Friday, May 21, 2010

Rose-Tinted Glasses

As an idiom, the fixed expression "rose-tinted glasses" non-literally refers to an instance where an individual looks back upon something more favorably than it ever truly was. This happens predominately when looking back upon one's childhood. This is going to be another running feature here on ArtInn about such instances when you realize that something you used to love as a child actually turns out to be something else entirely. And for the most part, by "something else," I will generally mean that whatever we loved was either corrupt (and not as innocent as it appeared), stupid, or it just plain sucks now as an adult. Ah, the death of childhood innocence...

For the first RTG feature, let's take a look at CARTOONS. Maybe, as a product of my generation, it's difficult to understand a different time in history and what it was like to live back then (as far as decency standards). Pretty much all of this is offensive, disturbing...and, at the very least, conjured up using poor judgement. Sometimes that is what makes it funny; yet, it is difficult not to shake your head at these.

I remember growing up with Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel, spending many a morning eating bowls of cereal in my footed pajamas, sprawled out on the carpet in front of the television. One of the most distinct characters that I remember watching at that time is Foghorn Leghorn and thinking of him solely as a giant Southern rooster. Upon a further (and more adult) review, I would say that he is the epitomy of a Southern dixie politician and a bigot. Foghorn was modeled by Warner Brothers after Senator Beauregard Claghorn of Charleston South Carolina. He was a Southern politician that frequently appeared on Fred Allen’s radio program. Through his speech, Foghorn Leghorn uses an almost verbatim quote of Claghorn, right down to his catch phrases “Pay attention to me, son” and “That’s a joke, son.” The latter, according to radio legend, was originally a toss-off line the Senator used once when a joke fell flat with the studio audience. One of Foghorn's favorite lines: “There’s somethin’, I say, there’s something kinda Ewwww about a boy that’s never played baseball” directly portrays his intelligent nephew as a homosexual due to him favoring books over sports.

As an aside, here are some other quotes by Claghorn:

"When I'm in New York I'll never go the Yankee Stadium!"
"I won't even go to see the Giants unless a Southpaw's pitchin'!"
"When I got the Chicken Pox, they were southern fried!"

If you want to read more about Foghorn Leghorn, you can go here:

I chose Foghorn Leghorn as the first character to be discussed because I distinctly remember him as a child. However, he is surely not the only controversal character in the Warner Brothers' family. There are other cartoon characters that exhibit character concerns. How about Pepe Le Pew? He is a French love-sick skunk with a smelly disposition that is convinced females are constantly trying to flirt with him (clearly high praise for French men). Well, Pepe has a great lession for those watching his exploits: when a woman says no she is just playing hard-to-get. Further, since she is just being coy, you can do just about anything to get her including giving her a fake identity, drugging her, and forcing yourself upon her. What about Speedy Gonzales? Speedy is known to run extremely fast while spewing generic "Mexican" catchphrases written by white people. He can usually be found wearing a white shirt and pants, a giant yellow sombrero, and a red sash, which is similiar to what one would wear to the San Fermin festival (see: Running of the Bulls). According to wikipedia: In 1999, the Cartoon Network ceased to air Speedy Gonzales. In an interview she gave to Fox News on March 28, 2002, Cartoon Network spokeswoman Laurie Goldberg commented, "It hasn't been on the air for years because of its ethnic stereotypes." This is widely believed to refer to Speedy's fellow mice, who are all shown as being very slow and lazy, and sometimes even appear intoxicated. This is particularly true of Speedy's cousin, Slowpoke Rodriguez, who is exceptionally slow and lazy. Slowpoke is also known to carry a gun.

Here is an early concept drawing of Speedy, prior to his makeover. No stereotyping going on here. Speedy returned to the airwaves in 2002 because the level of stereotyping was minor compared to the World War II era cartoons as well as the protests of many Hispanics who said they were not offended and fondly remembered Speedy Gonzales cartoons from their youth.

Speaking of WWII era cartoons...

World War II was one of the most polarizing historical events to happen in the Modern World. While it had effectual fingers deeply inserted into economic and political fields, the greatest impact occured on a sociological level. For the purposes of this column, the sociological affectual action truly revealed itself via entertainment products (read: propaganda).

This is subtle:

Here are the Three Little Pigs and the Blitz:

Popeye the Sailor v. the Japanese ("You're a Sap, Mr. Jap")

Finally...this commercial is hilarious:

I am sure that I missed a plethora of other examples of inappropriate-ness in childhood cartoons, especially since I didn't even touch Disney and some of that perversion. In any case, if you want to delve deeper into this and read a (much) more thorough article about this, definitely check out:

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