Sunday 25 September 2011

Puritans then and now

I'm grateful to Michael McFadden for alerting me to an article in the New York Times (City’s Battle Against Smoking Goes Back Centuries). In particular, this reference to the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union caught my eye. When not fighting for Prohibition, this band of puritans spent a great deal of time battling tobacco, as readers of Velvet Glove, Iron Fist will recall.

In 1907, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in Manhattan began inspecting library books to eliminate smoking heroes and heroines from modern novels.

A bunch of zealots vandalising artistic work to further an obsessive political agenda? This sounds rather familiar. I suppose 1907 was a bit early to go after smoking in the movies, but their ideological descendants have got that base covered and, as mentioned in a recent post, the latter-day temperance movement will no doubt soon demand that booze be banished from our screens (for the sake of the children, natch).

How strange it is that we have 20/20 vision when it comes to identifying cranks and puritans in earlier times but are so blind to them in the present day.


Pat Nurse MA said...

W G Voliva was a zealot anti-smoker who made the sign in the attached blog post. The wording is almost identical to those repeated "health" concerns today. He was a nutter.

Despite the leaps and bounds made in technology for all sorts of purposes, the puritans still refuse to believe that there is any other solution to the SHS irritant problem than enforced social exclusion of smokers.

Pat Nurse MA said...

This blog post, that is :>)

Anonymous said...

From Dave Atherton

This post is a bit ironical. When I was interviewed by CNN with Deborah Arnott, she brought her husband along. While she was in make up I was making polite conversation with him in the Green Room. He is a lecturer in cinema. I said that as someone who is interested in history are we going back to the Lumiere brothers, 1896, and corrected me it was 1895 when the first screening happened, La Sortie des usines (workers leaving a factory). Alas it was shown Le Salon Indien du Grand Café which no doubt sold alcohol and had a cendrier (ashtray).

In 1907 in cinematic history was the first production of Ben Hur so while in its infancy was becoming established.

nisakiman said...

"How strange it is that we have 20/20 vision when it comes to identifying cranks and puritans in earlier times but are so blind to them in the present day."

There are none so blind as those who will not see...

Ian B said...

The funny thing about that picture is, you'd need to be drunk to kiss any of those boot-faced harridans.

Michael J. McFadden said...

The library censors (picture Carrie Nation armed with a lighter instead of an axe) have always disturbed me. Years ago I saw an edition of Tom Sawyer with the smoking removed and thought to myself that if Mark Twain ever rose from his grave he'd have some very juicy first targets he'd set himself upon.

Pat, my computer seems to have its own censor going at the moment: all I'm seeing at the top of your blog is a black square with gray triangle with big exclamation point in the middle.


Michael J. McFadden said...

Interesting. I'd always assumed that this photo (the purty gals holding up their bright gay sign) must be a modern PhotoShop creation, but if you visit this blog:

and do some googling, it looks like it might be more or less for real.

BUT... when you do some MORE googling, you find stuff like this:

At the moment I am googled out cuz I have 34 more tabs to attend to in my browser at the moment, so that'll have to do.