Society’s Ever-Changing Attitudes: 7 Classic Animated Shows That Are Offensive Today
In today’s society, our perspectives on racism and sexism continue to evolve. As we look back at the pop culture of the past, it can be surprising to realize what was once considered acceptable entertainment. Even seemingly innocent children’s cartoons were not immune to reflecting the outdated attitudes of their time. Here are seven classic animated shows that should have been offensive back then, and are definitely offensive today.
1. Mr. Magoo: Ableism and Racial Stereotypes
Mr. Magoo, the elderly, glasses-wearing character, made his debut in 1949. His own show, “Mister Magoo,” aired in the 1960s. The premise of the character, a visually impaired man who refuses to acknowledge his disability, has been criticized as ableist. Furthermore, the addition of the racially stereotyped “houseboy” character, Cholly, in the TV series further compounds the offensive nature of the show.
2. Tom and Jerry: Racial Stereotyping and Blackface
While Tom and Jerry is known for its cat-and-mouse mayhem, it also includes elements of racial stereotyping. The character of Mammy Two Shoes, Tom’s owner, embodies the offensive “mammy” stereotype. Some scenes involving explosive mishaps were even censored due to the resemblance to blackface.
3. Looney Tunes: Racism from the Past
Looney Tunes, a collection of short films that began in 1930, included various racist caricatures of Black people in its earliest shorts. The show was also criticized for promoting ethnic stereotypes, leading to the exclusion of Speedy Gonzales during Cartoon Network airings.
4. The Jetsons: Lack of Diversity
The futuristic family sitcom, The Jetsons, which premiered in 1962, envisions a space-age world with flying cars and advanced technology. However, one glaring omission is the absence of people of color. This lack of diversity has raised questions about the show’s portrayal of a post-apocalyptic dystopia.
5. The Flintstones: Sexism, Returning from the ’50s
The Flintstones, a Stone Age adaptation of The Honeymooners, brought back the sexism and misogyny of its live-action predecessor. Fred Flintstone’s portrayal, reminiscent of Ralph Kramden, perpetuated gender roles, with wives Wilma and Betty expected to serve their husbands. One episode, “The Happy Household,” even sees Fred sabotaging Wilma’s career.
6. The Transformers: Middle Eastern Villains
The Transformers, a toy-themed series that aired from 1984 to 1987, incorporated cultural insensitivity during the era of Middle Eastern conflict. Middle Eastern characters were often cast as villains, perpetuating stereotypes. These portrayals sparked controversy, leading voice actor Casey Kasem to quit the show.
7. Paw Paws: Stereotypical Indigenous Depictions
The 1985 series Paw Paws aimed to depict a community of cuddly “Native American” bears defending their sacred animal totems. However, the show fell into lazy stereotypes, using generic Native spirituality and character design. It has since been criticized for its lack of authenticity.
As we revisit these classic animated shows, it’s important to recognize and challenge the offensive elements they contain. By doing so, we can continue to evolve and create a more inclusive and diverse pop culture landscape for future generations.
I was an intern at the editorial office. When I saw their ad for a freelancer, I decided to come back. I’m a fan of series and movies, I spend my weekends at the cinema and my nights in front of Netflix