Why No Apologies for the Asians?

I am against censorship. The recent news that Tom and Jerry will be edited in Europe to remove smoking scenes is absurd! So it’s not ok for Tom to smoke, but it’s ok for Jerry to electrocute him, chop him up, and all the other behaviours kids may imitate from watching cartoons. Even racist stuff has a place in our culture so that we can see what was acceptable back then, why it was acceptable and why it’s not acceptable today. I think it can be educational and also show how every immigrant group has gone through racist depictions in our multi-media. However, what I don’t like is unequal treatment people seem to give the different races and ethnic groups when it comes to apologizing. Here are two screenshots from the original Three Little Pigs.

Jewish stereotypes in Disney's Three Little Pigs
Jewish stereotypes in Disney’s Three Little Pigs
Jewish stereotypes in Disney's Three Little Pigs
Jewish stereotypes in Disney’s Three Little Pigs

This footage come from Leonard Maltin’s introduction about how the original TLP had depicted the big bad wolf as a Jewish salesman, complete with beard and large nose. The footage was later removed to placate sensitivities amongst the Jewish community. So there was a whole spiel about how it was wrong, but W. Disney wasn’t a racist and all that.

Now here are two screenshots from Disney Rarities where they sing a song about a fortune cookie man.

Asian Stereotypes in Fortune Cookie Man song - rickshaw
Asian Stereotypes in Fortune Cookie Man song – rickshaw


Asian Stereotypes in Fortune Cookie Man song - Honorable Trash Can
Asian Stereotypes in Fortune Cookie Man song – Honorable Trash Can

Having the Rickshaw was a bit racist, but tolerable. However, having an “honorable trash box” is just plain wrong! It’s like asians call everything honorable, even their trash cans. WTF is that? Now, to me, this wouldn’t have been any more racist or wrong than the TLP except that there was absolutely no apology from Leonard on behalf of Disney with respect to this cartoon. So what I get from this is that it’s ok to make fun of asians, but not Jews? is there a reason why they seem to have a need to apologize to one group and not the other?

And Disney isn’t the only one guilty of this – the Tom and Jerry cartoons had a whole explanation from Whoopi Goldberg about how the black maid in T&J was a little racist, but it was left in to preserve the integrity of the cartoon. However, when Tom or Jerry get hit on the head with a cymbal and suddenly get all slanty-eyed and buck-toothed, there’s no apology to asians.

Again, I think that these scenes SHOULD be left IN so that we and our children can look back on what was acceptable and how things have changed. But there seems to be some kind of conspiracy or, more appropriatly, some consensus that it’s ok not to say anything to the asians. They’re good sports about it, right? They won’t make as big a fuss as the african americans and the jews. I just think it’s so wrong!

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5 responses to “Why No Apologies for the Asians?”

  1. First of all, I agree that there’s been a lot of depictions in cartoons about Asians that went comepletely without being answered for that were offensive to the community. However, I also feel the need, as something of a cartoon buff, to put things into perspective.

    The three little pigs reference, I’m having trouble finding a date for, but I’ve found a lot of stuff indicating that it was “cleaned up”, as it were, in the 50s. This was, of course, after World War II, and the discovery of the holocaust. I think that’s probably why they took the reference that were offensive to jews out in the later version of the film. (Is that necessarily a good reason? No, but at the same time I can understand Disney’s logic in showing sensitivity about it)

    Now, as far as the fortune cookie man (and Tom & Jerry references). I think what it boils down to is the anti-asian sentiments of the time. Fortune Cookie Man appeared in the 60s, I believe it was, so we were out of WWII and I think a lot of americans still harbored anti-asian sentiments because of Pearl Harbor (20 years later, it was still fresh in our minds). I also think that historically racism against asians has been vastly overlooked in comparison to African Americans (not meaning to sound racist, but I think the blacks play the racism card a lot more often due to slavery). We’ve had times where we were just as discriminatory against asians as against blacks, if not moreso (Gentleman’s Agreement, anyone?). Asians, in American history, were sometimes represented as opium dealers, which granted there were a few, but it didn’t comprise the entire population.

  2. That’s what happens when you don’t protest. No one will care.

    BTW, there’s nothing honorable about a trash can!

  3. Well, it might be because Leonard Maltin’s only a film historian and doesn’t actually represent the views of Disney. Write a letter to Disney about it! =)

  4. I thing if people can’t understand that we all bleed the same color then we have a problem…We are all human beings. Color has nothing to do with anything and it shouldn’t have either…The problem is unfortunately, is that people are hermits these days. They are afraid of difference. I wish there was no such thing as skin color. I agree….censorship is far too unbalanced these days and as much as it hurts to see and here such things…there is still too much racism, prejudism, and violence in this world today. Things are at an unbalance I think and it is just going to get worse unless people truly work together and break these unjustly barriors. I live in America and have moved several times and have also had the pleasure of visiting a few european countries but how did we become the superpower of the world without letting the people decide instead of just taking on the job. I don’t think that this is fair. Again we need to work as a whole and not be so segregated. We might as well call the United States of America, the Segregated States of America as none of our own state governments can even agree with each other let alone with our federal government. So this causes even more problems with trying to be the “world” superpower. I study many cultures and hope to one day travel all of them…hopefully when I do I will see mostly good and not so much bad going on in the world. Until then I can only hope and pray. Sorry for such a long message post….