Saw a really funny Robot Chicken episode on Adult Swim Sunday night poking fun at tobacco use among kids’ cartoon characters.
Being Robot Chicken, it was a bit demented, but still funny. The skit shows Fred Flintstone, Olive Oyl and Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland all in a hospital ward dying of lung disease. And the Pink Panther is also shown coughing and wheezing after taking a drag on his cigarette (Remember, the Pink Panther smoked, too.).
The Pink Panther has emphysema. Fred, who once actually was used by Winston cigarettes as a spokesman, is dying and is forced to use an electronic voice box. I cracked up at one of the comments on the YouTube video of the old Flintstone’s 1961 Winston commercial. A YouTube user said she had no idea there was a Flintstone’s cigarette ad until she saw the Robot Chicken skit.
Olive Oyl has lung disease from secondhand smoke from Popeye’s pipe and Caterpillar, who famously smoked a hookah in the 1950s Disney cartoon, is dying of lung cancer. In the Disney cartoon, in fact, not only did the Caterpillar smoke, he smoked around children and blew cigarette smoke right into Alice’s face. Alice didn’t cough or wheeze from it in the slightest. Jesus.
Popeye walks into the hospital ward and lights up his pipe, prompting a coughing fit from Olive Oyl. Barnie Rubble makes fun of Fred’s voice, then lights one of his Winstons near Fred’s oxygen tank, blowing them all up.
It’s demented fun, but the skit makes the point that there was a shocking amount of smoking in kids’ cartoons — Pinocchio, Goofy, Tom and Jerry all smoked. In fact, there continued to be a lot of smoking in kids’ cartoons right up until the early 2000s in Hiyao Miyazaki movies like “Spirited Away.” For some reason, Miyazaki always seems to include a lot of smoking in most of his anime films.
Here is the Robot Chicken skit:
Flintstones cigarette commercial:
Pink Panther smoking:
The Caterpillar smoking: