Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Erasing the Past


The latin phrase "damnatio memoriae" means the "condemnation of memory". It is to erase someone from history (and therefore from the future) as a form of punishment. If effectively done the future won't know it was done. After the physical records of someone's existence are destroyed then once those with memory of how it really was die the verbal history can be reduced from fact to mere rumor and innuendo. The impossibility of perfect central control makes it difficult to implement completely.

Below are some of the Orwellian examples of trying to erase the past and change history.  This is not an exhaustive list. Notice how the reasons for the purging of history have changed. Instead of being imposed by rulers as a means of showing power and consolidating power, it is now often done at the behest of neo-puritian busybodies, but that totalitarian instinct remains.

Personally, with the modern censors, I don't understand the logic in ignoring the stubborn reality and trying to create the illusion that the world appears the way they long for it to be.

(Here is Erasing the Past part 2)


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Hatshepsut (c. 1458 BC)

Hatshepsut's (c. 1479–1458 BC) figure was chiseled off the wall (click to embiggen to see it more clearly.)  probably ordered by the Pharaohs who ruled after her. 

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Publius Septimius Geta (c. AD 211)

Publius Septimius Geta's face scraped from a family portait
Publius Septimius Geta (lower left) was removed from this portrait of Septimius Severus' family at the order of his brother Caracalla (lower right). Geta and Caracall had been co-emperors and once Geta was dead Caracall was the sole Roman Emperor.
Roman inscription from c. AD 193-211 with Geta and his wife Plautilla's names removed.


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Marino Faliero (1355)

Marino Faliero, the 55th Doge of Venice, was executed for leading a coup and his official portrait replaced with this
Marino Faliero was the 55th Doge of Venice. He attempted a coup d'etat which failed and he was executed and his portrait removed and replaced with a painting of a black cloak bearing the inscription "Hic est locus Marini Faletro decapitati pro criminibus ("This is the space reserved for Marino Faliero, beheaded for his crimes")
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Leon Trotsky, Lev Kamenev, Artemy Khalatov & a 4th person

Leon Trotsky, Lev Kamenev, Artemy Khalatov & a 4th person before being removed from a photo
Taken Nov 7, 1919

Leon Trotsky, Lev Kamenev, Artemy Khalatov & a 4th person are gone after being removed from a photo
Leon Trotsky, Lev Kamenev, Artemy Khalatov, and a 4th person have disappeared.
Leon Trotsky was exiled and later killed with an ice ax to the head in 1940.
Lev Kamenev was arrested and executed in 1936. His two sons and his wife were also executed.
A.B. Khalatov was arrested and executed in 1938.

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Hitler edits Josef Stalin (c. 1939)

"After the forging of the Hitler-Stalin Pact in 1939, Hitler prohibited the publication of photographs of Stalin with a cigarette, reasoning, according to his photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, that among the German population such images would threaten the respectable status of the statesman with whom the Führer had struck a deal" 

(Sorry, I haven't seen an example)

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Nikolai Yezhov (c. 1940)

From left to right : some guys, Josef Stalin and Nikolai Yezhov of the NKVD aka the Vanishing Commisar.
From left to right : some guys, Josef Stalin and Nikolai Yezhov of the NKVD aka the Vanishing Commisar.
more Soviet era photo manipulation at englishrussia.comNikolai Yezhov, who had been the bloodthirsty Commissar of the NKVD, was removed from all positions, arrested, confessed under torture, was tried and executed in 1940. His execution remained a secret until 1948.

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Mussolini (1942)




Mussolini asks what stable boy?



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Lavrentiy Beria et al in and out of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1953)

In 1953, after Lavrentiy Beria's downfall from power in the USSR, the Great Soviet Encyclopedia mailed subscribers replacement pages (including University of California at Berkeley) and instructed them to cut out and destroy the 3 page article on Beria and paste in pages omitting Beria and expanding the adjacent articles (F. W. Bergholz –an 18th-century courtier–, the Bering Sea, and Bishop Berkeley)

Beria wasn't the only one. Nikolai Bukharin and others were also subject to the political winds revising what had been. More on censorship in the USSR at wiki.

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Carlos Franqui (1968)
Carlos Franqui (center) in the background as Fidel Castro broadcasts
Carlos Franqui disappears

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Gang of Four (1976)
The Gang of Four were airbrushed out of this photo of a memorial ceremony for Mao Tse-Tung



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coral damage
"When the Tokyo newspaper, Asahi Shimbun, sent a photographer to document the environmental problems with a coral reef, he carved his initials in the reef for the picture when he could not find enough damage."
(unlike many examples of editing the image of the past, this example is the creation of a fact and in doing so the destruction of the old reality)


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The Beatles I Want To Hold Your Hand reissue (1984)

The Beatles I Want To Hold Your Hand with Paul and his cigarette
Paul (far left) has a cigarette

The Beatles I Want To Hold Your Hand reissue (1984) with Paul but not his cigarette
On the 1984 reissue, Paul does not have a cigarette.


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Sonny Crockett's pistol (1985)
also from Photojournalism An Ethical Approach :


"The gun and shoulder holster were removed from "Miami Vice" actor Don Johnson (for a Rolling Stone cover) because editor Jan Wenner is an ardent foe of handguns."
Rolling Stone cover (Issue #444, March 28, 1985), Don Johnson had been wearing a gun in a shoulder holster until it was removed digitally. Tubbs is lucky to have survived.
Rolling Stone cover (Issue #444, March 28, 1985), Don Johnson had been wearing a gun in a shoulder holster until it was removed digitally. Tubbs is lucky to have made the cover; he could have been edited out if Wenner objected to men wearing jewelry or an aversion to pink pants.
Sorry, I'm not aware of where the unedited image could be found.

I can imagine Wenner's emotional reason to want to censor guns because he sees them as a representation of potential violence but imagine if they edited all the potentially dangerous things like the guns, knives, cocaine, explosions, alligators, fast cars (potentially driven dangerously), and potentially loose women out of Miami Vice.  It would have been a quick show.


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Robert Johnson postage stamp (1994)

Robert Johnson postage stamp (1994) and source photo with cigarette
after editing (left) on a 1994 USPS stamp and before editing (right) is a cropped version of one of a handful of known photos (only 2 last I heard) of Robert Johnson. Interestingly, the other photo has him in a hat & suit and no cigarette but the photo above is better known.


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James Dean postage stamp (1995)

James Dean walking with a cigarette photographed by Roy Schatt
James Dean walking with a cigarette photographed by Roy Schatt
The illustration to the right of the stamps is James Dean walking without his cigarette.
The illustration to the right of the stamps is James Dean walking without a cigarette.

"In a supplementary drawing I did to accompany my James Dean postage stamp of 1995, I was indeed asked to remove a cigarette dangling from Dean's mouth, and the resulting picture definitely lacked some of Dean's inimitable cool" 

Eventually, someone will suggest replacing the cars lining the street with bicycles or rickshaws.

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Jackson Pollock postage stamp (1999)


Jackson Pollock painting with a cigarette hanging from his lips.
Jackson Pollock painting with a cigarette hanging from his lips

In 1999, the US Postal Service stamp showing Jackson Pollock painting without the cigarette hangingfrom his lips.
In 1999, the US Postal Service stamp showing Jackson Pollock painting without the cigarette hanging from his lips.



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Audrey Hepburn German postage stamp (2001)

Audrey Hepburn German postage stamp (2001)
In 2001 a German Audrey Hepburn stamp was proposed but her son objected to the cigarette holder in her mouth, refused to consent to the stamps production and so the print run was destroyed. The movie Breakfast at Tiffany's still retains tobacco use.

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ET the movie re-release (2002)

ET 1982 and ET 2002 re-release with guns replaced with walkie-talkies
In the extended version of ET the element of danger of men with guns trying to catch ET was replaced with the element of potentially being poked by a walkie-talkie antenna or squelched at their general direction. 
I do wonder if they edited out the kid calling his brother(?) an unkind name

"For myself, I tried [changing a film] once and lived to regret it. Not because of fan outrage, but because I was disappointed in myself. I got overly sensitive to [some of the reaction] to E.T., and I thought if technology evolved, [I might go in and change some things]…it was OK for a while, but I realized what I had done was I had robbed people who loved E.T. of their memories of E.T. [...] If I put just one cut of E.T. on Blu-ray and it was the 1982, would anyone object to that? [The crowd yells "NO!" in unison.] OK, so be it."

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Clement Hurd book jacket photo (2005)

The children's book Goodnight Moon's illustrator Clement Hurd had a cigarette photoshopped from his hand in 2005 (17 years after his death) for a reprint edition.
Clement Hurd with and without cigarette.

The children's book Goodnight Moon's illustrator Clement Hurd had a cigarette photoshopped out of his hand in 2005 (17 years after his death) for a reprint edition. He now appears to be holding an invisible cup of beer.

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The Beatles Capitol Albums Vol. 2 (2006)

The Beatles origin image for the Beatles Capitol Albums Vol. 2 with 3 of the 4 holding cigarettes
the origin image

close up of the Beatles origin image for the Beatles Capitol Albums Vol. 2 with 3 of the 4 holding cigarettes
note a cigarette for Paul, Ringo and John.

The Beatles Capitol Albums Vol. 2 without any cigarettes and Ringo without 2 fingers
All 3 cigarettes have been edited away. Apparently, any cigarette held by the fab 4 have been edited out throughout the boxed set.
The Beatles Capitol Albums Vol. 2 without any cigarettes and Ringo without 2 fingers
Poor Ringo has lost not only his cigarette but part of 2 of his fingers.

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Tom and Jerry cartoons (2006)
still from Texas Tom - Tom, with Jerry's unwilling assistance, rolls a cigarette and smokes it in one drag. Censored in the UK.
Texas Tom - Tom, with Jerry's unwilling assistance, rolls a cigarette and smokes it in one drag.

After a single complaint charged theTom and Jerry cartoons “Texas Tom” (1950) and “Tennis Chumps”(1949)  “were not appropriate in a cartoon aimed at children” due to the presence of tobacco use Turner, owners of the Hanna-Barbera library, proposed to the British Office of Communications to edit "any scenes or references in the series where smoking appeared to be condoned, acceptable, glamorized or where it might encourage imitation."
Censored in the UK : Butch, Tom's tennis opponent smokes a cigar
Tennis Chumps - Butch, Tom's tennis opponent smokes a cigar

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Burt Reynolds DirectTV ad (2007)
Burt Reynolds in Cosmo from 1972 with cigarette, ashtray and little else.
Burt Reynolds in Cosmo from 1972 with cigarette, ashtray and little else.

Burt Reynolds reprinted from Cosmo for a DirectTV ad without cigarette or ashtray but still a lot of body hair
Burt Reynolds reprinted from Cosmo for a DirectTV ad without cigarette or ashtray
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Shouldn't the movie On The Beach (1959) be edited to assure the viewer that the war was fought with cream pies and cupcakes instead of nuclear weapons and so everybody is fine (or at least give Anthony Perkins' supposedly Australian character an Australian accent)?


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 Bette Davis postage stamp (2008)

a still of Bette Davis from the fine film All About Eve
above is a still from the fine film All About Eve (which could reasonably be renamed to Bitches in Theatre)

USPS stamp of Bette Davis with altered coat

The painter of the stamp says his source photograph did not have a cigarette and so he did not edit it out but that her mink coat was considered unacceptable so it was replace with a red velvet one. His source was almost certainly a promotional shot from the fine film All About Eve (1950).  If so, then the minks in question (if they were in fact mink and not fake fur) had been dead for at least 58 years before the stamp was released.


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Shouldn’t they put sandals on greek nudes sculptures… think of the health risk of tetanus.


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 Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo's self portrait (2009)

The Artist and the Model, 1940 by Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo with cigarette
"The Artist and the Model," 1940 by Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo with cigarette (the original)

"The Artist and the Model," 1940 by Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo without cigarette (as edited by the Manley Council)
"The Artist and the Model," 1940 by Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo without cigarette (as edited by the Manley Council)
One of the most despicable and destructive edits on this list as the painter made conscious decisions of what to include and what to leave out of his piece of work.

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This growing tendency towards bowdlerization must explain why the otherwise inquisitive media can't seem to find any photos of the admitted smoker Barack Obama smoking.

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Winston Churchill (2010)

Winston Churchill with cigar
Winston Churchill with cigar

Winston Churchill with cigar digitally removed
Winston Churchill edited to be without his cigar for a banner outside the Britain at War Museum. The museum authorities claimed they didn't know who did the editing or why it was edited. I don't believe them.

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 Shouldn't Buster Keaton movies be altered so he is at a safe distance from dangerous events?

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Jean-Paul Sartre (2005)

Jean-Paul Sartre with cigarette
Jean-Paul Sartre with cigarette
altered photo of Jean-Paul Sartre without his cigarette on BnF poster
Jean-Paul Sartre without cigarette between his fingers (as censored by the French National Library aka Bibliothèque nationale de France)

Sartre didn't just smoke; he also wrote about smoking. If they are ok with removing the cigarette then why not photoshop his lazy eye or remove his glasses to suggest he had perfect vision? Why not make him less troll-like in appearance?

Sartre on smoking : "…the act of destructively appropriating the tobacco was the symbolic equivalent of destructively appropriating the entire world."
Asked "What is the most important thing in your life at present?", Sartre responded : "I don't know. Everything. Living. Smoking." (note that smoking didn't just make third place but arguably it is included in his first place answer too)


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 Movies like The French Connection and Bullitt wouldn’t be too different if everyone was shown driving the speed limit and obeying the proper rules of the road. 

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Jacques Tati (2009)

Jacques Tati on his bicycle with his iconic pipe from the movie Mon Oncle.
Jacques Tati on his bicycle with his iconic pipe from the movie Mon Oncle.

Jacques Tati with his pipe censored and covered with a pinwheel graphic from a poster advertising a Tati retrospective.
Jacques Tati with his pipe covered with a pinwheel graphic from a poster advertising a Tati retrospective.
Sartre and Tati lost their iconic tobacco products due to a french regulation regarding the direct or indirect promotion of smoking.


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Bathurst 1000 footage (2012)

Peter Brock's Bathurst car (unedited)
Peter Brock's Bathurst car (unedited)
Peter Brock's Bathurst car censored
Peter Brock's Bathurst car (edited)
vintage footage of the race being censored
vintage footage of the race is also being censored
It seems, while showing a history of the Bathurst 1000 auto race Australia's Channel 7 has edited it to hide the sponsorship from tobacco companies. Even vintage footage of old races, from at a time when tobacco sponsorship was not banned, have been edited with a crude blur. 

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Socrates drank... grape juice from a juice box wasn't it?


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update Oct 25, 2012 : 
A Visit from St Nicholas (aka 'Twas the Night Before Christmas) (2012)

A Canadian publisher, Grafton and Scratch, decided to remove 2 lines from the 189 year old, public domain poem by Clement C. Moore because they reference Santa Claus smoking.  Additionally, she has ensured that the accompanying illustrations do not show Saint Nick smoking. The publisher, Pamela McColl, is an anti-smoking activist who spends a lot of space on the book's website talking about smoking. She says "I have come to realize the way that children look at Santa and the need for him to be a good example for all children"

The 2 lines omitted : "The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, / And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath"

I suspect the number of pipe smoking children has probably been on the decrease since before this books publication. 

The LATimes observes that the book includes : a note from Santa on the back flap that says his fur is fake and he has “decided to leave all of that old tired business of smoking well behind us.” 
However, Santa is still portrayed as obese and includes the lines "He had a broad face and a little round belly / That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly" and treats animals in a manner some would disapprove of but her response to Santa's weight is that "He doesn't eat in the story. That's not my issue." 

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(go to Erasing the Past part 2)

4 comments:

bruce said...

Bette Davis with cigarette airbrushed from her fingers looks like she's shyly ordering drinks. Changes the whole effect.

Deadman said...

Another example of prudish bowdlerisation leading to even worse interpretations is the editing of “Frankenstein” (1931). The monster (Boris Karloff) encounters a farmer’s young daughter, who persuades him to play a game of tossing flowers into a lake in order to watch them float. When they run out of flowers, the monster picks up the girl and throws her into the lake, but she drowns. The confused monster is saddened when he realises that he made a terrible mistake. Subsequently, the girl’s father assumes that the monster killed the girl deliberately and stirs the peasants to seek revenge.
In the censored version, the monster wanders off with the girl—and then the father is carrying dead body. Clearly, the monster must have done something really depraved.

Michael McFadden said...

Col., TRULY amazing collection! You must have put a LOT of work into this because it's something I've followed closely over the years and yet you dug up a good number of examples I'd never seen before.

Well done!

You should try a sub-page on video smoking censorship of various types. E.G. Sherlock Holmes has now had his pipe replaced with Big Pharma Approved nicotine patches, Dexter's smoking sister has quit her evil ways and now we're treated to smokers mainly being limited to a group of pedophiles living under a bridge, and in India(?) they're going through old films and replacing cigarettes etc with cute little CGI pictures of flowers.

George Orwell must be spinning in his grave!

OH! I just remembered two examples you've left out, though I don't have picture links: FDR minus his ever-present cigarette holder (I believe it's been done in photos, but know it's been done in a sculpture in D.C. someplace.) and Oscar Wilde(?) who has a statue that someone regularly vandalizes, spending hours sawing off Oscar's bronze or steel cigarette into oblivion. See: http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/who_is_stealing_oscar_wilde_s_cigarette_1_87960

Amazing, eh? And sad.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

Michael J. McFadden said...

I hadn't thought of it when I visited here before, but I believe I've seen both versions of that 1931 Frankenstein, and upon seeing the censored version had *felt* something like a scene with him tossing the girl in the pond was missing but had assumed I must have misremembered it!

Thanks Deadman!

- MJM