Show. In regards to media ethics, some of the major issues include private versus public people, transparency and autonomy, and advertising. Truman, who was chosen through an online birth competition, was adopted by the television show and had been followed by people around the world since he was a baby. Through this scenario, Truman was not given the choice to live a public life; he doesn’t even know he is a public figure, prohibiting him to private protections through media law. This also leads to the issue of transparency and autonomy, preventing Truman to be in control of himself and what is being shown on television, as well as the lack of information that he is given, making him believe he is living a normal life. Finally, the not-so-subtle advertising that is thrown in throughout the show is not very transparent to the audience, acting as product placement.

In the opening of the movie, Truman’s wife, who is actually an actress, said, “There is no difference between a private and public life. My life is The Truman Show” (Niccol & Weir). This is representative of Truman’s life as well. This is an ethical issue because Truman was never given the chance to have a private life. This can be similar to the royal baby or a child born to celebrities, however the difference is that these children have autonomy and transparency. They know that they are in the public spotlight; therefore they are able to change the way they act and control the information that they provide to the public. Truman on the other hand does not know that he is on television for everyone to see; he believes he is living a private life. These are important factors to have in a real-life situation, and are the reason something like The Truman Show would never happen in real life.

A less-significant ethical issue in comparison to Truman’s public life without transparency or autonomy is the fake advertising through the movie. The Truman Show actors and actresses used product placement throughout the movie that was very subtle, resulting in little transparency and autonomy for the audience watching. Although the products were not really being advertised to viewers such as myself, they are a good example of the way ads can be presented in films. Some examples of the product placements include the wife’s chef pal from the grocery store, when Marlin and Truman were hanging out on the bridge and Marlin promoted the beer, and the Mococoa that Meryl the wife tried to promote, resulting in Truman exclaiming, “What that hell are you doing? Who are you talking to?” This was followed up with a title screen across the television that said, “Truman drinks Mococoa…” (Niccol & Weir). With the advertisements attempt to blend in with the show, the audience may not realize it is an ad, prohibiting the autonomy of their opinion towards the product, as well as a lack of transparency that what they just saw was an advertisement. Although this happens all of the time in movies with sponsored product placement, it is still an ethical issue that advertisers and film producers must consider.

Niccol, A. (Producer), & Weir, P. (Director). (1998). The Truman Show [Motion Picture].       USA: Universal Studios.

Media ethical issues raised in film, Broadcast News

Broadcast News focuses on the media ethical issues of credibility, experience and education, relationship in the work place, and layoffs. The film really delves into issues pertaining to the work place and what is morally right and wrong in the Broadcast Journalism industry.

Workplace Relationships

During one scene in the movie, people are specifically being asked what they would do when they are faced with a media ethical decision. They are asked: “Would you tell a source that you love them just to get information out of them?” The entire group laughs and says yes, like there is no doubt about it.

This issue not only pertains to sources but work relationships in the newsroom as well. The executive producer, Jane Craig, of the station creates a relationship with the anchor, Tom Grunick. Tom started to flirt with another employee in the newsroom, Jennifer. Jane gets jealous and sends her to Alaska when asked who should be sent on a specific news story.

Although funny for the movie, this can be considered controversial in a real-life work place. Jennifer might not of been qualified enough to go on the assignment and Jane just nominated her right away because she wanted her to be away from Tom.

Education and Experience

This goes along with the next issue brought up in the movie about education and experience. Aaron continually points out how Tom is not qualified for the job, he just has good looks. Tom even points this out himself when he is younger and to Jane who hires him anyway. In the beginning of the movie, Tom talks to his dad and says, “What can you with yourself if all you have is good looks?” He also tells Jane he has no experience or education and can’t write.

During Tom’s first anchoring gig, he needs to be fed information through his earpiece. Aaron continually tries to bring up the fact that he doesn’t know enough for the job. Aaron also quizzes Tom and asks him if even knows all of the cabinet members.

Credibility, Staging

The next issue brought up in the movie and in real-life work places is credibility and staging the news. At the very beginning of the movie when Jane and Aaron are in Nicaragua, she tells the camera man not to tell the people what to do and that they can do whatever they want. They are not here to stage things.

Tom does the opposite of this when he adds in his tears during the date rape interview, which were staged. This was what people really liked about Tom and his interview which really questions his credibility.

This movie can be very relatable to real life, as many of these issues are prevalent in the media industry.

Dangers of The Net

Cowan, R. (Producer), & Winkler, I. (Director). (1995, July 28). The Net [Motion picture]. United States: Comlumbia Pictures Corporation.Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 9.26.15 PM

“Thou shalt not use a computer to steal.”

This is the fourth of the Ten Commandments created by the Computer Ethics Institute. Technology allows users to upload, share, and store a lot of public and personal information. Some may think this information is secure, but what happens when there’s a glitch in the system, or worse a hacker deliberately steals the information?

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 9.26.05 PMIn the 1995 film The Net, Sandra Bullock stars as a computer system analyst that winds up with a security system disc in her possession. This “Gatekeeper” system has a backdoor that allows unauthorized access to important information such as FBI and NY Stock Exchange files. Bullock plays the role of a secluded character that does all of her work and personal operations, such as ordering pizza, from home on her computer. Through a series of life or death events involving cyberterrorists and hit men trying to retrieve the information on the disc, Bullock’s character’s identity is erased from all computer files and is replaced with the identity of a wanted criminal.

The cyber-action thriller provides a lot of examples that demonstrate the harm that can be caused through hacking and stealing information on the Internet. A highly ranked official, that was against using the Gatekeeper security system, committed suicide when he found out “he had HIV”. Turns out it was the work of the hackers that tapped and changed his medical information. Bullock was tricked into spending time with a hit man after the hackers gathered information about her idea of a perfect man from an online chat room. Even though she escaped, her identity, credit cards, and medical history were erased completely.
Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 9.35.03 PMIn these situations, the cyberterrorists are breaking the computer ethic commandment by using computers to steal and create harm. The two characters had their private information tampered with and dealt with harmful consequences. The harm for the official that committed suicide is obvious. He died because of false information, a situation that could have been avoided. Bullock’s character had to deal with trying to regain her identity, the most private and personal thing a person can lose, and avoid being charged for a crime that she did not do.

It is unethical for people to take and use private information, even if it is stored on the web. This brings up questions if information is actually secure on the Internet. People must be careful with what they upload and share. Chris Sims brings up the question, “…if on-demand digital pizza ordering is worth having all of our personal lives stored on computers that can be freely accessed, modified and occasionally even obliterated by anyone with the ability hack a database” (Wired, 2013). Mindlessly entering personal information on the computer may be convenient, but it runs the risk of losing privacy and creating other problems affecting every day life.


Computer Ethics Institute. Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics. Retrieved from

Sims, C. (2013, April 30). What we learned about technology from 1995’s The Net. Wired. Retrieved from

Images taken from:

What Women Want: Ethical Issues


Cartsonis, S., Davey, B., Matthews, G., Meyers, N., & Williams, M. (Producers) & Meyes, N. (Director). (2000, Dec 15). What Women Want [Motion picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures.

In the 2000 film, What Women Want, Mel Gibson plays the character of Nick Marshall, a chauvinistic ladies’ man who acquires the ability to hear women’s thoughts at any given moment. At first, Nick sees this sudden ability as a curse, but is persuaded by a psychiatrist that this is in fact an amazing gift that he should use to his ability. Taking her advice, Nick uses his new gift to get ahead at his job and take down his new boss, Darcy McGuire, by reading her thoughts and using her ideas as his own, ultimately leading to him falling in love with her and ridding himself of the gift altogether. The ethical issues of invasion of privacy and plagiarism are present themes throughout the film.

The main ethical issue present in this film is invasion of privacy. Nick uses his so-called gift to control those around them and manipulate them into thinking that he is the perfect man. He excels at work, performs better with women, and gives advice to them solely based on what they want to hear. This is an extreme invasion of privacy because he is extracting information that he would never be able to get unless the women actually said it out loud to him. Naturally, the women start to question how Nick has become so in touch with their inner thoughts, thinking that he knows them better than anyone ever could. At one point, a woman that Nick sleeps with asks him if he is gay because he is so in touch with her inner thoughts that no other man would ever be able to do what he did.

The issue of plagiarism is also present because Nick takes Darcy’s ideas as his own and uses them to get ahead of her and pitch an ad campaign to the Nike brand. When Nick’s boss starts noticing how in touch he is with his ideas he decides to fire Darcy, which makes Nick realize how wrong he was to steal her ideas in the first place. The fact that Nick admits that he was wrong to lie, steal, and manipulate others around him shows how these ethical issues have an impact on one’s morals and have an effect on what people think of your character. This movie was very well done and was able to deliver a great message in ethical issues while staying entertaining and enjoyable.

Blog #2: Bamboozled

Bamboozled [Motion picture]. (2001). United States: New Line Home Entertainment.

Directed By: Spike Lee.
Starring: Damon Wayans, Jada Pinkett Smith, & Tommy Davidson.

In the movie Bamboozled we meet a character named Pierre Delacroix, he recently graduated from Harvard and is now an executive at CNS which is a large television network. Pierre is one of the very few African Americans on staff and he starts to notice how that would effect his work and relationships. One person that he has had several issues with was his boss Mr. Dunwitty. Dunwitty always commented on how he was blacker than Pierre because he was married to a black women and had two bi-racial kids. Pierre became very frustrated with his comments because Dunwitty always stereotyped him against the black characters you see on television.

Pierre soon became sick of his boss and his work so he intended to create a script that could get him fired. He wanted to create something so controversial that there Bamboozled-2000-posterimgwas no other choice but to let him go. What he didn’t realize was that his show actually became a huge sensation and everyone seemed to love it. The show was called Mantan The New Millennium Minstrel Show and it was so controversial because there were white characters with black faces. In the end of the film these characters with the black faces start to question their identities and change their views about black culture. The main character also ends up getting kidnapped by a gang and eventually killed.

The big theme of this entire movie is the mocking and stereotyping of Black culture. Besides the black faces there are many contributing factors to the mocking of African Americans such as the many times the word “Nigger” is said throughout the film.

This film definitely raises many questions and stereotypes of African American culture. It seems on that we base our perceptions of this culture strictly through what we see on television and in the media. In the end of the film you notice that several character are bamboozled and in effect suffer severe consequences basically stating not to stereotype cultures through what we see in the media.

Photo Cred:

Blog Post #2-All the President’s Men


Coblenz, W. (Producer), & Pakula, A. J. (Director). (April 9, 1976). All the President’s Men [Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Bros.

All the President’s Men is a drama/mystery film that’s based on the true story of The Watergate Scandal, the 1970s break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters of the Watergate complex in Washington, DC that President Nixon and his administration attempted to cover up. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman play Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who set out to expose the truth behind the incident and Nixon’s resignation as President.

The topic of ethics is present throughout the whole film, for the two main characters are journalists who, unknowingly at the time, live by the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. Although the SPJ Code of Ethics wasn’t established at the time of the incident or when the film was made, the four basic principles of it are still present throughout the movie.

The two most significant philosophies of the code of ethics that were seen in this movie were to seek the truth and report it and to be accountable. Bernstein and Woodward did nothing but try and expose the truth behind the scandal, between going over their lists of people over and over again until they got some kind of trustworthy accuracy and flying across America to meet with potential sources and witnesses about the occurrence—they never gave up. Most of their sources were however, anonymous just because many of them were too scared to reveal their true identity, so they faced some kind of difficulty in figuring out how to incorporate their significant facts into their story. When it came to being accountable, both reporters tried nothing but to be a dependable source. They did their research of finding all parties that were some way or another involved with the scandal and went straight to them identifying themselves while questioning them on the matter. By them identifying themselves before questioning shows that they are indeed accountable and trustworthy, for they weren’t trying to get information under false pretenses.

Some ethical concerns were raised in other points of the film as well. For example, when Bernstein went down to Florida for his appointment with Martin Dardis, he had to sneak into the office when Dardis’ secretary wasn’t looking because she said they had to reschedule his appointment and Bernstein knew that Dardis was indeed in his office but didn’t want to meet with him. Another ethical concern was with their biggest and most reliable source of the secret informant “Deep Throat” who happened to be one of Woodward’s sources he’s had contact with in the past. His demeanor is seen to be extremely sketchy through his nickname, the way he spoke in only metaphors and riddles of telling them to “follow the money” and how/where he chose to meet up. The most important ethical concern raised was the President himself and how he chose to cover the whole situation up of taking money for his reelection campaign.


Society of Professional Journalists. (2014). SPJ code of ethics. Nashville, Tenn. Retrieved from

Blog Post 2


Sacks, D. O. (Producer), & Reitman, J. (Director). (April 14, 2006) Thank You for Smoking [Motion Picture]. USA: ContentFilm International.

Thank You for Smoking is a satirical comedy that follows the life of Big Tobacco lobbyist Nick Naylor. His main job is to report on the findings of Big Tobacco’s research on the link between tobacco and cancer. This “research” is funded almost solely by tobacco companies, and is basically their way of trying to prove that there’s no hard-fast scientific evidence of a correlation. Nick’s job is to spin this research in a way that paints Big Tobacco in a positive light.

The main ethical issue brought up in this film is the fact that Nick has to report on issues that aren’t actually true, and spin them in a way that people will believe. This really raises two issues, the first being that Big Tobacco is essentially lying to the public to get them to buy their product, and the second being that Nick has to lie for them and spin the truth. Nick does feel some remorse, mostly because of his 12-year-old son who looks up to him. But, Big Tobacco definitely isn’t remorseful at all. They are just doing whatever it takes to sell their products.From the tobacco farmers to cigarette manufacturers, there are literally thousands of people within an industry that want the public to stay in the dark about the dangers of their product, just so that they can make money. Although they may not technically be doing anything illegal, the fact that they aren’t being transparent is a huge ethical problem. Nick should probably feel more of a moral problem with his job than he does, but he does occasionally express some remorse. But, his job is literally to make the actual truth about tobacco sound less serious and dangerous, so that people don’t realize how bad it actually is for them. His entire job is clearly ethically corrupt, but for the most part he doesn’t seem to care because he gets a huge paycheck. At the end of the day, he clearly just doesn’t have as high of moral standards as other people.