Above is one of the few authentic photographs of Robert Johnson, the
great blues artist. Having allegedly made a bargain with the
Devil to acquire his almost supernatural musical gift he was probably
not too worried about the health effects of
smoking, but others are worrying on his behalf — and yours. A
U. S. postage stamp made from the photograph removed the cigarette from
Robert Johnson paid for this photobooth portrait, and
this was how he chose to present himself before the camera's eternal
gaze, with the haunted eyes and the spidery fingers on the frets of his
guitar and the cigarette dangling from his lips. I wonder if the
bureaucrats who decided to alter his image of himself ever really
listened to his music — ever realized that the hellhounds on Robert Johnson's trail were also on theirs.
Below is a link to a Boing Boing post about the removal of cigarettes from historical images of literary and pop culture
The Cigarette Police
a kid I remember being horrified to learn that the Soviet government
would rewrite the “factual” content of encyclopedias to reflect the
current political climate. Now Western governments and corporate
entities (like there's a difference between the two) are tidying
up history to reflect current policies of social hygiene.
may see a big difference between these two forms of historical
revisionism but the phenomena are intimately related in principal —
both involve large state and corporate interests appropriating history and
changing it at will. They are, in other words, staking a claim to the
ownership of history, and by extension reality.