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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

Gargoyles

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

pokemon

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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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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