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Draw the Line

10 Banned Cartoons You’ve Probably Never Seen

Ren and Stimpy banned

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By Sara Franks-Allen

We all know that cartoons can be for kids, adults, or adults who wish they were still kids. But every so often, somebody decides that a cartoon isn’t suitable for any audience. Some of these cartoons are racist, some are violent, and some are downright dangerous. Much like Eric Jonrosh’s The Spoils Before Dying, they were banned by the powers that be and rarely seen. Here are ten cartoons that were all pulled from the airwaves or otherwise made unavailable over the years.

1. Song of the South

Disney’s live-action/animation hybrid based on the tales of the fictional Uncle Remus has been the subject of controversy since its release in 1946. The film’s detractors take issue with its overly rosy depiction of African-American life in the South during the late 1800s. Because Disney is averse to controversy, it’s been out of print for decades in the U.S. Like the original book it’s based on, Song of the South is set after the Civil War during the Reconstruction era. Whatever else the movie may be, it’s not a story about happy slaves.


2. Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs

No prizes for guessing what story this 1943 Warner Brothers cartoon is a parody of. The most famous of the “Censored Eleven,” a set of Warner Brothers shorts featuring ethnic stereotypes withheld from syndication, the short reinterprets the Snow White fairy tale with a 1940s American setting and an all-black cast. Director Bob Clampett intended the cartoon as a tribute to the jazz musicals of the time, but the depictions of the characters and African-American culture look horribly racist to modern eyes. The short remains hard to find, though there has been talk about releasing it on a DVD along with other controversial shorts.


3. “Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips”

When America joined World War II, Hollywood followed. Audiences of the day could watch films and shorts glorifying our brave troops and demonizing the enemy forces. The propaganda cartoons of the era showed everything from racy depictions of women in shorts intended for the troops to extremely racist depictions of Japanese soldiers to Donald Duck being convinced to do his taxes in order to “defeat the Axis.” Some war cartoons have been released on DVDs marketed strictly to adult film and animation fans. Others, like the cringe-inducingly titled “Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips,” remain locked away in the proverbial vaults.


4. “Rude Removal,” Dexter’s Laboratory

One of the skeletons in Cartoon Network’s closet is “Rude Removal,” a Dexter’s Laboratory episode that was never aired in the U.S. Boy genius Dexter invents a machine to remove the rudeness from his sister Dee Dee. Dee Dee, of course, interferes and she and Dexter are each split into two versions of themselves: one sweet and polite pair and one pair that swears like particularly raunchy sailors. The obscene language is all bleeped out, but between context and some pretty accurate lip-synch, viewers can get an idea of what the rude Dexter and Dee-Dee are saying. The short was occasionally shown at animation festivals and speaking appearances by series creator Genndy Tartakovsky. In 2013, Cartoon Network put it up on their Adult Swim YouTube channel, theoretically out of reach of impressionable young children.


5. “Deadly Force,” Gargoyles

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The critically acclaimed animated series Gargoyles was known for not talking down to its audience and this first season episode was no exception. “Deadly Force” tackles the issues of gun violence and accidental shooting head on, including a scene that shows one of the series’ heroes lying in a pool of her own blood before cutting to a commercial break. Despite the episode’s good intentions, Disney pulled it out of circulation on their own networks for a time. The episode was eventually aired again, but with edits that removed any images of blood. The series has since been released on DVD with the original unedited cut of “Deadly Force” included.


6. “One Beer,” Tiny Toon Adventures

Another “issue” episode that proved a little too harsh for the network, “One Beer” has stars Buster Bunny, Plucky Duck, and Hamton J. Pig experiencing the dangers of drinking firsthand. Passing around the titular single bottle, they become immediately plastered and are suddenly dressed like hobos. But where most cartoons of this type end with ashamed (and possibly hungover) characters swearing to never drink again, “One Beer” ends with the toons driving a stolen car off a cliff and plummeting to their deaths. (The video shown here cuts out before this happens.) There are a few references to the whole thing being less “real” than a regular episode, like the scene at the end where the characters emerge unscathed on a set and talk about doing a funny cartoon next time. But it wasn’t enough to soften the episode’s harshness. It aired once and never again.


7. “Electric Soldier Porygon,” Pokémon

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Before Pokémon the game was even released in the US, Pokémon the animated series was making worldwide headlines due to this infamous episode. The plot, which involves Ash and his friends going inside a computer to figure out what’s causing the digital Pokémon transfer system to malfunction, was not the issue. The problem was an effect in the show involving rapidly flashing red and blue light. Roughly 12,000 viewers in Japan experienced symptoms ranging from nausea to seizures and temporary blindness. Over 600 were sent to the hospital. Most of the affected viewers recovered quickly, but two victims of “Pokémon Shock” — as the press dubbed it — were hospitalized for more than two weeks. The series was pulled from Japanese television for four months and the episode never aired again in any country. Extreme precautions were taken when the show was imported to the US, including slowing down the speed of any scene involving rapidly flashing colors. (Watch the episode here. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.)


8. “Mr. Skinnylegs,” Peppa Pig

What could possibly be objectionable about Peppa Pig, a seemingly innocuous show for preschoolers about a young pig and her friends and family? Most of the time, nothing. But when the episode “Mr. Skinnylegs” aired, the Australian Broadcasting Company started receiving complaints. At issue was the episode’s message: spiders are small, harmless creatures that can be our friends. It’s a fine message for most children and most spiders. But in Australia, home to a number of venomous arachnids, being friends with a spider may not be such a good idea. The Australian Broadcasting Company agreed that pro-spider propaganda was not appropriate for Australian children and the episode was not aired again.


9. “Stokey the Bear,” Dudley-Do-Right

The less than flattering depiction of the Canadian Mounties on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show segment may have caused some hurt feelings north of the border, but it was the U.S. Forest Service that got an episode pulled. Stokey the Bear was hypnotized by Dudley’s nemesis Snidely Whiplash, who had the bear starting forest fires instead of preventing them. The U.S. Forest Service took offense at the parody of their mascot and threatened legal action. Despite possible calls for the negatives to be destroyed, the cartoon survived and was included in a 2005 home video release.


10. “Man’s Best Friend,” Ren and Stimpy

Ren & Stimpy was well known for its innuendo and gross-out humor thanks to series creator John Kricfalusi pushing the envelope of what was acceptable in cartoons for kids. Some episodes, including this one, went too far for the show’s home network, Nickelodeon. Much of the humor and language is standard for the series, but a scene towards the end where Ren brutally beats the pair’s new owner with an oar is uncharacteristically violent. Nickelodeon refused to air the episode and Kricfalusi cites it as the main reason he was fired from the series. “Man’s Best Friend” eventually aired as part of the short-lived Spike series Ren and Stimpy’s Adult Cartoon Party.

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Grow TFU

Adulting Like You Mean It

Commuters makes its debut on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Jared Warner, Nick Ciavarella, and Tim Dean were once a part of Murderfist, a group of comedy writers, actors, producers, parents, and reluctant adults. Together with InstaMiniSeries’s Nikki Borges, they’re making their IFC Comedy Crib debut with the refreshingly-honest and joyfully-hilarious Commuters. The webseries follows thirtysomethings Harris and Olivia as they brave the waters of true adulthood, and it’s right on point.

Jared, Nick, Nikki and Tim were kind enough to answer a few questions about Commuters for us. Here’s a snippet of that conversation…

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IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Nick: Two 30-somethings leave the Brooklyn life behind, and move to the New Jersey suburbs in a forced attempt to “grow up.” But they soon find out they’ve got a long way to go to get to where they want to be.

IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jared: It’s a show about how f*cking stupid people who think they are smart can be.

IFC: What’s your origin story? When did you all meet and how long have you been working together?

Jared: Nick, Tim, and I were all in the sketch group Murderfist since, what, like 2004? God. Anyway, Tim and Nick left the group to pursue other frivolous things, like children and careers, but we all enjoyed writing together and kept at it. We were always more interested in storytelling than sketch comedy lends itself to, which led to our webseries Jared Posts A Personal. That was a show about being in your 20s and embracing the chaos of being young in the city. Commuters is the counterpoint, i guess. Our director Adam worked at Borders (~THE PAST!!~) with Tim, came out to a Murderfist show once, and we’ve kept him imprisoned ever since.

IFC: What was the genesis of Commuters?

Tim: Jared had an idea for a series about the more realistic, less romantic aspects of being in a serious relationship.  I moved out of the city to the suburbs and Nick got engaged out in LA.   We sort of combined all of those facets and Commuters was the end result.

IFC: How would Harris describe Olivia?

Jared: Olivia is the smartest, coolest, hottest person in the world, and Harris can’t believe he gets to be with her, even though she does overreact to everything and has no chill. Like seriously, ease up. It doesn’t always have to be ‘a thing.’

IFC: How would Olivia describe Harris?

Nikki:  Harris is smart, confident with a dry sense of humor but he’s also kind of a major chicken shit…. Kind of like if Han Solo and Barney Rubble had a baby.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Nikki:  I think this is the most accurate portrayal of what a modern relationship looks like. Expectations for what your life is ‘supposed to look like’ are confusing and often a let down but when you’re married to your best friend, it’s going to be ok because you will always find a way to make each other laugh.

IFC: Is the exciting life of NYC twentysomethings a sweet dream from which we all must awake, or is it a nightmare that we don’t realize is happening until it’s over?

Tim: Now that i’ve spent time living in the suburbs, helping to raise a two year old, y’all city folk have no fucking clue how great you’ve got it.

Nikki: I think of it similar to how I think about college. There’s a time and age for it to be glorious but no one wants to hang out with that 7th year senior. Luckily, NYC is so multifaceted that you can still have an exciting life here but it doesn’t have to be just what the twentysomethings are doing (thank god).

Jared: New York City is a garbage fire.

See the whole season of Commuters right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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C'mon Fellas

A Man Mansplains To Men

Why Baroness von Sketch Show is a must-see.

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Mansplaining is when a man takes it upon himself to explain something to a woman that she already knows. It happens a lot, but it’s not going to happen here. Ladies, go ahead and skip to the end of this post to watch a free episode of IFC’s latest addition, Baroness von Sketch Show.

However, if you’re a man, you might actually benefit from a good mansplanation. So take a knee, lean in, and absorb the following wisdom.

No Dicks

Baroness von Sketch Show is made entirely by women, therefore this show isn’t focused on men. Can you believe it? I know what you’re thinking: how will we know when to laugh if the jokes aren’t viewed through the dusty lens of the patriarchy? Where are the thinly veiled penis jokes? Am I a bad person? In order: you will, nowhere, and yes.

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Huge Balls

Did you know that there’s more to life than poop jokes, sex jokes, body part jokes? I mean, those things are all really good things, natch, and totally edgy. But Baroness von Sketch Show does something even edgier. It holds up a brutal funhouse mirror to our everyday life. This is a bulls**t world we made, fellas.

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Oh Canada

After you watch the Canadian powerhouses of Baroness von Sketch Show and think to yourself “Dear god, this is so real” and “I’ve gotta talk about this,” do yourself a favor and think a-boot your options: Refrain from sharing your sage wisdom with any woman anywhere (believe us, she gets it). Instead, tell a fellow bro and get the mansplaining out of your system while also spreading the word about a great show.

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Dudes, that’s the deal.
Women, start reading again here:


Check out the preview episode of Baroness von Sketch Show and watch the series premiere August 2 on IFC.

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Happy Tears

Binge Don’t Cringe

Catch up on episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia.

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Photo Credit: GIFs via GIPHY

A brain can only take so much.

Every five minutes, all day, every day, ludicrously stressful headlines push our mental limits as we struggle to adapt to a reality that seems increasingly less real. What’s a mind to do when simple denial just isn’t good enough anymore?

Radical suggestion: repeal and replace. And by that we mean take all the bad news that keeps you up at night, press pause, and substitute it with some genuine (not nervous, for a change) laughter. Here are some of the issues on our mind.

Gender Inequality

Feminist bookstore owners by day, still feminist bookstore owners by night, Toni and Candace show the male gaze who’s boss. Learn about their origin story (SPOILER: there’s an epic dance battle) and see what happens when their own brand of empowerment gets out of hand.

Healthcare

From Candace’s heart attack to the rise of the rawvolution, this Portlandia episode proves that healthcare is vital.

Peaceful Protests

Too many online petitions, too little time? Get WOKE with Fred and Carrie when they learn how to protest.

What Could Have Been

Can’t say the name “Clinton” without bursting into tears? Documentary Now!’s masterfully political “The Bunker” sheds a cozy new light on the house that Bill and Hill built. Just pretend you don’t know how the story really ends.

Fake News

A healthy way to break the high-drama news cycle is to switch over to “Dronez”, which has all the thrills of ubiquitous adventure journalism without any of the customary depression.

The more you watch, the better you feel. So get started on past episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia right now at IFC.com and the IFC app.

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