For decades, the film industry has shown us characters smoking, and has used cigarettes to depict certain character traits. From Gilda, the 1946 movie starring Rita Hayworth, to Grease and Fight Club, Hollywood has given us cigarette smoking criminals, hard-edged rebels, and sassy, sophisticated types, and the fact that they smoked seemed to emphasise these characteristics. If those films were remade today, would the leads use a vape pen instead of a cigarette, or does vaping suggest a different set of personality traits altogether?
Whilst vaping was initially something of a niche pursuit, over the last 10 years or so, it has steadily grown its fan base, and is now seen as cool. That new cool status may be down to health concerns about smoking or it may have something to do with the raft of celebrity endorsements in recent years, but one thing’s for certain – vaping is now much more visible in popular culture.
So why is vaping gaining a higher profile? If a character is seen vaping in a film, does it suggest the same kind of traits as if the same character was seen smoking? Let’s take a look…
Vaping In Films
In The Tourist, Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp) is apparently a US maths teacher from Wisconsin. He’s seen reading a book, whilst using an e-cigarette, and explains to Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie), that there is no smoke involved in vaping, only water vapour. Vaping here is seen as smart and tech savvy, although Elise appears unconvinced, suggesting that it implies conformity and compliance. As the first major film appearance for a vaping device, this film marks the start of a continuing big screen battle between vaping and cigarettes.
Another film with a vaping lead is Drive Hard, starring John Cusack. In the film, Cusack plays professional thief, Simon Keller, who conducts an armed bank robbery, before forcing retired racing car driver, Peter Roberts (Thomas Jane) to become his getaway driver. Cusack’s character is seen holding an eGo twist-style e-cig throughout the film. John Cusack appears to be a vaping fan himself, and has gone on to star in other films where his character is seen vaping, including Maps to the Stars and Reclaim.
With more and more appearances in major film releases, it looks like vaping has acquired quite a fan base amongst Hollywood stars, and it’s even possible that some vaping actors have started to insist that vaping is written into their contracts. Zac Efron, for example, vapes in Bad Neighbours, because he refuses to smoke.
As vaping has gained in popularity, its image has changed, and for the better. It’s now seen as a healthier, tech savvy alternative to smoking ordinary cigarettes, with none of the health issues associated with cigarettes, and just as much of a cool factor as smoking ever had.
Have you noticed vaping in films or on TV? Have you seen a change over time in the way that vaping is being portrayed on screen? Do you think it can help define a character in a film by having them use e-cigarettes? These questions, and others, will no doubt keep us all pondering for some time into the future.