During more than a half of century Tom the cat and Jerry the mouse have been the best entertainment for millions of children around the world. However, today several organizations have found “unacceptable” scenes in this cartoon and are trying to censure it.
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) activists issued a complaint letter to the British Office of Communications (nicknamed as Ofcom) stating that several episodes of Tom and Jerry cartoon contained “absolutely unacceptable” scenes where the characters were showed smoking thus these episodes should be banned.
Anti-smoking activists were especially concerned with two episodes of the legendary cartoon named “Tennis Chumps” and “Texas Tom”. These episodes were shown several months ago by Boomerang – a digital channel for children. According to ASH members, these episodes contained several scenes absolutely inappropriate for a cartoon directed at minors. “Tennis Chumps” episode filmed back in 1949, Tom competes in a tennis match against his rival Butch, who is smoking a cigar with one hand and playing with another. In “Texas Tom” made in 1950, Tom is trying to attract a female cat by smoking a cigarette.
The regulation body has sent a warning to Boomerang administration, declaring that they should not broadcast cartoons where smoking is either “encouraged, promoted or glamorized”.
The Ofcom communication manager also issued a requirement, stating that channels directed for children would have to show a very high level of editorial censorship banning smoking scenes even form old cartoons filmed when cigarettes where habitual otherwise such channels would be stripped from their broadcasting license.
However, Boomerang administration was very prompt to react on the new regulation. After only two days from receiving the warning, Turner Broadcasting Corporation the holder of Boomerang’s license, declared that their editors have begun editing out the scenes where smoking is shown. According to Corporation’s estimations almost 2,000 episodes of cartoons courtesy of Hanna-Barbara studios had smoking scenes. Among such cartoons were the world-famous Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo, The Flintstones and other.
Turner Broadcasting spokesperson said that the corporation has recognized that it has been unacceptable for children’s cartoons to encourage smoking or show it in a cool context. He added that the Boomerang editors would review all the cartoons produced at Hanna-Barbara studios in order to eliminate all the scenes that seem to glamorize or promote smoking.
The regulation of Ofcom has triggered mixed reactions.
One of the members of pro-smoking group Forest claimed that the situation with cartoons censorship is absolutely absurd. He said Forest members simply don’t understand why they are not trying to remove the scenes containing violence from Tom and Jerry cartoon. Probably the violence scenes are more acceptable for showing to children than those scenes that contain smoking.
Forest group activist urged that the situation could cause an extremely dangerous precedent in the field of censorship.
Irene Stanford, the Ash member supported the Ofcom initiative stating that many researches confirmed that children who had seen their favorite carton or movie character smoking were more likely to begin smoking themselves. Yet, the Ash group was not very happy to hear that historical legendary cartoons would be censured in order to cut smoking scenes.