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The Censored Eleven
July 10, 2007 7:01 AM   Subscribe

The Censored Eleven [IMDB] is a group of Warner Brothers cartoons that have been withheld from syndication because of their racial stereotypes: Hittin' the Trail to Hallelujah Land (1931; info), Sunday Go to Meetin' Time (1936; info), Clean Pastures (1937; info), Uncle Tom's Bungalow (1937), Jungle Jitters (1938), The Isle of Pingo Pongo (1938), All This and Rabbit Stew (1941; info), Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (1943; info), Tin Pan Alley Cats (1943; info), Angel Puss (1944), and Goldilocks and the Jivin' Bears (1944). [more inside]
posted by kirkaracha (65 comments total) 74 users marked this as a favorite

 
Somehow Tokio Jokio (1943; recap) didn't make the list.

"Twelve missing hares" is 12 politically incorrect Bugs Bunny cartoons that weren't aired during Cartoon Network's 2001 June Bugs Marathon: Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt (1941; info), Any Bonds Today? (1942; info), What's Cookin' Doc? (1944; info), Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips (1944; info), Herr Meets Hare (1945; info), A Feather in his Hare (1948; info), Mississippi Hare (1949; info), Frigid Hare (1949; info), Which is Witch? (1949; info), and Bushy Hare (1950; info), Horse Hare (1960; info). ("All This and Rabbit Stew" is on both lists.)

Bug Bunny does an Uncle Tom parody in Southern Fried Rabbit (1953; info).

Warner Brothers included "Southern Fried Rabbit" uncut on Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 4, with this disclaimer:
The cartoons you are about to see are products of their time. They may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. While the following does not represent the Warner Bros. view of today's society, these cartoons are being presented as they were originally created because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed.
"Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips," and "Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs," and the Censored 11 have been mentioned several times previously in comments.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:02 AM on July 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


After the Loonie Toons thread earlier this week, I was totally going to do a fpp on this...
posted by empath at 7:05 AM on July 10, 2007


Coal Black is a brilliant cartoon, btw, racist stereotypes or not.

Also:

Porky Pig working blue.
posted by empath at 7:07 AM on July 10, 2007


I don't understand what's wrong with Herr meets Hare. It's not ok to make fun of Nazis now?
posted by OmieWise at 7:13 AM on July 10, 2007


Thanks kirkaracha! Great post.
posted by Mister_A at 7:16 AM on July 10, 2007


Fine for adults, but probably not appropriate material for children.
posted by empath at 7:17 AM on July 10, 2007


When I was a kid (1950's) I remember that a lot of these cartoons were part of the regular rerun cycle on TV.

I also remember Popeye cartoons where he was in the US Navy and was fighting against the Japanese in the Pacific. Those were pretty amazing, too.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:20 AM on July 10, 2007


I've always heard that Coal Black was hilarious even if racist so I watched it a few months ago. I got about 2 minutes before I unsmilingly turned it off.
posted by DU at 7:21 AM on July 10, 2007


Wow. These cartoons bothered me a whole lot more than I thought they would. Sure, technically there's good stuff going on, but the stereotypes got me seeing red real quick.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:21 AM on July 10, 2007


I clicked on three links, and all three are no longer on YouTube due to copyright claims. Any alternative links?
posted by palancik at 7:23 AM on July 10, 2007


I recall seeing "Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt" so much as a child during afternoon cartoon shows or Saturday morning fare that I can't hear Longfellow's poem recited without mentally adding the sound of a rabbit chewing on a carrot.

Don't even talk to me about going to see Wagner and not humming "Kill da wabbit! Kill da wabbit!" under my breath.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:25 AM on July 10, 2007


Makes you realize how things *have* changed; peoples' attitudes have progressed considerably in a relatively short time. Maybe we aren't as fucked as it appears.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 7:29 AM on July 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid (1950's) I remember that a lot of these cartoons were part of the regular rerun cycle on TV.

I was definitely still seeing some of these on TV in the 70s and 80s as well.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:34 AM on July 10, 2007


"Hittin' the Trail to Hallelujah Land" was banned because it's just shit really. Well at least in this house.
posted by mattoxic at 7:34 AM on July 10, 2007


I clicked on three links, and all three are no longer on YouTube due to copyright claims.

I clicked on all of the ones in the FPP and they all worked after your post.
posted by dobbs at 7:34 AM on July 10, 2007


I think that statement from Warner from the DVD is a pretty classy move on their part. Many companies would certainly fall into the "lets pretend it never happened" camp.
posted by chunking express at 7:40 AM on July 10, 2007


Hiawatha was definitely on in the 80s and I agree with thanotopsis in re: the poem.
posted by DU at 7:44 AM on July 10, 2007


I remember seeing Rabbit Stew in the late 70s or early 80s on local TV (in Oklahoma). They were playing Which is Witch clear into the 90s.
posted by dw at 7:59 AM on July 10, 2007


The trip scene in Tin Pan Alley Cats is interesting. I wonder if it's a reference to marijuana use in the jazz scene.
posted by TrialByMedia at 8:10 AM on July 10, 2007


How about all the editing on the cartoons now? The most dissapointing to me was when during the square dance in "Hillbilly Hare", the following has been (at least the ones I've seen) removed:

Now lead your partner, the dirty ol' thing
Follow through with an elbow swing
Grab a fence post, hold it tight
Whomp your partner with all your might
Hit him in the shin, hit him in the head
Hit him again, the critter ain't dead
Wop him low and wop him high
Stick your finger in his eye


I've notice many more edits (not just to reduce the cartoon time and increase commercial time), but this is the one I can most clearly remember.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 8:10 AM on July 10, 2007


BozoBurgerBonanza: Another edit is the removal of cigarettes from some of the cartoons. For example, "Rocket Squad", at some point, has Daffy Duck smoking a cigarette (while in a spaceship). In more recent version, the cigarette has been airbrushed out. The same is true of the sericels that were released starting in the 90s. The same type of removals happened too.
posted by TNLNYC at 8:16 AM on July 10, 2007


Wow. These cartoons bothered me a whole lot more than I thought they would. Sure, technically there's good stuff going on, but the stereotypes got me seeing red real quick.

Disney and Warner Bros. had nothing on Dr. Seuss. It's even more disturbing given almost every other piece of his work was dedicated to progressive political ideas and racial and social tolerance.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:41 AM on July 10, 2007


Omiewise, I heard (and of course I can find no confirmation of this now) that Herr meets Hare was pulled because most kids didn't have a clue who "Fatso Goering" was, and the last scene (featuring Bugs as Stalin) was totally incomprehensible.
posted by watsondog at 8:43 AM on July 10, 2007


Adding, for the record, Seuss to his dying day expressed regret for the racist cartoons he did. In fact, Horton Hears a Who was allegedly a parable about Hiroshima and U.S. postwar occupation of Japan.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:45 AM on July 10, 2007


Wow that Sues comic is really bizarre when you compare it to everything else he put out.
posted by chunking express at 8:56 AM on July 10, 2007


I was a gigantic Bugs fan at a very very young age & still am. I think part of why I became a designer was that I really wanted to become an animator for Warner Bros. and it was the closest I could get. Thanks to Bugs and the fact that some of my very first treasured books were actually my sisters' Mad magazines, my grown-up sense of humor used to really freak out the adults around me from the moment I could speak.

So flash forward a few decades. My clearest opera memories are still from Bugs even though I've been to quite a few actual operas in my life. I used to have a giant orange goldfish named Gossamer. When I get lost, I still say I forgot to make a left turn at Albuquerque. I remember using the phrase "It ain't Wendell Willkie!" as a child even though I didn't know who he was until I just looked him up about five minutes ago. The influence Bugs Bunny has had on me is never really going to go away.

So seeing some of these cartoons got me thinking because I REALLY remember them... very vividly. On one hand, I'm glad that we are politically correct enough not to not be making anti Iraqi cartoons for our kids. I'm glad that Spongebob Squarepants isn't playing foe to a cartoon version of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I grew up in a very white area where so I didn't know many black people as a kid, so this is how they were being introduced to me. And that's really terrifying. I'm lucky that I moved away and have found out for myself what other ethnicities in the world are really like... a lot of people don't. It makes me wonder how many little seeds of racism were planted in people that way. Packaged in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, it all seems so harmless & acceptable.

But on the other hand... in realizing just how strong my memories of these cartoons are, it's a bit scary when I wonder what kids nowadays ARE going to have memories of. What they're learning.

I know it won't be opera.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:01 AM on July 10, 2007 [5 favorites]


Makes you realize how things *have* changed;

Yep. No matter how conservative someone is considered today, he or she probably is (or at least talks as if) left of most liberals 50 years ago.
posted by pracowity at 9:17 AM on July 10, 2007


Hillbilly Hare, with the whomping. (It's on Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 3; the Golden Collection DVDs are the uncut original versions).

Another one that's not shown very often is "Oily American," with the Native American (Moe Hican) and his English butler ("your thomashawk, sir").

I like jazz because of "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby" in Tom & Jerry's Solid Serenade. (I grew up on cartoons like this, and yet somehow I never threw an iron into someone's head or hit them in the face with a brick.)
posted by kirkaracha at 9:19 AM on July 10, 2007


Sure, but Bugs is still cross-dressing and smooching Elmer on the forehead! (and don't get me started about the inter-species gay marriage scene so prominently featured at the end of Rabbit of Seville . . . )
posted by yhbc at 9:21 AM on July 10, 2007


Do gay people find Bugs' crossdressing offensive? Most of my gay friends in the past have always said no... but they, like me, grew up loving Bugs as children. So I'm not sure.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:35 AM on July 10, 2007


yhbc, so the question suddenly becomes not 'how many racists' did WB create, but rather 'how many furries did Bugs create'. As cross-dressing rabbits go, he's pretty hot.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:44 AM on July 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


XQUZYPHYR - I'm not sure your link quite supports what you're saying:
HW: On the World War II political cartoons for PM and propaganda films for Frank Capra's Signal Corps: did Geisel come to regret some of the racism displayed in those pieces, especially since race was a theme of American culture and politics (in The Sneetches and even somewhat in Horton Hears a Who) that he took an interest in?

RL: That's a really good question, and I wish I knew for sure what the answer was. The only evidence I have comes from his biographers, who told me that years later—although still recognizing its necessity due to the war—he was regretful about some of his cartoons for PM and some of the propaganda work he did for the Army Signal Corps. I do think the fact he dedicated Horton Hears a Who—a parable about the American postwar occupation of Japan—to “My Great Friend, Mitsugi Nakamura of Kyoto, Japan,” says something of his changing attitudes toward the Japanese (this following a trip he made there in 1953). Though, as Richard Minear has pointed out, Horton Hears a Who still smacks of American chauvinism, and it makes no reference to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
posted by patricio at 10:16 AM on July 10, 2007


I remember watching cartoons with incredibly rascist depictions of black people when I was a kid (pitch-black, simple, giant red lips, mammies) and just not understanding the reference at all. I never put together that they were supposed to be cultural shorthand for black people until going to college and seeing how offensive they were.

And this is as a kid growing up in the 80s. I wonder what the experience was for kids coming up contemporaneously with these cartoons?
posted by deafmute at 10:19 AM on July 10, 2007


I distinctly remember the Tom and Jerry cartoons with the Aunt Jemima-esque maid.

They played those well into the 90s.

Another show I watched a lot, The Three Stooges, had its fair share of racial caricatures.

I'm really not sure what to think about it. Obviously, I find them distasteful, but I can't recall as a kid thinking that they were supposed to be me. I identified far more with Benny Hill, which in terms of psyche damaging television, was arguably worse.

I think it's important that they be preserved just so people can understand how racial prejudice was and is an integral part of our national consciousness and it isn't going to go away because we all decided it's bad now.
posted by eisbaer at 10:42 AM on July 10, 2007


I don't understand how "pitch-black, simple, giant red lips, mammies" is an incredibly racist depiction. They are caricatures. And the cartoonists never shied away from caricaturizing anyone. The "country bumpkin" in one of those clips is as white as wonderbread, f'rinstance. Tweety's "Gramma" is a caricature. Yosemite Sam, too.

I guess my opinion can be written off as white man's blindness.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:46 AM on July 10, 2007


Not by me, five fresh fish. I think it's a complete double standard to "censor" those eleven in the original post while still airing the Hillbilly Hare cartoon.

I hope these are still online when I get home. I'm going to download them all, burn them to a DVD, and then show them to my kids. And I bet they'll laugh at them as heartily as I plan to.
posted by tadellin at 11:37 AM on July 10, 2007


Tex Avery’s Magical Maestro was censored as well, last I saw it on tv (probably the most brilliant cartoon ever made).
posted by Smedleyman at 11:44 AM on July 10, 2007


eisbaer: They still show the Aunt Jemima T&J cartoons. There's too many of them to take them completely out of circulation, since she used to be part of the Tom & Jerry premise. These days they redub her voice. I -think- they haven't digitally lightened her, though.
posted by JHarris at 12:21 PM on July 10, 2007


Do gay people find Bugs' crossdressing offensive?

Actually, I always found it incredibly titillating. There was something strange about the fact that in general, his "maleness" was made evident only by his voice, and he lacked any other distinctly male features. It made the sexiness of the females he transformed into very shocking, because when he was male, he wasn't sexy at all. I mean, unless you're into that.
posted by hermitosis at 12:25 PM on July 10, 2007


I don't understand how "pitch-black, simple, giant red lips, mammies" is an incredibly racist depiction.

That's just sad. I'll help you out here. They ARE racist. They ARE deeply offensive. Now you know. What you choose to do with that information is up to you. I understand your point about the double standard of stereotypes, but if you fail to see that there are also other dynamics at play, you are indeed suffering from a form of blindness. One that happens to be curable.

'm going to download them all, burn them to a DVD, and then show them to my kids.

If you do, I hope you have the foresight to at least explain to them what they're seeing, and maybe take the opportunity to teach them something. Please let them know that what they might find funny, others find hurtful and offensive.
If not for reasons of cultural awareness or intellectual curiosity, at the very least take the opportunity to teach them a valuable lesson about kindness and dignity.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:45 PM on July 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


A caricature is drawing that distorts an individual's features into a still-recognizable portrait.

A stereotype creates a distorted character based on generalizations.

Tweety's Granny was a stereotypical granny.

The Mammy is a stereotypical black person.

See the difference?
posted by hermitosis at 12:53 PM on July 10, 2007


fff and tadellin, do you truly not get it? here're are three major differences:

1) there are other depictions of white characters -- and indeed, rural whites -- in the cartoons that portray successful, intelligent, capable characters. generally, those "caricatures" of blacks were the only black characters displayed.

take a look at the heinlein discussion from the other day. there's some wiggle room for people to defend him from accusations of sexism/misogyny because some of his female characters are strong, independent and capable. if all of his female characters were merely playthings for the dominating men, you couldn't defend him by saying "well, some of his male characters are weak idiots too!"

2) no matter how insulting that hillbilly caricature may be, the people upon whom it was based were not lynched, denied the right to vote, thought of as not having souls, prohibited from marrying white women, etc. at the time these cartoons were made, you clean the hillbilly up and he gets accepted anywhere he goes. put the maid from tom and jerry in her finest clothes and she still has to use a different entrance to the building than the hillbilly.

3) you will often see people from rural areas proudly or defiantly displaying images that resemble those from the cartoon on clothing, buildings, foods, etc.

i have never, ever seen a black person proudly display jigaboo images. as far as i know, there are no historically black colleges that have jigaboos as mascots the way some colleges in the south have some type of hillbilly or "mountain man" types as theirs.

i'm sure there are more differences, but those are three that immediately sprung to my mind.
posted by lord_wolf at 1:32 PM on July 10, 2007 [4 favorites]


For the record, I ain't Wendell Willkie either.
posted by wendell at 1:53 PM on July 10, 2007


I guess we'd best ban Married with Children, because the depiction of whites showed only people who were ignorant, sexist, abusive, spiteful, mean people.

Those who are hating on the old cartoons had better be presently hating on the likes of Family Guy, which is about a dozen times worse.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:33 PM on July 10, 2007


And for that matter, network sitcoms should all be banned from television. They almost all depict men in a sexist, hateful manner. From Tim the Toolman Taylor to Homer Simpson, men are time and fucking time again stereotyped as blundering idiots who lack any ability to relate to their wives and children.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:36 PM on July 10, 2007


I guess we'd best ban Married with Children, because the depiction of whites showed only people who were ignorant, sexist, abusive, spiteful, mean people.

Nope. You're missing an "or" in there, but those depictions sound about right to me. That was the whole point of Married - it was a crude exaggeration of everyone's foibles.

Putting aside the horribly skewed perspective in the phrase "about a dozen times worse" (Family Guy worse than Coal Black? Seriously?), the racism in Family Guy comes at it from a completely different angle. They usually use racism as the joke rather than for a joke, and we laugh not a Peter's racist line but at the fact that he said it. Remember the whole "Weinstein" flap? There's a big difference between direct racist attacks and self-deprecation.
posted by dgbellak at 3:53 PM on July 10, 2007


men are time and fucking time again stereotyped as blundering idiots who lack any ability to relate to their wives and children

Or the ability to understand a joke.
posted by dgbellak at 3:57 PM on July 10, 2007


I don't see "this is racist" as an automatic call to ban something.

It troubles me that fathers are almost always depicted as incompetent at anything even remotely connected to their feelings. My Dad isn't like that. Absolutely it's sexist. But it doesn't follow that it should be banned. I hope that the next generation of sitcom writers will choose to depict fathers differently, because attitudes are changing.

As an aside, Family Guy strikes me as satirizing racism (and sometimes sexism) rather than being an uncritical reflection of it.
posted by joannemerriam at 4:36 PM on July 10, 2007


poor oppressed white men!
posted by empath at 4:37 PM on July 10, 2007


These cartoons are not 'banned' in any way shape or form. They just don't show them on kids tv shows, and for good reason.
posted by empath at 4:37 PM on July 10, 2007


You're right, prejudice is completely equal, toe to toe, all the way to the bottom. What were all those persecuted "minorities" all in a flap about anyway?
posted by hermitosis at 4:39 PM on July 10, 2007


Full version of 1942's Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd vehicle Fresh Hare, including its habitually censored ending (YouTube, 07:35).
posted by LinusMines at 4:50 PM on July 10, 2007


in realizing just how strong my memories of these cartoons are, it's a bit scary when I wonder what kids nowadays ARE going to have memories of. What they're learning.

I know it won't be opera.


Not quite so bleak as all that. My daughter is partial to Little Einsteins, which, however artless in other respects, does have classical music to recommend it.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:46 PM on July 10, 2007


in realizing just how strong my memories of these cartoons are, it's a bit scary when I wonder what kids nowadays ARE going to have memories of. What they're learning.

I know it won't be opera.


well, but quite a bit of classical music finds its way into kids tv. Baby Einstein is nothing but, though you can argue that dancing hand puppets plus Beethoven is not as good as Tom and Jerry doing Beethoven.

In other places (says a parent who's ended up watching way too much kiddy TV), you have Curious George, which has a quite nice big-band theme song. You have the Backyardigans which has Broadway-worthy tunes with clever lyrics (or just funny ones). You have Blues Clues, which has basically a beebop musical score. I love Carl Stalling as much as the next person, but he was not the be all and end all of cartoon music.

And let us not forget that our kids have the Simpsons, which has some of the better musical parodies out there, along with its general sophistication, which is where you get Bugs-Bunny level humor.

But oh yeah; fff, can you really not understand why all stereotypes are not created equal? I'm not even sure where to start with that. The widespread institutional use of Uncle Tom, Aunt Jemima, humorous savages, and childlike Negroes as shorthand for "black person" cannot really be compared to the existence of Lil' Abner, or Aggie jokes, or Yosemite Sam, in terms of negative impact. As someone else pointed out, all it takes to stop being a hick is the right accent and good clothes. No such luck for someone tired of being called "boy".
posted by emjaybee at 7:42 PM on July 10, 2007


I can understand being offended by the caricatures used by the cartoonists. They grossly exaggerate stereotypical features, and in the wartime ones especially they do it with mean intent, uglifying instead of parodying.

Seriously, emjaybee, I don't get it. I read L'il Abner every day, and it's all about what a bunch of hicks and goofs live up in those Ozark-style hills. I really do not see a whole lot of difference between Al Capp's depiction of rural folk, and Warner Bros' depiction of black folk.

How is it that one is less offensive than the other?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:51 PM on July 10, 2007


ok five fresh fish... It's hard not to read your statement "I don't get it" as "I don't WANT to get it" It's also possible that you're just trolling for an argument. But you asked, and for some godforsaken reason, I'm still awake, so here goes...

Is one less offensive than the other? That's a tricky question, because offensive is mostly a matter of perception. If you personally are offended by Lil Abner, and not by Warner Bros. darkies, then in your case the former is personally more offensive than the latter. We all have our personal levels of tolerance. In a free society, that should be enough. This has not always been a free society.

Black Americans were not guaranteed the right to vote in this country until 1964. Participation in our representative government has only been unquestionably available to my family for the past 43 years. Up until 1865, it was legal to own a Black Person in America as property. Up until 142 years ago, Black Americans were not citizens of this country. We were property. Think about the things you own. Could you own a person, and still consider them human?

That's what this is about. This is what you are not understanding. To you this is about being offended. To me, and to a lot of other people it is about our basic right to be seen, treated and regarded as a human being. That has not always been the case in this country.

The things that were done to keep Black Americans in their position as property and second class citizens were horrific. A few cartoons is the least of it. But they were part of it. The systematic portrayal of Blacks as seen in these cartoons was part of the public consciousness. A public consciousness that allowed segregation to be rule of law,and allowed lynching to be used as a form of legally sanctioned intimidation and opression. A public consciousness that explicitly stated that these people are not like us. They do not deserve to live like us or with us.

These cartoons were not caricatures. They were not satire. They were the prevailing symbols of Black Americans in a country where we did not have the basic freedoms that many take for granted. Your freedom to choose what to be offended by is the same freedom my great grandfather risked being lynched for.

In America, we take our symbols very seriously. After 9/11 images of the World Trade Center were removed from films. Personally, I think this was ridiculous. However, it goes to show that people do not like seeing symbols of things that have caused them pain. They are offended by them.

I hold no grudges against the past. It is because of our past, not in spite of it that I love this country. Just as it is important that we remember these glimpses of how America used to be, it is equally important that we acknowledge that what they show us can be so very ugly.

You find enjoyment in these cartoons? Nothing wrong with that. Want to show them to your kids? OK, but hopefully you won't miss the chance to teach them something useful. If not about racism, then at least about basic human dignity. But if you're honestly saying you can't see the difference between Lil Abner and some of the images portrayed in these cartoons, then your diagnosis of blindness is off the mark. Blind means you can't see. If you choose not to see, that's a much deeper malady. One I can feel pity for, but can't really help you with.
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:36 AM on July 11, 2007 [5 favorites]


I think "choose not to see" can apply either way, billyfw. We're both wearing tinted glasses.

I can see why one would be offended by the caricatures and stereotypes. They are pretty extreme. In some of the films they're used hurtfully, instead of jokingly, and that I can see as racist.

I do not think the mere use of a caricature or stereotype is necessarily racist, though. Almost every show on television, animated or live action, makes heavy use of stereotypes. From bespectacled geeks to tomboy adventurers, stereotypes are used as shorthand.

"Racist" is, to me, a damn serious accusation. I'm not sure I would want to tar a Merrie Melodies cartoon with the same brush as used on StormFront propaganda. I have doubts that Chuck Frelang wanted to segregate or exterminate anyone.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:56 AM on July 11, 2007


I have doubts that Chuck Frelang wanted to segregate or exterminate anyone

Neither did my family, but it wouldn't have stopped them from disowning me if I had ever tried to date a black or hispanic person when I was younger.

It's that gray shady area that is so dangerous when it comes to broadcasting images in media and entertainment, that openness to interpretation, that makes it necessary to remove these from mainstream view.
posted by hermitosis at 8:34 AM on July 11, 2007


L'il Abner did not represent all white people. It represented poor, uneducated, rural white people. Offensive? Yes. Racist? No.

The "pitch-black, simple, giant red lips, mammies" (to quote deafmute) cartoons represented *all black people*. Offensive? Yes. Racist? You betcha.

Welcome to Racism 101. Please check your willful ignorance at the door.

(P.S. Miss Lynster - cross-dressing, or transvestitism, has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Most cross-dressers are straight men. You're either thinking of transsexualism or drag.)
posted by tzikeh at 8:45 AM on July 11, 2007


"Racist" is, to me, a damn serious accusation. I'm not sure I would want to tar a Merrie Melodies cartoon with the same brush as used on StormFront propaganda. I have doubts that Chuck Frelang wanted to segregate or exterminate anyone.

I think this is where you make a mistake, fff. Things don't have to be of the same intensity to have the same roots, or to support the same agenda. It's a testament to how much has changed in the US that we can have a discussion about the relative harm of these kinds of severe stereotypes without worrying too much about whether or not they're contributing to a severely racist status quo. When the cartoons were made, however, they were part of a whole system (not consciously orchestrated, but a system nonetheless) that bolstered explicit oppression and inequality. That system was bulwarked by arguing, in both subtle and overt ways, that blacks did not deserve equal rights or protections because they were ludicrous misshapen savage children. Looking at the images in isolation, or without a sense of history, makes it much easier to argue that surely the impact of them must not sink to the depths of racism.

While it's tempting to argue that Stormfront propaganda is worse, I'm not sure that's true. Most explicitly racist propaganda isn't targeted at children, nor is it served up with a spoonful of sugar. In that respect these cartoons are like the Joe Camel of racism, and are arguably more pernicious to developing racial attitudes than neo-Nazi propaganda is. The notion that these are something to be shared and laughed at with children, as someone said upthread, is pretty sad. Patricia Williams has written a very nice essay, that I can't remember the name of now, about how the most difficult to reject racism is that learned as a shared, loving experience with your family. It may not be your parents talking about the dirty spics that's so damaging, but the jokes everyone in your family shares around the dinner table.
posted by OmieWise at 9:13 AM on July 11, 2007


Chuck Frelang
Chuck Jones or Friz Freleng?

posted by kirkaracha at 11:26 AM on July 11, 2007


No, their illicit love child, Chuck Freleng.

Is this racist? How is it different from the depiction of Mammy?
posted by five fresh fish at 1:35 PM on July 11, 2007


fff, are you not reading any of the comments in this thread?
posted by chunking express at 1:42 PM on July 11, 2007


That caricature exaggerates the features that make Tiger Woods Tiger Woods, not the features that make Tiger Woods black.

Christ almighty. Even in my younger, more ignorant days, this was not difficult to understand.
posted by dgbellak at 2:46 PM on July 11, 2007


Reading, but not understanding. What the hell is the difference between showing TW with giant lips, and showing Mammy with giant lips?

If one is offensive, why is the other not offensive?

I'm beginning to think that either I do racism really, really well... or that I am so unaware of race issues that I just can't see what's obvious.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:50 PM on July 11, 2007


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