Recognizing The Past

The other day, a group of friends and I were having a discussion at dinner that turned into something really interesting and worth talking about. A conversation about language in some TV shows brought up old cartoons, such as the first few years of Disney shorts or really old Loony Tunes shorts, and we found out there are some Loony Tunes shorts that Warner Brothers won’t allow to be showed any moreĀ because of how overtly racist they are. None of us really knew how to feel about this. We were, of course, all glad that the company no longer held those views and were ashamed that they ever made these shorts. However, this felt a little too close to covering up history for us to be completely okay with that decision. Yes, having these videos out in regular circulation is probably not the best idea, especially if the company does not want to promote those values anymore, but sealing them away forever sounds like censorship. In fact, these shorts are called the Censored Eleven. We talked a lot in this class about looking at history from a historical perspective and not falling victim to presentism, and this feels to be in a similar vein. Honoring the horrible ways of the past is wrong, but they happened and they should be talked about as having happened, especially because they were wrong. Censoring the bad parts of the past does not help anyone learn or grow, and only obscures the rest of history.

One thought on “Recognizing The Past”

  1. I agree with many of the points you make in this article and think it is an interesting discussion. I think the context of these cartoons are shown in matters a lot. I really don’t think these cartoons should be seen by the regular public without disclaimers and context. I say this because I remember watching Loony Tunes as a child, usually unsupervised. I sort of remember always skipping certain ones because I felt they were wrong somehow in how they depicted things, but even so kids are impressionable and may not be looking with a critical eye. I think if these films were to be released to the public they shouldn’t be in any entertainment form but instead be made explicitly for educational purposes. Recently National Geographic created a magazine where they confronted their racist past, and I feel like it would be beneficial for Warner Brothers to address these issues head on as well. But I am ok with them censoring out older clips that just don’t work in the current context any more, and editing out smaller problems throughout other clips. I don’t want these characters like Bugs Bunny or Tom and Jerry to completely go away, in part because my dad often is employed by Warner Brothers where he creates artwork and storyboards for Loony Tunes and Tom and Jerry.

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