Sunday, November 19

The Censored Eleven

As Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume Four has been released and it has Porky uttering 'son of a bitch', a boat load of Speedy Gonzales shorts, racist stereotypes and the inclusion of a Wild E. and Sylvester teamup, there are shorts that are not awfully known that are referred to as the 'censored eleven.' United Artists that owned the distribution AAA library in 1968 banned Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons from syndication and video that they deemed too offensive. And these are still haven't been seen by modern audiences.

Most cartoons are censored for inclusion of 'black face' or suicide (Remember Daffy wanting to one up Bugs in a theater and drank potion and became a ghost? Well that has been cut out in recent airings.) but these particular shorts aren't seen at all in any official way. One of them 'All This And Rabbit Stew' includes with Bugs Bunny and a Elmer-sque black caricature. I was able to find it on YouTube, it is like any Bugs cartoon from the 40's and one of the gags was reused for 'fat Elmer'.

The Censored Eleven:

1. Hittin' the Trail to Hallelujah Land (1931, directed by Rudolph Ising)
2. Sunday Go to Meetin' Time (1936, directed by Friz Freleng)
3. Clean Pastures (1937, directed by Freleng)
4. Uncle Tom's Bungalow (1937, directed by Tex Avery)
5. Jungle Jitters (1938, directed by Freleng)
6. The Isle of Pingo Pongo (1938, directed by Avery)
7. All This and Rabbit Stew (1941, directed by Avery)
8. Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (1943, directed by Robert Clampett)
9. Tin Pan Alley Cats (1943, directed by Clampett)
10. Angel Puss (1944, directed by Chuck Jones)
11. Goldilocks and the Jivin' Bears (1944, directed by Freleng)

One that is most interesting and most famous is Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs version of Snow White where "So White" and her friends are an example of racist dark iconography. Even with its racist controversial blaxploitation, some art historians consider it the best cartoon ever made. Some say it's Bob Clampett's ode to African-American Jazz musicians of the day, which composed and performed the music in the cartoon.

So White was unique to the other characters because she wasn't the usual stereotype but was oversexualized like most females in cartoons in those days. Tiny Toons Adventures producer Tom Ruegger denied that African-American 'normal girl' character Mary Melody was a reference to So White in a 2003 interview. I still have my mixed feelings about such content but I am curious to see what all the fuss is about.

More of these themes are to be visited in other posts.