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Classic toons are NOT P.C.

Posted Monday, August 6, 2007, at 9:46 AM

"It's 'pop' then it's 'wham,' understand?"

They sure don't make 'em like this anymore, that's for sure. That's my impression after my helping of spinach-induced violence arrived Friday.

There is no way this would ever get broadcast on TV in this day and age. It is far, far too politically incorrect.

"It was wrong then and it's wrong now" reads the disclaimer that begins each DVD, which deals with the racist, sexist and ethnic stereotypes of depression-era America that existed when these classic toons were made.

And boy, were these stereotypes evident. In his first appearance, Popeye delivers stinging abuse to an African-American and in the next two cartoon shorts, dispatched large numbers of both Native-Americans and Mexicans via his fists.

And the violence would never get past today's rigid standards for children's programming. In one short, Popeye tries to join the "Bruiser's Club," made up totally of thugs who just beat each other to a pulp.

Even poor Olive Oil wasn't immune from assault. If Bluto didn't get a little sugar from the lady, he began to savagely choke and shake her. And Popeye knocked her around a couple of times as well, if only by accident.

And just who's kid is "Swee'pea" anyway?

Also, this set doesn't even touch the W.W.II propaganda that cranked out some of the most horrific racial depictions ever set to film.

I used to watch this classic stuff back in the late 60's when some fellow in a Hawaiian shirt out of Channel 48 in Huntsville [on UHF, the days before cable TV] would come on every afternoon and present about an hour of these theatrical shorts.

However, today's attitudes means that many of these toons have been quietly phased out and forgotten over the years. In fact, I'll bet 50 percent of the programming that my generation watched as a child wouldn't get past today's politically correct censorship. [Anyone remember the one with Yosemite Sam in a Confederate uniform?]

Think about it: Imagine an animator trying to get this concept past the review boards of the major producers of today's children's programming.

"It's about a tough, one-eyed sailor with a speech impediment who smokes a pipe, gets into fist fights at the drop of a hat and delivers abuse to ethnic minorities on a regular basis. He and his rival are constantly trying to get the attention of a fickle, anorexic bean pole who seems to be two-timing both the hero and the villain. There's a baby of questionable parentage thrown into the mix and ...oh .. did we mention that the hero uses a strength enhancing substance at the end of each cartoon to beat the stuffing out of his opponent?"

There's no way this stuff would get on the air.

Thank goodness we have fine, upstanding role models like the BRATZ and rap and hip-hop artists for our kids today. What would we ever do without them?

UPDATE: Apparently, I'm not the only one who is commenting on this.

Showing most recent comments first
[Show in chronological order instead]

Well, I've never been accused of being politically correct, but there are some things that are just over that line that I don't cross...normally. If I were a betting man, I would lay money on WB never releasing that cartoon. As far as the "old school" cartoons, yes there was alot of violence in them, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Usually the violence is initiated by the "bad" guy and it normally turns out poorly for them. Ok, there are the Tom & Jerry and WB skits that have mutually violent "good guys", but these cartoons are no worse than most of the shows on TV today. Come on, with cartoons like The Simpsons, South Park, The Family Guy, and American Dad (don't get me wrong, I love all of these shows) what's a little anvil play between friends? At least we don't have to worry about ever seeing any kid picking up a 500 lb anvil and dropping it on one of their friends...unless his daddy is Barry Bonds.

-- Posted by Thom on Mon, Aug 6, 2007, at 9:43 PM

you know if anyone wants to agree with the PC police, all you need to do is trim a little fat of the old constitution and hey we will have this problem solved

-- Posted by pokesalad on Mon, Aug 6, 2007, at 8:50 PM

The same PC Police have insured that the last couple of generations as well as all future generations will never see the classic, and I mean absolute classic, tv show "Amos and Andy." The great travesty here is no one will get to see the great Tim Moore, arguably one of the greatest character actors of the 20th. century. He played vaudville stages across America and Europe as well as musical stage and radio and film.

This series was deemed sterotypically negative by the PC Police, in large part for the portral of Lightning by Horace Stewart, also a great actor. Strangely this taboo series broke ground and spawned Sanford and Sons, and others, in which the great Redd Foxx played a certainly sterotypical character. Go figure. One is acceptable and laudable, and one is dastardly and must remain hidden.

-- Posted by carlmcclanahan on Mon, Aug 6, 2007, at 3:05 PM
Brian Mosely's response:
Depends on which stereotype is being promoted, I suppose. Have you seen MTV lately? Talk about constantly pushing one stereotype of an ethnic group. Not a favorable one, either.

Amos and Andy were way, WAY before my time, but I do remember seeing "Song of the South" at the Marshall Theater in Tullahoma way back when. All the white folks were depicted as idiots and Uncle Remus was the sharpest character in the movie.

Do you think it will ever be re-released like the other Disney classics? How many people can tell you where the tune "Zippity do da" came from?

Disney even released a two DVD box set of W.W.II propaganda last year, with plenty of disclaimers telling everyone what kind of bad people we all used to be in those days.

Don't get me wrong ... a whole lot of the stuff seen in these cartoons and old films is pretty downright offensive and were just put in there for a laugh at someone else's expense. But to pretend they never happened isn' t the way to go either. Things like smoking, drinking and other visual gags are being cut out, not just the racist stuff.

However, I'm betting Warner Bro. will NEVER release this.

There ARE limits...

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Brian Mosely is a staff writer for the Times-Gazette.
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