Thursday, August 24, 2006

Smoke Without Fire?

I doubt many of you know this but Tom & Jerry is my favourite cartoon. I absolutely love it and have all the 'shorts' on DVD. In my book it even outclasses the Simpsons (though not by much!).
For some years they've been subject to brutal editing and censorship that has largely gone unnoticed by the masses. Basically much of it revolved around 'Mammy Two Shoes', Tom's owner. In the 40s classics she was depicted as black and slightly lacking in the brain department. (Her speech was often incorrect and her spelling totally wrong etc.) In the 60s execs realised this could be offensive and had Chuck Jones re-animate many of her appearances so that she looked white and even her speech was re-dubbed & re-edited.

Also edited out were any occasion that something exploded in Tom or Jerry's faces leaving them 'blacked up' like a minstrel.

Now they're going one further and having any instance where smoking is 'glamourised' within a T&J cartoon edited out.

While I can sympathise with the reasons behind these cuts I do lament them. T&J are legendry. Especially the early Fred Quimby stuff. Most viewers have the intelligence to realise what is considered racist or un-PC now was, at the time, acceptable. If you’re viewing them in context as period animation there's nothing unacceptable whatsoever. Where does it end? Will health & safety freaks want every time Tom's whacked over the head with a frying pan edited out?

The more I think about it the more dumb this is. My favourite ever film is Ghostbusters. It features prominent smoking and I watched it hundreds of times as a kid. Same goes for Thunderbirds which often shows Lady P smoking. I have only ever had one puff of a cigarette and that was only to wind someone up.

Just shows how influential smoking in films & TV is…

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