They are cancelling everything! 少なくとも, if you’re a particular brand of conservative commentator they are. 最初 they came for the Muppets そして Dr Seuss, now they’re cancelling Pepé Le Pew! はい, everyone’s favourite caricature-French cartoon skunk has reportedly been excised from the forthcoming Space Jam sequel. What’s the world coming to? Where will it end?
An answer to the first question might be “its senses”. 第二に, there’s no homogenous “they” here. Those desperate to engage in a new culture war are constantly seeking to conjure some “woke” bogeyman to blame for what are actually different decisions made by different groups of people, of their own volition. As for where it ends, a better question might be, where did it start? Because what is currently being decried as “cancel culture” is absolutely nothing new.
Children’s animation is a good place to start. Pepé is no longer invited to the party on account of his defining characteristic being “sexual predator who never takes ‘no’ for an answer”. But the rest of the Looney Tunes gang are still joining LeBron James for Space Jam: A New Legacy this May – even, at the time of writing, the problematic Mexican stereotype Speedy Gonzales.
It is no secret that these characters have a chequered past. Cartoon history is filled with horrendously offensive depictions of non-white people: Native Americans, Latinos, east Asians, and especially those of African descent, from blackface minstrels to spear-waving cannibals. In 1944’s Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips, Bugs lands on a Pacific island populated by Japanese caricatures. に 1953, Bugs wore blackface and pretended to be a slave. に 1941, he outwitted a dim African-American hunter and won all his clothes off him. That episode is part of a notorious selection of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies known as the “Censored Eleven”, which the studio pulled owing to their offensiveness – in 1968.
It is a similar story with Tom and Jerry, currently to be found frolicking with Chloë Grace Moretz and Michael Peña in their feature-length comeback. They were also once partial to racist stereotyping. You won’t find “Mammy Two Shoes” – the caricature black housemaid – in their new movie. But then you won’t find her in the cartoons, either; she was replaced by a white character after complaints from the NAACP – in 1953. Cancel culture from 70 数年前?
The point is less that past entertainment was sometimes racist; we have always known that. It’s that we have always been able to look back and say: ‘Maybe this isn’t a great thing to be broadcasting any more.’ Does anybody seriously have a problem with that? The terminology has been updated, but let’s not pretend there’s anything new or dangerous happening. It’s society moving forward. That’s all, folks.