Friday, November 12, 2010

More Vanishing Cigarettes

Churchill, Bette Davis, Don Draper, and Pecos Bill.

In my last post, I highlighted some examples of attacks on cultural history represented by cigarette censorship, to wit: a cigarette taken out of the hand of Paul McCartney, and out of the mouths of Jackson Pollock and Burt Reynolds.

But that is only the tip of the iceberg for cigarette revisionism. Other examples:

--Jean-Paul Sartre. A legendary smoking icon, Sartre was no doubt rolling in his grave over the decision by the Bibliotheque Nationale of France to airbrush away his ever-present cigarette in an exhibition poster marking the 100th anniversary of his birth.

--Winston Churchill. Perhaps the most famous cigar smoker in history, the British Prime Minister suffered the indignity of having his cigar air-brushed out of the famous 1948 photograph of him making the “V” sign for victory. As you can see in the photograph above, that moment in history is no longer with us. Instead, Churchill looks like he is beginning to develop lip cancer.

--Tom and Jerry, Fred Flintstone, and Pecos Bill. Famous cartoon characters who occasionally, for purposes of satire or humor, were seen smoking cigarettes, and whose famous smoking scenes have been edited out by nervous broadcasters over the years. 

--Bette Davis. Another iconic cigarette smoker, she also ran afoul of the U.S. Postal Office (see Jackson Pollock in the post below). When the Post Office offered its Bette Davis stamp in 2008, it was inspired by a still photo from the film "All About Eve." As film critic Roger Ebert wrote at the time:Where's her cigarette? Yes reader, the cigarette in the original photo has been eliminated. We are all familiar, I am sure, with the countless children and teenagers who have been lured into the clutches of tobacco by stamp collecting, which seems so innocent, yet can have such tragic outcomes.”

--And finally, there is the contemporary case of Don Draper of TV’s “Mad Men,” the only current television show truly obsessed with the cultural significance of smoking.  Indeed, the series opened its first season with a show called “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” in which advertising execs devised a pitch for Lucky Strikes. And the arresting title sequence that opens every show ends with a memorable black and white graphic of Don Draper seen from behind, seated on a couch, a cigarette held firmly in hand. “Bizarrely,” write Chris Harrald and Fletcher Watkins in The Cigarette Book: The History and Culture of Smoking, “this pleasure was denied to the man in the Mad Men promotional video for Season 1, when shown on Apple’s iTunes. The original image of a man seen from behind lounging in silhouette, right hand outstretched with a cigarette in it, has had the cigarette digitally removed.” (It has since been restored).


meg said...

I never really noticed that this sort of thing was happening. Granted smoking is unhealthy, but we really shouldn't rewrite history because we feel like it.

Anonymous said...

Watch this Tom and Jerry scene where a cowboy Tom smokes as real cats are supposed to.

Dirk Hanson said...

I remember that one. Now it qualifies as an underground video.

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