The Golden Age of Animation has a lot of cartoons that have scenes that are nowadays considered racially offensive: black Africans putting people in cauldrons and being obsessed with tribal goods, Japanese soldiers being buck-toothed and squinty-eyed, black Americans being lazy and obsessed with dice games, chickens and watermelons, Native Americans wanting to kill all white people and speak in Tonto Talk, Arabs talking jibberish and wanting to plant daggers in unsuspecting people. It doesn't help that due to the nature of these types of cartoons being way too over the top that their features are often exaggarated, thus being very close to racist caricatures from propaganda material. Not to mention jokes where characters after an explosion suddenly have BlackFace, even with their lips bloated to resemble a black person. Apart from that many scenes involve violence with guns, bombs and explosions that in adult eyes look far more disturbing than to a child. And of course there are scenes where children are spanked, characters freely smoke and drink, people resort to Suicide as Comedy, women shown as objects of lust to horny men (often depicted as wolves) and characters pray before they are about to fall or die. note Most children's media tries to refrain from talking about religious topics, so this often looks weird nowadays.
Warner Bros. made a case of avoiding censorship in favor of historical accuracy when releasing the Looney Tunes Golden Collection. The material in first two volumes has not been altered, since most of those cartoons were the ones people remembered from their childhood that had very little offensive content (i.e., One Froggy Evening, the Rabbit Season/Duck Season cartoons, etc.). Meanwhile, volumes 4-6 and the Looney Tunes Superstars collection have a title card warning viewers about the potentially unsuitable content, due to the values shifts.note In case the image link goes down, the warning goes as follows: “The cartoons you are about to see are products of their time. They may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. While the following does not represent the Warner Bros. view of today’s society, these cartoons are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming that these prejudices never existed.”
For years Cartoon Network wouldn't show any Speedy Gonzales cartoons, fearing a backlash from Hispanic viewers over the airing of "negative Mexican stereotypes." The network later relented when they received petitions signed by thousands of Hispanic people who saw Speedy as a positive role model; an intelligent, athletic hero who always comes to the rescue of his fellow Mexican mice, always gets the best of the "gringonote Spanish slang for "foreigner," mostly Americans cat" and always gets the girl. There were other stereotypical Mexican mice in the cartoon, mind — but of all the Mexican stereotype cartoons, there were none more heroic than Speedy.
The Pepe Le Pew cartoons — all 17 of them (15, if you discount "Odor of the Day"note which was really just your average screwball Looney Tunes cartoon and the cameo appearance at the end of "Dog Pounded") teach kids that masculine persistence in the face of manifest resistance, even outright revulsion, on the part of the female target, is a virtue worthy of reward note Translation: It pays to be a stalker-cum-rapist, especially if you're charming and French, and Dave Chappelle was right about what he said about watching the Pepe cartoons at an older age on Killing 'Em Softly. Doesn't help that Pepe's cartoons generally make clear that it's his smell and his enthusiasm that makes him repellant to women — and it really doesn't help that there are three Pepe shorts (1949's "For Scentimental Reasons" — which won an Oscar, 1952's "Little Beau Pepe," and 1959's "Really Scent") that show that he freaks when his female target goes after him.
Bear in mind, some of the animation features also contains acts of violence, not to mention usage of weapons, like firearms, that wouldn't go well in much of present day animation if it's the actual ones in the real world.
For example, in "Mexican Shmoes", when learning about Slowpoke Rodriguez, Jose, the brown cat, goes after him, but Manuel, the red cat, tries to warn Jose that Rodriguez has a gun.
The infamous Censored Eleven are more or less the poster boys of this trope. One of which, "Sunday Go To Meetin' Time", involves a black man straight from a Minstrel Show who skips church to steal a chicken. In All This and Rabbit Stew Bugs outwits an Afro-American hunter, while the entirety of Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs dwells on stereotypical Afro-American representations. Amazingly, these 11 cartoons are actually getting a remastered and completely uncut DVD release.
The 1961 cartoon "Nelly's Folly." In it, a female giraffe with a talent for singing is discovered and becomes a big star. Her career crashes and burns, however, once the tabloid media reveals she's been having an affair with a handsome male giraffe who goes back to his wife calling Nelly a "has been" once she's lost her popularity. To further twist the knife, it's hinted that the affair was his idea, with a lonely Nelly hesitant at first. Given that affairs and sex scandals are almost expected from celebrities nowadays, it's hard to understand how such a seemingly benign incident would completely dismantle a career.
The Foghorn Leghorn cartoons with Miss Prissy: Given that female singlehood is now not only culturally accepted but in some ways encouraged nowadays the idea Foghorn would be seen as heroic for attempting to marry off an elder single woman just to "save" her is increasingly misogynistic to modern eyes. Miss Prissy's constant harassment from her peers for not finding a man would also be considered much more harshly today, bordering on abuse.
In the The Kids From Room 402 episode "For Whom the Bell Tolls," the school starts demanding its students to wear uniforms (after some girls start going to school with "rebellious" jewels and accessories). They treat that as a sort of apocalypse. When it aired in Brazil, kids were left scratching their heads because of their reaction — because there are very, very few schools in the country that don't demand the use of uniforms (especially public schools). In Latin America, schools that don't demand uniforms are generally expensive American-Style private schools.
King of the Hill has an in-universe example. In "Keeping Up with Our Joneses," Hank makes Bobby smoke an entire carton of cigarettes when he catches him smoking one, which was sadly common in the time when Hank grew up. When this leads to him, Bobby and Peggy getting addicted, they go to a support group and after Hank admits to giving Bobby the cigarettes, the group calls him a monster and kicks him out.
Most Disney Princesses are under 18 officially. For example, Aurora and Ariel were both explicitly said to be 16, and at least Ariel married at the end of the movie. This would be legal in Europe, where most Disney Princesses live, down to the present day, but even though it's legal within 60% of the United States (depending on state), it's generally frowned upon. A more extreme example would be Snow White. In the original story she was seven when she was married, and in the Disney movie she can't be much older than 14, though her age is never directly mentioned in the film
After two generations of increasingly extreme paranoia over the sexual exploitation of children, the song "If You Sit On My Lap Today" from the classic 1970 Christmas SpecialSanta Claus Is Comin' to Town can sound positively creepy.
Speaking of old cartoons coming off as having pedophilic undertones due to paranoia over children being abducted and/or molested, the public service announcements from the 1985 version of G.I. Joe (the ones that Fensler Films redubbed) have become hard to look at through the Nostalgia Filter these days because all people (or rather, YouTube commenters) keep asking about is, "How do these GI Joes know where the children are all the time?", "Where are the kids' parents in all of this?", "Why is this GI Joe standing outside a bathroom window/running through the house without knocking/etc," and, in a specific example, "What is Deep Six doing underwater spying on little boys in a lake?" The original PSAs are on the "G.I. Joe" animated movie DVD as a special feature. Watch them and judge for yourself.
Homer being called a bad parent because he gave permission for Lisa to use public transportation on her own, at aged eight. In many places around the world, this would simply be a commonplace event, but in the most fearful parts of America...
Helen Lovejoy: "Will someone please think of the children?"
In "$pringfield": Was Homer teaching Maggie to gamble supposed to come as a shock? If so it'd be lost on a British audience. British gambling laws allow minors to gamble, albeit on arcade games that dispense tokens and/or tickets to the winners, kind of like what America has with Chuck E. Cheese and Dave & Busters note For overseas readers, both Chuck E. Cheese and Dave & Busters are restaurants-cum-arcade centers, the only difference being Chuck E. Cheese is for kids and Dave & Busters isn't.
Unless it's by the seaside in which case gambling with real money (abeit small stakes) is not only legal in the UK and parts of Europe but is a normal part of growing up, teaching kids the valuable lesson of "Don't bet what you can't lose."
In the 2000s, The Simpsons were dubbed in Arabic, but significant changes were made. Since drinking alcohol is forbidden in Islamic countries, most references to liquor were cut or changed to non-alcoholic beverages (Homer's precious Duff Beer was changed to Duff Soda) and references to pork chops and hot dogs (which aren't considered halalnote the Islamic version of "kosher") were changed to Egyptian beef sausages. Arabic fans of the show weren't impressed though with the "edited to conform to Islamic law" version, as they were used to seeing the series uncut with Arabic subtitles.
The season four episode, "Homer the Heretic" (where Homer abandons organized religion for his own system of beliefs) will meet with Values Dissonance these days for many atheists, agnostics, or lapsed religious people as the ending implies that people who abandon organized religion will be punished for it (Homer being saved from the house fire by Flanders [a Christian], Krusty the Clown [a Jew], and Apu [a Hindu]). It helps that Homer is put in danger not by God, but by his own arrogant hedonism (smoking a cigar while taking a nap). What's odd is that, outside of that ending, the episode actually has Values Resonance these days for the same people who think the ending is outdated for modern times.
"The Simpsons" has zillions of jokes poking fun at religion. "Homer the Heretic" is full of them as well, so most atheists/agnostics don't mind about that episode at all.
In "Team Homer", Springfield Elementary institutes school uniforms, which are shown to be soul-crushing and reduce the kids to listless and depressed zombies in a matter of days. Since many developed countries commonly use school uniforms in their public schools, international audiences found this puzzling and humorous.
Bart's rebellious attitude, on top of many episodes being from his perspective and that he gets away with most of the abuse he gives to his superiors, clashes strongly with the Japanese ideals of obedience, respect for one's elders, emotional stoicness, and the drive to work hard. Complaints about Bart from Japanese viewers prompted the localization team to downplay him for the second season and onwards. Compare this to Lisa's incredible popularity domestically, to where commercials for "Lisa's Substitute" discussed only the B-story revolving around Bart.
Due to the sheer length of "The Simpsons", cultural mores have changed over time and the show has changed with it, so many older episodes now display slightly outdated viewpoints. For instance, in "New Kid On The Block", Marge is visibly uncomfortable around her new neighbor, a divorced single mother, an attitude which was almost quaint even when it was first aired.
Lately Apu's been catching flack from contemporary viewers, who see him as an Ethnic Scrappy whose entire character is deeply rooted in Indian stereotypes.
How about the ever-lovable Disney? At least two examples from older films are pretty much banned from being shown in this day and age, one being Song of the South, the other being a short segment from the original Fantasia. Both for major issues with racism. Song of the South presents sharecropping (slavery in all but name) as being not so bad, but in Fantasia, it's the character Sunflower of the Pastoral Symphony. Looking at her, you can probably figure out why◊. She's been completely cut from the movie since 1969.
At least four episodes of Disney's Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers had jokes, which played off Chinese stereotypes. One of these that is particularly remembered poorly was a subplot in the series' pilot, involving series Big Bad Fat Cat seeking aid from a rival feline mob. Said mob was run by a pair of Siamese cats, out of a dry-cleaning shop in Chinatown in which crowds of cats bet on cockfighting fish, everyone dressed in stereotypical silk clothes right out of Yellow Peril media, and involved a lot of Asian Speekee Engrish. This was the late 80s and early 90s, pretty much the last time you could actually get away with this.
TaleSpin had two episodes like this, one with Chinese pandas that used fireworks as weapons ("Last Horizons") and another that involved a bomb on a plane plot ("Flying Dupes").
Disney again - in their adaptation of "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad'', a student draws a caricature of Ichabod Crane. He is about to smack the kid with the pointer - at the time the story was set, this was actually standard behaviour for schoolteachers. (As late as the 1960s, unruly kids may get smacked in the hand with a ruler.)
Jonny Quest. The depiction of non-European characters in the original series was fairly common in style for its time, but now is embarrassingly colonialist in tone. By contrast, there is real diversity in the depiction of Indians, not just with Hadji, but with his guardian the Pasha Peddler, who may be a rather mercenary trader, but also gives lifesavingly good value for the money.
To see how things have changed, look at some of the edits that were made for the DVD release. A line was removed from "Curse of Anubis" relating to the Egyptians as camel-worshippers. Removed lines by Race Bannon referring to the Po-Ho as "savages" and "heathen monkeys" in "Pursuit of the Po-Ho." The removal of Jonny's comment: "Here comes the Oriental Express" in "Monster in the Monastery." All of these were lines were cut due to "modern" sensibilities, but they would have been deemed perfectly fine for family viewing during the original broadcast.
In-Universe example: The Po-Ho do a ritual that one scientist regards as barbaric, and Dr. Quest comments that it is, but by their standards, not the Po-Ho's.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! had a rather embarrassing example of this in the episode "Mystery Mask Mix-Up," where Scooby and Shaggy dress in Chinese garb and both don bad Chinese accents (real bad). This scene ends with a scene of Shaggy randomly gaining squinty eyes and buck teeth.
Non-negative, possibly deliberate example in the Kung Fu Panda movies: Both Big Bads, who are villainous by at least Western standards as being mass murderers, are even worse morally from a Confucian perspective, which makes sense given these are movies about China. Tai Lung is pretty guilty of familial impiety (turning on one's mentor), which is a major sin in the value system (as in "actively counter to the philosophy"), while Lord Shen is more-or-less a living blasphemy against its moral code (cruel, disloyal, and again, filial impiety).
Schoolhouse Rock devotes two segments to Manifest Destiny and cultural assimilation, both of which are rather more controversial and/or out of favor than they were in 1976.
By contrast they had a later segment ("Mr. Morton," which teaches viewers about how to find subject nouns and predicates in sentences) in which the Twist Ending was that the woman proposed to the man, and that there was nothing wrong with it at all.
Occurs in-Universe in Young Justice: in the beginning of the episode "Image" Black Canary is shown a video of herself kissing Superboy, to her astonishment. The woman in the video is actually Miss Martian, playing a game common on Mars (where everyone can shapeshift and read minds). The real Black Canary is not pleased.
Due to changing attitudes toward violence in media, what was acceptable for children in The '80s and The '90s (and even the early 2000s) gets very different treatment today. The TV ratings system did not exist then, so a show like Thundercats generally would have been a TV-Y7 if it had. The show got bumped up to a TV-PG when it was rerun on Toonami. The 2011 reboot also got slapped with a TV-PG. Similarly, reruns of G.I. Joe and The Transformers on The Hub are now rated TV-PG. Meanwhile, Transformers Prime gets off with a TV-Y7, and has just as much violence as the shows rated TV-PG.
Animation programs from the mentioned time periods would face from problems today if set in from kind of school setting, especially bullying. While The Simpsons have continued to focus on this since the character stayed the same age, others that has came and went would faced this with social media being part of it, forcing laws to be passed. Speaking of a school setting, considering the school-to-prison debate... some of the characters would've been subject to it.
Doug would be a good example of this considering Roger is a known Jerkass would've been serving time in juvenile hail for his actions these days instead of Bone making him just clean his trophy collection.
Any TV show or movie for families or kids that contains the words, "spaz," "spastic," or "moron" (which in America are fairly harmless - a little insulting, but not so bad that they can't be said) will be met with values dissonance (and a compulsory editing for a U or PG rating) in the UK, as those words are used to describe someone who has cerebral palsy, is epileptic, or overall mentally disabled.
The BeatlesBand Toon has never been released on video or DVD, likely because of Values Dissonance; the show abounded with humor based on stereotypes. Most were of a more nationality-based (i.e., foreign Caucasian) nature, but a few racial ones did slip in here and there. Treated particularly harshly were the Japanese; some episodes were done in Australia, and the animators there clearly still had strong memories of what Japan did to the country in World War II.
The usage of drugs has also changed when it comes to animation in general just like the other genres, which is a factor in the ratings system.
In Pinocchio, which was released in 1940, the title character, a sentient puppet, is seen smoking a cigar along with Lampwick while the boys are playing pool, through Lampwick was in the process of turning into a donkey… or jackass to be precise. Granted Pinocchio hasn’t become a human yet, still the idea of a child smoking wouldn’t settle well nowadays. In fact, since the usage of any tobacco product is a factor before rating boards like the Motion Pictures Association of America, the film would’ve gotten a different rating like PG-13 or PG.
Tiny Toon Adventures had an episode where Plucky, Buster, and Hampton appear to drink an alcoholic beverage called "One Beer" (it was also the name of the episode). Even though it was supposed to send a message about the dangers of abusing alcoholic beverages, it would have a hard time getting broadcast these days. In fact, it was even banned by the early 1990s when it was done.
Rhubella Rat is often seen smoking a cigarette, which is tobacco based... someone is bound to complain if would it air in the present day.
That segment was done better than "Just One Beer" and showed the dangers of smoking. Many shows in the early 1990s had anti-smoking messages and got positive feedback.
The Heckle and Jeckle short "Pill Peddlers" where the title speaks for itself, had the talking magpies trespassing at a gym to attempt to sell their miracle muscle pills. Today, we would call those pills steroids.
However, during the 1980s, there were many cartoon shows like G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero had many well-known villains like Cobra Commander setting standards that includes drugs being outlawed… yes, Cobra Commander doesn’t do drugs and he’s a terrorist! Yet, this was during the “Just Say No!” campaign, which in recent years should look into being updated, thanks to the rise of designer drugs.
Underdog got his superpowers from taking pills. This probably wouldn't go over well in any kids' cartoon today.
In the original 1980s The Transformers cartoon, there exists the Arab nation of "Carbombya". While it was considered offensive back then (it was the reason why Casey Kasem — who has Middle-Eastern heritage — quit doing voicework on the show), it's actually nothing compared to today, where something like that would be rejected on sight if written for kids' TV.
The names of several Transformers had to be changed in recent years due to their names being derogatory slurs in countries outside North America, most notably the Dinobot Slag (which is a British slur towards women) who is now more commonly called "Slug". It's the same reason you no longer see Cybertronians use "Slag!" as an expletive (see Transformers Beast Wars) with more recent series preferring "Scrap!" instead.
At the end of the original series episode "B.O.T." (already considered one of the worst in series), two male students duct-tape an annoying nerd girl's mouth shut and drag her off... somewhere... At the time this was probably intended to be seen as a moment of light-hearted comic relief to cap off the story and not the precursor to rape it overwhelmingly comes across as by today's standards. (The Autobots don't even do anything to help!)
While never really made for children in the first place, many of the old pre-Hays Code cartoons have a lot of sexually suggestive scenes with Betty's dress or bra accidentally falling down - without showing anything naked - or males luring after her. Nowadays most people wouldn't feel comfortable showing this to young children, especially not young girls.
It's implied in some shorts that Betty is still a teenager, maybe as young as sixteen. While this could have flown in the 1930s, in modern day a teenage character being a sex symbol just wouldn't fly at all. It helps that modern day material portray her as being in her 20s and that her age is vague even in the original shorts.
Another Disney example, albeit one in which they addressed the issue instead of covering it up, is the treatment of Love at First Sight and True Love's Kiss. In the 21st Century these values have gone from being seen as romantic, to being seen as reckless and irresponsible. So, at least five recent Disney films (Enchanted, Maleficent, Frozen, Into the Woods and Brave) have actually Deconstructed the whole concept. The Cinderella remake was something of a Re Construction, but was careful to at least give the couple a few conversations to relate to each other before their wedding.
Parodied in one episode of ''Drawn Together". Foxxy Love gets a brain tumor that causes her to become a negative, outdated black American stereotype who was obsessed with "rolling dem bones"note dice games, became a Mammy for the rest of the house, and spoke in an even more exaggerted jive then she did before. The FCC then comes to bring her to an erasement camp along with other politically incorrect cartoons, even when Spanky explains an Aesop about how even though we may not be proud of our previously portrayals of minorities characters, we shouldn't try to deny that they're part of history.
The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "SpongeBob, You're Fired!" shows Mr. Krabs charging customers to use the Krusty Krab restrooms. While this was intended to show Krabs as being a cheapskate who values profit over comfort, pay toilets are still quite common in Europe.
One episode of The Flintstones featured Wilma and Betty taking self-defense classes from a judo instructor. Considering the time period when the short came out, their instructor looks and sounds exactly as you would expect, making a good amount of the episode uncomfortable for modern viewers to watch. A Pixie And Dixie short also had a similar premise and a similar judo instructor.
The treatment of same gender couples in kid's cartoons, especially American ones, has had this occur. In the early 2010s with rising acceptance of LGBT people, cartoons began being more explicit about them, while cartoons not even six years prior went out of their way to hide characters between subtext. Many characters wouldn't even be revealed to be gay until Word of Gay (sometimes decades after the cartoon ended). Values Dissonance still occurs depending on the country. For example, the reason certain Steven Universe scenes were censored in the UK was officially because of this.
Word of God is that Jetta was meant to be black. However the executives forced her to make her into a white British woman due to worries that having a black antagonist would be offensive. In modern times that seems silly and extreme, and the comic reboot has Jetta as a black British woman.
The characters frequently tour around different countries, but the locals are often portrayed in rather stereotypical ways. This flew fine in the 1980s but in the 21st century they would be written differently.
As with the GI Joe PSAs, the Jem PSAs have caused odd glances with modern audiences. Jerrica takes care of foster children at least, but people still comment on why she randomly pops up where kids are.
Nudity of young characters in cartoons. In many European and Asian countries, it is treated in a nonchalant manner as long as it is innocent. In America and Canada, it is treated with much more controversy due to being seen as inherently sexual. Cartoons from the 1980s, like Alvin and the Chipmunks, and the 1990s, like The Powerpuff Girls and Dexter's Laboratory, got away with casual bathing scenes or Naked People Are Funny. But from the 2000s and onwards, such scenes have become much rarer.
The 1980s Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoons, and to lesser degree the 1990s direct-to-video features, had the Chipettes dress in risque clothes despite being children (certain episodes imply they're as young as eight). Belly Dancer clothing, short shirts, Burlesque dresses, etc. That wouldn't fly with audiences anymore even if they were only intended to be fashionable or cute, and they're dressed up more in Alvinnn And The Chipmunks. There's also some scenes of them taking a bath in a Cinderella parody episode that wouldn't exist in 21st century cartoons. The films got away with nude Chipettes because they're chipmunk sized and look like chipmunks. In the 1980s cartoon they looked like girls with chipmunk noses because their fur was skin toned and they were human sized.
The black-and-white incarnation of Mickey Mouse engages in some behavior that modern audiences would find questionable. In Steamboat Willie he inflicts violence on a bunch of animals as part of a gag and in Plane Crazy he subjects Minnie to what would be considered sexual assault today.