More than 70 years after it first aired, the classic cartoon Tom and Jerry has come under fire, again. The award-winning animation will now contain a warning that they may depict scenes of "racial prejudice" for subscribers to Amazon Prime Instant Video.
According to BBC.com, Amazon's streaming subscription service includes the cartoons in its comedy collection. But Tom and Jerry: The Complete Second Volume is accompanied by the caution:
"Tom and Jerry shorts may depict some ethnic and racial prejudices that were once commonplace in American society. Such depictions were wrong then and are wrong today."
Hanna and Barbera produced 114 Tom and Jerry shorts for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1940 to 1957. During this time, they won seven Academy Awards for Animated Short Film. The cartoon was revived from 1960-62 where it then became the highest-grossing animated short film series of that time.
However, like many cartoons from the 1930s through the 60s, Tom and Jerry featured characters that were racial stereotypes of blacks, Asians and other minorities.
The segments included characters with blasted faces who would resemble stereotypical blacks, with large lips and bow-tied hair.
Amazon warns viewers that Tom and Jerry cartoons are racist. So, they're just NOW figuring this out?— Darin McFunkyPants (@darinlovesbacon) October 2, 2014
A reoccurring character was Mammy Two Shoes, a poor black maid who speaks in an illiterate "black accent" and has a rat problem. Her appearances have often been edited out, dubbed, or re-animated.
It's not the first time the iconic cartoon has had been called out for its for his racial stereotyping. In Tom and Jerry's Spotlight Collection DVD, a disclaimer by Whoopi Goldberg warns viewers about the potentially offensive material in the cartoons.
In the Tom and Jerry Golden Collection: Volume 1, this disclaimer was added :
"The cartoons you are about to see are products of their time. They may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in the U.S. society. These depictions were wrong then and they are wrong today. While the following does not represent the Warner Bros. view of today's society, these cartoons are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming that these prejudices never existed."
“I loved 'Tom and Jerry' as a kid and it never made me think poorly of ethnic minorities or want to smoke cigars.” http://t.co/pom4pHJ0y9— Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) October 2, 2014
Tom and Jerry was not the only cartoon to feature such inflammatory depictions (here's one example). According to banned-cartoons.com, between 1930 and 1950, animators at Warner Brothers, Walt Disney, MGM, Merrie Melodies, Looney Tunes, R.K.O., and many other independent studios, produced thousands of cartoons containing racial stereotypes.