Arts & Entertainment

Racism warnings question cartoon’s legacy

By: Aiyana Moore ~Staff Writer~

Though the classic Warner Bros. cartoon, “Tom and Jerry,” was once thought to be a fun
animated game of cat and mouse, it now comes with a warning label on both iTunes and Amazon Prime Instant Video.

“These animated shorts are products of their time,” the
iTunes disclaimer said. “Some of them may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society.”
These cartoons, which originally ran from the 1940s through the 1950s, were once a staple on Saturday morning television.

Aside from the iconic cat and mouse pairing, “Tom and Jerry” also plays host to a stereotypical black housemaid, Mammy Two Shoes. While the portrayal of Mrs. Two Shoes doesn’t seem to be more than a stereotype used for entertainment, Whoopi Goldberg defends the choice to not edit Mrs. Two Shoes out of the show.

“Mammy is significant to the template of ‘Tom and Jerry’ because she brings the human touch
to the cartoon world, an entry point for the viewer,” Goldberg said in the pre-film disclaimer
of Tom and Jerry: The Spotlight Collection. “Mrs. Two Shoes, along with other elements that
reveal the prejudices of the time, are presented here to accurately reflect a part of our history that cannot, and should not, be ignored.” Amazon and iTunes agreed with similar opinions.

“While the following does not represent the Warner Bros. view of today’s society, these animated shorts are being presented as they were originally created because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed,” the disclaimers on both Amazon and iTunes said.

Tom and Jerry - wikipedia dot org

“Tom and Jerry” has come under scrutiny for its portrayal of black-face as well as the racist “Mammy” character.

These disclaimers released an outcry from fans of Tom and Jerry. “An introductory statement proclaims that the ethnic stereotypes ‘were wrong then and are wrong today,’ which misses the point,” Charles Solomon, Amazon Editorial Reviewer said.

“The stereotypical African- American maid and blackface gags were considered good fun and good taste in the era of Amos and Andy; that they are no longer acceptable reflects the social progress of the intervening decades.” Even though these disclaimers give potential viewers a warning about what they will see, they do not seek to stop people from watching it altogether.

“Tom and Jerry remain one of film history’s most beloved comedy duos,” Goldberg said. “These cartoons are timeless and will be entertaining new generations of fans for years to come.”