It's hard to watch Tom And Jerry cartoons with children these days. Not because Tom And Jerry relentlessly torture each other with knives, anvils and explosive devices, but because they sometimes smoke.
Luckily, one other Tom And Jerry viewer in the whole country agrees with us here. They complained to TV watchdog Ofcom about how inappropriate it was for children to see images of smoking in cartoons, and have been rewarded with the news that 1,700 cartoons are going to be edited for cartoon smoking. Of course, it's ludicrous to think that children will want to take up smoking after watching a Tom And Jerry cartoon – for instance, we've seen hundreds of Tom And Jerry cartoons and we've never smoked a cigarette. We've exploded more than 50 cats with sticks of dynamite, but we've never smoked a cigarette.
It must be a rare occurrence that – after watching a Tom And Jerry cartoon filled with enough scenes of violence that it makes Hostel look like A Room With A View – someone is filled with enough anger to complain about a mouse smoking a fag, but that's what happened. Ofcom received a complaint from an unnamed British viewer about scenes in two Tom And Jerry cartoons shown on Boomerang – Texas Tom and Tennis Chumps – where a cat rolls and lights a cigarette to impress a lady cat and a dog smokes a cigar while playing tennis. According to this viewer, these scenes were "not appropriate in a cartoon aimed at children."
However, Ofcom didn't get the chance to do anything but scratch its head and wonder where these people get so much time on their hands that they can write letters about smoking cats in 57-year-old cartoons. That's because Turner Broadcasting – owners of Boomerang – said that it would voluntarily edit out scenes of smoking from around 1,700 Hanna-Barbera cartoons like Tom And Jerry, Scooby-Doo and The Flintstones. A Turner spokesman said:
"We recognise that it is not suitable for cartoons aimed at children to portray smoking in a cool context and has additionally pledged to review the entire Hanna-Barbera catalogue to remove scenes that appear to glamorise or encourage smoking."
Now, the last thing we want to do is to call the removal of any trace of Tom And Jerry smoking 'political correctness gone mad,' since the only people who actually use that phrase tend to be the type of people who think that being told they can't throw rocks at black people in the street is political correctness gone mad – but there are a couple of reasons why painstakingly painting out images of smoking in Tom And Jerry cartoons is pointless.
1) It's a smoking cat. Who wants to pick a moving painting of a smoking cat as a role model? Most sane people would only copy the actions of a cat if humans had the ability to jam their tongue up their anus, and they haven't. 2) Chances are that seconds after Tom rolled his cigarette in Texas Tom, Jerry chopped him up with an industrial mincer, set fire to the remains and stuffed the ashes up his bum. Who'd want to smoke with repercussions like that?
[story by Stuart Heritage]