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Apple responds to censorship challenge

By August 4, 2008April 22nd, 20215 Comments

Mad Men on iTunes

Last week, Gawker reported that Apple had censored the cigarette from the Mad Men page on iTunes (see above).

For a split second, I thought it was a good thing. I don’t smoke and couldn’t have been happier when Washington State’s Clean Indoor Air Act took effect.

But then I realized just how wrong taking Don Draper’s smokes is. Smoking is so prevalent on the show—and such an integral part of Draper’s character—one could argue it plays a supporting role.

Apple doesn’t appear to be doing this anywhere else: The marijuana leaf in the Weeds logo is intact and the gun in the Sopranos logo doesn’t appear to have the safety on.

Before publishing my post, I thought I should see if Apple had responded, and sure enough, they did.

The Mad Men iTunes page now has the original series branding with the cigarette fully intact.

Is this social responsibility gone overboard?

And did Apple do the right thing in restoring the original image?

Comment below to weigh in.

. . .
The image above is from the post mentioned above.

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Jeff says:

    I’m with you, Patrick. As a people, our outrage at “censorship” appears to be highly selective. Any thoughts on Nike’s pulling of a Nike ad deemed “homophobic”?,CST-NWS-nike27.article

    All too often our support of freedom of speech only applies to speech we support. If homophobia sells sneakers…if some shows just aren’t the same without cigarettes, guns, or cusswords, maybe that tells us something about ourselves that we need to examine more deeply. Knocking the damn things out of existence eliminates the possibility of the conversation – without altering the thing that needs to be discussed.

    Thanks for maintaining a great conversation.


  • Hello Jeff,

    Funny you should mention the Nike hyperdunk ad. I have a post in draft format I’ve been contemplating posting, but thought I should hold off since I’ve had a couple of posts w/ the homophobia theme lately.

    I’m not sure what to think about the Nike ads. I have to say, they don’t seem particularly homophobic to me. They seem like Nike really knows their target audience really well.

    “That ain’t right” with the guy dunking over another guy (giving him a face full of his crotch) is something a baller would say if he saw it happen.

    Nike recognizes same-sex couples and has an extremely open and accepting work culture. I can’t believe they’d run an ad that was insensitive on purpose.

  • Joy Levin says:

    Smoking was so prevalent at the time – it could be argued that taking the cigarette out of the ad only tries to conceal the authenticity of the era and actual behavior at that time. Wouldn’t that attempt to “cover up” be less responsible as well?

  • Jeff says:

    Great point, Patrick. When these kerfuffles arise, does anyone look deeper into the companies’ policies and practices support the perceived bigotry in the campaign? Nevertheless, the question remains…was pulling the ad because it was perceived as homophobic a case of “cowardice” (a charge leveled against Dunkin’ Donuts in the equally silly Rachael Ray kerfuffle — WOW! Two “kerfuffles” in one post! — or was it socially responsible GLBT “sensitivity”? I’m thinking also of the book Random House just decided not to publish because it’s deemed insulting to Islam (Op-Ed page in today’s Wall Street Journal”)

  • Social responsibility.... says:

    Would have been for the designer of the ad to do it without a cigarette. For apple to change the layout is censorship. If apple can change the layout for the ad, and get away with it, what is there to stop them from digitally tampering with the show itself the next time? For apple to tamper with someone else’s work that way infringes on freedom of speech, they are there to provide a service, to sell the show on itunes, they are not there to edit the content, only to pass it on to their customers. If they find the content of a particular show or ad to be objectionable, they could just not buy it for their subscribers, but as a service that provides downloads to subscribers, they are not responsible for editing content that the subscribers download. Regardless of what others think about smoking, the cigarette is an integral part of that character, and the times he was living in. I find apple’s approach very lopsided, to erase a cigarette, but leave a pot leaf or a gun, drugs and guns are ok, but cigarettes are not?

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