Racism in cartoons Racism in cartoons
Cartoon CultureDisneyPixar

The Problem With Cartoons: They’re All Racist!

Author Stephen Marche has a problem: he wants to share comics and animated cartoons with his son, but everything is racist. He told the world about his predicament in the most recent issue of the New York Times Magazine. He used the words ‘racism’ and ‘racist’ nine times to describe everything from Asterix to Dumbo to Tintin. Amazingly, Babar gets a pass because, Marche explains, “my son won’t be turned into a more effective colonist by stories of elephants riding elevators.”

Marche seems to lack a fundamental understanding of the cartoon medium, an art form whose essence is rooted in caricature and exaggeration. He finds offensive stereotypes everywhere he looks, including Blue Sky’s Ice Age, DreamWorks’ Madagascar and Pixar’s Monsters, Inc.:

Sulley and Mike, on the way into the office, happen to pass an orange squidlike grocer with a handlebar mustache who kind of talks-a-like-a-this. Perhaps that kind of stereotype is not as gruesome or upsetting as the one in the original Fantasia, but I had the distinct impression, as my son laughed at the scene, that my Italian immigrant grandfather was turning over in his grave.

Asterix gives Marche the biggest headache. As he reads it to his son, he wonders:

What is [my son] going to ask when I explain that for 400 years, white people took black people from their homes in Africa, carried them across the ocean in chains, beat them to death as they worked to produce sugar and cotton, separated them from their children and felt entitled to do so because of the difference in the color of their skin?

Amazingly, this thoughtfulness comes from a man who admits in the article that he told his son, “I don’t know why the pirates have a gorilla,” when his son asked him about a black character in Asterix.

I can only imagine that Marche would have a coronary if he ever watched this piece of animation:

PS – Go here to read a blistering takedown of Marche’s piece.

  • Don’t let this guy see Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs.

  • Schultz!!!!!

    I think he’s on to something. Most of the Warner Bros. cartoons, for example, are extremely specie-ist.

  • Ikas

    The human mind is a differential engine. Racism (and its various forms around the world) is just a by product.

  • DonaldC

    All of them?
    Come now, don’t go lumping them all together like that.

  • Ara

    I plead readers to read the actual article instead of reading this sensationalistic piece. The author is trying to explain how parents should try to read “racist” books to children.

    However, the NYT piece is pure political correctness run amok, plain and simple. Let’s admit that some cartoons in the past were overtly racist. Stereotypes covered all minorities, from Jews, to Indians, Blacks and the Japanese. However, does that mean we should tiptoe around it? I have problems with this statement by itself: “We rewrite the past to serve the needs of the present.” Isn’t this akin to what Texas wants to do with it’s history books concerning slavery? We shouldn’t run from the past, neither censor it. Accept it as part of the colorful history of our animation–despite it’s flaws. While I may hold Tom and Jerry near and dear, to deny its ethnic stereotyping (the Mammy character) is just plain ignorance.

    (Also, because I know these comments will come up, don’t call people who get offended by such things “overly sensitive.” Just because you’re not affected by it doesn’t mean somebody else isn’t! Don’t downplay someone’s feelings, talk about it!)

    • chipper

      Yes, this is what bothers me. “Well, I was amused! Not offended! Everyone go jump in a lake, because the fact that I was amused is a hundred times more important than the fact that you were upset. In fact, you cannot be upset because I say so! Because you inconvenience me, or because I didn’t get my way, you are too PC and therefore unworthy of having an opinion.”

      Changing it won’t make anyone look better, either. It just looks like they’re trying to deny it exists. “Nono, nobody can be offended because this never existed! Just like Song of the South.”

      As for Mammy, Lillian Randolph was an excellent comedic actress and I wish there could have been more diverse roles for her. Oh sorry, was that too politically correct?

  • I think what this really comes down to is knowing how to talk to your children and explain things to them in a way they can understand. For a guy who claims to like cartoons and wants to introduce them to his child, it should be clear to Captain Obvious that most cartoons out there are based in racial stereotyping. If a parent really thinks its a problem that their kid is laughing at a black stereotype in a cartoon, it’s OK to tell them afterwards that it’s okay to laugh at what they watched, but remind them that it’s just pretend and is not serious. And if they see stereotyping in an old cartoon, you don’t have to give them the cold hard truth about white oppression, it’s okay to tell them that the cartoon was made in another time and tell them about the difference between what they see in a cartoon and what goes on in real life. The mans whole argument in the article is laughingly hypocritical and completely asinine. It’s as if he’s decided to punish himself for liking the cartoons he did growing up and now wants to feel guilty for passing it on to his child. It’s called parenting, buddy. It’s the parents responsibility to tell their kids about what happens in fantasy and reality, and what’s an appropriate way to treat people and what’s not. I suppose it’s easier for him to make up excuses for why he feels guilty about liking the blasphemous cartoons that he did. And I bet this guy could probably learn a thing or two from his son, who may not know the difference about racial stereotype, but is smart enough to know that it’s just a cartoon.

    • Chuck DEEZY

      ….or just plain asinine.

      But you make a valid point, though.

    • Doc

      “Once we learn all the colours, we’ll learn why you shouldn’t judge people by them” – guess my source

  • Nick A

    To be fair, creating a caricature or exaggeration of a cultural group has many similarities to stereotyping. They are two different things though.

    Just because you exaggerate the features of a character does not mean that you are implying that all people of a similar background are like that. Stereotypes are lazy generalisations that happen in the mind. People should be educated of the disadvantages of stereotypes, but it doesn’t make sense to censor or attack anything that may lead to them (especially if that was not its intention). Almost any media or event can lead to stereotyping if a person is inclined toward that way of thinking.

    I would not however, defend the use of caricaturisation as a tool for oppression or abuse. Although in this case, is it not the tool that is at fault, but the intention of the author.

  • Ryan Frost

    There are so many fearful parents out there who will believe that their children aren’t born with a moral compass and that they need to be force fed what to believe. It is the same mentality that inspires this Lou Dobbs Says “The Lorax” and “Arrietty” Indoctrinate Children kind of response to an otherwise harmless attempt to increase awareness. Let children decide for themselves. In the article, when his child asks ““Do ants have souls?” and he writes “I didn’t have a good answer for that.” I cringed a little bit…because the answer is easy, you simply ask “What do you think?”And the answere may be something you could learn from.

  • bones

    It’s usually the racists who are the ones shouting racism.

    • Tredlow

      Why are you accusing racism shouters as racist? Are YOU racist?

      Oh, great, now I’m doing it.

    • SKent.

      right, so we should just ignore anything that looks like racism, and it’ll just go away?

    • chipper

      Funny, I would think it would be more likely that racists complain that they can’t make racist jokes.

  • peter campofiori

    I think people who see racism in everything, contribute more to keeping racism alive than a room full of Klansmen.

    • A.C.M.

      Or it’s the people who put their fingers in their ears and scream “LA LA LA LA LA” whenever something problematic is brought up.

      Issues aren’t fixed by ignoring them. Hope that helps.

      • DonaldC

        And scabs are made worse by picking at them.

      • James

        Sounds like Disney in the past 20 years whenever “Song of the South” is brought up.

  • Michael Sheehan

    Stephen Marche specializes in this kind of provocative pronouncement disguised as hand-wringing sophistry. Neither is useful and the prose involved is usually turgid and ponderous.

    • Rick R.

      The thing that makes me conservative is the hand-wringing sophistry that makes up modern liberalism.

      I sincerely wish Dr. King’s dream of treating everyone equally according to their character was true. If we could just teach our kids there’s just one God and he don’t make junk, we’d be golden. But of course then the liberals get mad for not honoring the atheists. /sigh

  • Michael Sheehan

    Also, the Monsters, Inc. grocer (sorry, “grosser,” as in “Tony the Grosser”) is voiced by Guido Quaroni, who “talks-a-like-a-this” BECAUSE HE’S BLOODY ITALIAN. Milanese, to be exact.

    • James

      Reminds me of all those people that call King Louie of the Jungle Book “racist” because they don’t bother to find out who Louis Prima is or consider that people other than African Americans were heavily influenced by jazz slang and culture.

      It’s as if these so-called moral watchdogs don’t stop and consider a “racist” dialect may actually be one that regular people actually speak in. Then again, a lot of people like to think every questionable thing in a cartoon is a subversive or subliminal effort to brainwash the kiddies.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        It’s that postmodernist thinking I can’t stand personally.

    • IAmSamJackson

      Well then Guido Quaroni should not be able to get a job in animation because even though he is Italian it pushes the stereotype….hahaha! J/K.

      Can you imagine in the face of being PC people with funny, cool voices or looks are not put in the movies because the PC police don’t want to offend people of that race or background. So to be safe we keep them all out of movies which means no Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Native Americans, Blacks, Africans , Italians, or any other ethnic group unless they act white. No accents allowed because it is racist.

      So now what ends up happening is movies with only white people and no diversity.

      It is a slippery slope. Being PC does the exact opposite of what it is intended to do. Kind of like a jealous man afraid of his girl cheating on him so acts up all the time in a jealous way only to finally make her run into the arms of another man.

  • Pedro Nakama

    Let’s all sing the old Dr. Pepper theme song and replace the word “Pepper” with “Racist.”

  • This link might help our friend http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqxPQuIPV2A

  • Taco Wiz

    He does have a point. While I don’t have a problem with kids seeing these stereotypes, I think it’s pretty ridiculous how the stereotypes from 1940s Warner Bros. cartoons are considered racist, and yet they’ve been replaced with equally offensive stereotypes.

    Just release the freakin’ Censored 11 since kids are already being exposed to this.

  • Alissa

    “Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” At least their kids won’t, anyway.

  • John A

    Stephan, your argument is hardly a new one, and there’s nothing more boring than somebody trying to get a little attention for himself by dredging up an argument that will never arrive at a satisfying conclusion for anybody.

    Tell you what, let’s hop in a time machine and change the past so that none of that nasty stuff ever happened. What’s that? we can’t? We’ll I guess we’re just going to have to figure out how to live with it, put the past in its proper context and move forward toward a better future. And speaking of the future, in the future, Stephan, maybe it would be a good idea to just not let your kids see cartoons and comics you find offensive, you’re a parent you can do that.I’m an adult and I like to make my own decisions. When my son was small, I let him watch cartoons, but there were some I wouldn’t let him watch, now he’s eighteen, he can watch whatever he wants. When he was little I also read him the classics, so that he would understand that there was more out there than just the sanitized Disney versions of stories. Most of the time I’d read him the original story, and then show him the cartoon and tell him to watch how the filmmakers changed things and why they might have done that. I think he got a better idea of concepts of “artistic licence” and “satire” and how attitudes change from generation to generation and how these things are sometimes reflected in the way people chose to tell stories or draw cartoons.

    I’m not going to write a damned book, so I’m choosing to end my comment here.

  • Scarabim

    This article reminds me, unhappily, of infamous “Derpy incident”. For those of you who haven’t watched the new animated sensation “My Little Pony:Friendship is Magic”, here’s the sad sad story:

    Once upon a time, there was this background character in the show – a little gray pony that, thanks to an animation error, appeared to have crossed or “derped” eyes. She was onscreen for about a half a minute, but some fan screengrabbed her, posted her on the net, and a star was born.

    She became a meme, was named “Derpy” by online fans, and, due to her popularity among adult MLP viewers, soon started appearing on official t-shirts and other apparel, which sold briskly. All was well for a time, until there occurred “the incident”:

    It seems that one day the crew behind the show decided to give that little background pony a whole scene in an episode, complete with voice and the name “Derpy”. The result was a very funny scene, and the pony’s voice was perfect for her, the character turned out to be sweet, clumsy but personable, and the fans went nuts. Well, MOST of the fans. Unfortunately, some few viewers in the TV audience that day decided that Derpy was making fun of the handicapped, bitched to Hasbro about it…and thus, when the episode was broadcast on iTunes a few days later, Derpy and the scene had been significantly altered. New voice, and her name was never mentioned once. Plus, another character, Rainbow Dash, spoke to her with less irritation. The fans went nuts again. Censorship! Political correctness run amok! A good character and an amusing scene were ruined because of the anal-retentiveness of a few. I visited the fan website Equestria Daily after that incident to try to learn more about it, and someone there posted the opinion, rather accurately I thought, that perhaps a Goofy or a Dopey couldn’t even be created today, given the climate. And I am afraid that he/she is right.

    I have watched that episode in its original form, and I can’t for the life of me figure out what was so offensive about Derpy. But if SHE is considered offensive by some, then yeah, that same kind of mentality can certainly be turned towards finding racism everywhere in modern cartoons, even those which are produced by people who are conscientiously trying their darndest NOT to offend, even for humor’s sake. Sad, isn’t it…

    • Chris Sobieniak

      At least my generation had Clumsy Smurf!

    • chipper

      There’s a difference between an educational kids’ show and old animation. I was offended by how childishly the fandom reacted, and how cruel they were to people who were offended. Not to mention the death threats to the studio.

      And they expect praise from everyone…

      I’m glad they changed the scene because it was cuter and funnier when she had the singsong voice and no name. And it taught grown men that they can’t have everything, even though the media seems to think they should.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        I suppose if that’s right, then most of what’s on TV right now wouldn’t exist anyway.

      • chipper

        The grand question is whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I guess it depends on the show.

    • Jenny

      Scabarim: Haven’t heard of ableism have you? From what I read one of the crew members on the show had an autistic son and decided that the character should be changed. And Bronies are, well, most of em are from 4 Chan which isn’t all fun and games

  • Mike

    I’m guessing his Italian immigrant grandfather would have had more serious issues to deal with than how a silly animated movie depicted his culture.

    Survival for instance.

  • Giovanni Jones

    Didn’t Babar marry his cousin?

  • NotRacist

    I don’t think there is a non-racist person that wouldn’t be offended by the Jello ad. Because, y’know, it’s completely f***ing racist. And it could be implied that you are racist for re-posting it and letting it live again on a well travelled and popular website.

    It always surprises me that the animation community – who I know to be a fair and liberal-minded group (for the most part), are so quick to jump to the defense of racist cartoons and always quick to point out that they should be watched in a historical context and that we should understand that they’re from a different time.

    Just because something is old doesn’t mean it is not racist.

  • Can we just admit all racial stereotypes are hilarious?

    Should I, as a white, object to Elmer Fudd’s characterization as an ineffectual bumbler?

    People who object to stuff ruin everything. They have butt problems.

    • Dr. Ivo Robuttnik

      No, you, as a white, should be glad that there are already enough examples of positive white characters that you have no reason to be concerned about being pidgeonholed into a stereotype that people will then mistake for how you actually behave.

      AND that you’re in a dominant social position as a racial majority where you don’t have to worry about the racial backlash you’ll get because of said stereotypes.

      Stereotypes sure are funny to people who have nothing to worry about from them.

      • Holden

        Sorry, if I sound sarcastic, but I think it’s pretty racist to say that white people never become victims of stereotyping or racism in the media. After all “being white” has been used as synonym for “being lame” for decades! Not to mention the cliche, that only white people can be racist! (If someone else is racist, it’s “reversed racism”.)
        But well, this is such a long winding and difficult topic, I’m sure we can spend the whole next month with discussing it on here.

    • NotRacist

      I can hardly believe I’m pointing something so obvious out, but no Frank Panucci, as a “white” you shouldn’t “object to Elmer Fudd’s characterization as an ineffectual bumbler” BECAUSE IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE. In fact, as a white, you are pretty much immune to racism because as a race, white people have never been subjugated by another race, sold into slavery, forced to ride at the back of the bus, been lynched for the color of their skin, been considered property, had their families broken up by their “owners” and had their wives and daughters raped. White people, have generally had it pretty easy in comparison to say, African-Americans, Jews, Native Americans, or the many other targets of racism. If you even begun to try to empathize you might understand how offensive it is to be ridiculed by white people after such a troubling history.

      But I’m talking to a guy who wonders whether Elmer Fudd is a racist stereotype. Jeez.

  • J

    When I was a little kid, race was the furthest thing from my mind, especially watching cartoons. This is from someone whose parents bought a VHS full of the old, wonderfully racist Looney Toons that I ate up. The idea that some of the characters in there were racist stereotypes was something I didn’t grasp until way, way later in my life where I read an article about the crows in Dumbo, and the controversy over what they were supposed to portray. All these cartoons I saw, they were all racist! What the hell? How did I grow up to not be, then!?

    Of all the things, this broke my mind the most. Growing up in Canada, the whole crow association thing was never taught to me, I had zero idea how they could’ve been related, and not to mention, the crows were passed off as being “cool” and “knowledgeable”, I mean, they wound up helping Dumbo, didn’t they? If anything they couldn’t be bad guys, maybe a little disconcerting, but if my childhood of Disney cartoons taught me anything, it was not to judge a character by how they appear but by what they do, right?

    I could blame my lack of exposure to these negative stereotypes on my general ignorance, I suppose, but the internet always seems to surprise me with new ways that something could be construed as racist. But when I was a 7 year old, they were supposed to be crows, not people. I still have trouble with the Jar Jar Binks thing, I think that’s a reeeal stretch. But that’s not my decision to make, I suppose. My point is, while all these accusations might be right, the fear that they’re corrupting little kids isn’t very well founded. Whatever link between these things is forged by adults, not by children. I’d gladly show my kids Dumbo.

    • Scarabim

      The crows in Dumbo are the second-best thing about the movie, next to “Pink Elephants On Parade”. They are wonderful. I loved them when I was a kid, innocent as I was of any kind of stereotyping, maliciously intended or not. And, obviously, no malicious intent *was* behind the crows’ creation. They were a clever plot device. Someone had to teach the elephant to fly, right? Would a cutesy clan of chirpy little bluebirds have been better? Nah. Less offensive to some, perhaps, but definitely not *better*.

      And you know, when it comes to black caricatures…take a look at “The Cosby Kids” show. Look at the designs of some of those characters. I hate to say it, but if a white man had been behind the show, instead of the terrific Bill Cosby, the cries of racism would have had that show off the air in a second. Sensibilities are certainly subjective. I found the designs kind of off-putting myself. Frankly, as cartoon depictions of blacks go, I’d take the Dumbo crows over the Cosby kids any day. Just sayin’.

    • victoria

      @ J I had no idea Sebastian from the Little Mermaid was racist until I read an online interview with Dan Haskett.

    • Rick R.

      JarJar’s voice was the creation of Ahmed Best. It’s the same as how See-Threepio was supposed to be a Brooklyn car salesman, until Anthony Daniels prevailed on Lucas to use his voice and not just his body movements. So, is Threepio homophobic?

      Watto was supposed to be anti-Semitic, but that means critics rather ignore the Israeli-born Jewish actress cast as the mother of Luke and Leia. Y’know, Natalie Portman? Or that I’m sure Steven Spielberg would have beat on George to change the character if Steven though it was a stereotype. Lucas is color blind, and I think in a good way. He does what he wants, and has hatred for no one.

      Not everything is racism.

  • ShouldBeWorkin’

    I’ve told the story online before, as when I watching my mickey mouse Black and white DVD collection, a jungle themed cartoon with the stereotypical mush-mouthed cannibal natives. My son, who was a teen a the time, walked in, looked at the screen and asked, “What are those supposed to be?”. I explained briefly and put it in context and he just rolled his eyes and walked away, the ignorance of the time not lost on him but the racial caricature initially was. Perhaps it is nature-and-nurture but I can assume there are alot of younger generation who hopefully are a little more “enlightened” than a previous era and these things just wash over them and they are very smart and capable of watching stuff in historical context.

    But I do feel there is a place for good old non-hateful ethnic humour in comedy. Comedy needs an edge and smart viewers/listeners know we are dealing in broad generalities. It’s impossible to police how audience members receive it.

  • chipper

    I don’t like complaints about being “too PC”. I think people need to re-examine themselves if they desperately want to use offensive humour. Perhaps these people are not as edgy and hilarious as they think they are.

    I do like older cartoons, but I’m hardly going to think that people should draw badly sterotyped black people or Native Americans today because white men find it hilarious (but piss n’ moan if they see sterotyped sitcom dads).

  • “We rewrite the past to serve the needs of the present. The clarity of history is its great advantage.”

    Thus spoke the party official, before quickly reminding the audience that Oceania is at war with Eastasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

    • Michael Sheehan

      Possibly the best, most ironic, and most trenchant comment on the issue. Well done.


  • Katella Gate

    All I know is racial hypochondriacs are tripping everything up. I liked the “Super 8 Motel” commercials better when the lead character was a sign of color.


  • Scarabim

    **I’m glad they changed the scene because it was cuter and funnier when she had the singsong voice and no name.**

    Yeah, that way, she just came across as a stereotypical dumb blonde. NOBODY could take offense at that!

    **And it taught grown men that they can’t have everything, even though the media seems to think they should.**

    Yeah, okay, the anal-retentives have their rights too. Gotcha.

    • chipper

      You know you can click to reply to comment above if you actually want the person to see the things, right?

      And this is not the place to argue such things forever. You’ve already got the brony fandom on your side, you’re not going to get me no matter how much you hate the change and want to call me names.

      • Scarabim

        **You know you can click to reply to comment above if you actually want the person to see the things, right?**

        Yet you found my comment just the same! Congratulations!

        **And this is not the place to argue such things forever. You’ve already got the brony fandom on your side, you’re not going to get me no matter how much you hate the change and want to call me names.**

        I wasn’t taking the bronies’ side, necessarily; I was speaking up for creative freedom and against the oppression generated by political correctness. And I’m not trying to change your mind. Whether or not you see the light is completely up to you. I shall not compel.

      • chipper

        That’s nice.

  • belly happy Chinese baby

    J-e-l-l-o (♪ ♫ chinka chinka ♪ ♫)

  • chris

    I really don’t know what’s worse. His complaint of old cartoons being racist. or your defense of their racism as “caricature.”

    • I couldn’t agree more. I’m horrified at how many people are basically yelling “BUT THATS JUST EXAGGERATING HOW THEY REALLY ARE”


      I think racism as humor is FINE when that’s blatantly what it is and it’s intended for an adult audience. Racist humor from stand up comedians like Louis CK is great, and yes there is such a thing as being TOO politically correct in situations like that.

      When it comes to cartoons that are primarily intended for a younger audience……well I think it’s scary when people say things like “stop being offended by racism and shut up.”

  • uncle wayne

    Oh, f’Pete’s SAKE, Guys!! Get OVER it!? Making fun of someone’s speech!? Jeeeeeez! Whoever thought that that Jello cmcl was “racist” obviously had not walked into an asian restaurant. In the past 5 days!!

  • TheBandSnapsBack

    No one’s mentioned Mr. Wong yet? It had its share of controversy, though it was very much an adult cartoon. No group looked very good there.
    Anyway, I’ve never found that sort of thing funny. Except when Monty Python did it.

  • Well

    Not all cartoons are racists but some have an underlying racist theme,not to acknowledge that would be mental dishonesty.

    @Chris I agree with you, it’s not because everybody feels like they enjoyed those cartoons/films/books when they were young that those stories are devoid of racist elements.
    This discussion feels like the one that happened on the cartoon brew Facebook about the sexist jokes on “pirates” from Aardman.

    Althought I don’t agree with everything she said , she does have some valid points.

    The Animation/Tv/Film field is a white male dominated industry so it’s normal that some products (not all of them of course) show some narrow, sexist and racist views.

  • Albert

    Okay first of all everyone knows that artist from long ago only seemed racist to us now. But during that era this is what was natural to them.When they showed a black man behaving a certain way that is actually how they behaved due to either their lack of education or the way their culture developed during slavery. People didn’t understand certain cultures as much as we do now so stuck to the little they knew about them to portray them.

    This was added to that during the World War certain cartoons were purposefully made to make fun of the races that were involved in the war in the attempt at using propaganda to stir people up to help win the war. Any attempt at being ‘racist’ as people call it in modern cartoons is usually made as a light hearted joke and is more stereotypical then racial. We all know every African American, Latino, Japanese, Scot, Australian etc. don’t all act the way they portray them in cartoons.

    But in humor it is funnier to show the humorous side of the race. Think about it this way. If you were watching something funny about a Scottish clan which do you think would get the more laughs? Them behaving calm and serene ,like I am sure many Scots are, or like the angry and bad tempered ones. Would Asterik and Obelix have been as funny if they only portrayed the Romans and Gauls that were probably calmer and more educated or the ones that were more violent and stupid?

    • Well

      @Albert What you are saying makes sense but I ‘ll have to disagree with your last statement.
      ” If you were watching something funny about a Scottish clan which do you think would get the more laughs? Them behaving calm and serene ,like I am sure many Scots are, or like the angry and bad tempered ones. Would Asterik and Obelix have been as funny if they only portrayed the Romans and Gauls that were probably calmer and more educated or the ones that were more violent and stupid?”

      It depends , I don’t see why a badly behaved scottish clan is funnier than a calm and serene one, it all depends on the story .They can be funny because they are acting bad , stupid and violent, it’s their actions that is funny not what they are.

      I think there is a difference in making fun of what people are doing and what they are.

  • There is stereo typing and racism. Two different things:
    One puts people into easily recognizable groups (often based on extreme behavior), the other purposely states one race is superior to another.

    So, is Mater for Pixar’s Cars, a racist character or a stereo type?

    As for racism in history- yes it happened. It still happens, and it will probably always happen.

    So, as hard as it maybe to talk about it to our kids, are we better by not talking about it? Are better off telling them, if they make-out in their bathing suits they’ll get pregnant?

  • JC

    ‘Marche seems to lack a fundamental understanding of the cartoon medium, an art form whose essence is rooted in caricature and exaggeration.’

    Why does that mean it can’t be racist?

    I don’t understand this denial, either cartoons have power/influence (as art should) or they are redundant.

    If racism exists in our civilisation why would you expect cartoons to be free of it? They’re not created outside of civilisation or come from another planet.

    I think cartoonists should be aware of discrimination, you can’t pretend it does not exist nor that you are also a victim of it (by victim I mean both adopting and receiving it).

    Creating stereotypes based on race is racist, encouraging people to identify characteristics based on race is racist. Sure you can say it’s lazy etc but if you have a problem with certain types of racism you should be consistent and apply those to other forms.

    • I disagree that all stereotypes based on race are racist.

      If an African with a loud and obnoxious sense of humor decides to tone it down because he’s stereotyping the group of Asian’s he’s with, does that really make him a racist?

      And I’m not so sure you can say all these cartoons are encouraging stereotyping. That’s like saying all vigilante movies encourage vigilantism.

      Lastly, I’d argue stereo types can be based on true people, who actually behavior or look the way their stereo type is portrayed. Where Racism is never based on any type of true.

      • Oluseyi

        Racism is based in truth. Africans do tend to have larger, fuller lips than Caucasians and Asians. Racism merely takes an unflattering truth and extends it to ALL persons of the target race, then tying it to a negative association – say, “Africans have larger lips because they’re basically monkeys.” It is the association of inferiority that makes it racist: Italians talk-a-like-a-this-a because they’re stupid grifters; Chinese have buck teeth and squinty eyes because they’re less sophisticated, plus they can pronounce “R”; etc, etc.

        Racism is a distortion of truth, but certainly based in truth.

      • I believe you are talking about ‘racial features’, not racism. And yes racial feature, even when exaggerated are based on true. But exaggerated racial features are not racism in it of itself.

        Racism is (as dictionary.com says) a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

        That my friend is not based on truth, that is BS.

  • Linda

    I particulary would like to see more minorities into cartoons and in the media. Today’s media is auto-censured. I would like to see funny cartoons with differents cultures! I think nobody does them because they afraid they’ll stab some sensibilities.
    But when i see a colored character (if there are one), for example, i know he’s gonna be serious and boring. Same to the women. I ask: Why we can’t laugh at ourselves?
    I don’t know, maybe i’m tired to see white people all the time on the tv.
    By the way, i think that Jello comercial is a delight.
    Excuse my english.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      I like the commercial too. It’s decently handled and rendered, regardless of the narration itself that I can see some have a problem with, but it’s something we have to keep in mind over how foreigners may have a problem pronouncing words or vowels unfamiliar to them.

  • paolo

    I haven’t read all the comments, so my comment comes out of the blue, but: ASTERIX IS FULL OF ETHNIC STEREOTYPES! The British that drink hot water (of course, at Asterix’ time they did not know tea yet…) at five o’ clock pm, drink warm beer and eat everything boiled, the Swiss that clean everything, the Spaniard that always say “ole'”!, the Greek that are all cousins, aren’t they all ethnic stereotypes? Strange enough, Mr. Marche does not mention it, and more strange, people (included children and parents) have been reading Asterix’ comics for more than 50 years and never complained…

    • Plus, he himself read Asterix as a kid, yet he didn’t end up joining the Klan or anything ;)

      In fact, that’s a HUGE part he left out: how he started to discern, as he was growing up, that *some* ethnic stereotypes are not intended to be light-hearted puns, but mean-spirited bigotry.

  • Trevor K

    Still trying to figure out what Asterix has to do with the African slave trade .. being set in Roman times, and all.

  • When you’re close to death maybe you will think: maybe I shouldn’t have taken cartoons so seriously…

  • At least the Jello commercial used actual Chinese characters unlike many other films that use Chinese stereotypes (I’m looking at you, A Symposium of Popular Songs). Even though it means “Ten Flavors of Jello” instead of “Just for Fun of It”

    • Funkybat

      I’ve often wondered, when seeing Chinese or Japanese characters on ads and cartoons whether or not they are actual characters, and even if they are, whether they say something, or if it’s just gibberish, along time lines of an “English” sign that said “Grksbodl” or something. I also wondered if sometimes an Asian artist might sneak in some kind of secret message or joke into the text that only other readers of that language might catch.

  • James Fox

    Racism has lost it’s meaning after the 2008 election

  • JeffT

    Stereotypes are not always an insulting representation of a people group or culture. Stereotypes, most of the time, stem from the norm or at least the dominantly seen representations of that culture. I think it’s the over sensitive nature most people have in fear of being made fun of or seen as lesser. No one likes feeling made fun of but at the same time how can one show successfully represent all the different cultures of that same racial group? Look at Fat Albert, The Proud Family, Friday the Animated Series or The PJ’s. They all carry STRONG african american racial stereotypes but no one really seems to be offended. I think people only get offended when they feel that ANOTHER race is making fun of their race. It looks like you can make fun of your own race as much as you want. That is upsetting because there can be lots of funny things about all races and if we could just laugh together we would be much better off.

  • Polecat

    If this is how Marche reacts to “Tintin in the Congo”, I can only imagine what kind of a heart attack he would have if he ever picked up a copy of “Tintin and the Blue Lotus”. Opium smuggling in a children’s book! The horror!

    I remember that there was a bit of a fuss recently over Si and Am, the Siamese cats from “Lady and the Tramp”, being Asian stereotypes. What they’re forgetting is that most kids who grew up long after World War II (like me) were pretty much blind to the original context–I didn’t think that Asian people were being portrayed as conniving and malicious, I thought cats were. (And as for the slanted eyes, it turns out that Siamese cats really are prone to crossed eyes. It’s a breeding defect, and you can also see it to some extent in other colorpoint breeds like Tonkineses and Ragdolls.)

    And as for Jar Jar Binks, I had no idea what the hell he was and every word he said was unintelligible. When I was younger, I couldn’t connect any of the animal or alien characters mentioned in the Marche article to human counterparts. Sometimes kids just take things at face value.

    • Polecat

      P.S. I’m new to Cartoon Brew, so can somebody please tell me why some comments are highlighted in gray?