There’s both a lot of anticipation and a lot of anxiety among Hellblazer fans for the upcoming Constantine TV show. On the one hand, John is British, not a surfer, and surrounded by DC’s magical heavy-hitters. On the other, well, we just found out that one of John Constantine’s classic stories is essentially off the table for the show. Spoilers below!
Why? Because suburban ninnies think teenagers imitate what they see on TV, thus John Constantine doesn’t smoke. Neil Marshall essentially said as much in an interview with Collider:
Can John Constantine smoke on TV?
No we’re not. It’s the one thing, a compromise I guess. On network it’s the one thing you can’t smoke on network. That’s one of his character traits. We’re working around that. We’re trying to get aspects of it in there as much as possible. We’ll see.
Won’t somebody think of the children who, if parents are doing their jobs, won’t be watching this anyway? We bring this up because a question or two later, Marshall does have some good news for us.
Whatever the regulations are, you can be as dark and disturbing as you want and we’re going to go in that direction. The intention is to be as dark and scary as possible with the show. And that was our whole kind of plan going in, to make it scary.
This isn’t just griping over a character tic, although one could argue Constantine’s steadfast refusal to stop lighting up is the best indicator of his personality. But it’s also the genesis of a superb story involving Constantine: His nicotine habit comes back to bite him hard on the ass in Dangerous Habits, where he discovers he has lung cancer and desperately searches for a way to not be dragged to hell.
This was a plotline the movie, we’d like to note, used with nary an objection in 2005, despite changing pretty much everything else about the character. Hollywood even dumped the trenchcoat, but not the smoking. And the inevitable justification is fairly asinine: The idea that teenagers only smoke because celebrities do it is insulting to the intelligence of both teenagers and every thinking person. Maybe he could chew nicotine gum?