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marissa's avatar

Should old cartoons directed at children be censored before being shown on television?

Asked by marissa (2659points) September 17th, 2008

My children were watching The Flinstones. In the cartoon Fred had a job and one of the perks of the job was that he was given a “slave boy”. That was the term used and that was how this character was introduced. I would like to note that the character was Cacasian. The cartoon was on during a ‘child friendly’ time slot on a cartoon station. The cartoon was created in 1965. Should this cartoon have been shown and if not, should stations be fined for showing such things or is that too ‘police state’ like?

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25 Answers

EmpressPixie's avatar

Did it screw up your values to watch the Flintstones when you were a kid? I’m pretty sure mine are a-okay and I watched the Flintstones all the time. Would you feel better if they changed the name from “slave boy” to “personal assistant” or worse “production assistant”?

I don’t think it is a problem, to be honest. I enjoy watching older cartoons and children’s programming because they were made for adults to enjoy at least a bit as well. Newer programming often goes too far to children-ize and ends up being boring and mindless.

If nothing else, this could be an opportunity to talk about the issue.

EmpressPixie's avatar

this reminds me of the warning label on the DVD release of the classic Sesame Street episodes that warned parents (who grew up on them) that they might not be suitable for today’s children

marissa's avatar

@empress, I remember seeing those warnings…lol.

I did use it as an opportunity to talk to my oldest (my youngest is too young to grasp the concept of slavery). I explained that the term ‘slave boy’ is offensive and that slavery is not something to make light of, however, back in 1965 when the cartoon was made, people didn’t realize that they might be hurting other people’s feelings by using that term.

Harp's avatar

This particular example has to be looked at in the light of the whole Flintstones Gestalt (probably the first time this phrase has ever been used) The schtick of the Flintstones is to poke fun at modern life by transposing it into a stone-age vernacular, in this case pointing out that we still have flunkies who exist to do the bidding of their superiors. That point is driven home by putting it in the archaic terminology. The term is offensive to our ears mostly because of the racist baggage it carries, but the creators were clearly trying to not engage the term on that level.

It would be possible to attack the Flinstones for reinforcing sexist stereotypes, insensitivity to animal rights, etc., but I think that in the end, parents just need to be aware of what children are taking in (as you obviously are) and use these as teaching opportunities. It’s good for kids to know that we’ve advanced a bit in how what we consider acceptable behavior, and that we have a ways to go yet.

Bri_L's avatar

It’s funny. I just went through this. I bought the classic collection of loonytoons volume I, I was so excited to watch it with my kids. It was such a bit part of my life. I loved and still love them. By the time I was 13 they started editing them. I never got the idea that you should hit someone with a bat or a hammer.

My wife disagrees. We agree that we err on the side of caution.

I need to think more on this

marissa's avatar

@Bri L, we also ran into this with old cartoons on DVD’s, but I don’t think that the old cartoons that they sell on DVD should be altered. IMO they should be left alone, because that is a part of our past culture. However, I do think that parents should watch the DVD first before showing it to their children and then make the decision that is best for their family as to whether to allow their children to watch the old cartoons or not.

Bri_L's avatar

@ marissa – that is how we do it.

deaddolly's avatar

I watched all the old cartoons while growing up and do not consider myself a violent person at all. That’s like saying kids that listen to Manson go out and kill people. I will say, however, it’s up to the parents to instill values and explain things that kids may not understand. In other words, don’t park your kids in front of the TV…talk to them about what they’re seeing. And use your brain…if your son/daughter goes around slugging ppl or dropping boulders on their heads ala the Road Runner…it’s time for a talk. Shielding kids from violence that surrounds us doesn’t prepare them for the real world. However, it’s up the parents to decide if the kids when to let their children see REAL LIFE, in what way and how much is too much.

Bri_L's avatar

@ deaddolly – excellent point!

Dennis miller said ” if your kid is capable of being affected by anything Maralyn Manson sings your not doing your job as a f*cking parent”.

I have confidence in my ability to teach my child that if they hit someone else with a hammer like the dog did that cat, it will hurt WAY worse than when they bumped their head on the table.

marissa's avatar

I agree completely about parents doing their part. I don’t park my kids in front of the tv and I pay attention to what they do watch, that is how I know about the Flinstone episode in my Q. I am talking specifically about the old cartoons that are shown on television during time slots designated for children’s programming.

deaddolly's avatar

I wish more parents would be with their kids when they watch tv. I still don’t think the old toons do any harm, so NO, they should not be censored. It’s like history…tv history.

Poser's avatar

I watched a lot of TV when I was a kid, including Looney Tunes. I never had the urge or inclination to bash someone with a hammer, or throw someone off a cliff. Somehow I understood that cartoons weren’t real. Maybe it was because they were cartoons.

We’ve also got to ask ourselves, regarding this particular question, if anyone would actually be offended by this term, or if we are just being a bit too politically correct. If nothing else, these cartoons are representative of society at the time they were created. Censoring them is akin to book-burning.

marissa's avatar

@ poser “Censoring them is akin to book-burning.” I completely agree with you in regards to just about any other venue. I’m only questioning whether they should be censored under the criteria I mentioned in my Q. My concern is having a term like ‘slave boy’ used during children’s programming. I’m not even saying that I think that it should be censored during children’s programming, I’m just curious what others think, because I myself am not sure.

Poser's avatar

I guess it would depend on the parent. If you are uncomfortable with your children hearing that term in that context, then you ought to censor it. I don’t, however, think that society or the government should be responsible for doing that.

Personally, I’m not terribly worried about what my nine year old sees on TV. I don’t let him watch terribly violent or sexually explicit stuff. But I’m not really worried about him hearing profanity, for instance. I know he’s going to hear those words, and they don’t offend me. He knows when he hears a bad word. I told him that a lot of people find those words offensive, and if he uses them at school (or around his mom) he’s going to get in trouble. But the words themselves are ultimately harmless.

sacaver's avatar

I suppose we should get rid of most of the Little Rascals and Three Stooges. Jeez. They must have been a bunch of uncivilized thugs back in the day. Where’s a good stalinist purge when you need one?

But seriously, how far does this go? If the studio who created the cartoon wants to go back and self-censor their work, well, I suppose that’s their right. But I don’t agree with it.

tinyfaery's avatar

Then let’s take the n word out of Hick Finn and replace it with African American. This is part of our history. Take these instances as teaching moments for your children. The media is so prevalent in society. We cannot lock kids away and protect them from “harmful” images and ideas, we just have to explain and teach. To change/alter/remove for content is censorship.

Judi's avatar

I think that PARENTS should censor what their children watch. Personally, My kids watched “Masters of the Universe for a while when they were little, but I found that the concept of a universal force for good and evil 9 By the Power of Grey Skull” was contrary to our families spiritual belief so I censored it from our family. Other families might find it acceptable. Once we start getting into censorship like that we start sliding down a slippery slope. I for one, don’t want to head in that direction for the sake of a little political correctness.

charliecompany34's avatar

i think we need to worry about today’s cartoons. lots of innuendo on the cartoon network and “nick.” if adults watch closely these days, cartoons are sending subliminal messages 24 hours a day. only the adult would know the underlying message. sit down and watch a couple of episodes of “spongebob.” and disneychannel? wooboy.

yes, the cartoons we watched when we were kids were blatant on issues we frown on today, but they mirrored the time in which they were created. as we watch “tom and jerry” get drunk or black exploitation shows up in “the little rascals,” we, as adults, are there to monitor and teach children what “used to be” acceptable.

“these are the cartoons i watched when i was a kid, son” i’d say.“today, though, it’s like this…”

marinelife's avatar

I agree with charliecompany34. I think the images and messages kids are exposed to in current media are far worse. Video games, for example, are horrible: violent, sexualized, misogynistic, and shallow.

I think any parent that allows unmonitored media intake of any kind is wrong to do so.

EmpressPixie's avatar

At the same time, you can easily over-monitor as a parent and your kids will just watch it at their friends’ houses (yes, they will. especially if it is specifically banned.) To that point: He-man and She-ra? Seriously? Because they fought Skeletor over a magical castle?

marinelife's avatar

If you montior media at home and you actively watch with your children and use the things that come up as teaching tools for conversation, then when you kids go out into the world, they are better equipped to think for themselves and make decisions. That is much better than just making stuff forbidden.

charliecompany34's avatar

marina: is fluther calibrated for 5-didgit lurve? u r almost there.

marinelife's avatar

@cc34 No Y2K scare here. The Fluther gods have thought of everything.

Bri_L's avatar

MARINA AT 10000 + yessss

marinelife's avatar

@Bri_L Thanks!

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