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Should These 11 Censored Warner Bros Cartoons Be Released?

Should These 11 Censored Warner Bros Cartoons Be Released?

It shouldn’t be any surprised that cartoons from the 30’s through the early 50’s were loaded with all types and variations of offensive racist images and stereotypes. To compile a list of every single cartoon from that era with stereotyped black images would reach from here to the moon. And back. That sort of humor was par for the course in cartoons made back then, by major studios such as MGM (some jokes in MGM cartoons of the period are so viciously racist that they stun the imagination even today), Walt Disney, Warner Bros, Universal and independent producers as well.

However, by the 1960’s when Warner cartoons started to be shown on a regular basis on TV, the studio made edits to eliminate some of the more offensive material, and in the politically turbulent year of 1968, they pulled out of circulation, 11 of their cartoons that were deemed so offensive, so vile, that they would never see the light of day again:

Hittin’ the Trail for Hallelujah Land (1931, directed by Rudolf Ising)
Sunday Go to Meetin’ Time (1936, directed by Friz Freleng)
Clean Pastures (1937, directed by Friz Freleng)
Uncle Tom’s Bungalow (1937, directed by Tex Avery)
Jungle Jitters (1938, directed by Friz Freleng)
The Isle of Pingo Pongo (1938, directed by Tex Avery)
All This and Rabbit Stew (1941, directed by Tex Avery)
Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (1943, directed by Robert Clampett)
Tin Pan Alley Cats (1943, directed by Robert Clampett)
Angel Puss (1944, directed by Chuck Jones)
Goldilocks and the Jivin’ Bears (1944, directed by Friz Freleng)

However, of course, they never really went away. Collectors searched the world for them and made copies for each other; they were available on bootleg tapes and DVDs, and even occasionally still shown theatrically on special occasions. (I remember seeing them for the first time, in remarkably good condition, back in the late 80’s in a movie revival theater.) And of course, with the advent of the internet, You Tube and other websites, they can be easily seen anywhere, though mainly in poor, badly faded, fuzzy prints.

However Warner Home Video, seeing the obvious and admitting that there has always been a strong demand for the cartoons in restored versions (one WHV exec said that the 11 cartoons are the one of the most in demand titles requested to be released on DVD), recently announced that they are planning to release digitally resorted versions of the censored 11 on their DVD-on-demand label Warner Archive, by the end of the year.

The question, of course, is should they be released in the first place? No doubt there are some who argue that they should not and should never be. (I can hear the NAACP screaming already). They’re too painful a reminder of a not-so-distant ugly past.

I however say that they absolutely should be released and I definitely plan to get the DVD when it comes out. First of all, they’ve always been available in one form or another, so what’s the point of still trying to pretend that they don’t exist? Also I feel, more importantly, that it’s extremely necessary and (though I hate to use the word) educational for these cartoons to be seen, especially by black people, in order to see and understand the history of black imagery in movies and how they relate to the types of images of us that exists today. To hide our heads in the sand and pretend they don’t exist is complete lunacy. And besides, how in the hell do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been?

What do you say?

Here’s one of the censored 11: Angel Puss

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I am surprised that u people think this is ok…just because we dont live in that time anymore does not make these any less offensive. This cartoons came from a racist point of veiw. How can u get past racism of u want to watch it in its worst form on television. Be real people these cartoons should be burned.
Oh yea and that maury comment…they show all types of people black white asain latino….educate urself. These cartoons will always be offensive because they were made to be offensive.

Steve Costa

YES, these are animation classics and while not suitable for kids should be released so that adult animation collectors and historians can view them. It would probably be appropriate to have someone like Whoopi Goldberg at the beginning of the DVD to explain the history of these short subjects. But yes, they should be released. The NAACP needs to grow up, it isn’t 1955 any more and if you’ve ever seen Sanford & Son you will know what I’m talking about. Redd Foxx even used the N-word on that show.

Stephen Williams

Yes most definitely these should be released. These cartoons are an archive of how African-Americans were stereotyped and parodied in the 1930’s and 1940’s. They have their place in adult viewed entertainment and of course should not be directed at children. These films alongside such epics a “Birth of a Nation” and the “The Jazz Singer” are a snapshot view of history.


These cartoons do depict blacks in an unfavorable kind of way. Some even thought that Amos and Andy did likewise. For those who are sensitive, I can see where they would be offended. I am black and I have seen a lot of onstage depictions, but none are as offensive as what I see today on television in those so called reality shows. How much money has Maury Povich made off of telling black men that they ARE the father of babies. How many sick looking ghetto acting sisters are willing to go on television and air out their bad behavior and not one peep out of the disingenuous bastards that seem to be offended by these cartoons.
I had not seen these cartoons in many years, but they are only depictions of racist ideas back in a time that is past. Surely there are many racist’ now that would hail these cartoons, because what these cartoons depict are caricatures of what we see today. The few black people that do display dignity are ignored; the idiotic, i.e. rappers, and foul mouthed comedians, are given honors and accolades by the black elite.
I say go ahead and let the cartoons be released, and put play them next to the ignorant real life NH iggas and then tell me what is so different. The only difference is that the cartoons are animated characters, while the real life NH iggas, sadly are a reality, a stain on the progress and the good reputation of people who fought, protested and died so that they could be free… act just like the white animators depicted a long time ago. Any comments please forward them to

Miles Ellison

Fern has proved my point.

A BiPolar Guy

some things we may deem unsuitable for children, but no one can make that decision for other adults.

the truth can not be altered. nothing true should ever be forgotten or thrown away. Once you do you can’t get it back Arguments about the “value” of anything are pointless. We don’t have to know what value something is. Maybe we will never know. maybe our grandchildren will know, maybe no one ever will. We can only preserve all our history, all that is fact. It may be important someday.


Hold up y’all, in the comment following mine, there’s a member of Kukla, Fran and Ollie who has decided to grace our presence.

Kukla, Fran and Ollie is an early American TV show using puppets ( 1947–1957.).

This is a heads-up that the old white puppet is back. Be careful b/c I believe ol’girl Fran is looking for the good ol’ days when she could play with her friends Sambo & Buckwheat. They say when a woman goes black they never can go back, so Fran has come back to catch her a man, all in the name of art.

Ms. Fran, nobody is buying it today, so you can go on back to your funky fox hole.


Here we go again with the 20/20 hindsight. These cartoons are works of art, not racist at all. Should we ban tv commercials that incessantly make white men look stupid, or have their wives wooed by the ever so smart black man? Didn’t think so. Better ban all the movies with the “aunt jemimah” stereotype too. So long, Gone With the Wind.

You race obsessed people are a disgrace. Make sure to get the United NEGRO College Fund and the National Association for the Advancement of COLORED People to change their name as well. Just a little bit of critical thinking is all we need here. Bedwetting goofballs!


That same argument could apply to blaxploitation flicks or slave movies. I bet some people laughed during Schindler’s List – at the most inappropriate moments. Yet most people recognized the tragedy and acted accordingly. I know, Holocaust vs. Slavery doesn’t receive the same treatment. However, I still believe the majority of the (thinking) public has the capability to recognize and acknowledge the blatant racism in these cartoons for what they are and not treat them as pure entertainment.

I’ve never heard anybody downplay the racism in Birth of a Nation. Maybe a film school thing?


In my not so humble opinion, I believe Miles has pinned the tail on this donkey.

In a film study environment, these cartoons have a defined purpose, which as he said, might meet it’s goal, however, that all depends on the subjectivity and motives of the presenters and the classroom participants.

Miles Ellison

Birth of a Nation is arguably the most racist film ever made. It is also considered one of the most innovative films ever made. It is also considered one of the greatest films of all time by people who make lists of such things. The film’s racism is usually downplayed or ignored. Its status as a touchstone of modern film-making is usually what’s emphasized.

Now this film is often used as an educational tool in various schools. And yet there are people who soft-pedal the movie’s virulent racism and mangling of history.

That is the issue here. What is actually going to be learned from releasing these cartoons that people don’t (and should) already know? The likely dynamic in the vast majority of cases is that they will be used as entertainment. People will think they’re funny and will soft pedal their racist aspects. People who point out their offensiveness will be dismissed as PC loons.


“what exactly are the students going to learn that they didn’t know, and what exactly are they going to do with that “new” knowledge? I can see them being used in film study, but I seriously doubt racist and bigots will change their evil ways upon seeing these “classics”, let alone Joe Smoe from Kokomo and Leon in the hood. ”

By CareyCarey on August 22, 2011

I do see what you are saying, you make a wonderful argument. Although, you have to wonder, if kids today and even young adults were given an opportunity to see these cartoons (because honestly, at what time would they have seen them in their young lives) then maybe they would get a great education. Yes there are other educational sources out there, but if they see it coming from something as simple as a cartoon, they would be more incline to realize that there was a time where Blacks were thought of as bubbling buffoons and given the right teaching environment, these videos could have a positive impact and some of our young people with some common sense can relate it to their buffoonery behavior today and most-likely change. Of Course, Leon in the hood would have to take a crash course in common sense, but it would be dangerous to underestimate other youths. I saw roots when I was about 15 and I never had appreciation for what our ancestors went through, but now at the age of 20, I am pushing myself above stereotypes and trying to be better. I am not comparing the seriousness of Roots to the cartoons from Warner Brothers, but there are different educational sources out there in different forms and I believe this is one of them. Besides, these cartoons will probably end up in a Library of Congress exhibit anyway and any curious 15 will go searching. We could analyze the schools they’d be shown in, the race of the teacher showing them or the endless other racially charged material, but at the end of the day they’re all on Youtube anyway.


“there are generations out there completely ignorant of this past. That’s what has changed. There’s an assumption that if you’re black and born in this country, race consciousness and all the evils pertaining to it is part of your DNA”

If all that be true (and the rest of your comment), it still does not support the ideology that this method of “teaching” our history is the most effective way of enlightening this new generation you’re referring to. More importantly, although you say you do not care about bigots, I question why do you believe these cartoons were banned in the first place? How has that changed. What purpose did they serve then, and to that point, what has changed? What, this new generation needs to know how we were hated and oppressed? I am sure they can look out their window, and look on the TV, and listen to their parents and learn quite a bit more than 1000 classroom discussions. And seriously, no one is trying to sweep anything under the rug. That assertion is akin to someone proclaiming we shouldn’t have any laws that protect the rights and wellbeing of the general public. The cartoons exist, and as someone mentioned, they are available to those who have a need and desire to see them. Trying to teach the dynamics of racism and bigotry is a slippery slope with few returns. I am sure you’ve been in several discussion on racism, what rewards did you receive from doing so? Now, juxtapose a young child into that position.

But you know what, maybe all of use have gone in the wrong direction. Maybe we should have asked the author of this post, Sergio, to define what he meant and how he thought these cartoons can be used as a teaching tool, and in what environment? You know, to whom what, and when, and for what purpose?


@JMAC, SPIKE LEE was slated to do an “revisionist” take on Huck Finn, written late sports writer- Ralph Wiley, he did ‘summer of sam’ instead, so it goes without saying the obvious abovemeationed.


and oh by the way? …BUCKWHEAT is leading the insurrection.

REvolution starts with the Misfits-H.G.Wells


Friz Freleng-4/Tex Avery-3/Robert Clampett-2/Chuck (woody wood pecker)Jones-1 and oh?, dont let me forget Rudolf the red neck rain man-1huum?, i can see it now now Pres.Obama chillin @ Martha’s Vineyard and in comes like “The Help” brandishing a AK-47 asking the perverbial question…have WE learned anything from -THE SECRET DIARY OF DESMOND PFEIFFER????.


“I doubt that the industry or the people that are voraciously consuming the current stereotypical entertainment are going to have a moment of clarity on the issue once they see these”

Let me start right there. Some people are talking theory but it’s paramount that we look at the facts. In reference that these images being used as educational tool, what percent of these cartoons would be used for that function? One out of 5000 or less? I think it’s safe to assume 5000 is a very low number. But lets just use it ( .0002 percent) for the sake of argument. Now, in which school systems and by which teachers (and the color of their skin) are these cartoons going to be presented?And where are the rest of the million copies – huh?

I think everyone see’s what I am getting at. It’s a half-baked solution to suggest that vile and racist images in the form of cartoons, should be the driving force behind why we should champion there return.

As Mills implied, subjugating the real issues of why these films were banned in the first place, to a lesser degree of importance to half-baked and porous theories, is not very wise.

Besides, lets say they were used as this ambiguous teaching tool, what exactly are the students going to learn that they didn’t know, and what exactly are they going to do with that “new” knowledge? I can see them being used in film study, but I seriously doubt racist and bigots will change their evil ways upon seeing these “classics”, let alone Joe Smoe from Kokomo and Leon in the hood.

In short, when one looks at the whole picture and plays the story to the end, the educational slant, seriously pales in comparison and has limited rewards when compared to the down-sides of championing racial images that spoke to deep rooted racism which still exists in American. It’s a pimp game y’all, and we know who’s getting paid Think twice before you raise your hands.


“So what has really changed that makes these classics such a wonderful learning tool at this time? ”

We’ve butted heads on several similar topics whether The Help or the racially sensitive revision of Huck Finn. The answer is the same – there are generations out there completely ignorant of this past. That’s what has changed. There’s an assumption that if you’re black and born in this country, race consciousness and all the evils pertaining to it is part of your DNA. What about the kids who are college age now and were lucky enough to watch positive black sitcoms, black cartoons, have black dolls (that were actually beautiful), and generally only experienced latent racism if any at all but none of this “in your face” degradation.

If some bigots get a kick out of this I don’t care. It’s more important that we don’t forget it and push it under the rug for fear of what some whites will do/think. If anything, these insulting cartoons, black mammie dolls, etc… are one very strong link that ties the black diaspora together. Heck, they are still trying to fight these images. Black Americans have no right to feel they are in a superior position when we just exited from that mess not too long ago. If we are going to bury it away and declare it game over, then the least we need to do is help other blacks defeat their racist demons in their countries. Or else it’ll be like Oprah’s trip to Australia. Want to build a global empire for black entertainment, we’re gonna come face to face with this mess whether we want to or not.


ita with PammieG & Sergio with using these as teaching resources, and thank you for mentioning the reactions of your students when you placed these images in context. I don’t work with kids, but I know there is a huge disconnect with them and our early history in this country because of a lack of education. Let’s see how easily they call each other nigga once they see how we were presented, or maybe i’m just being naive.


They most definitely should be released. I have shown these cartoons to my high school students over the years in connection with the online Ferris State Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. Here’s the sad part. We know these images and the racist labels associated with them but many of our younger generations are literally in the dark about mammies, coons, picaninnys, brutes, the tragic mulatto, Jezebels, and of course the Uncle Tom. This chapter of our history isn’t part of any approved high school history or English curriculum but it needs to be taught and not just to African American students and not only during African American History Month which was the best time I could fit it into my African American Literature unit.

If I showed the cartoons before I spent a day or two explaining the images the students would laugh, some would blurt out, “Hey, doesn’t that look like……” and others would be somewhat in disbelief black people were ever in Bugs Bunny cartoons. If I showed them after the lesson explaining the images and the stereotypes that went along with them I got a completely different reaction and often heard comments that Bugs Bunny was racist. I had to remind them that Bugs Bunny himself wasn’t racist it was Warner Brothers and the w men who wrote/produced and maybe even animated and directed the cartoons.

They have to be taken in context though and hopefully the release of the 11 censored cartoons can be used as teachable moments even by teachers who aren’t African American.



As for the educational angle. Yes they can be.
They are showing a piece of American History.

You will all be amazed at what is sitting up in your local school library nowadays.

I’ve seen more copies of Precious, E Lynn Harris, hood rat, erotica and drug dealing books in schools (at ALL levels) than some of our classic black authors.

James Baldwin-who is he?


Batare, I understand you point of view and the argument that these cartoons could be used as educational tools. Seriously, I understand all of that. and to a small degree, I will agree. However, my basic point of contintion remains the same. You said it yourself… “We could analyze the schools they’d be shown in, the race of the teacher showing them or the endless other racially charged material, but at the end of the day they’re all on Youtube anyway”

There you have it, there are way to many intangibles to make the educational idea a viable product. On the surface it all sounds understandable, lovely and a package that can be neatly delivered, but obviously it’s not. Again, we can’t and should not minimize the effects of the wrong teachers delivering these materials to black students, or even uniformed white students. Has anyone ever taken an African American History course taught by a white person? I have. Do I need to tell you how that went. And lets be serious, we’re talking “teaching” racism! How has that worked in the last 200 years?It does not work.

Now let me say this again, It’s a half-baked proposition to suggest that vile and racist images in the form of cartoons, should be the driving force behind why we should champion there return. Think about it, what was learned when they were originally presented for our viewing pleasure? Think about that for a second, and what has changed? Were blacks more ignorant then, and less aware of racism (which we all know is nonsense)? So what has really changed that makes these classics such a wonderful learning tool at this time? I believe we simply didn’t have the power and resources to shape and/or demand what was delivered via our televisions. Now we’ve become soft and pliable and gullible with our one month of calibration, as if racism has gone away. And now some folks are gladly welcoming and championing it’s cry, right through their front door and their children’s school system. I smell bamboozlement.

Seriously, until the real questions are addressed and answered ( what was learned when they were originally presented for our viewing pleasure and what has changed, along with the other real issues of who (what age group, what teachers) and what’s the defined mission and the chances of reaching that goal, I do not believe these products are suited for the classroom in any sharp or form. In theory the idea can sound real sweat, but in practical terms, it seems to be a slippery slope in which the dangers totally out-weigh the questionable and undefined rewards. How does a person know when they have arrived if they have no idea where they were trying to reach?


To add, it’s also important to note it wasn’t only Blacks who were targeted with these cartoons; during WWII Asians were also depicted in this manner though not to the same extent. As long as these images are shown in the context they were created-as propaganda used to degrade human beings- I have no problem with them being presented as the hateful tools they are. But i do understand the concern that they will be just shown as mere entertainment with no historical value.

And in addition to people of color always being the focus, it would be great to put Walt Disney and other studios under a microscope for a change and discuss why some White people felt compelled to do this. Racism is usually presented as a problem affecting us only. Cel animation is a long, painstaking process-can’t imagine how much hatred it takes to spend countless hours drawing and animating these images so lovingly. It’s beyond sick.


I don’t have any problem w/ these films being made available to the public in their current form (via poor quality on youtube). Anyone interested (or informed enough to be interested) can see them there. As far as the studios restoring these films and re-releasing them for PROFIT, I have a major problem with. Don’t these companies benefit enough from modern-day coonery? BTW that “Coal Black and the Sebben Dwarfs” was straight political propoganda in its rawest form. Thanks for the list.


I’ve seen some of these, via YouTube, as you mentioned (I was especially curious about “Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs” as it features the voices of Ruby Dandridge and Vivian Dandridge, Dorothy Dandridge’s mother and sister, respectively). Even amongst these eleven, there are degrees of offensiveness. But still, so many of the images are indefensible, indulging in the tiresome stereotypes so popular at the time. I’ve always been of two minds about this part of American pop culture. No question these stereotypes hurt us and tear us down. But, in knowing they exist I get the clearest picture of how we have been perceived in our own country. Can you move forward if you don’t know what you’re getting past–? I’m not sure. Denying their existence distorts history, most egregiously by letting the white powers that be off the hook. If no one has any evidence of exactly how wrongly we were presented and perceived, it allows those that created it to tell you to your face, “It wasn’t that bad,” and you’ve no choice but to believe them. But it was that bad–it was worse! Racist stereotypes were pervasive in all corners of pop culture, which is the most accurate reflection of the USA at that time. There’s no way to understand and recognize some of the racist ideas that float around now, especially in regards to some of the comments about President Obama (The “tar baby” comment a few weeks ago), without knowing their origin from decades ago in pop culture. It’s all still there, it hasn’t really gone away, and it’s better to see it than not. My only warning with some of these things, like the Censored Eleven, is that as bad as you’ve read it is, there’s nothing like actually seeing it for yourself and finding out how bad it was (speaking as someone who saw “Birth of a Nation” for the first time this year, sweet Jesus). You do know, though, that if the Censored Eleven really is released and the release goes well — whatever that could possibly mean! — that it will give Disney permission of sorts to release “Song of the South” here, as they’ve often mentioned wanting to do. Personally, I hate all of this stuff. But if I can stand the racist idiocy, maybe those people who are more paranoid about being called racist than actually being so will CALM DOWN that something has been so solidly identified that they can rant against… or something…

Miles Ellison

These cartoons are not so much a painful reminder of a not- too-distant past as they are an antecedent to a lot of current popular black entertainment.

The fact is, some of the most popular current movies and TV shows among black people would have been picketed by protesters 50 years ago for the same reasons that these cartoons were censored.

I also question what actual educational value that the release of these cartoons is going provide about racism in entertainment. I doubt that the industry or the people that are voraciously consuming the current stereotypical entertainment are going to have a moment of clarity on the issue once they see these. Judging from the box office success of certain movies, hardly anybody saw Bamboozled, which dealt with negative portrayals of blacks in movies and television. And a fair amount of the few people who saw it didn’t get it.


I can’t believe you Sergio, here you are promoting Booty Lips, Black Sambo and Buckwheat, and the other day you were crying about The Help. Negro please, I’m gonna have to start calling you Sergio “The Big Pimp & Pander Master Blaster” Mims.

C’mon man, no you didn’t say these vile cartoons should be used as educational tools???!!! Now I know you’re in the last stages of Alzheimer’s disease. I mean, while we’re passing out these fine cartoons to Mary, Johnny and the rest of the children, why don’t we take the opportunity to pass out old slave pictures with their genitals hanging from their mouths as they hang from trees? Hey, like you said, “how in the hell do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been?”. Geez.

Yeah, that was a woefully trite statement that’s frequently so ambiguous that they make no sense at all. And wait, you also said “First of all, they’ve always been available in one form or another, so what’s the point of still trying to pretend that they don’t exist?”

Me oh my, so now you’re implying that everything that’s hidden in the closet – vile, disgusting, racist, sexist, nudity, whatever – should be brought to the light, and put on DVD for mass consumption… because of WHAT?! I hope you see something wrong with your statement.

All this from a man that kicked The Help like it was a KKK manual.


Put it out there. Let people see the real evidence of how racially tolerant America was then. And tell them to stop editing the old WB and Tom and Jerry cartoons they show now. That maid was black and talked black. Don’t try to hide it but don’t sanitize it to show on kids’ networks either.


Yes they should because even beyond the racism (IF IT’S POSSIBLE TO TRY TO LOOK PAST THAT) there not good cartoons and releasing them will get rid of any interest some people may have, so we can get past all of this.

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