Sunday, October 07, 2007

We Heard From My Indian Pal, Joe

Joe Henderson

said... Woah!!! People are really offended by this??? I'll set the record straight! Im an enrolled member of the Paiute-Shoshone Indian Tribe of the Owens Valley and I find nothing wrong with this image at all. If anything its an image of an Indian smiling unlike all the Hollywood crap they give us where we all are Stoic looking, or even worse the single tear running down our face.

Where is the artist or even this company trying to be racist? Last time I looked, and maybe John could back me up on this, I'm not orange, and I don't wear feathers in my hair.

I'm actually curious to how people here would design an Indian character being completely "PC"???
Let's see it People!!!

Thanks Joe, Here's your reward. See you next week!
Here's an inbred Hillbilly caricature from the same cartoon, so all us ignorant white folk who love Hank Williams and classic country music can be outraged.
Pete Emslie said...

Have you noticed the fact that "Goofy Grape" wears a Napoleon Bonaparte hat, thus implying he's insane because he thinks he's Napoleon? Obviously this Goofy Grape fellow is a slanderous depiction of the good citizens of France!

Sacré Bleu-berry!! :)

TamalH said...


That's reverse discrimination.

People just need to grow some balls and stop acting like everyone is out to bully them.

By the way, tell that to all the millions of whites who were slaves to Muslims in North Africa during the 16th-18th century.

And the wonderful serfdoms of the middle ages. Or whites selling white slaves during the very early colonial america (when incoming black slaves were considered incredibly valuable, while white slaves were "expendable.")

Every race has been treated terribly by another race in one way or another in history,so why do we keep blaming people today who had nothing to do with the actions of people from the past?

mike f. said...

I must say - I'm surprised at your crude insensitivity, John. Of course "Injun Orange" is offensive...

I think Freckle-Face Strawberry is offensive, also - to the fair-skinned and the abnormally sun-sensitive. They have feelings too, y'know.

Likewise, Lefty Lemon is highly offensive to right-arm amputees, and people suffering from Yellow Jaundice.

Rootin' Tootin' Raspberry is offensive to cowboys with The Mumps.

Goofy Grape is offensive to mentally-challenged people with Port Wine stain hyper-pigmentation and/or Hemorrhagic Rash .

Jolly Olly Orange is offensive to the Fore Tribe of Papua, New Guinea - who are afflicted with Laughing Sickness. (Also to Viet Nam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during the war.)

In fact, the term "Kool Aid" itself is surely be offensive to people with HIV-related illnesses, and the spelling-challenged.

Lastly, Loudmouth Lime must certainly be offensive to Matt Blasi - and other humorless, hypersensitive, pro-censorship, "politically correct" Thought Police-types who have nothing better to do than write indignant, self-righteous letters to cartoonists about the outrageous effrontery of long-defunct soft drink packets.


The fella that started all this controversy about colorful kiddie food in cartoony packets posted again and said all the same things he said the first time, even though he's been answered in the comments by many others.

Matt Blasi said...

A few of the comments have been insightful. The rest are (par for course on the Internet) over-zealous, reactionary dribble. Mike Fontanelli and several others clearly don't understand the difference between a discussion and an argument. So, let's clarify a few things.

First, I asked for a clarification as to what John K meant by his statement: "This is considered offensive today. Insane or what?"

That clarification has still not been given.

Second, I asked: what is NOT offensive about it? This means that if you (John K and others) DO NOT think it is an offensive image, I'd like you to elaborate WHY. It also implies that if you DO think it's an offensive image, please explain why.

That should have tipped people off that I was attempting a discussion, not a flame war - that I am not so persoanlly (sic) offended as attempting to create a dialogue of WHY such an image might be considered offensive. But some people would rather jump on their keyboards and rattle off furious responses than contribute anything worthwhile to the discussion.

I wrote: "Because it IS offensive. It depicts a parody image of stereotypical Native Americans used to sell a ridiculous product in a humiliating context. What is NOT offensive about it?"

This is part personal opinion, part observation based on how this image is view in the context of our modern society. I believe it if offensive because it isn't simply an image of a Native American. It's an image of an orange Native American wearing ceremonial or traditional garb and decoration. It caricatures an element of Native American culture without consideration for how that culture uses, feels about, or interprets such imagery.

I then reinforced it with the following examples: "if you had an old-timey "black-faced" image on the wrapper and sold it as "Negro Nectar," people wouldn't hesitate to call it offensive. If you had a white face on it and called it "Cracker Cranberry," it would also be offensive."

Based on current American societal decorum, such examples would be considerd racist and/or offensive. Why? Is it that we're simply juvenille book-burners, anti-"barrels of fun" as Mike Fontanelli puts it? No. That's a simplistic explanation devoid of real intelligence.

This remains a point of discussion.

I understand that John K is not making a pointedly political statement here - he was simply showing us a piece of art in emphasize a point. I'm certainly not blaming John K or calling him a racist, and I'm not saying that offensive humor and elements of art should be subdued and done away with. To the contrary, as a poster noted, I'm a fan of Marc M.'s Sick Animation, a highly-offensive collection of art.

Jordan wrote: "But when you make fun of people such as say....native americans, and they are ravaged and murdered (you know the story) and then their image used to sell some american juice drink, THAT'S what makes it worse than say, a white person being made fun of to sell an american juice drink. There IS a difference...It seems more like a "fuck you" to the native americans, haha, now that we killed you all, we'll make fun of you on our products! If it was WHITE GRAPE JUICE and had a nerdy Caucasian business man on the cover, well, what are we making fun of? How successful and in power he is? So, go ahead, who cares."

This is an excellent point. There IS something most people have missed from this discussion. Perhaps its a capitalistic exploitation of ethnic imagery, perhaps it's simply that things have shifted in a modern context; what was once inoffensive is now offensive. My comment is not centered around capital (product) as Krieg stated.

John K. loves to talk about the terrific animation and art principles in the cartoon "Coal Black," and he's right - those principles are terrific! But it doesn't mean the film isn't offensive. It is.

John K wrote: "Indians murdered and tortured each other and made totem poles. Are the totem poles racist, therefore? Let's burn the last few and erase them from history."

That's a common argument made when people oppose affirmative action for blacks in the United States. 'Why should the government help them? Africans were enslaving each other before the Europeans go to them!'

True. But there is a world of difference between white European chattel slavery and what Africans did to each other. The two are incomparable.

John K wrote: "Cartoonists and comedians make fun of everything. That doesn't mean we are condemning whole groups of people every time we acknowledge obvious cultural traits.

This thread proves my point of everyday common insanities that we take for granted, like political "correctness"."

John, there's a fine line between acknowledging culture and mocking it. A very fine line. What you're offering is - and you have a bad habit of doing this - a broad generalization where culture, art, and license to interpret are given free reign to interact. I don't think you mean any harm, but that doesn't mean that it's harmless.

I've brought things like this up before and you've waived it away as "mysticism." Your refusal to actually investigate the finer points of your arguments weakens your emphasis that no harm is being done. If you're right, then why not really examine such facets of art-culture interaction? Why not consult outside data and scholarly sources?

Kenneth Clark's famous doll experiment is a great place to examine how images, merchandising, and culture interact in enormously harmful ways.

John K wrote: "Politically correct people are free to condemn the vast majority of humans who just act naturally. Shouldn't we be offended by them? Let's make laws against them."

Another broad generalization in which all "politically correct people" are misers, undermining your sense of fun, and threatening to make the world PG-13.

That's nonsense and you know it.

I'm not supporting censorship. My stance is this: before we jump to ANY conclusions about the effects of art of people, culture, etc., we should make an honest examination of things. IS an image offensive? If it's considered offensive, why? Are there arguments to be made on both sides?

I'm not saying that I, Matt Blasi, am right, nor am I simply trying to be contentious. I'm saying that the relationship between art, ethnicity, and culture - the line between offensive and inoffensive - is a fine line and one that requires more care than simply saying, "This is considered offensive now-a-days and that's nonsense."

I respect your work, John K. I respect your art and your incredible understanding of how to create, conceptualize, and invigorate art. But I'm not an animator and I'm not here (like some posters) to simply kiss behind. If I see that you've made a statement that seems wildly off-base, I call you on it in a respectfu manner (unlike many posters).





None of the above categories of creatures have ever been persecuted or harmed by anyone else, so it's ok to make funny depictions of them.

Is there a culture or race on earth that has never persecuted, killed, tortured or been persecuted by others? If not, then I guess us cartoonists, novelists, historians, musicians and a lot of other people are out of business because we cannot ever acknowledge them.
I say, why not all us funny looking people get along and agree to enjoy the funniness of every race, culture, costume, man, animal and anything that is fun?


Kali Fontecchio said...

I <3 Injun Joe.

P.S. -I'm offended that you haven't put up a WOP, yet!!!

Barbara said...

Dude, I remember those...we used to drink out of little plastic cups with the Jolly-olly orange guy and Freckle-face strawberry all the time at my Grandma's house. Obviously this is telling little kids that all the different races of the world are actually happy-faced fruit.

But you left out some of the best ones! I guess they realized chinese cherry and injun orange were bad, so they chucked those, but replaced them with a pimp fruit and some bizarre rapist:


JohnK said...

Hi Barbara

pimps and rapists are positive depictions of modern culture. Just watch rap videos.

Thanks for those great images.

Ape Lad said...

All I know is this discussion is making me very thirsty.

blogreply said...

Well, I've gotta say, until I met an Indian, I mean, a real life Native American in, uh...real life, I thought that drawing of an Orange with a feather in it's head was a fairly accurate rendition of that race of people.

I can now definitely see how Indians, I mean Native Americans, wouldn't want to be depicted as an Orange. Perhaps a banana or an apple would have been more appropriate. Maybe a pineapple.

"Native American Pomegranite"

I don't know about you guys, but that has a nice ring to it.

Christ. If anyone is idiotic to think one drawing is good enough to depict an entire race of people, they're the idiot, not the artist or the company stamping it on its products.

The doll experiment Blasi mentions to justify not using drawings of Injuns is used wrongly by Blasi as well. But that doesn't surprise me considering he's just a moron with a big vocabulary. That study showed that actual racism endorsed by the government affected perception of toys and self, not the other way around which is what Blasi wants us to believe.

Mitch said...

"I say, why not all us funny looking people get along and agree to enjoy the funniness of every race, culture, costume, man, animal and anything that is fun?"


Soos said...

Here's the point of distinction.

You know Disney's Mother Goose Goes to Hollywood short? How the then-contemporary stars were all fantastically caricatured? There's one person whose caricature looks nothing like him.

Black man Cab Calloway.

You're calling these stereotype drawings "exaggeration", as if the above is in any way based on Cab Calloway's face. Exaggeration is when they make fun of Joe E. Brown's bizarre monkey face and gigantic mouth.

Not when the first distinction in Cab Calloway's character is that he has to look like a subhuman.

Josh said...

Caricature is a funny thing...

The whole point is to abstract out most of the details, the better to focus on the certain characteristics that define what you're going for.

A good caricature finds the essential characteristics, and exaggerates them.

Thus, it's slightly disturbing that someone thought the essential characteristics of an "Injun" were a couple of feathers and some war paint.

It's tasteless because it comes from ignorance. It defines the culture as a stereotype.

Is it the worst example of such stereotyping? Far from it. Does it matter in the grand scheme of things? Absolutely not. Would I support censorship of the image? I would fight until my dying breath to allow it to be published.

But since you asked if we could believe that this image is considered offensive today, I'm answering: Yes. I can believe it.

Creating art based on ignorance is always a dangerous proposition, particularly when it veers close to emotional issues such as racial identity.

David Germain said...

Hey, John, those "Italians" you put up to tease Mike are actually French. The come from the cartoon French Rarebit. For an Italian stereotype try the Charlie Dog cartoon A Hound for Trouble.

Way to go, man. You and others sure told off that Blasi character. One down, several million to go.

Joe Henderson said...

I'm much more offended about this.


Callum said...

"I say, why not all us funny looking people get along and agree to enjoy the funniness of every race, culture, costume, man, animal and anything that is fun?"

Truer words were never spoken, in my opinion. I know I'm not black, and probably can't share their sentiments, but even stuff like "coal black and de sebben dwarves" wasn't necessarily created as a racist attack
against black people, was it? And anyway, stuff like this was created in a time when stuff like this was somewhat fashionable, and that's what needs to be remembered. Times have changed, and we know that stuff like this is wrong. I think it can be used as means of seeing what we were like in the past, and can help us in learning from previous mistakes.

But seriously, like I said in the original post: Learn to grow some balls and take a joke.

The Butcher said...

Homer Simpson is offensive to fat people, but that's okay. Fat people don't have feelings, have never been made to feel inferior, or taunted just for being who they are. And besides, it's their own fault they're fat, right?

Everything that's funny is usually at someone elses expense. In fact, name one thing funny where someone doesn't get embarassed, insulted, or physically hurt. Someone has to be the clown, the butt of the joke because without it, there would be no joke. That why buddies rip on each other, make fun of eachother's moms, and randomly punch eachother in the arm. That's why the world loves the 3 stooges, the Simpsons, and Chirs Farely getting stung by bees. That's why we love sarcastic stand-up comics. Seriously, can anyone tell me one funny thing ever that wasn't at someone's expense?

JohnK said...

Homer Simpson is fat?

Boy, that shows you how bland and careful we are today.

Scott_DeWitt said...

Here's a quote I enjoyed from a flash animation called "Evil Josh and Billy":

"It's a good thing Scotsmen are white males. Otherwise, that'd be an offensive stereotype."

I don't necessarily agree with everything you post, but either everything is okay to talk about, or nothing is.

Don't sugar coat the world, John. Embrace it.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I dont have a problem with the little fruit faces.

Yet...there is plenty of stupid stuff on tv that as a Colombian I do get...not offended by, more like annoyed. Such as the ever perpetuating "Escobar" druglord that seems to be in every action narcotrafic movie made in hollywood, it looks as if people outside thought Colombia is a giant ranch where druglords keep the rest of the country in some kinda feudal arrangement.

when you mock someone else, that you dont know shit about it just lacks essence and makes you look stupid.

JohnK's Kilted jacksmen was hillarious because he was mocking them from a humane standpoint, as a canadian. But when you mock a culture you dont know the caricature is all the much worse, since you mock insubstantial things and fail to say anything interesting. This goes on A LOT in stuff like seinfeld, they continously mock foreigners in extremely ignorant ways that only makes them look all the more ignorant.

I'm not gonna go and tell Seinfeld to shut up, but I will turn the channel and get a little disappointed one of the shows I like most would make such a simplistic generalization of a subject so potentially deep and funny. If he were to put the same effort he puts into investigating every day complications, into investigating a foreign culture it would be all the much funnier.

mike f. said...

Oh my gosh! - I thoughtlessly forgot to include the highly controversial, extremely provocative "Choo-Choo Cherry"!

He's offensive to virgins who work as streetcar conductors. They're human beings too, after all.

Forgive me, I'm so insensitive lately. Boy, is my face red...

Pete Emslie said...

Josh said: "A good caricature finds the essential characteristics, and exaggerates them. Thus, it's slightly disturbing that someone thought the essential characteristics of an "Injun" were a couple of feathers and some war paint. It's tasteless because it comes from ignorance. It defines the culture as a stereotype."

Sorry, Josh, but you're still not getting it. First of all, it's just a round orange with very simple cartoony facial features. They're not in any way trying to impose any more human anatomy on it than that, so to somehow expect it to conform to a more acceptable level of human caricature is kind of silly. It's just a funny drawing based on the old cliche of Indians as they used to look in the early days of the old West - nothing we haven't seen a thousand times over in western movies. Seems to me they actually did wear feathers and warpaint whenever they were giving John Wayne some trouble.

(Oh wait, is Injun Orange also exposing his NAVEL?! John K. how dare you run such suggestive material here in full view of the kiddies!!)

Karley said...

Hey John, if I may attempt to get back in your good graces- apparently being politically incorrect is now "in" with execs.

Warner Brothers president declares that they will no longer do movies with women in the lead.

First it was "be PC, don't offend anyone", and now it's "go out of your way to piss people off; it's edgy!"

These suits never understand that they alone are the reason that no one wants to see their piece of shit movies. Or maybe they do; they just want to pass the buck onto someone else.

As it is, I'd rather have one "Alien" starring Sigourney Weaver over a whole library of their godzillion-dollar "Superman Returns" type crap.

Jorge "Jay" Garcia said...

I wish someone caricatured Colombians for drinks like these.. I need something to identify myself with..and be offended at! ;P

The shapes are great, and they're just fun characters. I wish I could come up with these..heck, I wish I could buy that product. Product packaging has lost its charm. It's all splashes of water and fancy graphics now...

Gregg said...

Good ol' 40 plus yearish old sugar packets being debated a racist.

Did that offend you???

Well..., not really,
but it may have offended someone....SOMEWHERE......



Rodrigo said...

John! You forgot us Mexicans! Where's Speedy?!

NextGen (Hector) said...

People are too sensitive. What about the classic Speedy Gonzalez. I'm part Mexican... am I supposed to be offended by Speedy? Nope.

Or when they draw other spanish characters with a heavy accent, with big mustaches and sombreros.... I don't mind at all.

We're forgetting the most important part... THEY'RE CARTOONS! They're not supposed to mimic our day to day boring, safe, "oh my I'm offended!" lives!

Look at this:

Look they butcher the classics. Make me angry and sad.

I think a post about how classics are edited would be cool John, if you haven't already done it.

Charles said...

Offensensitivity in action. Gotta love it.

Why isn't there any flavor that offends us squareheads of Norwegian descent? I feel left out.

lastangelman said...

Jorge "Jay" Garcia said...

I wish someone caricatured Colombians for drinks like these.. I need something to identify myself with..and be offended at! ;P

I couldn't let that one go. There is a caricature of Columbian people, or a spokesperson perhaps ... Juan Valdez

Joel Bryan said...

I think there are plenty enough ignorant and inflammatory depictions of various races and species and cultural units in media beyond the mere soft drink packet to get worked up about without worrying about these. As it's been pointed out, they're extinct, defunct.

I think a big problem in this miscommunication is the level of Blasi's offense is beyond the crime in this case, and that it's very misdirected. And where Blasi is wrong is in his insistence that we feel the same level of outrage he feels. That's really what his argument is about, especially with his insistent refusal to see that these kinds of caricatures are ultimately universal.

That part I don't understand, because while Blasi asks for clarification, he then ignores the massive amount provided by the other comments... but I hope he catches a clue or a smidgen of visual clarification provided by this fully-illustrated post.

What's funny is, his "Negro Nectar" counterexample has been previously co-opted by all the other cultural caricaturization. Taken in context with the hillbillies and Scotsmen and pirates, the yokels, the cowboys, the cartoon Indians, his supposedly outrageous examples fall flat.

They've already been exceeded! And yet despite a few sports here and there, most of the excess is directed at European cultures.

I want to ask him for clarification on what I consider to be a totally spurious point. Given that slavery is an absolute wrong, in what way is it more acceptable when Africans enslave other Africans, as opposed to when Europeans do it? Aren't both equally outrageous? Or is his only distinction in this matter one of race?

While Europe's history of colonization and/or imperialization has been thoroughly deconstructed, why excuse anyone from deplorable behavior directed at fellow human beings just because like also oppresses like?

It seems to me John K. is arguing more for the elimination of such arbitrary distinctions. In a world where we can laugh at ourselves, our common humanity is recognized as a universal and intrinsic quality.

Look at all the other packets and take the imagery as a whole- silly, ludicrous, out-of-date caricaturing of everyone! It's completely universal! It's not just a couple of specific races... there are plenty of racial neutral ones as well. The mentally ill, the ugly, the stupid looking, the blandly normal, left handed people...

Holy shit... that last one's ME! Do I look that stupid?

Actually, I think if you're even going to be the least bit pissed, the Chinese one would be the one to nut up over. Look at those teeth! Why are crooked teeth considered a racial characteristic of Chinese people? I'm from south Georgia originally and imagine what horrors that place held before the days of orthodontia.

Anyway, believe me, anyone who would enjoy these packets for what they were intended to be is more than likely sophisticated enough not to be racist and anyone who believes these to be legitimate depictions of how these cultural groups really act or appear probably isn't smart enough to read anti-racist blandishments on the Internet.

lastangelman said...

Rodrigo said...

John! You forgot us Mexicans! Where's Speedy?!

Speedy? He ain't ever been offensive, unfunny, si, offensive, never! Holy frijoles! I almost forgot! What about Miguelieto GoGo Gomez, Jr from the Dick Tracy UPA cartoon shows? Not to mention Frito-Lay's Frito Bandito, one of the best darn spokespersons for salty snack food until Chester Cheetah.

Stephen Worth said...

Uh Soos...

You don't know what you're talking about.

Here is Cab Calloway in Mother Goose Goes Hollywood

Compare to this photo

He may have combed his hair and tried to look like the Duke in publicity photos

But when he performed, he was manic and his hair flew all over the place

See ya

Per said...

racism is like alcohol,
'only in moderation.' as many creative doors as possible should be opened methinks no matter what. that's why I'm so pissed that Mickey is not in the public domain.

Stephen Worth said...

It seems to me John K. is arguing more for the elimination of such arbitrary distinctions. In a world where we can laugh at ourselves, our common humanity is recognized as a universal and intrinsic quality.

To me, *differences* are more interesting than commonalities. There's nothing wrong with individuals or groups of individuals being individual.

See ya

glamaFez said...

I'm part Cherokee, and I love Injun Orange. I used to drink that stuff when I was a little kid.

I'd love him even if he had a scalp in his hand.

I am also a big Go-Go Gophers fan.

Zam3d said...

"Comic Book Guy" from the Simpsons is offensive for people who enjoy Fantasy and Sci-Fi....

Joel Bryan said...

"To me, *differences* are more interesting than commonalities. There's nothing wrong with individuals or groups of individuals being individual."

That's true and I agree absolutely, but I was specifically addressing Blasi's slavery argument into account in relationship to whether or not it's right or proper to make fun of those differences.

Blasi: "True. But there is a world of difference between white European chattel slavery and what Africans did to each other. The two are incomparable."

He seems to be suggesting Africans enslaving other Africans is somehow more acceptable than Europeans doing the same in an attempt to refute John K's point that past aggressions are a poor reason to censor soft drink packets because oppression is a historical universal in and of itself.

But ultimately, I don't see depictions like the ones on these soft drink packets as being indicative of mocking otherness, but instead celebrating that for all our individuality and difference, we're actually all ridiculous and hilarious variations on single theme- the human.

To me, that's a more unifying view rather than the divisive, racist one Blasi is claims for it.

And I think that's the beginnings of our license for creating this kind of humor in the first place.

Joel Bryan said...

Oh... and I just want to point out I'm a staunch individualist and am way more interested in the differences than the similarities.

JoJo said...

I guess the reason why we don't see many modern cartoon personalities is due to the fact that people are so offended by everything, we cartoonists aren't even allowed to do our job. Now we're stuck with creations like Remy the rat.

Slapping giant eyes on something realistic seems to be the trend nowadays when creating a unoffensive cartoon character. Political correctness has led us to blandness.

More than Jake said...

If we all looked alike then we wouldn't create caricatures or cartoons of anything. Since we all look different, there's bound to be some things that are noticeable about cultures or races or whatever. The question is, can cartoonists go too far? Yes, they can and they will. This is why they draw, to find what their limits are if there are any.

Now, is that orange-faced Indian anything to get angry or offended about? Nope. It's a cartoon and not a great one at that. The Cleveland Indians' Mascot seems to have done that job better. And I haven't heard of ONE person who is outwardly offended by THAT one bit so I suppose it isn't that bad at all.

It's all personal perspective and unless it truly rocks our world with blatant, distasteful racism then I think we're all fine. Keep drawing everybody.

NextGen (Hector) said...

Well let's get into Pixar now jojo, I like those guys. ;-)

R. Banuelos said...

Would arguing if "Injun Orange" is offensive be apart of the John K. school program? Maybe an elective?

This product isn't even around any more! Don't argue over it, who cares.

Blasi, please call up someone you know (like your mother) and describe to her what you are doing;
"I'm on John K.'s blog..."

Mom: "Who?"

"John K., the guy who created Ren and Stimpy."

Mom: "O.k."

"Yeah, I'm typing a long response on his blog about how to be a good cartoonist, because he believes that a drink packet that's no longer around which features a degrading picture of a Native American..."

Mom: "A what?"

"An indian, and the package is labled 'Injun Orange' is not racist."

Mom: "What the f*ck happened to you."

"Huh? I'm defending a whole people."

Mom: "Go get laid."


True story. Why are there two post dedicated to "Injun Orange"? Let's go back to the inking conversation, or perhaps the Oswald lesson.

Side Note:

And if you're thinking "Coal Black" is racist you're probably on the wrong blog. No one has any reason that the cartoon is racist outside that they think the drawings are putting down a whole race of people. If you're looking for racism, you'll find it in anything. The idea that black people can't be drawn funny is ridiculous. You see funny white guy drawings and think that's just the normal person, no reason to be offended there. But as soon as the funny black character comes in, it's obviously not a funny normal guy, it's an exaggerated racist depiction. I've seen Ten Pin Alley Cats and Coal Black, they're funny and after watching them I didn't go out and get the lynch mob, I ate a sandwich. It was dilicious.

Maybe I should call my mom and tell her the long ridiculous responses I post.

quack said...

hey john,

do you remember cherry chans ? they were made by the lemon head company. they were just like lemon heads but cherry and on the box were cherries with those big cone shaped sun hats.

this is the only picture on the web i could find of them.

they were originally called cherry chans then changed to cherry clan and finally they were mutated to cherry heads.

who wants to eat a cherry head ? i want a cherry chan damnit ! the appeal to eatting these candies has left forever.

i am saddened to know that one day if i ever have kids that they will never know the the fruity deliciousness of an ethnically named candy.

i feel your pain john
great post.

Jason Tammemägi said...

Offensive or not, some of them are pretty lazy unimaginative stereotypes. I can't imagine you'd push that as a good thing.

Lethargic said...

I don't know. I think these packets are artifacts of their times, and while they would pass QA with any advertising firm today, I don't find them particularly offensive either. I think broad generalizations have their place, mostly as backdrop to real characters with distinct personalities. If a stereotype has distinct mannerisms, and a distinct personality, he ceases to be a stereotype and becomes an individual. I don't think we know enough about the characters (we see them individually for about 3 seconds apiece in the commercial) to pass judgment on any except Chinese Cherry, who looks like he should be making flied lice or nikes in some new york sweatshop

Maximum Awesome said...

To offendeds:

1. "Offensive" is just a word, meaning "perceived as an attack" or "causing discomfort". It's not a magical talisman or free shut-them-up card.
2. Noone has a right not to be offended.
3. Nothing is more offensive than censorship. Just badmouth or boycott things you find offensive - or else someone's liable to take offense to you someday.

Yes, it's possible to make up abstract examples like the "racist animal rape hour" that wouldn't be appropriate for prime time - but they wouldn't get made, except on some zero-budget, trying-too-hard corner of the internet, like the Dilbert Hole. Market pressures keep stuff like Injun Orange off sale: who cares if it deserves some magical linguistic tag laden with speech-suppressin' 90's PC power?

I'm actually kind of surprised John's given this so much attention. His call, I guess.

Andy J. Latham said...

I'm just curious...

If we can't depict, for example, an african as having black skin, or a native american as having red skin, how exactly CAN we depict them? Surely it would be more offensive to colour them white!

Visit Andy's Animation!

toon_monkey said...

>>>Worth said: "How do you prove a negative? It's up to you to prove that it *is* racist."

the 'injun' packet is racist because the white man brazenly destroyed the native people of america, and now the white man is using a slang word to describe them --- as a 'fun' way to sell awful fruit drinks.... point two: sorry stephen and john.... if the native american population says it's offensive to them, then it's offensive.... if the most horrible punishment we, as whites, receive for committing genocide against the indian is the inability to use the word 'injun', then we're getting off way too damn easy.

See ya! 'Nuff said! Cliche!

mike f. said...

[See ya! 'Nuff said! Cliche!]

Hey, remember that old cartoon character from the '60's - Cliche´ Turtle?

cartoonjoe said...

Actually, there was indeed quite an uproar about Chief Wahoo, the Cleveland Indians' mascot, by several Native American groups a few years back, claims that the good chief was racist and misrepresentative of real, flkesh-and-blood Indians. Indeed, a number of schools in the area iof the country where I live (The mid-western USA) have voluntarily changed their mascots from overt Native American iconography to a more innocculous image (i.e. "Redskins" to "Redhawks", for exasmple).

The thing about stereotypes in general, and ethnic stereotypes in particular, is that once or twice is okay, but repeated use of stereotypes without fleshing out the individual charater or only satirizing a particular group repeatedly can come off as lazy storytelling and, no matter how innocent your intentions, can ALWAYS be misconstrued as racist/anti-semetic/homophobic/sexist/take-yer-pick. That was one of the main arguments against "Amos 'n' Andy" which, despite being a (still) very funny program, kept their most shiftless, devious characters front-and center, never mind all the honest doctors, lawyers and judges they had walking around in the background.

On the other hand "The Simpsons", which also traffics in ethnic/religious/sexual etc. stereotypes, can get away with it because they pretty much make fun of EVERYONE, regardless of race, gender, religion, age, etc. (Al Capp did the same thing in "Li'l Abner", though he was a bit more vicious about it, as is "South Park".)---if the audience percieves a balance, hurt feelings will be few and far in between.

So, yeah, those of us who happen to belong to a "minority" CAN take a joke...just so long as it's not the same tired old joke from 150 years ago. Just make it funny and we'll laugh, that's all I'm saying.

Cliff G. said...

Jeesh! Now I know why I'm so screwed up! I spent my grade school years drinking insensitive soft drinks!

I did some research -- here's a few flavors that didn't make it to market:

Jerusalem Artichoke Jew

Huckleberry Honky

Key Lime Queer

But seriously, ya wanna know what offends me? People who are always offended! Old packages with an uh, native American on it is not disparaging. It's just making a "funny face" and probably the least funny of all. It made me think: we've totally taken the native American out of our entertainment culture. Other than Northern Exposure back in the 80's, are there any native American characters depicted or created in the past 20 years? Hispanic and African Americans as well as people with Asian backgrounds are now represented in cartoons and live action shows, but the native American doesn't appear in cartoons. They've vanished, other than when shown in an historical context.

JohnK said...

I'd like to know what kind of 44 year old uses the word "toon", especially in his screen name.

That's a word used by furries and tv executives. No self-respecting real animator would use it. Not over the age of 13 anyway.

I'm offended right through my skin by "toon".

It demeans cartoonists and what we do.

Stephen Worth said...

the 'injun' packet is racist because the white man brazenly destroyed the native people of america, and now the white man is using a slang word to describe them

I'd like to know how a packet of juice drink could be responsible for something that happened a century before it was ever invented!

As for slang words... I think Mike F might have a slang word to describe someone who holds cartoon characters accountable for historical genocide.

See ya

Mick said...

I am english and we are generally regarded as terribly uptight bad toothed empire building cruel perverts. Scotland hates us, Ireland hates us and wales hates us... that is of course without getting into European countries that regard us rather unflatteringly.... truth is we are those things... I see it all the time... same if you see in america families of wobbly people off to the all you can shove down your face buffet... it's funny.

Why do we not see more black faces on greeting cards? Why do white people get offended on behalf of their yellow, black, blue, red, brown fellows? I think it is things like that which keep us apart rather than coming together to share a joke. We are all the same anyway, crazy little bags of bones running around on a big rock talking about how offensive a 60 year old packaging idea is... we deserve ridicule

Anonymous said...

How much suffering does a race have to endure before we fill our suffering quota for the day? Can I trade in my suffering? Do we get interest on it?

Pete Emslie said...

I agree with Mick. The Brits are probably the most well-adjusted people on this planet when it comes to humour and the ability to poke fun at themselves. Self-satire runs rampant through British entertainment history, whether it was movies starring the likes of Alistair Sim and Alec Guinness, radio's The Goons, or TV's Monty Python - all were brilliant satirists commenting on the British class system and character types. Add to that cartoonists like Ronald Searle and Giles and it's clear that the Brits have a wonderful sense of humour about their personal quirks and national institutions. We could all learn a lot from those delightfully potty limeys!

CartoonSteve said...

> Can I trade in my suffering?

If we only had "Racial Suffering Offset Credits". That way offenders could buy them and not feel guilty about saying or drawing the wrong thing.

Soos said...

Stephen, I was talking about his Jim Crow face.

Can you not see the difference between that and his actual black face?

LeoBro said...

The beauty about policital correctness is that it helps white Americans feel good about living in a culture that wouldn't be where it is today without violent domination and greed. When our forefathers were slaughtering Native Americans, we told ourselves they were "savages" and that they didn't make good use of the land anyway. But whatever "mistakes" we made, that was all in the past and we don't use words like "Injun" any more! Now we're slaughtering Iraqis by the millions and we tell ourselves they're terrorists anyway, and besides, they're not making good use of the oil.

So we update the packaging and think we live in an enlightened democracy.

But we're still drinking the same Kool-Aid.

I'd like to see us being a little more authentic. Having a sense of humor helps. 'Specially in cartoons!

Ted said...

"Other than Northern Exposure back in the 80's, are there any native American characters depicted or created in the past 20 years?"

I'm sure there's a list of recurring American Indian characters somewhere, but Hawk on Twin Peaks and Chakotay on Star Trek Voyager spring to mind. Joseph Gribble and John Redcorn on King of the Hill. Frank Black on Millennium was part Indian.

DavidMcG said...

Say what you will about the rest, but it's pretty damn hard to think of Chinese Cherry as non-offensive without consciously taking into consideration the time period in which it was made.


Personally, I'd love Cracker Cranberry. Imagine the fun? I'd bust a guy if some kid yelled at his mom to buy some "crackers cwanberry!"

Also, I guess being a cracker myself I don't quite get what's to be offended by. I don't care if someone depicts white people as a whole as inbred hicks because inbred hicks are funny and I know there not being serious.

While I'm here lets also define racism: Racism is thinking your race is greater than anothers and thus, looking down on them as a whole.

Racism is not making a cute cartoon face based of a silly stereotype.

If people find the stereotypes are bit to close to home, perhaps they should spend the time they complain on the internet about them on overcoming them.

k9_kaos said...

I have an old Mr. Magoo video that says on the cover:

"The character of Mr. Magoo is in no way intended to demean the blind or visually impaired. Actually, the near-sighted Mr. Magoo is stubborn: he simply refuses to wear his glasses. The humour comes not from the bumblings of a myopic senior citizen but from the wonderfully idiosyncratic creations of his imagination."

I find the last sentence a bit strange. I find Mr. Magoo funny for both reasons! Is there something wrong with me? If I'm enjoying an episode where Mr. Magoo is walking on an under-construction skyscraper and only by pure dumb luck avoids falling to his death, and I'm in stitches, does this necessarily mean that I'd behave the same way if I saw the same spectacle in real life? Of course not. The people who wrote that disclaimer seem to think if you make a cartoon depicting a character who appears to come from class of people, that you're intentionally making a statement about that class ("eg. All elderly blind people are stupid") rather than "This particular character is clumsy/crazy etc".

If I find a stereotypical character funny, it's usually because it's so absurdly inaccurate that only the most ignorant doofus would think it's serious. If I don't find a stereotypical character funny, it's usually because it is such a cliché that has been done before a thousand times and doesn't take any creativity to make.

How many "politically incorrect" characters can everybody name? I have a few:

The Ranting Swede from Sheep In The Big City; Melody from Josie and the Pussycats (the dumb blonde); Klunk from Dick Dastardly and Muttley In Their Flying Machines (the inventor who sounds like he has Tourette syndrome) and Mammy Two Shoes from Tom and Jerry.

P.S. No, I'm not Swedish. ;)

Stephen Worth said...

What's a "jim crow face"?

See ya

mike f. said...

[Have you noticed the fact that "Goofy Grape" wears a Napoleon Bonaparte hat, thus implying he's insane because he thinks he's Napoleon?]

Apparently, it's still okay to make fun of insane people. (At least, the self-appointed PC Thought Police haven't declared otherwise, yet.)
Insane people didn't choose to be insane any more than they chose their nationality - so it would seem to be a double standard. But then, everything about political "correctness" seems to be slanted and arbitrary, anyway.

Most people look the other way when the PC goons start their bulling, witch hunt tactics - they're so afraid of being unfairly labeled, or possibly smeared.
I decided to fight back, because I can't do my job as a cartoonist otherwise.

Cartoons ARE stereotypes, after all. A cartoon is both an over-simplification and an exaggeration for comic effect, exactly the same as a stereotype - or caricature, if you will.

Even though that seems self-evident, I find myself having to explain that - to White liberals, and other ignoramuses - all the time.

The concept that a stereotype becomes "racist" if it's used too often is, I think, just silly.
It may become pat or lazy or dated or cliched - but "racist" is a specific term with a specific meaning.

Unfortunately, the word is overused by well-meaning boobs who don't realize that it loses its power and true meaning through misuse. (The innocuous Injun Orange packet and South Africa's apartheid policy both carry the same moral weight? Hardly.)

When I was a kid, I thought Goofy Grape was wearing a pirate hat, not a Napoleon hat. Pirates were, and still are as far as I know, a popular Halloween costume choice with children.

Historically, pirates were notorious cut-throats who killed and raped at will. BUT - they did it indiscriminately - so that's okay, apparently. At least they weren't prejudiced!

Whenever I'm told that I shouldn't draw Porky Pig because he ridicules of stutterers, I always give the same reply: "Drop d-d-d-dead!"

Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck and Sylvester also had speech impediments. Maybe we should start censoring those characters, too?
Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn are rednecks - no less an ethnic stereotype than Inki or Bosko or Go-Go Gomez or Joe Jitsu. Should their cartoons be banned as well?

What about the 7 Dwarfs? Dwarfism is a real condition, known technically as achondroplasia. And wasn't Dopey retarded? Didn't Sleepy suffer from narcolepsy? Don't all these people deserve the same degree of dignity? How far do we want to take this?

Some geniuses collectively decided that Caucasian isn't an ethnic label - apparently it's the absence of ethnicity, like white is the absence of color.
This is pure, self-serving hypocrisy. Dishonest and ignorant, to boot.

There's only one solution: throw the PC crowd out on its ear!
Who's with me?

toon_monkey said...

>>>john k refused to address my point with: "That's a word used by furries and tv executives. No self-respecting real animator would use it. Not over the age of 13 anyway."

john, are you seriously calling out my maturity and making fun of my stupid internet handle??? that's rich... ummm, errr... you're a four eyes! and your sycophant body guard signs his posts with "see ya!" so there!!! ooga-booga! now what does this have to do with allowing the native americans to be called what they want????

Ohjeepers said...

Go Mike!

A well thought out, rational argument! Sadly the modern world has no place for such clarity.

You really do need to get a Blog!

Anonymous said...

Here, here, Mike!

I want to see political correctness die, but first, I want to see it suffer.

mike f. said...

['re a four eyes! and your sycophant body guard signs his posts with "see ya!" so there!!!]

John's "sycophant body guard" has done more for animation than a thousand nerdy "toon monkeys".

And by the way, any adult who can't distinguish between common 2-syllable terms like "touche´" and "cliche´" is a simpleton who deserves to be mocked.

Your smug attitude is sorely misplaced, junior.

toon_monkey said...

>>>mike said: "John's "sycophant body guard" has done more for animation than a thousand nerdy "toon monkeys"."

okay sure... but he still uses the CLICHE 'see ya' as his tag which makes me feel not so bad about my admittedly lame 'toon monkey' handle... plus, i've been using toon boom software lately and so on......

>>>mike continued with: "And by the way, any adult who can't distinguish between common 2-syllable terms like "touche´" and "cliche´" is a simpleton who deserves to be mocked."

oh don't get me started fighting you on spelling and grammar! now you got me! you're clearly hitting me where it hurts: my vocabulary usage! please stop! seriously, man, i used 'cliche' to point out that 'see ya' is a cliche, just like toon.... i don't know where touche came from.... although if worth replied with 'touche', that would make sense.....

>>>mike: "Your smug attitude is sorely misplaced, junior."

hey look i was just making a point about native americans and how, after white americans committed genocide against them, it's in bad taste and understandably offensive to mock them on top of it all. then john refused to counterpoint and instead went after my stupid handle.... sorry i was being such a s**thead.... now go forth and find spelling and grammar mistakes in this comment... hint: there are at least two... go now, mr. helpful!

toon_monkey said...

also, mike f? terry toons, looney tunes, tiny toons (which you're familiar with, and a show which john once referred to as design theft), toon town in roger rabbit.... etc etc etc.... im an idiot for using 'toon monkey'?? oh please. just admit you're steamed because 'injun orange' is in bad taste and we proved it....


Stephen Worth said...

No, TM... You're an idiot because all you could come up with to answer my point about cartoon characters not being responsible for century old historical events was an ad hominem.

See ya

mike f. said...

[...just admit you're steamed because 'injun orange' is in bad taste and we proved it....]

Are Wacky Packages in good taste? How about Garbage Pail Kids?
How about one-eyed Bazooka Joe and his stupid mouthless pal, Mort?

I thought we were talking about kiddie foods. What does good taste have to do with it?

You implied that it was racist. That's a whole different argument - one you haven't even begun to prove yet. All you've done so far is insult people who are smarter than you.

BTW, which scenario do you think your Dad would be more ashamed of:

A) if you ended an email to him with "see ya" -
B) if you signed it "Toon Monkey"?

toon_monkey said...

>>>worth said: "No, TM... You're an idiot because all you could come up with to answer my point about cartoon characters not being responsible for century old historical events was an ad hominem."

yes it was and i was wrong to do that.... seriously.... sorry, man. i really respect what you do at the archive.... back to the debate.... no-one ever said cartoon characters were responsible for anything.... the madison avenue exec who came up with it is responsible for adding insult to injury.... insult lumped onto the injury of genocide.... mocking indians, jews and blacks is very different from mocking canadians, sycophants (kidding!) or freckle faces.... indians, jews and blacks were persecuted beyond any other group i can think of, and are understandably sensitive about any potential mockery.... the thing about america is that if john or fontanelli wants to make a cartoon using words like 'niggers', 'injuns' or 'heebs', he's welcome to do so.... but clearly he's afraid to... put your money where your mouths are, john and mike! you might not work ever again, but who knows.... there are clearly plenty of people around you who think this sort of thing is just super! you have a target audience right here.... new from spumco! the adventures of injun and jewy! smoke 'em peace pipe! but make sure you have a coupon! oy!

mike f. said...

[...if john or fontanelli wants to make a cartoon using words like 'niggers', 'injuns' or 'heebs', he's welcome to do so.... but clearly he's afraid to...]

That's called a Straw Man argument, folks - or, for illiterates like "Toon Monkey" - an "informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position".

You don't seem to know anything about debate, Joe, and - forgive me for saying so - but you actually appear to be growing dumber with each post, something I didn't even think was possible after your first post!

I'm sorry to say that you've only convinced me of one thing: the fact that you're clearly an idiot.

Have a swell life,

toon_monkey said...

>>> mike said: "That's called a Straw Man argument, folks - or, for illiterates like "Toon Monkey" - an "informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position"."

what was misrepresented, mike?? you and john believe this sort of language should be permissible, right? do you or do you not think that the word 'injun' should be acceptible language in cartoons and retail packaging??? what you're clearly missing is that a straw man argument is better represented by: "The innocuous Injun Orange packet and South Africa's apartheid policy both carry the same moral weight? Hardly."

who's suggesting THAT????? and i assume your next comment will be something about me taking your words out of contex or some other tangential remark having nothing to do with defending your position.

>>> mike said: "You don't seem to know anything about debate, Joe, and - forgive me for saying so - but you actually appear to be growing dumber with each post, something I didn't even think was possible after your first post!"

didn't nixon say that to kennedy in their second debate? oh wait, no.... check your debate skills text book, mike, and see if "evaluating the other debater's debate skills during the debate" is mentioned as an effective technique.

>>> mike: "I'm sorry to say that you've only convinced me of one thing: the fact that you're clearly an idiot."

well that did it!! you convinced me.... i think a product called 'injun orange' is a-okay, mike! (note for your future debate skills blog: you convinced me with 'clearly an idiot'....)


mike f. said...

I can see it's going to be back to the basics, so:
Let's start with the things you haven't addressed, shall we?

FIRST, take another good look at the title of this post: "WE HEARD FROM MY INDIAN PAL, JOE"

THEN - re-read what Joe had to say about Injun Orange.
Refreshed your memory yet?

Forgive me for slowing everything down here, but you don't seem to be terribly bright, "Toon Monkey" - and you haven't exactly been keeping up with everyone else. (You're what we used to euphemistically call a "special" student.)

Okay, NOW you can begin your debate:

First - please tell us why YOUR opinion should be more important, more convincing and more relevant than Indian Pal Joe's (and, incidentally, every other Native American who's taken the time to comment.)

AFTER you've done that, I'll address your other brilliant "points".

But first, a word of advice:
When someone accuses you of using a Straw Man argument, and even takes the time to explain to you what that term means, your next response probably shouldn't contain a sentence like "and i assume your next comment will be..."

It's just not smart.

See ya,

pappy d said...

Well, let's ALL scramble up a tree & throw poop at each other!

t**n monkey:

"Toon" is offensive. It's an alliteration of the term, "coon" & was coined by the author of "Roger Rabbit" to reflect the unreasoning hatred of animated characters in the film industry. I hope never to see it again on this weblog!

"see ya" is not a cliche. It is a cartoon catchphrase & part of a long & honorable tradition among my people.

Steve: you don't really know what caused this person to be an idiot, do you?....

I thought so.

John K:

As you may be aware, the term "honky" is a corruption of "hunky", a pejorative for Hungarian. In the late 50's the bottom rung in society was occupied by refugees from the Eastern Bloc. Their hatred of Communism combined with their impeccable credentials as white people led to much preferential hiring in the unskilled labor market. Of all of these huddled masses the Hungarians stood out for their towering arrogance & sloppy work habits which earned them the contempt of their negro coworkers. These "hunkies" singlehandedly made necessary the Civil Rights Movement of the early 60's.

A little historical perspective seemed called for..

Stephen Worth said...

You still haven't answered the obvious question... How is the depiction of an orange with a feather and face paint racist? Because I can't think of a more innocuous depiction of Indians.

Do you consider ALL cartoony depictions of persecuted minorities to be racist? If so, I'll tell you why that's dead wrong...

First of all, you shouldn't presume to know the hearts and minds of the artists who created these cartoons. Take Bob Clampett for instance... He made a cartoon called "Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarfs". It is often pegged as being demeaning to blacks, when it clearly isn't. He depicted the musical and social culture he saw in jazz clubs in Los Angeles. Clampett was celebrating the black music scene by caricaturing it in his own chosen art form- the animated cartoon.

If you think these characters and situations weren't based on reality, you don't know what you're looking at. Go get a DVD called "Small Black Jazz Groups" and look at the film on there of the Slim Gaillard Trio. That's a band that Bob Clampett probably saw perform in Culver City. Check out Dizzy Gillespie goofing around in Jivin' In Be Bop or the Fats Waller, Cab Calloway or Louis Jordan Soundies. Black performers took themselves a lot less seriously and had a lot more fun and gave audiences a lot more entertainment value than latter day cartoon censors would like to admit. By being amazingly talented and entertaining performers in the public eye, they were bringing their culture and artistic style to the masses. For that, they should be revered as heros. Caricatures of Cab Calloway or Bill Bojangle Robinson are no different than caricatures of Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby in cartoons. Appearing alongside other celebrities in films like "Mother Goose Goes Hollywood" black performers were raised to a peer level that they perhaps didn't enjoy in certain parts of the country where the films screened. I'm sure that had an impact.

When you decide that EVERY caricatured depiction of a race is automatically racist, you are effectively blotting the whole race out of film. When you decide that certain topics of historical films are taboo or evil, you blot them out of film history.

Great animators like Milt Kahl, Bill Tytla, Rod Scribner, Carlo Vinci, Chuck Jones and Tex Avery all created films that are "politically incorrect" when viewed by today's "standards". But when they made these films, they had no evil intent. They were just making a cartoon, and they were often doing that brilliantly. "Coal Black" is one of the greatest cartoons ever made. It deserves to be seen, not hidden away. How would you feel if years down the road, someone suddenly decided that the subject matter of a big chunk of your filmography meant that some of your best work would never be shown again?

That's just plain wrong. We're all adults. We know right from wrong. No one bases their interpersonal relations on how cartoon characters behave. Watching Coal Black isn't going to change anyone into a rabid racist. In fact, it probably will make them appreciate the musical culture of the early 40s more. Jazz was an artform that brought all people together as Americans. The people being caricatured in these cartoons are heros, and they deserve to be remembered as such. How can you remember their achievements if you edit them out?

Censoring an orange with face paint and a feather isn't going to make anything better for Indians. There are MUCH better ways of doing that if you REALLY feel strongly about it. I have no respect for people who pay lip service on trivial matters, but don't take any real action to make their words mean something. That kind of person is an idiot in my book.

See ya

mike f. said...

Right, Steve!

Seeing COAL BLACK and TIN PAN ALLEY CATS is how I first learned about Fats Waller.

I now own every Waller performance available on vinyl, CD and home video - including super scarce early radio transcripts, rare soundies and wartime V-discs.

My jazz collection grew exponentially after that, as I in turn discovered Duke Ellington, Dizzy, Slim and Slam, Billie Holiday, etc. etc...
But it all began with Clampett's COAL BLACK!

What a tragedy that ignorant people with kneejerk attitudes continue to try to dictate what modern audiences can and can't see. They're keeping them from making the same discoveries, and enjoying real treasures from the past.

Do we really want to live in a society where HUCKLEBERRY FINN is banned from classrooms, and OUR GANG, the first depiction of equal friendships between Black and White characters on screen, is banned forever from TV?

The legacy of the PC crowd is denial, misinformation and ignorance.

...Fight them!

Franker12 said...


on behalf of loudmouths everywhere im extremely offended John

haha...good post John, haha this was a good way to switch things up. I've never seen instant fruit drinks stir up so much crap....stir....accidental pun...absolutely horrible, i apologise.

TamalH said...

Lefty Lemons? That's just wrong. Though I guess it's better than Righty Rutabagas.

Savage Manatee said...

Me may not all be religious but these are wise words for a leader in the LDS church about being offended.

"Certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean spirited
things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us
to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to
offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended
us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a
condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something

David A. Bednar, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

pappy d said...

Making fun seems to be the goal & purpose of this blog. It's hard enough to do without having to second guess how history will see you.

Bob Clampett didn't make "Coal Black" out of love for the black man or his culture. While he'd be a racist by 21st century standards, so were most folks. I'll go out on a limb & say even most black people took it for granted. For those who weren't there, it's sorta like how we think of "white trash" today. Literally, no one was picketing for integration except the American Communist Party.

It's human nature that everyone likes to think of themselves as a good person, so that, working backward from this premise, we figure those who have less are less deserving or that somehow the status quo is necessarily how it must be.

The Civil Rights Act was an acknowledgement that we were all wrong & that negroes had the same rights as whites. The problem is that every time the United States loses its innocence, it rushes immediately into a state of denial about its history. Commercial Culture, perceiving a market for BS, rushes in to tell Americans that they always hated slavery/genocide of Indians/internment of Japanese, etc.

Nobody worried much about the moral rightness of machine-gunning Korean refugees or torturing Vietnamese prisoners but after the war, having taken a lot of flak from the rest of the civilised world, we decided we'd been overzealous. Now it's wrong. So wrong it hardly even happened. There's only one reason we could ever be resented, the same reason George III had: they hate our freedom.

What gets the PC crowd so exercised is the suggestion that we EVER DID treat black people as though they weren't entitled to dignity. They define social progress as how far we can put history out of our minds. You don't see slaves depicted in historical TV drama any more but there'll be a cartoon about colonial America where a white kid & his best friend, a freed slave boy cooperate to beat the redcoats. Even the term, "negro" is felt to be defamatory since it evokes the image of a conservative black person of the time. (After WWII, it turns out all the French people were in the resistance.)

It's as if by the power of wishy-poo it will eventually never have happened.

Innocence is how people identify themslves as U.S. citizens. There hasn't been a good revolution since 1776. To ourselves, we're the un-British-Empire
nation, the New Order of the Ages, the apple-cheeked lad forging westward through sylvan glades with European history fading in his memory like a bad dream.

Becoming a born-again virgin is a sweet idea, but don't be disappointed if you don't get the respect due a good honest slut.

Ohjeepers said...

"Bob Clampett didn't make "Coal Black" out of love for the black man or his culture. While he'd be a racist by 21st century standards, so were most folks."

I really DON'T think this is a fair or responsible statement at all.

I believe that Bob HAS explained in interviews what actually inspired this cartoon. It all started with him hanging out at Jazz club when a "Black Man" asked him why he didn't make cartoons about their people, and the music etc. It seemed like a good idea so he did.

He then produced a cartoon with the same exaggeration and comic energy that you see in elsewhere in his work. BUT thanks in large part to the use of this great music, and the energy that was inherent in the music and the culture that created it, this cartoon rises to the top of an already impressive body of work.

If you read, watch, or listen to any interview that he ever did it becomes very clear immediately that he did everything with a great sense of passion, enthusiasm and love.

I'm writing this response from the far distant future of the 21st century. Here we have something called a "Dictionary".

In it it defines the word "racist" as...

"1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.

3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races."

If making a CARTOON that celebrates the music of a culture, and uses drawings that convey (through the use of cartooning) the exagerated features that are found within its subject are now deemed racist by intellegent and thoughtful people, we really do live in sad days indeed.

Are there any drawings of non-white people that aren't racist based on this premise?

It would seem that every drawn image I've ever seen in Rolling Stone Magazine, or TV Guide should be WAY more offensive than whats in this cartoon, at least according to this standard!

Maybe the answer is to only draw white people... or perhaps we could ask some of these folks to do some drawings that play up on modern hip hop culture so that the rest of us dummies can learn the secret of how to draw non offensive cartoons!


Stephen Worth said...

Well, Pappy... I'll limit my comments to just your first two paragraphs, because beyond that you start wandering into areas that have absolutely nothing to do with cartoons...

Bob Clampett most assuredly DID sincerely appreciate black entertainers and their music. He spoke of the black nightclubs he would visit as being the inspiration for Coal Black. And yes Bob Clampett DID fight to integrate- he lobbied the Warner Bros execs to allow him to use black voice actors and musicians. (He ended up only being successful in convincing them to use the actors- the Warner house orchestra had to record the music.)

No one is denying that prejudice and unfair treatment existed- just that caricaturing people in a cartoon doesn't necessarily qualify as that.

Definitions help to make judgements like this easier. If you don't define what racism is, how can you recognize it when you see it... or more importantly, recognize when it isn't present.

Racism is the belief that a race of people are sub-human inferiors, or are worthy of death. There is only one racist gag in Coal Black, but it doesn't involve black people. It's a wartime reference to the Japanese.

Stereotyping is the reliance on commonly held beliefs in order to put an idea across quickly. Stereotypes are not necessarily racist.

See ya

pappy d said...


I think the way I defined racism is closer to the dictionary definition than yours. (see ohjeepers's post) A person doesn't have to be considered subhuman to be discriminated against. If one showed a proper respect for white womanhood in the southern states, there was no fear of being exterminated.

I apologise if I seem to be picking on Mr. Clampett. My admiration for his work knows no bounds & Coal Black is funny as hell. Even folks who do find it offensive will admit that & maybe the late Boskos would have made a better point. Personally, I see nothing wrong with art being offensive. I do believe Clampett loved jazz. I love R&B myself, but you'd be wrong to conclude that I wasn't a racist from that.

I was making an argument that it's unfair to hold people of that time to a contemporary standard of behavior. Negroes were debased, undereducated & denied public accomodations, yet looking back we expect them to be the Proud Family. Stereotypes change, too. They reflect what you call "the common beliefs" of their time. If they didn't, they wouldn't work.

Apart from Bill Littlejohn, I don't know of any card-carying Communists in the industry in those days.

It's willful ignorance masquerading as innocence that robs these works of art of their historical context. That's precisely what keeps them out of distribution & keeps us grinding out the insipid pabulum. I want to see people arguing over history & politics (preferably elsewhere) so they don't have to argue over cartoons.

best wishes,


PCUnfunny said...

Hi John. I am back and was just looking at this ludacris post. Why is it ludacris ? Because it simply exists. It's sad that you have to explain why these charicatures aren't offensive.To all on you PC fanatics, CARTOONS ARE ABOUT EXAGGERATION. REPEAT, CARTOONS ARE ABOUT EXAGGERATION. If you take an exaggeration that isn't mean spirited seriously, then you are an idiot because you can't distinguish between fact and fiction.

PCUnfunny said...

Oh and I think the mentally retarted community should be highly offended by toon monkey.

Gavin Freitas said...

Matt I got news for you, your an idiot. Go to youtube and find an old Simpsons cartoon called "Marge Vs Itchy & Scratchy". Thats what will happen to cartoons if people like you are in charge, boring bland crap. As cartoonist, we shouldent have to worry about who we offend. If we offended you, then I guess we offended that right person. Hey John got any more cool "racist" fruit drink packets?

I.D.R.C. said...

I'm way late on this and I don't expect anyone will read it but you, John, if you even see it.

In Germany swastikas are illegal. Can't have 'em, can't reproduce 'em.

It's just a shape. Why would such a thing be?
It's obvious that history provides a context that makes this shape a matter of bad taste.

Perhaps similarly it is in bad taste for a people who have exploited and exterminated other people, yellow, brown and black, and excluded them from participation, to further reduce them into shallow marketing devices.

Maybe you personally feel exempt from all that and well you should. You are not even American and certainly you personally are guilty of no offense or ill will to indigenous people. They should be fair game for your pen.

But when you consider the real meaning and impact that that inocuous little orange face might have at least for some, please don't leave the genocide out of the equation. If my people had been all but exterminated and completely marginalized I probably would not want the people who did it using my head to sell things. I'm not offended because it doesn't affect me, and I see no reason to be more offended than your pal Joe, but it sure seems like it could qualify as offensive.

Wouldn't Nazi children have enjoyed a glass of Jew-head Juice? What, exactly, is the substantial difference?

We all know that Pillsbury was thinking about Cowboys and Indians and little kids and nothing more sinister. That's why we have to address it as a broader cultural issue. I wonder if Indian kids play cowboys and Indians?