Paul Dini (kingofbreakfast) wrote,
Paul Dini

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Up in smoke

Well, the idiots are at it again. Spurred on by ONE complaint, Boomerang will be scouring its library of thousands of cartoons and editing out scenes in which the characters they now own are shown to glamorize smoking. You can read the whole sad story here.

A few people have asked me what I thought about this and as you can guess, I think it's pretty stupid. I said as much last year when I did VO commentary on the cartoon "Rocket Squad" on the third Looney Tunes Golden Collection. What's the point of making a cartoon at all if the characters can't have vices and indulge in "bad" behavior? I don't smoke but I don't mind if Daffy and Porky do it in a cartoon that parodies TV police shows of the early 1950s. Besides, any kid who starts smoking because he thinks Porky Pig looks cool when he lights up seriously has the wrong role model.

What really kills me is that thanks to the dumbed-down, fear-ridden and overly-sensitive times we live in, more and more people are mistakenly seeing bad behavior in a cartoon as the creators' endorsement of the real thing. When Disney's animators and gag men made the short "No Smoking" in the early 50s, they were parodying what a life-long smoker feels like when he quits. The Disney organization will no longer air that cartoon on TV as they feel showing Goofy with a cigarette for any reason will make kids want to smoke. They felt the same thing about Pecos Bill in MELODY TIME. A Disney exec once argued with me that Bill is a western hero and role model and as such should not be shown rolling, lighting and smoking a cigarette. I argued back that if Walt, Ward Kimball, Clyde Geronimi and everyone else who worked on that segment intended Bill to be a true Disney hero, he would have had a more classic cowboy design, wouldn't have howled, shot guns or bit fleas off his butt, and most important, he would have saved the girl at the end. The fact that Bill is a flawed character who has vices like smoking makes it easier for the audience to accept the fact that he can't save his lady-love Slue Foot Sue at the end of the cartoon (who despite her beauty, is shown to be rather shallow and vain; thus somewhat flawed herself thanks to the skill of her animator, Milt Kahl). Naturally all that shrewd and subtle character work the Disney craftsmen put into those characters has been discarded by current executive worrywarts who see only as far as what's on the surface.

I guess that's why in Walt's day he hired live actors to play riotous versions of Bill and Sue in Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe theatre. Back then that show featured can-can girls, bar room brawls and fake gunfights, all to the delight of the audience, who knew the whole thing was a put-on. Last time I checked a couple years ago, the theatre was hosting kid's storytime with Toy Story's Woody and Jessie.

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