5 Controversial Cartoons

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Debate in stirring in Pakistan over a new animated female superhero known as the “Burka Avenger.” The cartoon centers on a female teacher who conceals herself in a black burka and uses her secret martial arts skills to combat child labor, discrimination and even battle the thugs who are trying to shut down local girls’ schools.

Its anti-Taliban message is an admirable one, however some are concerned that the show glamorizes the burka, a garment notoriously associated with oppression. While supporters argue that the character’s outfit is meant to empower the oppressed, others argue that the burka cannot possibly be used in positive symbolism. In any case, this controversy brings to mind other questionable cartoons of the past, though these ones weren’t exactly supporting an overall message of positive social change.

5 Popeye

Popeye was a good guy, wasn’t he? For the most part all he did was slam spinach and beat the crap out of some guy who kept trying to literally steal his woman. Between eating his vegetables and taking a stance against kidnapping, it seems like things were pretty much on the up and up. However, people forget Popeye also had some run-ins with the Japanese during WWII… run-ins that resulted in some less than savory and eventually banned episodes.

4 Ren & Stimpy

If you watched Ren & Stimpy as a kid and you thought it was silly and whacky, take a look back at it now. Also, if you watched Ren & Stimpy as a kid, your parents were probably not monitoring you as closely as they should have been. Ren & Stimpy featured infinitely more bodily fluids than any children’s cartoon should, and even a good amount of scenes that literally took place inside an orifice of one of the characters. Oh, and let’s not forget Ren’s propensity for losing his mind and slipping into violent, psychotic episodes in which poor, sweet Stimpy often paid the price.

3 Tom & Jerry

Nope, it’s not the cartoon violence that’s really the issue in Tom & Jerry, even though their antics inspired the hyper-violent cartoon within the Simpsons’, The Itchy & Scratchy Show. What Tom & Jerry really ran into trouble over, though, was some good old-fashioned racism. Tom & Jerry included questionable scenes that included offenses like Tom dressing as a caricature of a Chinese man and Jerry falling into an ink bottle, after which Tom proceeds to use him to shine his shoes. Come on guys, that’s terrible. Cats don’t even wear shoes.

2 Donald Duck

Donald Duck? Really? The lovable little Disney character? Yeah, he had an occasionally hot temper, but he wasn’t overly violent. So what is it then? Oh, it was mostly just that one episode where Donald Duck had a daydream that he was leading the Nazi army, and tiny little swastikas appeared in his eyeballs. That’ll do it.

1 Bugs Bunny

Bugs Bunny is funny, smart, sneaky and affable. He’s been on TV forever and everyone loves him. But when you’ve been around as long as Bugs has, you’re bound to have some moments in your past you aren’t exactly proud of. Especially when the bulk of your run takes place in what can very politely be called a “less than tactful” era. Through the 40’s and 50’s, Bugs Bunny was known to mimic Asians, African Americans, Eskimos, southerners, homosexuals and women. To his credit though, at least he was an equal opportunity offender.

TK Kelly is a comic and writer who has performed at clubs across the country like the Comedy Store, the Improv, Gotham, and Standup NY. He has also written for Tosh.0, Comedy Central Studios, Funny or Die, Recycled Babies Sketch Comedy, and Second City. His standup comedy has been described as “a thing that happens sometimes,” and according to one of his grandmothers, he is a generally delightful young man. If he were forced at gunpoint to describe himself in one word, that would be a really weird hostage situation.

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