Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Censoring Smoking in Classic Cartoons

From the Office of Homeland Security, news that Turner Broadcasting has decided to censor smoking scenes in classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons.

One (that’s right, just one) viewer complained to British regulatory authorities.

“Regulatory authorities” is a scarier concept in the U.K. than in the U.S., where free speech prevails on cable.

What scenes did the viewer find objectionable?
In the first, “Texas Tom,” the hapless cat Tom tries to impress a feline female by rolling a cigarette, lighting it and smoking it with one hand. In the second, “Tennis Chumps,” Tom’s opponent in a match smokes a large cigar.
Quite obviously, these scenes are integral to the content of the cartoons. Cut them, and you’ve gutted the entire concept.

The aggrieved viewer complained the scenes “were not appropriate in a cartoon aimed at children.”

We suppose, in this new era of the nanny state, parents should be spared the labor of telling their children about smoking, about how widely accepted it once was, and why they should not do it.

Of course, none of the nanny types wants to spare conservative parents the labor of having to combat the messages about sexuality the media send.

Blogger Joe Kastner asks:
Furthermore, what’s to prevent Time Warner or any other movie studio for that matter from making this a stepping-stone and going one step further? How long are classic live-action feature films like Casablanca or Citizen Kane which feature smoking prominently safe from censorship?
The answer is: probably not long.

Interestingly, AOL Entertainment News is running a poll on this, and as of right now, the results are as follows:

“When should scenes of smoking be cut from old cartoons?”
  • Never 71%
  • In every instance 15%
  • When it glamorizes it 14%
Total Votes: 32,485

While the poll isn’t strictly scientific, the message comes through: “we don’t want classic cartoons censored.”


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