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Cleansing the Past of Smoking Cats

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Tom and Jerry are finding themselves under close scrutiny lately, so close in fact that Turner Broadcasting is “going through the entire catalogue” of cartoons to edit them for content. “This is a voluntary step we’ve taken in light of the changing times.” What changed exactly?

Could it be that someone else has finally seen Tom and Jerry through my eyes? Can it be that, after thirty years of complaint someone actually took note of my points? Am I really that delusional to think I had anything to do with this? Am I actually so delusional that I think someone would actually protest a part of the show that makes sense to protest? Yeah, I was. Silly me.

Tom and Jerry has never been a cartoon I enjoyed. It just never sat right with me, even when I was a child. There were too many aspects of Tom and Jerry that were just plain mean on a sadistic level. Yes, Bugs Bunny was overly cruel to Elmer Fudd and the Roadrunner did push the Coyote off the cliff many times, but Tom and Jerry managed to take the violence even further.

Jerry was, in reality, nothing more than an urban terrorist. How many times have you seen Jerry set up an IED (improvised explosive device) for Tom to stumble across? Sure, the IED was usually just a pie or liquid of some type, but still. Jerry screwed with Tom for no reason usually and this was presented to me as entertainment.

“Come watch the tiny mouse and the giant cat eviscerate and cremate each other for the next thirty minutes."

"We want you to grow up to be well adjusted.”

"Why is Johnny so violent?

That is not to say that Tom is an innocent victim. He is placed in the sadist's role just as often as Jerry is. Once in a while the animators will even team the two up to unleash their savagery on a third, usually innocent, victim. The entire cartoon is an expression of love directed at violence and animal cruelty.

No, ironically it is not the violence that got Tom and Jerry in the crosshairs of the overly moral. So what exactly has their ire up then? If violence is not what they are talking about when they say “not appropriate in a cartoon aimed at children”, what can be so bad that they must protest a 60-year-old cartoon?

Well, smoking, obviously! Even though the complaints were registered in England, Turner Broadcasting will be changing how they show these cartoons worldwide. Turner Broadcasting is the parent of Boomerang, the company against which the complaints were initially made. It seems a viewer in England saw smoking in two Tom and Jerry cartoons and was outraged.

The first offender was called "Texas Tom" (1950) and has Tom rolling, lighting and smoking a cigarette with one hand, er paw. The other offender was "Tennis Chumps" (1949) where the bad guy smoked a cigar. Having never really noticed titles when I was a kid, I looked these episodes up at The Big Cartoon Database to see what they were about.

"Texas Tom" seemed harmless from what I could see there. To be honest, it did not give much information, but reading about "Tennis Chumps" makes me wonder why she focused on the smoking. The plot is described as involving Tom's oppoent "beating him soundly (and literally)", so Jerry "comes to the rescue right in the middle of the court with a special 'killer' tennis ball". Keep in mind the description on this one was vague as well, but we have assault and battery as well as poor sportsmanship. Add to that Jerry's IED tennis ball (told you he was a terrorist) to the list of things “not appropriate in a cartoon aimed at children” and all someone can find wrong is that someone is smoking?

I am sorry. I find this so silly it is almost hard to write seriously about it. In essence we are telling our kids that we are fine with violence, sadism, cruelty, terrorism, and attempted murder as long as they don’t smoke. We need to get our priorities in line and quick. We have become so dysfunctional that we are seeing logic in our illogical actions. This is like being upset over Janet Jackson’s breast peeking out for less than a second right in the middle of a sixty-minute tribute to war and violence, aka football.

“Who put this sex in my violence?"

Have we run out of boogiemen or have we just given up trying to keep the tough ones away from our kids? I do not want children seeing the wrong message any more than anyone else, but please get the right "wrong message". Violence or smoking and they pick smoking? Did I miss a memo?

I am purposely being ridiculous in my outrage over the violence in Tom and Jerry cartoons for a reason. I know I am not going to be taken seriously regarding this, nor do I hope to be, whereas the person protesting this does, did, and sadly is. They need to stop trying to change the world to their standards and raise their children to be prepared for the world's standards instead. Don't remove the things that will force your child to ask difficult or uncomfortable questions. Answer those questions instead or, better yet, watch with them and explain before they ask.

While you will not always be there to protect your child, the world is always waiting. Prepare them for the future and stop changing the past. How will they learn from our mistakes if they never see them, anyway?

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About Brad Schader

  • Vern Halen

    TOm & Jerry was always too simple for me to enjoy – give me that smart alec Bugs Bunny any day and his verbal jousts with Daffy Duck:

    Bugs (to Elmer Fudd): Do you want to shoot him now or wait ’til you get home?
    Daffy: Oh, no….. not this time – wait ’til you get home.

  • rick

    well i kinda think the reason johnny is so bad is because mom and dad don’t freakin’ care or are too busy trying to make ends meet. Got nothing to do with these old school cartoons. That is nuts. How about the propoganda, maybe that is a hugh factor. But to single out Tom and Jerry you might as well stop selling SNACKS outta school vending machines… oh wait they aready did that. It’s got nothing to do with the parents, it’s the vending. I think it is all stupid and I am a parent!!! ~rick

  • What I find most interesting is that the format was changed because ONE person got upset.