24 June 2010

Winston Churchill, nonsmoker. WTF??

The above photo was recently displayed above the entrance to a London museum.  Anyone with even a modicum of knowledge of 20th century history would know that this image has been digitally altered.  The classic photo looked like this:
No one admits to having perpetrated this travesty:
The Winston Churchill's Britain At War Experience, in South-East London, confessed to being astonished to discover that the image may have been doctored...

So just who did pinch the great man's Havana?

It wasn't the anti-smoking lobby, which has had no known contact with the museum; it certainly wasn't Churchill's family - his grandson Nicholas Soames said 'it doesn't matter one way or the other'; and it wasn't the museum itself - in fact it's got wartime posters advertising cigarettes on the walls.

But intriguingly the museum, which gives all profits to charity, declined to name who put together the display and, crucially, who enlarged the image for the poster.

Museum manager John Welsh was astonished to be told the image was missing one vital ingredient.
I'm a nonsmoking ex-smoker, and I'm frankly tired of this kind of manipulation of history for the sake of  modern political correctness.  The United States did the same thing when they honored Bette Davis on a postage stamp, using an image with a deleted cigarette:
Rogert Ebert offered some trenchant commentary:
Depriving Bette Davis of her cigarette reminds me of Soviet revisionism, when disgraced party officials disappeared from official photographs. Might as well strip away the toupees of Fred Astaire and Jimmy Stewart...

...Movies can't rewrite reality. The MPAA cautiously mentions smoking in their descriptions of movie ratings (even if it's the Cheshire Cat and his hookah). If, by the time you're old enough to sit through a movie, you haven't heard that smoking is bad for you, you don't need a movie rating, you need a foster home.


  1. Disgraceful!
    Here in Turkey they have taken to putting big balls of blur around the cigarettes, even in classic films. It is very distracting and probably illegal since it is tampering with the original film. Imagine trying to watch "All about Eve" with BBBs in practically every scene.

    And there is also the problem of double standards. In a film where there is graphic sex, graphic violence and scenes of people shooting heroin, blurring of mere smoking seems to be the least of the sins.

  2. Pretty ridiculous ministry of truth picture manipulation.

    Who are they trying to kid?

  3. A couple of years back, they did the same thing to The Beatles Abbey Road cover,,, wiping out Paul's "cancer stick". The premise was that they did not want to glorify smoking to the new fans,,, "paying customers",,,,Both of these photos just show political/social correctness going too far once again.

  4. I believe Mr. Ebert meant to say "the caterpillar and his hookah." I don't remember the Cheshire Cat doing anything with his mouth besides smiling.


  5. Good point, naomi. Your comment led me back to my original post about Bette Davis, and I noticed I had never inserted the link. So I Googled some key words, found the essay (here http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2008/10/thank_you_for_smoking.html) - and noticed that it has subsequently been altered...

    "The MPAA cautiously mentions smoking in their descriptions of movie ratings (even if it's Alice's caterpillar and his hookah)..."

  6. Churchy would surely been racking up the ASBO's if he were still around.

    While listening to a recent "This American Life" episode, Ira warns before the start of one of the stories; "Be warned this story contains anti-social behaviour."

    Welcome to the insane nanny WORLD where ruthless murder on foreign soil is acceptable, and what you choose to do with your own body is none of your business.


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