pop culture gossip community about contact archives subscribe advertise fine print bmc

« This Week At The Bad Moms Club | Pop Culture Main | Flashback Friday - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles »


Old Looney Tunes: Are They Really For Our Children?

Old-looney-tunesI loved old Looney Tunes, but they aren't necessarily for your kids.



I grew up on Looney Tunes, but I'm not so sure I should have. These cartoons were not made for children. They were intended as theatrical shorts in cinemas and meant for an adult audience.

Although I loved them, they're entirely based on conflict of some kind. Bugs vs. Daffy, Daffy vs. Elmer, Elmer vs. both... it goes on and on. And many times it ends in a shotgun blast to the face, always with one trying to kill the other dead. Also, all the characters are pretty much jerks. Considering the amount of time I spent watching them, one could even make the case my sarcasm and problem with authority are entirely Bugs Bunny's fault. I'm suing.

In the 30's and 40's, society was an ugly bitch. African Americans were openly mocked, ridiculed, and oh yeah, hung. Women and children were beaten mercilessly without so much as a word from the town preacher or anyone else, and God forbid either speak out. A time when a woman couldn't even get a job or if she did, it was as a factory worker, secretary, or hooker. Fat people were called every name in the book (I'm talking to you Porky Pig), criminals were the rock stars, and American pride meant hating every other country. We weren't evil, we were about as socially enlightened as skinheads.


All-this-and-rabbit-stew

There's a list called the Censored Eleven. These are Looney Tune cartoons deemed stereotypical of African Americans and sit in the Warner Bros. archives. Among the titles are Uncle Tom's Bungalow, Jungle Jitters and Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs.

These cartoons were created by men with an archaic view of the world and would be shunned today, but because their message comes in the form of bunnies and ducks, we just don't pay attention to the politics and opinions embedded in their satire. 

As a child, I remember seeing African American characters only depicted as maids or butlers and thinking nothing of it. In fact, there's even a rumor that "maroon" is a negative term describing a white person with African American blood. Whether or not that's true, I don't know, but would it be hard to believe? Not at all.


Bugs-bunny-racist


Again, I'm not saying that people were pure evil back then, but what was considered socially acceptable (by today's standards) is frightening. Think about a time when good, honest people could openly hate, even expected to openly hate or be subject to ridicule themselves. A time when a man could walk up to his wife and punch her in the face for no reason, and it didn't so much as put a dent in his character or change his life in any way. A time when African Americans couldn't walk into a restaurant, or drink out of a water fountain. These cartoons are a product of these times.

I'm not calling for a ban or anything of the sort. I'm just saying that maybe we weren't watching the best thing for us, and in fact, these cartoons were never really intended for children. I loved them growing up, but I also loved invading my parents' well-hidden (so they thought) porn collection.

I get that kids don't get it, but subliminally, who knows what they get and ultimately, what impression (if any) is being made on them?  Considering the viewpoints of their creators, all older Looney Tunes should at least be given a second look before popping the kids in front of the television and saying, "Oh, I loved this one when I was a kid. Watch this."

Look at it this way. Friz Freley, director of Jungle Jitters wants to tell your kid a bedtime story. Do you let him?



MayoPie thinks he's humorous, but we all know better.







« This Week At The Bad Moms Club | Pop Culture Main | Flashback Friday - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles »




Comments

Alyssa

Yeah. I've thought these thoughts, as well. My kid isn't old enough to "get" the humor of Looney Tunes yet anyway, and the animation just doesn't capture his attention in the new world of Pixar cartoons. I'm thinking if we do watch any they will have to be closely censored.

Marilyn

Last year I showed a Looney Tunes video to my then 2-year-old without watching it first myself. Looking at it with 21st-century eyes I was amazed that I used to watch these when I was so young. In fact I watched them every week. Even the mild cartoons are pretty violent. Too violent for my young child at any rate.

ajnabi

Right on. The world was a violent place in more ways than one. I mean, it still is, but at least we're a little more aware of it now. That's why I don't let my kids watch all of those Tom & Jerry cartoons I grew up on either. Kind of weird that my TV "heritage" is so completely unacceptable after a mere 3 decades.

JenGid

At the title of this post I was ready to completely disagree with you (shocking!). Then as I read on, you did make a valid point. I am/was one of the parents that said "I watched, and I've never blown anyone's face off with a shotgun". Yet. Anyway I thought it was just harmless fun, then there you go making me think. Now I can't call my friend an ultra maroon anymore either, which I loved to do by the way. I was/am just a kid that thought it sounded funny because it was coming from a sarcastic talking rabbit. Now I'm all torn! Yet another childhood innocence stolen. Whatever you do, don't tell me that Strawberry Shortcake had pornographic undertones. That would be it for me.

Amalah

Yep. I don't remember exactly which cartoon it was, but one time my husband scrolled through the TV guide in search of something - ANYTHING - other than yet another &#$*@ Blue's Clues and put on one of his old childhood favorites.

Three incredibly uncomfortable minutes of violence, smoking, weird attitudes toward women (chase her! grab her! kiss her even though she fights and runs!) and Native American stereotypes later, we put Blue's Clues back on. THREE MINUTES! I used to watch that shit ALL DAY.

Yeah, I figured violence/sexism/racism all out eventually, but it still would have been better to not have seen all that in the first place.

norm

Because this is a humor site usually, I feel compelled to point out that you wrote "hung" when you meant "hanged" -- OR DID YOU. ;)

The Maroons were runaway slaves who lived in the mountains of Jamaica and did a great job fighting off the authorities -- pretty badass people and in many ways inspirational to counterculture types in Jamaica today. With the right amount of historical context it's not an insult.

I agree we need to keep these things around and discuss them because they're examples of just how ingrained racism was and how pervasive it was in society. But no, don't show them to kids.

Amanda

It's Friz Freleng, not Freley. Duh.

And anyway, all your self-righteousness is moot because Looney Tunes aren't shown on TV anymore. If your kids are watching them, it's because you've got them on DVD somewhere and you are playing it for them. I think it's also worth noting that Looney Tunes were produced well into the seventies, and by then had left all the ugly cultural baggage behind. I guess you don't watch classic movies from that era either? Stereotypes were hardly limited to three minute animated shorts...


With all the genuine Crappe on tv today--sexed-up pre-teens with their attitudes and smart mouths and shallow self-involvment are the norm on Disney and Nick right now, if you haven't noticed--I think it's weird that you went to so much trouble to get on your high horse over some shows that have not only been confined to some censored archives, but the less offensive episodes havent been in regular TV rotation in years. If you want to editorialize about some gross offensive TV, take aim at Disney Channel's live action lineup. I could get on board with that.

MayoPie

Yeah, it's Freleng. Sorry, writing stuff at 6 am is a bitch. It was an honest mistake, but you're well within your rights to be nasty.  And they don't show old Looney Tunes? Didn't one of the other commenters just mention seeing them the other day? Mentions of cartoon characters smoking and whatnot? Maybe she's just crazy and you're right about everything. I can't tell from up here on my high horse. And, as far as what I watch (your question about classic movies from that era), you must have missed the part about CHILDREN watching this stuff. Also, Humphrey Bogart doesn't appeal to four year olds, cartoons do. And my point was, we even sometimes forget that the content can be pretty adult because it's a cartoon.  I'll also have you know that I've called the entire Cyrus family evil, and they're pretty much the Disney poster people. I agree with your point. So let me ask you this: Are you the only one that gets to point at stuff and say it's wrong without being on a high horse yourself?

MayoPie


I'll also add that the Friz Freley mistake was a function of looking at "Tex Avery" and "Friz Freleng" and melding their names into one, new and improved name. That's how my mind works at 6 am. And to norm, I was totally talking about their penises.

 

On Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 11:15 AM, clay ardston <mayopie.ba@gmail.com> wrote:
Yeah, it's Freleng. Sorry, writing stuff at 6 am is a bitch. It was an honest mistake, but you're well within your rights to be nasty.  And they don't show old Looney Tunes? Didn't one of the other commenters just mention seeing them the other day? Mentions of cartoon characters smoking and whatnot? Maybe she's just crazy and you're right about everything. I can't tell from up here on my high horse. And, as far as what I watch (your question about classic movies from that era), you must have missed the part about CHILDREN watching this stuff. Also, Humphrey Bogart doesn't appeal to four year olds, cartoons do. And my point was, we even sometimes forget that the content can be pretty adult because it's a cartoon.  I'll also have you know that I've called the entire Cyrus family evil, and they're pretty much the Disney poster people. I agree with your point. So let me ask you this: Are you the only one that gets to point at stuff and say it's wrong without being on a high horse yourself?

Bitchin' Amy

Ruh-roh. I'm afraid that I'm going to fall into the bad parent category here, because I bought a 2 DVD set of Looney Tunes for my kids to watch and they LOVE it. These are the ones that I remember watching in the 70s and, yes, there is a ton of violence and some awkward moments watching them smoke. But isn't it better that the violence is being perpetrated by a rabbit? Or a duck? And not in live-action human on human bombing/gunning down/stabbing like the movies (Transformers, Prince of Persia, etc) that entice 10 year old boys today?

I am 100% against racism and letting my small kids see how blacks were treated in this kind of context. When they are older, they can watch it and be as appalled by it as they should be.

I think to rule out all Looney Tunes b/c of that, though, is to not let your kids enjoy some truly spectacular animation, like the Barber of Seville Bugs Bunny or the one where he dresses up like a woman while Elmer Fudd sings "Kill the Wabbit! Kill the WAH-bit!" and that would be a shame. In my opinion. :)

MayoPie

I'm not calling anyone a bad parent, for sure. I'm just raising the question, and I didn't go into much of the violence because that's commonplace today. However, the racial undertones were pretty common, even when they weren't being outright racist.  Again, these cartoons were made for adults. Racist, closed-minded adults. Also, porky pig got called a lot of fat names, in addition to being made fun of for stuttering. All of the characters were pretty mean-spirited, and they were trying to kill each other, whether or not they were able to. Like I said, I'm not calling for a ban or anything like it. I was simply suggesting we watch them with a set of adult eyes before letting our kids watch them. Considering the mentality and views of their producers, it would only make sense to give them a look before stamping an approval on them. To answer your other question, I think it's almost worse that these messages are delivered to children by bunnies and ducks, because they certainly demand more attention from children and even perceived by kids as it being meant specifically for them. I thought Looney Tunes were for me, not my parents.

sam-ee

Just wanted to plug in here that "maroon" is Bugs slang for "moron," just as "imbezzle" is "imbecile," etc. The word theses rumor-mongers are grasping for is "quadroon" or "octoroon."
I love to watch these with my 3yo, and he loves them too – but we have a set list if you will, for the very reasons you lay out above. Put me in the "I watched 'em as a kid and don't go around bombing, shooting and being a racist club" I guess. If you chose to let your kids watch such a thing, be prepared to explain (and continue explaining as they age) the difference between real-world and cartoon-world, the consequences of violence, bigotry etc.
I know you're not advocating a ban, but I also think it would be an utter shame to only be able to hear things like "left turn at Albuquerque" or "I'm hunting wabbits" in hushed tones because they are the products of a bygone and yes–horribly misguided–era. But, someday, someone will think that about us too.




The comments to this entry are closed.

Read the Comments Policy »



« This Week At The Bad Moms Club | Main | Flashback Friday - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles »












Blog Widget by LinkWithin