John Oliver slams US institutions in one killer hit

US comedian John Oliver kickstarted his second season as host of Last Week Tonight with a typically sharp and pointed episode in which he tackled two American institutions: the tobacco industry and Sports Illustrated.

Oliver lambasted the methods used by cigarette companies to promote and defend their deadly products, while praising Australia’s plain packaging laws.

“Tobacco, it used to be a cornerstone of American life. It was how we knew sex was over before the female orgasm was invented,” Oliver said in the opening of the tobacco segment.

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After explaining the hypocrisy of big tobacco firms like Philip Morris and British American Tobacco once again, Oliver used the Gillard government’s plain packaging law as an example of a government putting public health ahead of business interests.

In 2012, the Labor government forced all cigarettes to be sold in drab, dark brown cartons emblazoned with confronting medical images intended to make smoking less appealing, which statistics show is working.

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, since that law was implemented total consumption of tobacco and cigarettes in Australia fell to record lows,” Oliver correctly points out.

A consortium of tobacco companies have sued the federal government, but are yet to defeat the laws.

“Score one for the little guy,” Oliver says.

Using his wicked style of humour, Oliver went onto explain how smaller countries like Togo, Uruguay and the Solomon Islands had also been attacked for trying to place health warnings on packets.

He then presented a tongue-in-cheek alternative to cigarette mascots such as the Marlboro Man and Camel Joe, called ‘Jeff the Diseased Lung’, which saw #JeffWeCan trending on Twitter, supported by several Australian health organisations.

This is not the first time Oliver has praised Australian law makers. In his former gig as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Oliver hosted an acclaimed three-part series on Gun Control, using Australia as a best-practice nation, and interviewed former Prime Minister John Howard.

See the brilliant tobacco segment here:

[jwplayer player=”1″ mediaid=”211301″]

Earlier in the episode, Oliver took a pot shot at Sports Illustrated magazine’s famous swimsuit issue, asking ‘How Is This Still A Thing?’ – a segment that has become popular for mocking cultural events like the Commonwealth Games and dressing up in other people’s races.

Not unlike the tobacco industry’s marketing campaigns of old, Oliver explains the swimsuit edition was created for American men’s pleasure.

Oliver has managed to point out every ridiculous aspect of the swimsuit issue, simultaneously making a mockery of the “gross” old men who buy it.

“Sports Illustrated, the preferred magazine of every man in the crapper since 1964,” the segment begins.

“It was a perfect expression of the 60s, a time of such rampant casual sexism that it eventually gave birth to the sexual harassment in the workplace film.”

Sports Illustrated is known for pushing the boundaries, often photographing almost-nude women on its cover, alongside culturally inappropriate backgrounds, to stay ‘relevant’ – or at least popular.

The most recent edition, released this month, featured cover girl Hannah Davis teasing the reader with a come hither look, while she almost exposed her entire lower half.

To this, Oliver answered critics questions ‘How low can they go’.

“The vagina. The vagina is what’s left,” the voiceover responds.

“One of these years, in an act of desperation, SI will probably put one on the cover.”

Watch the bikini segment here:

[jwplayer mediaid=”211465″]

– with Jackson Stiles

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