...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Day 2050: Tom and Jerry Foolery


Today we learn that children’s television channel Boomerang is to EDIT the versions of classic Tom and Jerry cartoons that they show. Why cut down these little slices of CARTOON HEAVEN, you ask?

No, it is in order to remove any bits where we see our 2D heroes SMOKING.

The people who have complained to OFCOM say that they are worried that children might imitate them.

This seems very BIZARRE to me!

Never mind that the next minute they might be hitting each other with household objects, ohhh scary stuff one or other of them might take a puff on the dreaded WEED!

The argument they come back with is usually along the lines of "why would advertisers advertise if TV never changed anybody’s mind?"

And it is true: some people will IMITATE some things that they see on the television. Some people will see a COOL detective series and think that if they dress the same way that will make them cool too. It doesn’t, of course; it makes them look SAD! TRAGICALLY, some cars suffer from paint jobs that are copied from "Starsky and Hutch" or worse, "The Dukes of Hazzard" (shudders).

But these are NOT advertisements. They are not set up to say: "this is cool, these are cool people, it is because they SMOKE!"

The cigar in cartoon form usually used as a SYMBOL; it is a shorthand way of saying: "Look! CONSPICUOUS AFFLUENCE!" Tom smokes a cigar when he is SHOWING OFF. And there is almost always a PAY OFF for this hubris – how many cartoon cigars can you think of that do NOT end in a explosion?

Blink, blink go big eyes in blackened outline of pussy-tat with remains of offending cigar still in mouth to make the point.

Is this ENTIRELY saying "smoking it’s a good thing"?

My daddies’ generation are probably the first really ANTI-SMOKING generation. They were lucky enough to grow up in an era when people KNEW that incinerating sticks of tar and nicotine while they are in your mouth leads to gooey tar and poisonous nicotine all over your LUNGS turning them from fluffy air-filled balloons into rubbery trampolines that oxygen bounces off. And yet, AMAZINGLY, my daddies managed not to have this knowledge wiped from their brains by a few images of a cartoon cat with a cigar!

This is not really about "historical integrity" – though it is always a shame to snip bits out of something fun just because you do not agree with the thought of people seeing those bits. It is much more about not TRUSTING children to make up their own minds. If you want smoking death-o-sticks to be ILLEGAL then MAKE it ILLEGAL (Lord Blairimort is making things illegal at a rate of one a day anyway, I’m sure he could slip them in.) If you don’t want them to be illegal then that means that people are going to have to be able to choose to buy them even if it is STUPID.

Seriously, there is a WORLD of anti-smoking propaganda out there, and kids can GET THE MESSAGE.

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