Following the backlash when the classic Tom and Jerry cartoons were released with Tom’s owner, Mammy Two Shoes, dubbed over with a “less ethnic” voice, or, in some cases, taken out completely and replaced with a thin, long-legged white woman, Looney Tunes cartoons were released on DVD in several collections as “complete and uncut.”
The racial overtones and violence were kept intact, and some organizations made it clear they were NOT happy about the release. The cartoons my generation was raised on were being vilified as “terrible influences, promoting racial profiling and extreme violence to innocent bystanders with no remorse or consequence.”
On the other side, many people enjoyed seeing the cartoons that in many ways so completely summarized their growing years exactly as they remembered them, and advised the conservative groups in no uncertain terms to “lighten up and grow up.”
If you know me at all, you know on which side I fall. I watched Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety and Sylvester, Yosemite Sam, the shy buzzard, Elmer Fudd, the elephant who’s “faithful, 100 percent,” the little owl who refused to conform to a classical music lifestyle, and all of the rest…before school, after school, in the summer, and even on Showtime when the full-length movies were released in the 1970s and 80s.
At the time, I don’t think I really understood the few moments of racism that permeated the shorts (most often in the early years). Looking back, I see why they would be considered offensive. While I think that, in the case of Hanna-Barbera’s Tom and Jerry, it is RIDICULOUS and OFFENSIVE in and of itself to replace Mammy with a young, skinny white woman (basically trying to erase the fact that there were overweight black women in existence in the 1930s and 40s), Looney Tunes’ depiction of characters in blackface and the creation of Aborigine-monkey hybrids are definitely crossing the line by today’s standards.
In an intro to the Looney Tunes DVD collection, Whoopi Goldberg says the shorts were “a product of their time,” and to erase them from pop culture would take away the opportunity to educate children about racism and what is and is not acceptable in entertainment. I agree.
I also STRONGLY agree that the over-the-top explosions, falls from thousands of feet in the air, anvils on the head and rifle shots from hunters should NOT be edited. The studies which claim children raised on those types of cartoons grow up to be violent adults BECAUSE of those cartoons are completely without merit. Strictly from a common sense standpoint, children in the 60s and 70s did not create an especially angry and violent community. There were no rogue gangs of 10-year-olds traveling in packs, beating old women to death and eating yellow canaries alive while wearing “I saw this on Looney Tunes” t-shirts.
On the other hand, what, it can be argued, did today’s society of “sanitized” children’s entertainment bring about? A utopia of peace and serenity among the youth? Or has there been a rash of school shootings by children, incidents of extreme bullying, and bloody fights involving children as young as eight or ten posted on websites and garnering millions of hits? An interesting point to ponder, I think.
There is a popular meme posted on Facebook that depicts Wile E. Coyote, sitting atop a giant bottle rocket and lighting the fuse. Underneath, the caption reads, “You didn’t have to tell kids not to try this at home. We weren’t complete retards back then.”
While I certainly do not condone the slur in the meme, I understand the sentiment. I watched Looney Tunes for years, and never ONCE did I drop an anvil from the top of a building onto ANYone, animal or human. I also never felt the urge to take a shotgun and see if you can actually “shoot” a duck’s beak onto the back of their head. I grew up pretty well-adjusted (shut up, some of you), and I have become a productive member of society…in spite of the terrible influence of Looney Tunes.
Get over yourselves. If you have that much time on your hands, take up knitting. The rest of us will be watching old episodes of Looney Tunes.