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August 2006

Disney Is At It Again

I don't understand Disney at times. I really don't.

On 10 October Disney will release the 25th Anniversary Edition of The Fox and the Hound in pan-and-scan. The movie was filmed in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio with an intended aspect ratio of 1.76:1, meaning that in its intended aspect ratio this classic cartoon would perfectly fit the 16:9 AR of widescreen TVs.

According to DVD Times, Buena Vista Home Entertainment announced that the region 1 DVD release of The Fox and the Hound 2 on 12 December will be presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. I have not been able to independently verify this as Disney does not have many release specifications on their web site; however, this is certainly not atypical of Disney's on-again-off-again relationship with widescreen.

Muppet Treasure Island, filmed at 1.85:1, was a pan-and-scan-only release in 2002. Ah, but wait! The Muppet Movie, Muppet Treasure Island, The Great Muppet Caper, and The Muppet Christmas Carol are to be released in special editions on 29 November in both widescreen and pan-and-scan formats.

To add on even more confusion, Ultimate Disney reports that the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest will only be available in 2.35:1. No pan-and-scan version is expected to be announced.

Beauty and the Beast was released only in widescreen with a notice in the booklet to use your DVD player's zoom function if you don't want widescreen. The release of the special edition of The Little Mermaid on 3 October, just one week before The Fox and the Hound, will also be in 1.78:1.

Yet The Fox and the Hound is pan-and-scan only.

I'm grateful that Disney does not make automobiles. To take their widescreen stance and convert that into an engine would mean that the first and reverse gears get switched every time you fill up the tank.

Political Correctness Strikes the U.K. Again

One might argue that the United States has exported many good things and many bad things. I'll leave you to find out for yourself which is which, although I'm sure that most of you have already figured that out. Without question, one of the worst U.S. exports is political correctness. Beginning with the “hyphenated American” and culminating with the "it's someone else's fault" attitude, the idea behind political correctness is shameful.

Thanks to political correctness and the hyper-sensitivity of one viewer, British TV regulator OFCOM (Office of Communications) is forcing Turner Broadcasting to pull any of its classic Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. cartoons if the cartoon contains any kind of smoking a total of more than 1,500 cartoons. No, you did not read that incorrectly. 1,500 cartoons are at risk because of one complaint.

One of those cartoons that are targeted is Texas Tom, a classic Tom and Jerry episode in which Tom rolls his own cigarette, lights it, and puffs out "Howdy" in order to impress a newly-arrived, feline cowgirl.

Now Turner is deciding whether to remove the cartoons all together or digitally edit them to remove the cigarettes. "We are going through the entire catalogue," according to Yinka Akindele, a spokeswoman for Turner in Europe. "These are historic cartoons, they were made well over 50 years ago in a different time and different place," she added. That, of course, sounds reasonable until to read the statement that followed. "Our audience is children and we don’t want to be irresponsible."

OFCOM justified their desire for historical revisionism by stating that it recognized that smoking was more generally accepted when cartoons were produced in the 1940s, '50s and '60s; but they in turn stated that the threshold for including such scenes when the audience was predominately young should be high.

Ah, yes. The ultimate human shield for political correctness the children. Won't somebody please think of the children? This is the perfect excuse for the politically correct because they can easily reduce you to the level of sub-human if you do anything that can be perceived as harming children. Forget that we were all children. We watched the same cartoons. Those of you who turned out to be ax-murders, raise your hands. Not surprisingly, I don't see any raised hands.

Once again, film history is butchered in order to preserve the over-sensitivities of those who have been infected by the political correctness disease that is rewriting history. For some reason the idea of putting cartoons or movies from fifty years ago into their historical perspective is an anathema for some modern human beings. We have for reasons as yet unknown morphed from the generation that sacrificed themselves for the sake of others into a generation that sacrifices others for the sake of ourselves.

And once again, classic movies and cartoons that all of us have grown up with are subject to the editor's ax because of it. And if we fight this historical revisionism, we obviously hate children. How convenient.

Until next time!