Monday, November 28, 2005


PC Off, Whoopi

One of the most obvious reasons to object to censorship is that it is historical revisionism. Many people have accused 'Othello', for example, of being, to a greater or lesser extent, a racist play. Personally, I think that's tosh, but more than that, it's irrelevant. If a playwright or author of the past didn't like a certain group of people - in a rather topical example, Christopher Marlowe, for instance, didn't much like the Turkish - that may be regrettable, but it is still a piece of historical fact. I don't want to comment on the Marlowe issue, because the whole story seems to contain a certain amount of fibbing, but there is one extremely pertinent example that has recently cropped up.

It concerns the recent DVD box set release of Tom & Jerry - Spotlight Collection, Volume 2, by Warner Bros. As most people know, certain of the Tom & Jerry cartoons, which are, bear in mind, sixty years old, contain the character of Mammy, a large black lady who is Tom's owner. For certain people, this character is a rather prejudiced stereotype, and as such she suffered censorship of her own in the first release of these box sets (volume 1), where her voice was replaced, and I believe a couple of scenes were edited.

This, rightly, got fans of the series, which in my opinion isn't racist at all, in a bit of a fury, and so for this release, Warner Bros. have backed down on the editing, and the cartoons are available as they were first intended.

So let's get the champagne out, then? Well, not so fast. As has been reported in the press, this release, alongside at least one other, 'Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Volume Three', contain a preposterous, unskippable introduction by Whoopi Goldberg. In this introduction, she tells the audience that they shouldn't laugh at some of the material, because:

''Unfortunately at that time racial and ethnic differences were caricatured in ways that may have embarrassed and even hurt people of color, women and ethnic groups. These jokes were wrong then and they're wrong today''

This makes me so angry. First off, I hardly see why Goldberg is qualified to comment on political correctness after her own embarssing (and embarassingly bad) joke during the last election, which she subsequently had to apologise for.

Secondly, as is pointed out by Steyn in the link, these cartoons may not have had many specifically positive portrayals of black people, but then they don't have many positive portrayals of any people. The positive potrayals are of mice, ducks and birds.

Thirdly, and far more importantly, the only effect of these stupid intros are to infantilise the audience. Quite apart from the questionnable idea that it is any of Whoopi Goldberg's damn business what I fund funny, people are intelligent enough to know whether Tom & Jerry are immoral, and they show this intelligence by ridiculing the idea, and continuing to buy the cartoons, because they enjoy the comedy. If I wanted a sociology lecture, I'd sign up for a course.

These are cartoons, for fucks sake. They are not political essays. The characters who are controversial are barely in them, are not played by real people, contain little or no real degradation, physically, mentally or emotionally, and the humour is most often found elsewhere.

Warner Bros. seem to believe that they have a choice of either censorship or moralising, when in fact by far the best option would be neither.

As we all know, only racist, fascist bigots like quality cartoons.

Sounds like Kiefer Sutherland's embarrsing apology to Muslims before the last series of 24.

Tom & Jerry is awful, but the best of the Looney Tunes gear is about as good as it gets.

Have you seen Crusader Rabbit, Steve? It's a forerunner to Rocky & Bullwinkle, but is funnier.
That Whoopi Goldberg joke could be improved no end by substituting the word "cunt" for "bush". I boycotted her stuff years ago anyway, on account of her being Jewish.
Tony - I had never heard of those cartoons until today, but they have some superb titles that can be used as headings for posts - 'West We Forget', 'Sahara You', 'Gullibles Travels' and 'Apes Of Rath' are just the best. Plenty of fodder there, methinks. I'll have to try and catch some.

Hung - Frankly, I don't think anything could improve Whoopi's joke. There are many, many millions more ways to take the piss than by weak and obvious anatomical analogies, which she needs to learn.
i'm quite surprised they haven't included a patronising warning to children that they shouldn't attempt to set people on fire/make them swallow a bomb/eat powder from a tin marked with a skull and crossbones, and so on.
That's next, I believe.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?