21 Aug 2006

Censoring Cartoon Smoking

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Reuters reports that some grand-scale Stalinesque historical airbrushing is about to take place on Turner Broadcasting.

Turner Broadcasting is scouring more than 1,500 classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons, including old favorites Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones and Scooby-Doo, to edit out scenes that glamorize smoking.

The review was triggered by a complaint to British media regulator Ofcom by one viewer who took offence to two episodes of Tom and Jerry shown on the Boomerang channel, part of Turner Broadcasting which itself belongs to Time Warner Inc.

“We are going through the entire catalogue,” Yinka Akindele, spokeswoman for Turner in Europe, said on Monday.

“This is a voluntary step we’ve taken in light of the changing times,” she said, adding the painstaking review had been prompted by the Ofcom complaint.

The regulator’s latest news bulletin stated that a viewer, who was not identified, had complained about two smoking scenes on Tom and Jerry, saying they “were not appropriate in a cartoon aimed at children.”

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.

“The licensee has … proposed editing any scenes or references in the series where smoking appeared to be condoned, acceptable, glamorized or where it might encourage imitation,” Ofcom said, adding that “Texas Tom” was one such example.

Akindele said cartoons would only be modified “where smoking could be deemed to be cool or glamorized”, and that scenes where a villain was featured with a cigarette or cigar would not necessarily be cut.

There must be a special place in hell for the kind of lickspittle corporate cowards who come up with this sort of disgraceful policy.

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