Values Dissonance: Western Animation


  • 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, Japanese soldiers being evil, black people 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 dhaggers in unsuspecting people, ... It doesn't help that due to the nature of cartooning 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 Black Face, 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, characters pray before they are about to fall or die note ,...
  • Looney Tunes Golden Collection volume 3 DVD set. The first two volumes had no warnings, 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.). Also, 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 
    • The Disney Wartime Cartoon DVD collection has unskippable, un-fast-forwardable intros by Leonard Maltin, with the same message before each of "times were different then but we know better now." Since the collection was released at the height of the hysteria caused by the attacks of the World Trade Center in New York, New York and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia in 2001, it may be Harsher in Hindsight.
    • 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  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  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 . 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 contents acts of violence, not to mention usage of weapons, like firearms, 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.
      • As Cracked points out, suicide as comedy would get a LOT of backlash these days.
    • 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. Amazingly, these 11 cartoons are actually getting a remastered and completely uncut DVD release.
    • The 1961 cartoon "Nelly's Follie." In it, a 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, once her career has been destroyed, goes back to his wife calling Nelly a "has been"). Given that affairs and sex scandals are almost expected from celebrities nowadays, it's hard to believe such an incident would've caused such an uproar back then.
    • The Foghorn Leghorn cartoons with Miss Prissy: Given that female singlehood is now not only culturally accepted but in some ways encouraged nowadays, a cartoon centered around an old woman who's mocked by her peers for never finding a husband seems borderline misogynistic to modern eyes.
  • 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 (including public schools).
    • Especially in 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.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender duels are commonplace and considered a perfectly acceptable manner of settling disputes, as opposed to our own world, most of which considers dueling to be outdated and barbaric. Aside from the times when the duels go too far (such as Zuko getting half his face burned off by his own father) it's never suggested that there's anything wrong with the idea of using violence as a form of conflict mediation.
  • Most Disney Princesses have no specified age, but 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 straight 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.
    • The song "Fixer Upper" from Frozen features the company ruthlessly mocking their old princess films and their outdated portrayals of romance.
  • 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 Special Santa 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.
  • While many racist of wartime propaganda scenes have been cut from classic 1930s, 1940s and 1950s American cartoons in the U.S.A. they have been broadcast unaltered across the rest of the world.
  • Where does a European viewer begin with The Simpsons:
    Marge: But gambling is illegal!
    Homer: Only in 48 states.
    • 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 ) were changed to Egyptian beef sausages. Fortunately, Arabic fans of the show weren't impressed 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.
    • Mind you, even though the series in American-based, The Simpsons isn’t immune from judgment from United States.
      • In fact, Fox sent an apology to New Orleans after the airing of the episode "A Street Car Named Marge".
      • In "Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part 1)", Mayor Joe Quimby was told that many people have brought firearm into town hall, which would get a lot of law makers’ attention in due to the recent reports of gun violence. However, Quimby calmly allows the public to speak about Burns knowing there wasn’t anything he could do seeing what Burns was planning to do about the sun was outrageous, even for him despite being just as corrupt as Burns.
    • 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.
  • 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 that played off Chinese stereotypes. One of these that is particularly remembered poorly was a subplot in the series' pilot which involved series Big Bad Fat Cat sought 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 done to address "modern" sensibilities, but were 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.
  • The Four-Fingered Hands trope is this to Japan, as the Yakuza used to chop their own fingers off as punishment for failure, which is why people in Japanese cartoons almost always have five fingers on each hand (even Super-Deformed characters). This even goes to the extreme of editing the tapes to add a finger on when exporting Western animation for Japanese audiences.
  • 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 Eighties and The Nineties (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. (The Pleasure Island sequence condemns smoking, of course, but there are ways to get your message across without having children smoke.)
    • 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 Beatles Band 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 has a factor during the ratings system.
    • In Pinocchio, that 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 about 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 Pink Panther smokes cigarettes in an elegant holder.
    • 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.
  • There was an episode of Peppa Pig about spiders that was banned in Australia. The moral of the episode was that spiders aren't to be feared. While an Aesop like that works well in the UK and America (where, outside of a few types like the brown recluse and the black widow, spiders are mostly harmless and even beneficial), it doesn't in Australia, as that continent is home to the deadliest spiders in the world, with spider bites that can kill or severely injure people. Having an Aesop like that is the equivalent of teaching kids to cuddle Bengal tigers or rabid Rottweilers because they're "harmless."
  • 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.
  • Betty Boop: 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 where Betty's dress or bra accidentally falls 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.
  • 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 four recent Disney films (Enchanted, Maleficent, Frozen, and Into the Woods) 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.

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