In the movie Thank You for Smoking, Nick Naylor is a handsome man, smooth talking tobacco lobbyist and the vice-president of a tobacco lobby called the “Academy of Tobacco Studies”. Naylor’s job consists mainly of reporting the questionable research of the company to the public and defending Big Tobacco on television programs by questioning health claims and advocating their personal choice about cigarette.
While Nick Naylor’s morals maybe questionable, he has the talent for whipping up an argument in his favor as he believes and tells his young son in his own words “if you argue correctly, you’re never wrong. ” Nick Naylor throughout the movie is trying to demolish the senator’s idea of having images of skulls and crossbones on every pack of cigarettes and the poison sign. Nick Naylor’s duty is to fight for his company in the worst and most hazardous times. His son Joey Naylor accompanies his father on every business trip.
The reason why Naylor does that is so he can understand the intricacies of his job better and also trains his son to follow in his footsteps to learn about the art of molding the truth in personal favor. The big question is whether Nick Naylor has evolved morally at the end of the movie. From this question, there arises a set of central issues in the movie: does Nick Naylor’s ’s ability to spin control spin his moral compass in the right direction, and do his professional skills effect the evolution of his relationship with his son?
Nick Naylor’s character in the movie embodies the art of spin control. Spin control is the act of manipulating the way an event is interpreted by others. Nick Naylor does that quite well. He never seems to be at a loss for words and always has an intelligent rebuttal on hand, even when he seems he is finished for good. He is a man who has the power of rhetoric and can argue any point of an issue even when it conflicts with what is generally accepted to be true. Hence, the ability to do this represents his art of spin control.
Nick Naylor had a strong command of rhetoric and came out on top in all his arguments. He anchored all his arguments in a particular angle and that was his trick to his rhetoric skills. He believes the truth in any situation when dealing with it is unimportant as long as it can be manipulated by persuasion. He further sheds light on his point of view that it is mandatory to his job description to anchor arguments in his favor by stating that “Michael Jordan plays. Charles Manson kills people. I talk. Everyone has a talent”.
In other words Nick Naylor takes pride in his Job by juxtaposing his career to the accomplishments of these popular individuals. As his Job as a tobacco lobbyist accounts for a decent number of deaths and by saying that since Charles Manson’s job requires him to involve in killing lets him backs up his argument when explaining the dynamics of his job which make it easier for people to hate him but he can’t be blamed because supporting smoking is part of his job. Nick Naylor lives by the mantra that “ if you want an easy job, go work for that red cross. His self-confidence and how he presents himself through the art of persuasion makes him sound established. Thus there is no importance given to the moral implications of rhetoric, as he shows know ethical responsibility towards the society. Another place where he sparked his ability to spin control was when Nick Naylor resurrects his credibility by appearing at Senator Finistirre’s congressional committee. In his hearing he argues that there is already mass awareness about the danger of smoking.
He emphasizes consumer choice and responsibility and, to the dismay of Senator Finistirre, claims that if tobacco companies are guilty of tobacco-related deaths, then perhaps Finistirre’s state of Vermont, as a major cheese producer, is likewise guilty of cholesterol -related deaths. This is another example where Nick Naylor again shows his ability to make himself sound established by not letting himself sink in guilt or remorse by showing the dichotomy between cheese and tobacco. Though cheese does not even skin the surface of tobacco, Nick Naylor succeeds in putting forth his argument.
Thus he does not feel obliged to restrict his argument to any moral implication to what is right and uses his rhetoric skills to his own advantage. Secondly, the characterization of Naylor and the development of his relationship with his son give the story emotional weight in addition to its intellectual barbs. Naylor wants to be a good father, his ex-wife hates him but he makes it a point to take his son, Joey Naylor with him on every business trip though his wife does not approve of it. Joey’s company lets Nick question his own morality and the reason why he’s doing what he’s doing.
One of the shots from the movie illustrates this scenario when Joey’s inquisitive personality stir’s up the conversation by asking his father about the instances where he could be wrong. Nick answers while on their way back from the food stand in the theme park that he could never be wrong and further explains by using the premise chocolate versus vanilla. During the father and son discourse the camera focuses on both the individuals and observes their keenness in respect to the conversation.
Nick Naylor explains since there isn’t any better flavor and everyone can choose whichever one according to his or her preferences is the same reason why he could never be wrong. He brings light to the concept of freedom of choice. He states that if he has a strong grip on his belief that everyone has a freedom of choice then he could always mold his argument in his favor making him sound right. After Nick makes his justification and lets Joey process his reasoning as valid, exemplifies that Nick finds it important to let his son understand the context of his job.
To Nick his son is his support and towards the end of the movie we see it as a more prevalent factor. There is an element of pathos that Naylor uses during the committee hearing. The most evident use of pathos is when he begins to speak about how education and parenting should be the foundation for youth to learn about the dangers of tobacco. Naylor also probably won the heart of some of the audience when mentioning his responsibility of appropriately parenting his young son.
At this point he points out his young son who is part of the audience during the hearing. In all of Naylor’s encounters down the road he had his son by his side as his security blanket rather than a mediator of what is right and wrong. Joey also learnt a lot from accompanying his dad about the talking game from processing the many long talks and the professional encounters he accompanied his father to. Nick Naylor’s skills, which were passed down to Joey Naylor, were testified when he won a school debate.
The movie does not conclude Nick Naylor to evolve personally in regard to his moral obligations as he opens up a private lobbying firm, in which we see him continuing on the same path, guiding a trio from the cellphone industry concerned about claims that cellphones cause brain cancer. Nick Naylor’s only achievement was his strong bond that he created with his son in the p of the movie and also managed to make his son understand and follow his footsteps of his manipulative art of argumentation. The father-son relationship that gives Nick’s character its redeeming quality, despite all the moral weaknesses with his character and job.
His dedication to being the best dad he can possibly be is evident throughout. He approaches fatherhood with all the tenderness, love, and effort one can hope for from a weekend-divorced dad, albeit in a rather offbeat, unusual manner (since most dads are not sincerely trying to instill disturbingly distorted pro-tobacco, lobbyist-tactic moral lessons into their kids). He is a man who desperately wants to be a good family man, yet in an unconventional way. The ending does not satisfy the viewers who want to see Nick Naylor as a person who identifies ethics as a moral substance.
The only reason he quit his job was not because he Realized to show some responsibility towards the society but called it off because of his lack of tolerance for his back stabbing boss. From the beginning towards the end of the movie the only betterment evident was Naylor finding himself fall deeper in his relationship with his son. He is also fruitful in teaching him how to give weightage to an argument without looking at the worthy qualities of it. Thus, it all boils down to the fact that Nick Naylor is still entitled to the same opinion that cool and fast-talking is more important than whether you are doing good or evil.
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