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Bugs Bunny - A Racist Rabbit?

Paul McKenna
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A favourite blogger of mine wrote an offbeat topic about the Bugs Bunny cartoon and possible racist references in it. I have linked the blog but I'm afraid the link will not work in a few days when he overwrites it with a more recent blog. However, I will summarize his post here..
For those familiar with Looney Tunes, you might recollect Bugs Bunny often using the term "Maroon" as in "What a maroon.." Mr.John Hawkins, like me and several others, thought it was just a comical pronounciation of the word "moron" meaning a stupid person. But out of curiosity he finally decided to look up the word in the dictionary and presto! "Maroon" does exist as a word and it has several definitions. One of them being : "A fugitive Black slave in the West Indies in the 17th and 18th centuries. A descendant of such a slave. In the West Indies and Guiana, a fugitive slave, or a free negro, living in the mountains"
His question is that since Looney Tunes have been in existence since 1930s is it possible that these cartoon were overtly racist then and the word just carried along through the years but was interpreted in a different manner. - Interesting I thought...


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Mapraputa Is
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Paul: I have linked the blog but I'm afraid the link will not work in a few days when he overwrites it with a more recent blog.
This is what permalinks are for! The one hidden under
"09:47 PM":
http://www.rightwingnews.com/archives/week_2003_12_07.PHP#001565
[ December 08, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]

Uncontrolled vocabularies
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Thomas Paul
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Why would Bugs Bunny use "maroon" in the sense of a fugitive black slave to describe Elmer Fudd? I think in this case "moron" is the word that Bugs meant with his Brooklyn accent. However, there are Bugs Bunny cartoons that are horribly racist. Cartoon Network even refused to show them during a Bugs Bunny retrospective last year. I have seen them and they are despicable.


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Gustavo Torreti
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Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
(...) However, there are Bugs Bunny cartoons that are horribly racist. Cartoon Network even refused to show them during a Bugs Bunny retrospective last year. I have seen them and they are despicable.

Well, Bugs is a nice person - for a rabbit -, but there are still some cartoons he is kind-of racist (some more, some less).
And I don't mean the black/white situation at all (as those "maroon" details are lost for those who have not english as mother language). It is the north/south rivality (US has a specific war time to that I currently forgot the name), also when politics is concerned (Democrats/republicans, as far as i go).
Is not being neutral all that wrong, must I ask?
Even before being a racist of any kind, Bugs has "an opinion of his own", and he has just any many faults and qualities as its writer wants it to be.

And that depends on time, is "context-based" just like its drawing. Cartoons change, and that's quite difficult (for me) to accept sometimes.
But that's barely another thread.

That's all for now, folks,
Regards,
Gus
[ December 09, 2003: Message edited by: Gustavo Torreti ]

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Frank Silbermann
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Thomas Paul: "there are Bugs Bunny cartoons that are horribly racist. Cartoon Network even refused to show them during a Bugs Bunny retrospective last year. I have seen them and they are despicable."

I rented a collection of "Censored Cartoons" which included several Bugs Bunny episodes. They had a little black boy who was hunting a rabbit. I thought it was no less insulting to black people than the Elmer Fudd character is to whites.
There were also some WWII-era cartoons in which Bugs Bunny made fun of Hitler and Tojo. They were treated in a very stereotypical way. For example, they showed Tojo as having narrow eyes and buck teeth; they showed Hitler as having a silly mustache. Both were made to speak with thick foreign accents. Absolutely horrible. :roll:
[ December 09, 2003: Message edited by: Frank Silbermann ]
Paul McKenna
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Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:

I rented a collection of "Censured Cartoons" which included several Bugs Bunny episodes. They had a little black boy who was hunting a rabbit. I thought it was no less insulting to black people than the Elmer Fudd character is to whites.
There were also some WWII-era cartoons in which Bugs Bunny made fun of Hitler and Tojo. They were treated in a very stereotypical way. For example, they showed Tojo as having narrow eyes and buck teeth; they showed Hitler as having a silly mustache. Both were made to speak with thick foreign accents. Absolutely horrible. :roll:


Do I detect a thick scent a sarcasm above?
HS Thomas
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Originally posted by Paul McKenna:

Do I detect a thick scent a sarcasm above?

Witler o' Wacist Wabbit
Michael Ernest
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Stereotyping and caricaturization are pretty common in the cartoons of that Era. And there's no small amount of Cold War sentiment that runs through goose-stepping fascists, and slanty-eyed, buck-toothed this and that. You can judge it in retrospect if you like -- I don't think anyone of the time would think their fears, resentments, hostilities were misplaced, though. They were making fun of the enemy -- low humor, even mean-spirited. But judging it through a contemporary lens doesn't really do anythign for us. It's part of our cultural past; we can condemn or we can acknowledge it for what it was.
As for racism in Bugs Bunny, I'd have to go back and take a look. Not a single cartoon comes to mind that I would remember as 'horribly racist.'


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Al Newman
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Not only cartoons.
A couple years ago I picked up an old novel by a favorite author, Taylor Caldwell. Published in 1943, it was a historical novel set in a US mill town in the late 1850's. The owners of one mill were German immigrants, and a more subhuman grunting bunch of utter pigs have never made it into print. The heros were all of English or French descent.
Unlike her better-known works this book had been out of print for many years, probably since the war. I could see why. Not only was it incredibly offensive to German-Americans (including moi), it was just bad literature. The villains were scarcely recognizable as human at all. Much as I imagine Nazi-era literature must have portrayed the Jews, I think. A good character must act from recognizably human motivations. These people were bestial for no discernable reason or to any profit.
[ December 11, 2003: Message edited by: Alfred Neumann ]

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Michael Ernest
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Rudyard Kipling is another example. A pure product of his age, writing on a line of sentiments we have since wanted to discard.
Frank Silbermann
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Michael Ernest: Rudyard Kipling is another example. A pure product of his age, writing on a line of sentiments we have since wanted to discard.

I've read hardly any Kipling, but it was my impression that he had much more sympathy and respect for the natives than most Englishmen of his time.
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Michael Ernest:
As for racism in Bugs Bunny, I'd have to go back and take a look. Not a single cartoon comes to mind that I would remember as 'horribly racist.'

"All This And Rabbit Stew" - Bugs Bunny is chased by a slow-witted black hunter in a manner akin to Elmer Fudd. Bugs wins out in the end by playing on his adversary's weakness for gambling.
The cartoon was considered too racist by United Artists and was withdrawn from syndication in 1968.
This site has some stills from the cartoon:
http://www.itctel.com/arlateo/CNUndressed/AllThisAndRabbitStew.html
Paul McKenna
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Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:

I've read hardly any Kipling, but it was my impression that he had much more sympathy and respect for the natives than most Englishmen of his time.

I personally dont have anything against Kipling.. but to quote him - "It is the burden of the white man to civilize the blacks and the browns"
I was extremely shocked to hear this, considering that Kipling grew up in Bombay surrounded by "browns" right from childhood to adulthood.
Michael Ernest
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Ah. Ok, with that example in mind, the ethnic stereotyping in those cartoons I agree is outdated; at best they're highly controversial as sound children's entertainment. But I think it's a stretch to refer to poking fun (or trying to) by exaggerating racial features as racist behavior. As was said above, I don't see why this character would be any more offensive than Elmer Fudd. That African-Americans might be more sensitive to it makes sense; the overtones of entertainment produced by a Caucasian-majority culture depicting a minority culture are going to be suspect.
Interesting to note that the primary concern of that site is documenting cartoons that depict full or partial nudity. Which reminds me, when is Catoon Network going to show Fritz the Cat?
[ December 10, 2003: Message edited by: Michael Ernest ]
HS Thomas
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Kipling is best remembered for The Jungle Book and Kim.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Originally posted by Paul McKenna:
I personally dont have anything against Kipling.. but to quote him - "It is the burden of the white man to civilize the blacks and the browns"

The poem, "White Man's Burden" written to convince the US to "civilize" the Phillipines:
http://www.boondocksnet.com/ai/kipling/kipling.html
Al Newman
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Kipling isn't completely discredited. My favorite is The Gods of the Copybook Headings.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: �Stick to the Devil you know.�
Anonymous
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i read an article before, saying california soon will have no majority race, that is, no race is over 50% of total population. and when you look at the way latino grows, you have to believe latino will become the majority in california in the future. a population majority may not mean too much. but it could be the start of something.
Frank Silbermann
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i read an article before, saying california soon will have no majority race, that is, no race is over 50% of total population.

Hasn't that already happened?

you have to believe latino will become the majority in california in the future. a population majority may not mean too much. but it could be the start of something.

The future depends upon the rate of Latino assimilation (i.e., the rate at which they marry whites and become prosperous Republicans).
If that doesn't happen, then California will continue moving left; businesses will leave, and Latinos will ask themselves "Why did we bother leaving Mexico?" And blacks in California will be frustrated at not getting any of the spoils of politics, _despite_ a leftist takeover.
Al Newman
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Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:

The future depends upon the rate of Latino assimilation (i.e., the rate at which they marry whites and become prosperous Republicans).

They don't have to marry whites to become prosperous Republicans. I wouldn;t were I them. The average Latina is more attractive than a white....
Michael Ernest
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You gonna marry a statistical average or you gonna marry the person you can find that best suits you?
Anonymous
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Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:
Hasn't that already happened?

not yet, as of year 2000.
Race // California // United States
White persons, 59.5%, 75.1%
Black or African American persons, 6.7%, 12.3%
American Indian and Alaska Native persons, 1.0%, 0.9%
Asian persons, 10.9%, 3.6%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 0.3%, 0.1%
Persons reporting some other race, 16.8%, 5.5%
Persons reporting two or more races, 4.7%, 2.4%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, 32.4%, 12.5%
White persons, not of Hispanic/Latino origin, 46.7%, 69.1%
Dan Chisholm
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Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:
Hasn't that already happened?

Yes, it has in the San Francisco Bay area.


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Al Newman
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Originally posted by Michael Ernest:
You gonna marry a statistical average or you gonna marry the person you can find that best suits you?

I'd rather marry a statistical average than marry for money.....
Al Newman
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Originally posted by <economist>:

not yet, as of year 2000.
Race // California // United States
White persons, 59.5%, 75.1%
Black or African American persons, 6.7%, 12.3%
American Indian and Alaska Native persons, 1.0%, 0.9%
Asian persons, 10.9%, 3.6%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 0.3%, 0.1%
Persons reporting some other race, 16.8%, 5.5%
Persons reporting two or more races, 4.7%, 2.4%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, 32.4%, 12.5%
White persons, not of Hispanic/Latino origin, 46.7%, 69.1%

What about 'Don't know', 'don't care', and 'garradda my face'?
Anonymous
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Originally posted by Alfred Neumann:

What about 'Don't know', 'don't care', and 'garradda my face'?

Persons reporting some other race, 16.8%, 5.5%
Persons reporting two or more races, 4.7%, 2.4%
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