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BBC

Classic TV Cartoon Gets ‘Racial Prejudice’ Warning

Oct 2, 2014  •  Post A Comment

A cartoon series that many viewers grew up watching on TV now carries a racism warning from a major distributor. The BBC reports that Amazon has added the warnings to the cartoon series “Tom and Jerry.”

The cartoons now carry this warning on Amazon Prime, the company’s streaming service: “Tom and Jerry shorts may depict some ethnic and racial prejudices that were once commonplace in American society. Such depictions were wrong then and are wrong today.”

The disclaimer is similar to others that accompany some collections of the cartoons on DVD, the piece notes.

Not everyone thought the warning was warranted, with University of Kent professor of sociology Frank Furedi telling the BBC that the labeling is “empty-headed.” He said the labeling is a form of censorship that “seems to be sweeping cultural life.” He added, “We’re reading history backwards, judging people in the past by our values.”

“Tom and Jerry” was first made in 1940, with William Hanna and Joseph Barbera directing. It ran until 1957, with more than 100 cartoons produced.

The BBC report notes: “The claims of racism are longstanding. When the original versions were shown on U.S. television in the 1960s some scenes were edited. There have also been complaints about the characters smoking cigarettes, with changes made to recent screenings.”

tom and jerry

3 Comments

  1. Me&my have grownup watching tom&jerry!!! Now my youngest son is watching the show loves it as have!! This pc gone nuts!!! Yer there’s a reference too Tomas from a black woman wow!!! As iam from family of color we have never been offended!! It’s cat chasing a mouse,with the dog and it’s pub gr8 fun always has been!!!

  2. Perhaps the language of the warning is a bit shrill (“It was wrong then…”), but it’s pretty obvious that Tom & Jerry and other cartoons of that era (including those from Warner Bros and Disney) have a completely different sensibility towards ethnic and racial references than we do today.

    It may just be “a cat chasing a mouse with the dog and its pup”, but there are clearly “Negro” characters in the cartoons (the blackbirds), and “Mexican” and others. A warning DOES seem appropriate — much moreso than ham-handed editing or simply blocking distribution for these animation classics (as Disney has done with a few titles).

  3. Grow people. It’s a cartoon.
    Go live in Russia or North Korea for 12 months.
    You’ll be crapping out Red, White and Blue then.

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