Saturday, February 6, 2010

Change History

I was just watching a Tom and Jerry video with little kid and right before it started, Whoopi Goldberg came on explaining that some of the cartoons featured the black Mammy character, the only human ever featured in the Tom and Jerry cartoons, and that there had been requests to delete scenes involving her or stop showing those cartoons because the depiction is racist.

So wait--our apology to those who were treated poorly in the past is going to include pretending they didn't exist? Am I seeing this wrong or is that a bizarre solution? Especially when it comes to the southern black housekeeper on Tom and Jerry. Whether we like it now or not, there were black women like this--strong, hardworking women who were raising other people's kids and caring for their homes who happened to speak with a southern dialect due to their geographical location. Do we really think they would rather we just pretend they never existed since they weren't treated well or paid fair wages?

And let's face it, Tom and Jerry smoke, drink, play with fire, shoot guns, flirt with skanky female cats and mice, destroy things and seem to exist only to emotionally and physically torture each other...and people have a problem with the black housekeeper who occasionally shoos them out of the house or feeds the cat??

Wow.

They didn't delete those scenes since the cartoons wouldn't work without them and since the housekeeper was an important character, but the fact that they even needed to try to explain to kids that her inclusion could be considered racist (when there is PLENTY of real valid racism even these days, unfortunately), seemed unnecessary and absurd.

15 comments:

Just Lisa said...

I agree. I don't like Tom and Jerry because they're violent, not because they have a black housekeeper. News flash: some housekeepers are black. Some are white, some are Asian, some are Indian. I could see how the scene would be cut if the housekeeper said something like, "Boy, am I sore after the beating I got from Master yesterday!" But to have them cut the scene just because she's black.... ludicrous. Maybe I'm missing something?

Mom Taxi Julie said...

Well you know, everything has to be PC now. Except the new japanese cartoons that draw all women with huge boobs.

kent said...

I was just watching some old Looney Tunes and I noticed they do the same thing at the beginning, a sort of clinical acknowledgement that racist stereotypes appear in the cartoons, that they were wrong then, that they're wrong now, but to remove them would be revisionist. I have a few friends who theorize that the Simpsons will be doing the same thing in 30 years because of Apu.

Jewelie said...

You know what? That's not even the most racist part. Have you seen the bits where Tom gets his fur burned off and he turns into a caricature of a black child? complete with a little row of braids sticking out of the top of his head?

It's one of Sophie's (three year old) favorite cartoons so we bought her a DVD of episodes. There's a few different episodes on the DVD that it happens in too. I'm pretty sure that's more offensive than the Mammy.

Paige said...

You make a really good point. What is the best way to handle it? Quit playing the ones that include her? I don't know

Melodie said...

This is just like how Disney decided not to sell Song of the South anymore because of the black slave who told the children the briar bear, briar fox, and briar rabbit stories. Ridiculous!

Charity said...

Sorry Whoopi, Mammy isn't the only human featured in the Tom and Jerry cartoons. We watch them every day. There is the episode where there is a young teenage girl who is supposed to be babysitting the baby and Tom and Jerry get into all kinds of antics trying to protect it (actually Tom trying, Jerry trying to annoy Tom). The parents were featured too. The more I think about it I think the baby sitter is the only one who you saw all of her and not just from the shoulders down.

P.S. I hate PC crap. I understand that there has been a lot of bad things in our history.. but that's because we are humans and we have an even longer history of bad things. Get over it.

Duel Living said...

Dumb...nuff said.

Jennifer said...

They have that warning on the Droopy DVD too. But I think it is just a written thing; not someone talking about it out loud. Still kinda weird.

Ashley said...

Charity, she may have said one of the only but you're right, there was the babysitter. Were the parents ever seen though?

Kent, I don't know about Simpsons since they're so un-PC anyway and probably realized Apu was a stereotype when they created him. Also aren't the Simpsons the stereotypical dysfunctional American family? I'll be expecting an apology too then!

Joy said...

We watch T&J almost everyday because my DD loves it and she is not the only person on there the is a man and woman on there often, a babysitter I think once, I have even seen some other guy

Nikky said...

I was just talking about this with my boyfriend. I'm taking an Anthropology class on Native Americans, and when we did our discussion on stereotypes my teacher played the "Red Man" song from Peter Pan. When it was over, she asked us, "Now, would you let your child today watch this?" I was like, well... yea. It's freaking Peter Pan. It's not even really demeaning, just obviously inaccurate (but come on.. the movie has a ticking crocodile and mermaids) and fun. But you're right, pretending things didn't exist is silly and can be harmful. Getting all bent out of shape about a stereotype in a cartoon from years ago it just dumb. I mean, I'm Jewish, and damned if my friends don't give me shit about my nose, which is perfectly average. I'm not going to stick my nose in their eye like, "Do you see this? DO YOU? That's a STEREOTYPE, and it's WRONG mister." But yea, much love for Tom and Jerry. I luff them.

Former Fat Chick said...

we were watching some old cartoons w/ the boys (about 10 & 12) and there was one with Porky Pig building a house w/ an assistant a monkey (clearly a black man) and the monkey was dumb as rocks and had big lips and all he would say was OK BOSS, but real slow and w/ a drawl. It finished and both my kids go "WOW that was RACIST!"

Theresa said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

PC -- I LOATHE IT - PRETTY SOON WE WON'T BE ABLE TO SAY ANYTHING -- OR THE CLSSICS WE READ WILL ALL HAVE BIG BLACK (forgive ME)shaarpie marks deleting racist sexist etc remarks or stereotypes - the USSR was a past master at the art of revisionist history - hopefully we're not heading down that path. -- by the way if you want to see something sexist -- tune in to I LOVE LUCY - BACK IN THE DAY WE ALL THOUGHT IT WAS FUNNY WHEN RICKY SPANKED LUCY -- TIMES CHANGE BUT LETS NOT CHANGE THE PAST - IT IS WHAT IT IS.