A five-letter word spells trouble
LOS ANGELES - Kevin Smith made a movie with such a bothersome title he cannot even place ads for it in some places.
Some newspaper, TV, and outdoor ads for Smith's comedy "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" have been rejected because of their content or the five-letter word that ends the title, said Gary Faber, head of marketing for the Weinstein Co., which is releasing the film.
Among those refusing to carry ads are about 15 newspapers and several TV stations and cable channels, Faber said. Commercials for the film during Los Angeles Dodgers games on Fox Sports were dropped at the team's request after some viewers complained, said Dodgers spokesman Josh Rawitch.
One complaint came from a man watching a game in September with his young son, who did not understand a suicide-squeeze bunt the Dodgers tried, Rawitch said.
"He was explaining to his son what a squeeze bunt was. Commercial break, the ad comes on, and the kid asks, 'Dad, what does porno mean?' " Rawitch said. "Dodgers baseball has always been about family, and we've always been sensitive to the type of advertising that runs on our games."
The city of Philadelphia refused "Zack and Miri" posters at bus stops. Similar posters at Boston bus stops have drawn complaints from a child-development expert who said they are inappropriate for children.
Smith found it ironic that the posters have been a problem. Some playfully risque ads with images of "Zack and Miri" stars Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks were forbidden by the Motion Picture Association of America, which called the ads "highly sexually suggestive and not suitable for general audiences."
So Weinstein came up with posters using stick figures.
Rina Cutler, Philadelphia deputy mayor for transportation, said the stick-figure posters were clever but unacceptable for bus shelters where schoolchildren would see the word "porno."
Opening Oct. 31, "Zack and Miri" features Rogen and Banks as platonic best buddies and roommates who decide to make their own skin flick to dig themselves out of debt.
Diane Levin, an education professor specializing in child development at Boston's Wheelock College, said the posters at city bus stops send a message to children that working in the porn industry is an acceptable occupation.
"It's drawing attention to a movie which is mainstreaming and normalizing pornography, saying if you need money, this is what you do," said Levin, co-author of "So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids."
The images are especially appealing to youngsters, since "stick figures are something for children," she said.
Weinstein marketing boss Faber countered: "It's a comedy. It's a joke."