The missus and I were watching an episode of the new season of Peaky Blinders the other night, and I noticed that every time a character drew on a cigarette, you could actually hear a crackling, hissing sound. I say “noticed,” but it was more than that, really. It was so loud it was distracting.
Now, I’m sure if you put your ear, say, an inch or two away from the glowing end of a cigarette while someone puffed away, you’d probably hear something. But relative to the sound levels of the dialogue, this is preposterous. And it’s not just Peaky Blinders, either. It’s pretty much every show on Netflix or Prime—which is primarily how I “consume content,” as the marketers call it.
Clearly, these sounds are being added in post-production. Which raises an interesting question: Why?
Here’s my best guess: Given that the generally high production value of these shows rules out hack Foley artists and that it seems to be only cigarette smoking that’s set at such ridiculously high levels, it must be some sort of sop to anti-smoking interest groups.
Studio Executive: Hey, uh, we got some complaints from the American Lung Association.
Show Runner: Dude. The series is set in the 1920s. People smoked.
Studio Executive: I know, but maybe we could make it less cool?
Show Runner: I’ll have Dave add some forest fire sounds in post. Good enough?
Studio Executive: That’ll work.