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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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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

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

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

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

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

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

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.