Friday, August 27, 2010

Banned Bunny

Did you know that there are "banned" Bugs Bunny cartoons? That's right. There are, according to sources, twelve cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny that have been removed from circulation by the owners because they contained what was deemed to be racist or offensive content. Imagine that! Bugs Bunny cartoons -- racist and offensive.

Well, tell me "banned Bugs Bunny cartoons" and I go searching. I haven't found them all. They're not available. But I've seen a few. I watch them and think, "Oh, yeah, I can see how that would be offensive ... today." You see, when I watched them as a kid, I didn't see it. It's not that I was so racist as a child that it didn't phase me. It's that I didn't have a single racist thought as a kid so the notion that Bugs Bunny might be insulting certain people groups never occurred to me. And, now that I think about it, I still have to wonder.

A few of them include caricatures of various races like Native American, black, and Eskimo. As in just about every single Bugs Bunny cartoon that I can think of, Bugs is smart while his antagonist is stupid. Whether it's Pete Puma, Elmer Fudd, or any other character who crosses Bugs' path, they are portrayed as dim-witted and Bugs as brilliant. Funny thing. when Pete Puma or Elmer Fudd or a pack of hounds are portrayed as dim-witted, no one is up in arms. The animal rights folks aren't protesting. There isn't a cacaphony of white organizations trying to ban a racist depiction of white folks in the character of Elmer. But change that character to someone of another race and we've got a problem.

A couple of them include caricatures of the Germans and the Japanese. That, of course, is because they were made during World War II. Anytime we go to war, it is likely that we will make fun of the enemy. Spoofs of Sadaam were popular during Desert Storm. The Internet is full of lampoons of Osama Bin Laden. So in World War II, the Germans and the Japanese were stereotyped and made to look stupid. This, of course, is unacceptable. When satirizing someone, you must always treat them with dignity and decorum. You know, like all the comedy outlets do today when ridiculing the President or Christians or ... wait, that's not working, is it?

I'm not saying that there was no racism in those old cartoons. Nor am I condoning them. I'm simply saying that there's something to be said for childhood innocence. As a kid it never occurred to me that those comedic images were actually intended as racist commentaries. I thought they were cartoons. Foolishly, I thought they were fictional, intended to make Bugs look smart and funny and make me laugh. Little did I know that they were the product of a deep and abiding hatred for anything "other". I didn't suspect that Elmer Fudd represented a stupid white American, that Pete Puma was the cartoon's way of telling us how all pumas are idiots, or that Japanese people are idiots because they portrayed one that way. So maybe children miss this stuff.

I suspect, however, that in some cases children are simply more accurate in these things. It seems as if any comment, any innuendo, any wink-wink-nudge-nudge, anything that even hints at the mere possibility of a whiff of racism is perceived as an affront. In a recent news item about how white people are becoming the minority in many places, I heard the commentator mention how Hispanics perceive "illegal alien" as racist. Now, if you examine the term, there is nothing "racist" in the term. Illegal aliens come from any country that is not this country. They are any race, any color, any creed. It is non-discriminatory except for the concept of "illegal". Yet the perception is that the term is racist. Why? And why is it that only white people can be racist? Why is it that no one is complaining on the behalf of Elmer Fudd? He's white and stupid. Why aren't they up in arms over that?

I don't know. I like to think that adults acquire wisdom over the years, and I believe that is generally true. Sometimes, however, the innocence of children will provide a component of wisdom that many seem to have lost. Can't we all just get along?
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Banned Bunny

Did you know that there are "banned" Bugs Bunny cartoons? That's right. There are, according to sources, twelve cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny that have been removed from circulation by the owners because they contained what was deemed to be racist or offensive content. Imagine that! Bugs Bunny cartoons -- racist and offensive.

Well, tell me "banned Bugs Bunny cartoons" and I go searching. I haven't found them all. They're not available. But I've seen a few. I watch them and think, "Oh, yeah, I can see how that would be offensive ... today." You see, when I watched them as a kid, I didn't see it. It's not that I was so racist as a child that it didn't phase me. It's that I didn't have a single racist thought as a kid so the notion that Bugs Bunny might be insulting certain people groups never occurred to me. And, now that I think about it, I still have to wonder.

A few of them include caricatures of various races like Native American, black, and Eskimo. As in just about every single Bugs Bunny cartoon that I can think of, Bugs is smart while his antagonist is stupid. Whether it's Pete Puma, Elmer Fudd, or any other character who crosses Bugs' path, they are portrayed as dim-witted and Bugs as brilliant. Funny thing. when Pete Puma or Elmer Fudd or a pack of hounds are portrayed as dim-witted, no one is up in arms. The animal rights folks aren't protesting. There isn't a cacaphony of white organizations trying to ban a racist depiction of white folks in the character of Elmer. But change that character to someone of another race and we've got a problem.

A couple of them include caricatures of the Germans and the Japanese. That, of course, is because they were made during World War II. Anytime we go to war, it is likely that we will make fun of the enemy. Spoofs of Sadaam were popular during Desert Storm. The Internet is full of lampoons of Osama Bin Laden. So in World War II, the Germans and the Japanese were stereotyped and made to look stupid. This, of course, is unacceptable. When satirizing someone, you must always treat them with dignity and decorum. You know, like all the comedy outlets do today when ridiculing the President or Christians or ... wait, that's not working, is it?

I'm not saying that there was no racism in those old cartoons. Nor am I condoning them. I'm simply saying that there's something to be said for childhood innocence. As a kid it never occurred to me that those comedic images were actually intended as racist commentaries. I thought they were cartoons. Foolishly, I thought they were fictional, intended to make Bugs look smart and funny and make me laugh. Little did I know that they were the product of a deep and abiding hatred for anything "other". I didn't suspect that Elmer Fudd represented a stupid white American, that Pete Puma was the cartoon's way of telling us how all pumas are idiots, or that Japanese people are idiots because they portrayed one that way. So maybe children miss this stuff.

I suspect, however, that in some cases children are simply more accurate in these things. It seems as if any comment, any innuendo, any wink-wink-nudge-nudge, anything that even hints at the mere possibility of a whiff of racism is perceived as an affront. In a recent news item about how white people are becoming the minority in many places, I heard the commentator mention how Hispanics perceive "illegal alien" as racist. Now, if you examine the term, there is nothing "racist" in the term. Illegal aliens come from any country that is not this country. They are any race, any color, any creed. It is non-discriminatory except for the concept of "illegal". Yet the perception is that the term is racist. Why? And why is it that only white people can be racist? Why is it that no one is complaining on the behalf of Elmer Fudd? He's white and stupid. Why aren't they up in arms over that?

I don't know. I like to think that adults acquire wisdom over the years, and I believe that is generally true. Sometimes, however, the innocence of children will provide a component of wisdom that many seem to have lost. Can't we all just get along?
Post a Comment