Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tom and Jerry Shot at Dawn

Of course the stories that 300 British Soldiers executed during the First World War - here - are to be pardoned and that smoking scenes are to be edited out of Tom and Jerry cartoons - here - are one and the same story. Both are about the strange desire to make the past bow to the whims of the present. Nothing will be changed by pardoning those soldiers, though some people will feel we have avenged ourselves on their cruel commanders. Equally, by excising cigars and cigarettes from T & J, we do not alter the fact that, in the past, people did not find smoking a particularly disgusting, aberrant or dangerous habit. This censorship of the past is, in reality, a way of hollowing out the present. Once we have beaten all preceding centuries into contemporary respectability, there will be no truth left in them at all. We shall then find ourselves wobbling precariously on a fragile column of lies.

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