DR. WALLACE: I am a huge fan of the movie industry and its illustrious history. Whenever I see a really old-timey John Wayne or Humphrey Bogart movie, I notice that many of the actors were smoking in their on-screen roles. Now it's rare to see a movie in which actors smoke. Seeing as movies play an important role in the lives of teens, I want to thank moviemakers for keeping cigarettes off the screen for the most part. Now if they would only curb all the sex and violence, they would be doing all of us a huge favor. — Movie Mother, Chicago
MOVIE MOTHER: It's true that smoking, once in vogue, is steadily falling out of fashion. More and more, we are finding areas in society where smoking is prohibited, including restaurants, government buildings, stadiums and airports. The philosophy of days gone by was, "It's a free country, and I can smoke wherever and whenever I want." It's been replaced with, "Smoke wherever you want, as long as I don't have to breathe your secondhand smoke."
On your second topic, I doubt that the movie industry will be cutting back on sex and violence any time soon. Sex and violence sell, and the movie industry aims to make money and draw attention to its products via a variety of methods — especially sex and violence. The good news, however, is there are so many options these days when it comes to movies. Many features use other methods to attract and hold the viewers' interest, so keep your eyes open for ones that suit your personal preferences. They exist and will earn your respect and your business.
DR. WALLACE: I have a problem. Actually, it's my mother who has a problem, but it is affecting me. My mother likes to rule and dominate other people's lives. First she dominated my father, and eventually they got divorced. Then she dominated my stepfather's life, and now they are legally separated. Now it seems that I'm next in the pecking order. I am a 17-year-old high school senior. My mom has chosen to run my life — into the ground. She just doesn't want me to have fun times with my friends. My weekday curfew is 9 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday nights, it's midnight. I'm not a child. In six months, I'll be an adult. Can my mother hold me to these unacceptable curfews once I reach age 18? — Anonymous, Davenport, Iowa
ANONYMOUS: Your curfew seems more than reasonable to me. As long as you live at home, honor your curfew. Whether you can or cannot break your curfew when you turn 18 is insignificant. Your present curfew is fair. Stay on good terms with your mom. You both need each other and will for a long time. The time will soon come when you will be on your own and able to manage your own schedule.
For now, be a team player. I'll bet that if you respect your curfew regularly, you will be granted a moderate extension once in a while if you ask for it politely in advance. Earn it while you are still under your mom's roof. Once you're on your own, you will be glad to look back and be proud that you kept the peace and harmony in your home. Your mom needs you and your cooperation more than you realize right now.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.