*Readers Be Advised* The following article contains images that are offensive. Please proceed with caution and keep in mind that it is only our intent to inform and that we find the images highly insulting and disrespectful.
The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, The Lorax, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Horton Hears a Who and Fox in Socks, are but a sampling of the classic books Dr. Seuss authored and drew. A man whose writings have become something akin to required reading for much of the world’s population, thinking about him or hearing his name is likely to bring back a flood of happy memories. A very creative person who brought to life all kinds of interesting creatures and wrote about them in enthralling rhyme, the man could be called a genius.
However, just because he created a bevy of stories that have gone down in history doesn’t mean that everything he did deserves celebration. In actuality, a lot of people don’t realize it, but Theodor Geisel, the man commonly known as Dr. Seuss today, has a history of illustrations that are offensive instead of delightful. Keeping that in mind, we thought it made perfect sense for us to put together this list of some of the most shockingly offensive things this famous writer and illustrator ever drew.
In order to be considered for this list, a drawing needed to satisfy a few simple criteria. First and foremost, it obviously needs to have been created at the hands of Dr. Seuss. Additionally, the subject matter of the illustration needs to be something that could offend those who come across it. Whether that means that it includes subject matter that touches upon racist ideas or tropes, is more overtly filled with racist ideas or touches on any other kind of hatred, it can qualify. On top of that, if the drawing is overtly sexual in nature it was something we considered, as the good doctor is best remembered for his involvement in children’s entertainment. With those ground rules in mind, we present to you Dr. Seuss’ most offensive drawings.
14 Elephant Ride
13 Cat Alley
12 Father and Daughter
11 Jungle Photographer
9 Island Flies
8 Horse on Human
6 Call to Arms
5 Racist Jungle Cooking
4 Slap a What?
While there is no question that the era in which these drawings were released would likely be more welcoming of them than modern times, there is a misconception that people were ok with this crap. During America’s conflict with The Third Reich, Japan especially found their people under racist attacks in the illustrations of Dr. Seuss. When his work received complaints because of the awful nature of it, Theodore did not bat an eye and on at least one occasion defended them. “Right now, when the Japs are planting their hatchets in our skulls, it seems like a hell of a time for us to smile and warble: ‘Brothers!’ It is a rather flabby battle cry. If we want to win, we’ve got to kill Japs… We can get palsy-walsy afterward with those that are left.”
3 TNT Line
2 Thirteen (The Bedroom Companion)
One of the forgotten books that Dr. Seuss contributed to has to be The Bedroom Companion, which was a humor book aimed at adults. Far from the type of thing that we usually associate the man with, we’re guessing the keepers of his estate wish they could eradicate it from all existence. Featuring an elephant character that instantly brings to mind the story of Horton Hears a Who, this time around the animal is seen gawking at a nude woman in the clutches of a man. Still, as different as that particular imagery is, it wasn’t enough to make our list.
When the original of this drawing went up for auction in 2015, it was covered by The Huffington Post website. At the very top of the page, just below the headline and social media prompts, there were some purposely chosen words in order to cover the company’s butt against those who were about to be put off. “Warning: The image included in this post may be offensive or upsetting to readers.” Gee, you think?
An illustration that dates back to 1929, it was titled “Cross-Section of The World’s Most Prosperous Department Store”, which speaks to the fact that the artist seemed to think this was unlikely to upset. While his later work and comments made it seem as though he felt at least embarrassed if not ashamed of his involvement in content like this, it is hard to look at this image and see him the same way. Starting out seeming like an out there but harmless store, the final panel features a disgusting reveal that people of African descent are on sale to be used for firewood. If there is any question as to the fact that these are supposed to be actual human beings the sign on the wall identifies them by using the N word. All of this was supposed to be funny too, which is absolutely revolting.
Sources: BusinessInsider, HuffingtonPost, Cracked, WeekendCollective
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