What is aimed for children can be a tool for erupting controversies and outrage. As a kid, watching cartoon shows was a big deal as a source of entertainment but it is certainly intriguing to wonder what on earth their production studios were thinking while including questionable content for minor viewers. Take a look the 15 biggest controversial moments in cartoons:
15. Barbequor (Dial M for Monkey)
Featured as short segments of Dexter’s Laboratory, Dial M for Monkey focused upon Dexter’s pet monkey’s alter ego as a superhero who fights crime and saves the world.
The episode Barbequor was met with criticism because of the depiction of stereotypical gay men by a character named Silver Spooner and the state of being hangover and vomiting by another character called Krunk.
After airing for a few years, the episode was deemed offensive and later removed from broadcast. Replaced by a segment from the second season, Barbequor was not even featured in Season One DVD of Dexter’s Laboratory.
14. Blame it on Lisa (The Simpsons)
Not a stranger to criticism, The Simpsons is one of the most watched television shows of all time despite several inappropriate instances in it. In this episode, the family goes to Rio de Janeiro to find a Brazilian orphan named Ronaldo. During the course of their visit, the city is ridiculed by several stereotypes which damaged its image.
Showing significant kidnappings, crime, rat infestation and slums, the tourist board of Rio de Janeiro feared that the show will be responsible for a decline in their tourism business and planned to sue Fox. All was forgiven when executive producer of the show James L. Brooks apologized to the city for screening a negative portrayal.
13. Song of the South
Set in post-Civil War South, the movie stars James Baskett as Uncle Remus – an implied former slave. With a racist tone, the movie was branded as an “insult to American minorities [and] everything that America as a whole stands for” by Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., a congressman from Harlem.
The film caused one of the biggest controversial moments in cartoons and after facing a severe backlash and immense criticism, it was never released on home video. However, its song “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” won an Academy Award for Best Song while Baskett achieved an honorary Academy Award because of his portrayal of storyteller Uncle Remus; making him the very first male African-American actor to win an Oscar.
12. Arabian Nights (Aladdin)
Where they cut off your ear,
If they don’t like your face,
But hey, its home.
Unbelievable how such cruel content can be featured in a product aimed at children. After protests from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Disney altered the lyrics from the home-video and CD versions of the movie to:
Where it’s flat and immense,
And the heat is intense,
But hey, its home.
On an interesting note, the New York Times addressed the issue with an editorial titled “It’s Racist, But Hey, It’s Disney” and stated:
“To characterize an entire region with this sort of tongue-in-cheek bigotry, especially in a movie aimed at children, borders on barbaric.”
11. SpongeBob, You’re Fired! (SpongeBob SquarePants)
After being fired from the KrustyKrab, SpongeBob fells into depression but his friend Patrick tries to encourage him by showing the benefits of unemployment. Referring it as “fun employment”, the episode became a topic of political debate and much controversy for its irresponsible depiction of unemployment.
The episode also mocked how unemployed people rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Referred as a “symbolic of a harsh economic climate”, the plot of the episode was met with overwhelming criticism.
10. One Beer (Tiny Toon Adventures)
Underage drinking is never a good idea but in order to teach that lesson to the kids, this particular episode of Tiny Toon Adventures showed exactly that: underage drinking, in one of the most controversial cartoon episodes ever. When Buster Bunny, Plucky Duck and Hamton J. Pig drink beer, things only get complicated.
The alcohol content was taken to a whole new level when the drunk trio steal a police car and drive under the influence. Though they managed to learn the “evils of alcohol” by the end of the episode, the segment was quickly banned after it aired.
9. Last Horizons (TaleSpin)
The surprise military attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor added fuel to the fire between the two countries’ already crude relations.
The Disney animated series TaleSpin recreated the entire event in the episode Last Horizons when Baloo visits Panda-La – a mystical place occupied by Pandas with Japanese depictions.
The entire scenario is a setup as Panda-La’s emperor Wan Lo is on the verge of invading Baloo’scity Cape Suzette. The offensive East Asian stereotypes and the aggressive World War II depictions featured in the segment lead to a temporarily ban of the episode.
8. When You Wish Upon a Weinstein (Family Guy)
The list cannot be completed without the inclusion of Family Guy. Do not let the name fool you! The show is not at all meant for a family viewing. In the episode When You Wish Upon a Weinstein, Peter Griffin aims to hire a Jew so he can earn money.
The episode pokes fun at the Jews more than often and was chosen not to air on television because of its anti-Semitic nature. Furthermore, the song featured in the episode When You Wish Upon a Jew parodies the popular Disney song When You Wish Upon a Star with demeaning Jewish lyrics.