The popular kids show “Tom and Jerry” was accused of racial discrimination. And the episodes now carry racist warnings.
When you first hear about the racial discrimination charges, it sounds totally bonkers. Parents were surprised and shocked when they heard that their kids were watching something that was promoting racism.
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It was claimed that the early episodes of the show “Tom and Jerry” had racially sensitive content. Some people say that the cartoons were made a long time ago and this is why they might have something in them which is not appropriate these days.
Two platforms that have carried warnings are the Amazon Prime Instant Video streaming service and the Apple iTunes store. These cartoons were made in 1940 by the legends William Hanna and Joseph Barbera.
There were 114 animated short films that were made through 1940 to 1957. Out of those 114 clips, we have seen them as short cartoons, animated films and in television series.
The subject of racism has been a topic of great concern in Tom and Jerry. The character of Mammy Two Shoes who is an African-American housemaid has been seen in some clips.
She was always present in the fights between Tom the cat and Jerry the mouse. Lillian Randolph used to do the voice of the housemaid originally. With time some of the episodes have been asked to be altered.
Those episodes that haven’t been altered are subject to warning. Whoopi Goldberg gave an introduction to a DVD of Tom and Jerry in 2005. She said they “came to us from a time when racial and ethnic differences were caricatured in the name of entertainment”.
She said that although the main focus was to capture the humor, but it did show us the unfair and hurtful representations of people of color, ethnic groups and women.
She also thought that those images and jokes should be retained as it would show the new generation what the world looked like some 50 or 60 years ago. This is why she has asked that the character of Mammy Two Shoes should not be altered in the Tom and Jerry show.
“The Tom and Jerry episodes included in this collection comes to us from a time when racial and ethnic differences were caricatured in the name of entertainment,” Goldberg said. “These prejudices were wrong then and they're wrong today.”
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“Removing Mammy Two Shoes would be the same as pretending she never existed,” Goldberg states in her onscreen warning. “The same is true for the other images and jokes that we wouldn't normally include in a mainstream cartoon today.”