15 comments on “The Racial Politics of Mr. Magoo

  1. Excellent post.

    I totally feel where you’re coming from. I don’t have any sprouts of my own yet, but as a lover of old animation, sometimes I just see these stereotype characters and wonder if they were really necessary. The WB stuff is so often just a cheap shot, not even a real joke or gag. Just a grotesque image which I guess was supposed to make people laugh.

    Similar to Mr. Magoo’s Charlie, I’d throw in George Pal’s Jasper shorts. These are stunning to watch even today, some of the finest stop motion animation you will ever see, but there’s always a part or two in each one that just makes me wince. Pal, who was an immigrant, pleaded ignorance and created a wonderful John Henry short to try to make amends with the black community. At least with him, I honestly believe his heart was in the right place and he might not have gotten why a Step N Fetchit type character would offend. For the others…I just don’t know.

    And you want to talk about some real stuff that will make your skin crawl, check out some of Walter Lantz’s stuff. Scrub Me Baby with a Boogie Beat makes a hundred instances of Bugs in black face look tame by compairson.

  2. Hi Larry
    When the African American housemaid in Tom & Jerry (Mammy Two Shoes) was deemed to be unPC she was revoiced and redrawn as an Irish housemaid! I’m not sure if she developed a violent streak and a drink problem though. Cheers from Ireland.

  3. I think I’ll play devil’s advocate here since there’s a *big* difference between cultural differences and racial differences – even if Irish cops were depicted with apelike features I doubt many people had serious notions they were a ‘race’. I also can’t really see making an Oriental person speak in a dodgy accent is racist – at best that’s xenophobic or jingoistic. And that sort of thing can be really funny – I mean, Apu in The Simpsons is genius.

    I’m definitely not saying there aren’t racist elements in all this but jeez, enough already. I’m half-portuguese myself and find it just stultifying when here in the UK people baulk at something comparatively innocuous like Manuel in Fawlty Towers being a charicature of a Spaniard who’s thick, slow and can’t speak english properly. It wouldn’t have made much difference to me if he was Portuguese, a bit vexing but, you know, worse things have happened at sea.

    The way the Irish, Eye-talee-uns, orientals and other immigrants get/got charicatured is way too small beer to compare to the properly dodgy anti-black stuff given the history involved in the US.

    But back to the sublime I’d completely forgot about The Ant & the Aardvark, I loved that thing when I was a kid! I loved the way the Ardvark had a half-proper mouth at the end of his snout!

    And that’s really interesting about the musical jokes too in the soundtrack…

  4. Pete
    While I agree with you that compared to institutionalized racism against blacks, caricatures (social, racial or otherwise) of Asians, Hispanics Irish pale in comparison. However, I look at it this way: anything I wouldn’t do in front of a person, like say buck out my teeth and talk like Charlie to a Chinese individual probably isn’t cool for a number of reasons. I’d like to think as a society – hell, as fans of humor – we’ve come far enough that we don’t have to resort to making fun of people’s ethnic characteristics to get a laugh. It’s all a little “vaudeville” for my taste. I don’t disagree that it’s often funny, I just question why.
    Larry

  5. larry
    When I was about 10 or 11 my dad’s friend had this post-Castro cuban book called “How to Read Donald Duck” which we read avidly. It obviously had a lot of cold war paranoia, but among all the anti imperialistic b.s it was really insightful on all the subliminal messages of comic books. Race, politics and sex. Excessive freudian stuff but fun nonetheless if you ever get a copy of it. I doubt it would have been translated into english now that i think about…. It even had a genealogical diagram of Donald Duck’s family explaining how there were never direct family ties (only aunts, nephews, cousins) to avoid implying there was a character who at some remote point had sex. Sorry I’m a little off the subject here…. great post.

  6. Hi Larry,
    I guess you could take it back all the way to the inherent comedy of somebody falling over in the street. Maybe I’m perverse…Then again, so is comedy. I guess it’s about not laughing at someone *when* they’re down.
    Anyway, it’s always a can of worms this stuff, best left to common sense, like most things.
    Speaking of the Freudian Donald Duck I read an over-literal ‘academic’ article about how Bugs Bunny was gay.
    But anyway, speaking of Irish charicatures, I just read this on The Onion. Maybe I’m just plain bad and bless me for being a sinner but for me this is pure comedy.
    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/30392
    Oh – and I dig the music, thanks Larry!

    • You’re a wimpy brainwashed libtarded douche. PC is ruining our country. 50 years ago we didn’t care if minorities were offended because the country was 90% White. Then the jews flooded the country with third world savages who get paid off when they’re “offended”. Well, if they and metrosexuals like you don’t like it, they can leave and give me my country back.

      • You are NEVER getting your country “back” buddy, so take your cowardly racist, white-sheeted ass back to podunk and dig a deeper hole. You’re gonna need it.

  7. Pingback: Funny Insults Jokes and More » The Racial Politics of Mr. Magoo Iron Leg

  8. I love this picture, Mr Magoo looks like my dad when he’s been drinking lol. I even have a picture to prove it lol

  9. It’s scary to me that adults are even considering editing those cartoons after the fact. They’re really historical documents at this point, and changing them would set a terrifying precedent. If you think your kid won’t understand them then let them watch something new.

    Here’s the thing: we also have new ideas about violence these days. Do you really think your son has a better ability to understand the blatant lack of respect for each others physical wellbeing that the characters in these cartoons display for one another, than for their outdated racial attitudes? Suppose we get rid of all those harmful violent scenes too. What have you got left? And then lets say we use computers to erase all the cigarettes people smoke in those old movies? And so on. How are we ever going to get a clear picture of the past we come from if we, in our self complacency, reconfigure it to resemble our present?

    Then, once the practice of censorship becomes accepted, who’s to say that in another time, when a new group is in power, people may become convinced that certain political ideas are offensive. Well, let’s get rid of those things too. Scary.

    Your writing skill suggests that you possess intelligence. I’m surprised at your mode of logic. As I said before, if you don’t want your kid watching the stuff, find some other way to pass the time. Go fishing. Just be careful about eating what you catch, since much of the water that was pure back in the racially backward days when they were making the Loony Tunes cartoons is now saturated with mercury from factory smoke.

  10. Huh?
    Where did I suggest editing anything?
    I just said that perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to expose my small child to broad, insulting, racist stereotypes while he was too young to understand the source.

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