Monday, February 22, 2010

It makes me fume

Speaking of pipe-smoking, I was disturbed to read last week that a Turkish television channel has been fined £21,000 by a watchdog for broadcasting a Tintin cartoon in which Captain Haddock and some of the villains were smoking.

Normally, Turkish broadcasters blur images of smoking so that weak-minded viewers at home cannot fall under the evil influence and be tempted into plunging a Capstan's Full Strength into their mouth.

This is a bit silly. Is there really any harm in villains being portrayed smoking? Surely that is the sort of diabolical thing villains do. Or should they be restricted to only minor crimes, such as driving without putting on their seatbelt or fiddling their expenses?

As for Captain Haddock smoking, as every Tintin fan knows, the real problem the poor captain has is not being able to smoke his pipe in peace. I can't recall him ever getting through a whole pouch without Tintin slapping him on the back or Snowy biting his ankles or Professor Calculus roller-skating into him or umpteen other comic incidents that inevitably end with Haddock's pipe being broken. The whole thrust of Tintin is as anti-smoking propaganda.

Surely there are far worse things for the Turkish censors to get upset about, such as Captain Haddock's excessive drinking or his colourful bad language. Or, indeed, the barely veiled racism and anti-semitism in the books. Although that is probably OK in Turkey.

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