On Monday, when I watched the previous night’s new episode of “Family Guy,” I got upset. It had nothing to do with the lazy writing, terrible jokes, or Peter being an overly cruel oaf; I’ve gotten used to be irritated at all that. I was pissed off at the animation. It was so lifeless, expressionless, and oddly static, as if the animators were more interested in background continuity than doing anything interesting with the background. So I did what I often do when I get mad at “Family Guy”: I watched Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies clips online.
A childhood doesn’t count unless you’ve watched a ton of cartoons starring Bugs Bunny and Foghorn Leghorn and the rest of the Warner Bros. gang, and going through them on YouTube was like being seven years old all over again, minus the bowl of Sprinkle Spangles cereal. But then I saw some shorts that I didn’t remember ever being on TV, with titles like “Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs” and “Uncle Tom’s Bungalow.” I had come across the infamous “Censored Eleven.”
Back in 1968, a heap of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons were put into syndication by United Artists – with the exception of 11 shorts made between 1931 and 1944. They were deemed too inappropriate to air on TV. Basically, they’re really, really racist (or RAYCESS, as it were), and to this day, they’ve never been broadcast or officially released on DVD. They have been unofficially uploaded online, though, along with four other controversial clips from other cartoons that will likely never appear on your DVR. Here they are.
Title: “Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs” (1943)
Once you get past the “Coal Black” thing, it’s not…that bad. Well, that’s not totally true, but at least the short makes fun of everyone, from blacks to the Japanese to midgets to white people (“So White”) to “refoogies,” which I assume is a Jew joke. It’s an equal opportunity offender — and man, that jazz score.
You can watch the whole thing here (it won’t embed).
Title: “Hittin’ the Trail for Hallelujah Land” (1931)
The first of the “Censored Eleven.” I wish boats and other large vehicles would start moving like humans in animation again. There’s something inherently funny about a loose-limbed steamship. Same thing with dancing skeletons. Characters named Uncle Tom, not so much.
Title: “Sunday Go to Meetin’ Time” (1936)
What happens if you don’t go to church and raise the dickens? In “Sunday Go to Meetin’ Time,” you go to Hell, get tried at the Hades Court of Justice, and are then forced to watch a dance routine from Satan’s “big-lipped demons” until the end of time. I was feeling it until the dance part.
Title: “Clean Pastures” (1937)
More religion, but this time, it’s not about Hell, but Heaven, which has been renamed Pair o’ Dices. That sounds like a setting in a Nic Cage project, where Cage plays Snake Eye Jawbone, who enters a winner-take-all game of craps with an angel sent from above. If the angel wins, Snake Eye’s son, who’s on death’s door because of a ghastly paper cut suffered from one of his dad’s playing cards (did I mention he’s a poker player, too?), can pass through the Pearly Gates. If Snake Eye wins, he gets to blow up Heaven, a.k.a. Pair o’ Dices.
Title: “Uncle Tom’s Bungalow” (1937)
This Uncle Tom fellow was certainly popular in the 1930s.
Title: “Jungle Jitters” (1938)
“Jungle Jitters” takes place in a village in Africa where everyone is black (and cannibals, of course) — except for the queen. That makes about as much sense as a dog working as a traveling salesman. Dogs can’t drive.
Title: “The Isle of Pingo Pongo” (1938)
If you pay close enough attention to “The Isle of Pingo Pongo,” you’ll realize that the joke isn’t on the jungle “savages”; it’s on the white narrator who consistently doesn’t give the natives enough credit. He says, “And here we find a typical Aborigine, completely untouched by civilization,” before his subject takes out a camera and snaps a picture of us. That’s a clever twist, as is setting up a song as “primitive savage rhythm,” before they end up performing “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain.” White people are the worst.
Title: “All This and Rabbit Stew” (1941)
Black Elmer Fudd, right down to the speed impediment.
Title: “Tin Pan Alley Cats” (1943)
Only Mel Blanc could get away with being credited for “Giant Lips/Rubber Band/Hitler/Cat” in a seven-minute clip.
Why yes that is Hitler banging asses with Hideki Tōjō.
Title: “Angel Puss” (1944)
Also the name of Michael Bay’s on-call female companion.
Title: “Goldilocks and the Jivin’ Bears” (1944)
…And how come Goldilocks doesn’t do the jitterbug anymore?
Title: “One Beer” from “Tiny Toon Adventures” (1991)
No, it wasn’t about George Thorogood, though it should have been. “One Beer” is an oddly moralistic episode of “Tiny Toon Adventures” that showed youngsters everywhere what would happen if they drank beer. They’d drive drunk and kill themselves, that’s what would happen. Needless to say, it only aired once in 1991, and thousands of nine year olds have gotten into car accidents since.
Title: “Ha! Ha! Ha!” (1934)
There are tons of banned Betty Boop shorts — some are too racist, others too risqué — but I’m only including “Ha! Ha! Ha!” because a) I’m not a big Betty Boop fan (she’s a one-note joke, and her one note isn’t that good); and b) it was censored because of suggestive drug use. Betty’s the dentist for a clown for some reason, and during his procedure, she gets him high on laughing gas — some of which emanates down to the live action streets of New York City. It’s a gorgeous mix of animation and live action. The scene of the two tombstones giggling would still hold up today, and freak me the fu*k out.
Title: “Barbequor” (1996)
“Dial M for Monkey” was one of two mini-segments that aired during episodes of the great “Dexter’s Laboratory,” along with “The Justice Friends.” The shorts weren’t particularly notable, with the exception of “Barbequor,” which featured a flamboyant and FABULOUS parody of the Fantastic Four’s Silver Surfer called the Silver Spooner. It aired once — in 2006 — but not since.
Banned: “Buffalo Gals” (1998)
It’s amazing the line, “Oh, the Buffalo Gals, a biker group that randomly breaks into people’s houses and chews on their carpet” got past the “Cow and Chicken” censors in the first place. Thank God it did.