“Big Tobacco vs. Little Vape”
Samantha Bee took aim at vaping last week, and blasted us with both sarcastic barrels. And though it was brutal in some respects, there were real positives too. And I don’t mean the correspondent French-kissing a vaping dinosaur.
Bee is known for her bitterly ironic take on culture and politics. Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, her show on cable channel TBS, is similar to The Daily Show, the Comedy Central program where she worked previously. Any subject that gets her attention should expect to be skinned, gutted, skewered and roasted.
But wait, what was this? The title of the segment, “Big Tobacco vs. Little Vape,” was actually a welcome surprise, preparing the viewer for the idea that vaping isn’t Big Tobacco — itself a fairly novel idea in American media. Additionally, the writers noted that the deeming regulations would wipe out small businesses, leaving the tobacco industry without competition for the vaping market. There was even a mention of the Public Health England study! All good to see on a popular mainstream TV show, right?
Left on the cutting room floor
Credit for the generally positive narrative probably goes to Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, who had done an extensive filmed interview with Bee’s staff. Although the footage of his interview was completely cut, the points he made apparently found their way into the script. Which may make Greg the real hero here. Without his influence, this might have been a real bloodbath.
— Gregory Conley (@GregTHR) May 24, 2016
Is Samantha Bee a friend or foe?
But while our worst fears weren’t realized, there were cringe-worthy moments aplenty. Vapers at the convention were mostly stereotypical hipster cloud-chasers, in it just for the party. What TV story on vaping would be complete without a roll call of embarrassing e-liquid names? Classy products like Monkey Spunk and Unicorn Puke got mentions. Of course, Jenny McCarthy with a Blu did make the cut.
Vaping was noted as an important part of the “douche-conomy.”
When I first saw this, I convinced myself it was horrid. A friend talked me down. The spirit of the piece was not anti-vaping, she said, which was nice for a change. And the public recognition that the deeming regulations will kill the independent vaping industry was very welcome.
She was right. And best of all, there was no mention of “marketing to children,” formaldehyde, or popcorn lung. As for the dubstep and the clouds, well…I dunno. Do those people represent most vapers? No, but they do exist, and they have as much right to vape as anyone else. The problem was an idiotic promoter inviting a TV crew to his vape event. What could go wrong?
Frankly, this story is probably the best we can hope for — at least until vendors stop selling products wrapped in pornographic candy labels. But those things are our fault. Expecting outside observers to ignore them is just a bridge too far. And putting all that stuff aside, Samantha Bee included more real truth about vaping and the deeming ban than we’ve seen from anyone in the mainstream news media. So if we aren’t thrilled with the coverage, maybe we should at least be grateful. It could have been a whole lot worse.