Ahh, the shows we watched as kids. Nothing quite compares to the pretty pictures, the funny characters, the bright colors, and the obvious racism. Oh yeah, racism has been such an important part of kid shows since they really started becoming common place in the ’40s. Many of these shows have really made an attempt to solve the problems that they initially had by editing or trashing entire episodes. Whether it is the inclusion of stereotypes or racist concepts, shows from yester-year cannot escape the offensive content that makes its way into even the most innocent of shows.
No matter how much they have tried to fix the issues that they caused, some shows have gone too far over the edge. Here is a list of 11 shows children love that just so happen to be incredibly racist.
11. The Jetsons
The Jetsons are meant to represent the perfect society of the future. It shows that in the year 2000, the human race will become so technologically advanced that we fly cars and live in the sky. Oh, and we got rid of black people, along with anyone who isn’t white. Seriously, go watch The Jetsons and count the minorities, you’ll find none. The perfect world that children were idolizing in the ’60s was the utopia of the KKK. The biggest problem is that the show created new installments until 1988 and they still didn’t include a single black person. During the series’ run, our country went through the civil rights movement and The Jetsons straight up ignored it. Great job, future.
10. The Smurfs
The lovable little blue people living in mushrooms can’t be racist… can they? I mean, they definitely are sexist or are following some odd religion that only allows one woman to live in their society, but they never show any hate towards other Smurfs, or people in general. Unless you’re purple, then they freaking hate you. Purple smurfs are basically the Smurfs’ version of a zombie; it’s a disease that turns a Smurf purple and gives them a taste for Smurf flesh. Now, it’s totally fair to hate zombies; they’re not friendly, so how do you pick on the Smurfs for hating their purple enemies? Because originally, the Purple Smurfs weren’t purple. In their original incarnation, the Purple Smurfs were Black Smurfs. Yep, the whole group of evil Smurfs is black. And if that’s not enough, in Grouchy Smurf’s origin, it is explained that the reason he’s a total a-hole is because he used to be a Black Smurf. So to Smurfs, even having a distant relation to a Black Smurf still makes you the worst person in town. Seriously, what the Smurf?
9. Young Justice
For those unfamiliar, Young Justice is a show about teen superheroes including Robin, Kid Flash, and Superboy. Overall, it’s a pretty good show with fleshed out characters and an interesting look at the DC Universe. Now, you may think “and how is a show about super-teens racist?” Well… in an obvious attempt at including characters who aren’t, well, white guys, someone somewhere made a drastic mistake. Young Justice included teen heroes of every ethnicity they could, which should be applauded. What shouldn’t be applauded is what happened once it went to production.
A major character in season 2 is the lesser-known hero Blue Beetle. Beetle’s alternate secret identity is Jaime Reyes, a Hispanic 13-year-old from Texas. Apparently the writers thought that being Hispanic means that you randomly repeat words in Spanish and you must refer to anybody in your life as “ese” or “hermano.” They also included an episode about a group of runaway heroes including a black kid who rides a sewer lid, a Japaneese girl with Chi-manipulation, and a young stereotypical Native American boy reminiscent of the hero Apache Chief. Even though they attempted to do right, the writing team made some significant errors in the final product.
Pokémon is almost famous for having so many banned episodes. One was banned for having too many guns, another for having too many cross dressers, and another for causing seizures – pretty much the standard reasons that any kids TV have had to cancel episodes (that was sarcasm). But there was one episode that was banned for including a character that author Carole Boston Weatherford argues “clearly denigrates African Americans, particularly black women.” She’s not wrong. The episode “Holiday Hi-Jynx” prominently features the Pokémon Jynx.
That purple woman you’re looking at might have been a caricature of black people, but that’s after they redesigned it. Jynx originally had black skin and looked like she was pulled off a page of Little Black Sambo, a children’s book banned from most public libraries. Either way, it took a whole generation of Pokémon shows, movies, games, and cards before the makers attempted to fix their mistake with the purple Jynx we have now.
7. The Lone Ranger
The Lone Ranger reaches almost every medium imaginable. There was a radio show, TV show, books, including a movie in 2013. No matter how overtly racist the concept is, it will not go away. The Lone Ranger’s sidekick is nearly as famous as he is at this point. Who is that sidekick, you may ask? Tonto, the stereotypical Native American that Johnny Depp got a Razzie nomination for. Tonto is always speaking without correct articles or pronouns and calling everyone Kemo-Sabe. Then again, what should we expect from a man who’s name translates to “dumb” in three languages. Furthermore, how can you call someone The Lone Ranger if he has a buddy with him everywhere he goes? Even though Tonto is in almost every episode, the Lone Ranger is described as that – alone. The creator of the series didn’t even think of Tonto as a person, more like the Ranger’s pet.
6. Tom and Jerry
While the show acknowledged that they were in the wrong by editing almost all of their earlier episodes, Tom and Jerry is no stranger to racist antics by the beloved Cat and Mouse. Possibly their most egregious racist error is the inclusion of an over weight black maid by the name of Mammy Two Shoes. Mammy was one of the first black characters to be featured in cartoons, but her racist design and dialogue led to outrage from viewers. Since her initial run in the ’40s and ’50s, Mammy has since been edited out of all episodes or was replaced with a skinny white lady, ruining all the good that she could have started.
5. Hong Kong Phooey
The show stars a smooth-talking superhero voiced by Scatman Crothers, who’s secret identity is the janitor’s dog at the local police station. The only thing worse would be if he was a monkey. Whatever you feel about the main character, many Asian stereotypes that are forced into our culture today originated from the show.
4. Bugs Bunny
Everyone know Bugs Bunny’s longtime rival Elmer Fudd, the chubby hunter with a speech impediment. But do you know about the other hunters that Bugs feuded with over time? More specifically, did you know about Tex’s coon? Yea, it is exactly as it sounds. The writer of the episode described the hunter as a “shufflin’, big lipped, sleepy-eyed country coon” who can’t resist a game of craps, and he drew him to match the description.
Because of the gross character design, the episode All This and Rabbit Stew hasn’t been aired on TV since 1968, almost 30 years after it’s initial release. While most of Bugs’ antics are supposed to humiliate other characters, there aren’t many character designs that insult and degrade an entire group of people. Bugs also dresses up in black face a number of times in the episode Any Bonds Today and early in his career had a history of depicting Asians and Native Americans in a very offensive manner.
3. Power Rangers
There is a show that has gained incredible popularity about a group of kids that fight monsters using armor given to them based on their ethnicity. It’s called Power Rangers. Seriously, look at the Rangers; the Black Ranger is a black guy, the Yellow Ranger is Asian, the Pink Ranger is a ditsy white girl, and the Red Ranger is Native American. The worst part about the obvious stereotype is that the White Ranger (a white guy) is significantly better than the rest of his team. I don’t know any more obvious white power metaphors.
Good news is that it seems that the creators realized the issue. The upcoming Power Rangers movie has been cast and it looks like connection of armor and ethnicity has been severed. Here’s hoping for a non-racist group of super-teens.
2. Jonny Quest
Not a lot really needs to be said here. A quick look at the design of the character Hadji will have people pulling out their hair. The turban-clad young boy from the streets of India doesn’t just look like an incarnation of Donald Trump‘s imagination, but he acts like it too. The skills he brings to the team often revolves around using “far-east magic” including things like snake charming. Overall, Hadji is a terrible representation of India and its people.
1. Donald Duck
The most racist character on the list. Go watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. There is a scene where Daffy Duck and Donald Duck are playing in a dueling piano bar. Insults are thrown back and forth between the ducks, and then Donald drops the “N” word. It shouldn’t be a surprise seeing as the pant-less duck was created by one of the most noted racists in history. Even in his early days, Donald fought caricature of Japanese soldiers in World War II. Much of his racist antics have been written off as being from “a different time.” That does not make it ok.