Rihanna is doing something that is considered a social taboo on the cover of her new single, “You da One.” No, she’s not romping topless in a Irish farmer’s field.
In the black-and-white photo, the singer, looking perfectly coiffed, takes a drag on a cigarette from one of her manicured hands.
This is not the sole recent example of a Rihanna-and-nicotine pairing. The alternative cover for the new Rihanna album, “Talk That Talk,” also features the “Umbrella” hit-maker inhaling smoke. And in her recent video for “We Found Love,” she lit up a cigarette.
That video was denounced by the Ulster Cancer Foundation as “irresponsible.” But the group’s concerns gained little traction in the media. Is that because smoking — while still an indisputable cause of numerous health problems — is becoming more acceptable in the pop culture sphere?
When Lady Gaga dressed as her male alter ego Jo Calderone also posed with a cigarette on the cover of one of her singles, “You and I,” earlier this year, it was considered controversial. But that was mainly because some people thought she was copying Bob Dylan.
In the political word, Herman Cain’s campaign manager, Mark Block, attracted a lot of attention for smoking in a now infamous campaign ad. Block told Fox: “I personally would encourage people not to smoke. It’s just that I’m a smoker.” Cain added on “Face the Nation”: “We weren't trying to say it's cool to smoke. You have a lot of people in this country that smoke.”
And then, of course, there are the hard-drinking, heavy-puffing ad execs of “Mad Men,” who, arguably, may have provided some assistance in the “smoking looks cool” trend even if that assistance is steeped in a bygone era that — with its chauvinism and general absence of healthiness — most people don’t want to revisit in a permanent way.
Do you think smoking is less of a taboo in popular culture? Do fans accept that actors and artists are cigarette smokers more than they did in the recent past?
Let us know what you think in the comments.