Tuner Broadcasting announced last week that they will bowdlerize their entire catalog of more than 1500 Hanna-Barbera cartoons to remove scenes of smoking.
According to Turner's European spokeswoman Yinka Akindele, the cartoons will be edited "where smoking could be deemed to be cool or glamorized". She further stated that scenes showing a "villain" smoking might not
Reuters (an organization with no little experience in digitally modifying images) reports that this pussification was prompted by a viewer (singular) complaint to British media regulator Ofcom
This action was prompted by one lousy complaint, and Turner rolled-over almost before the metaphorical ink on it was dry. Will the copyright owners of other classic animation wuss-out and follow suit?
If so, it's gonna be a field day for computer geeks who are skilled in image manipulation.
On their website, Ofcom says that one of their six specific duties is "Applying adequate protection for audiences against offensive or harmful material."
That's nice and vague. Offensive to whom? Harmful in what way? And what, precisely, constitutes adequate protection? (I so
love regulatory bodies with broad mandates.)
Will scenes with exploding
cigars be deemed permissible, given they're almost always administered to the "bad guy" in cartoons? Hmmmm...that's a toughie. On one hand, they depict smoking, which we all know is pure, unadulterated evil. On the other hand, they also show consequences for that act such as having one's teeth blown out of one's head, one's face covered with soot and one's hair severely ruffled.
In extreme instances, a detonating stogie can even cause one's entire body to fracture like safety glass and crumble into a little pile of debris replete with eyes that blink while making xylophone noises.
What type of cartoon scenes will be found "harmful" or "offensive" next?
Firearms discharged directly into the faces of protagonists. Giant sledge hammers crushing them into accordian-folded lumps (which waddle off-screen to the sound of wheezing bellows). Mice shaving cats' backs with careening, out-of-control power mowers.
Painting fake tunnels onto cliff faces in order to lure the pursuit to their demise. (Because if the initial impact doesn't get them, the speeding train emerging from the faux tunnel will
.) Giant firecrackers, dynamite sticks and spherical black bombs. Woodpeckers wreaking avian mayhem on characters' skulls. Car crashes. Train wrecks. Characters plummeting from tall buildings and cliffs. Fisticuffs.
It's a nearly endless list, as horrific violence has been an integral part of cartoons almost since their inception. And, of course, we must
protect the children from the depravity that is classic animation.
I doubt they'll stop there. What about stuff like characters whose tongues unroll and eyeballs bulge to the accompaniment of old automobile horns, sirens and fire truck bells when they see an attractive female character? Surely that must be offensive to feminists.
Pretty soon, cartoons will be aired with little more than the opening credits, the establishing shot, a series of nonsensical, chopped-up scenes and the ending.
Unless the hero is smoking a celebratory cigar.