Amazon has recently come under fire for adding a trigger warning for Tom and Jerry.
When one tries to watch the classic cartoon on Amazon's streaming service, they're greeted by a disclaimer warning potential viewers that Tom and Jerry contains "some ethnic and racial prejudices that were once commonplace in American society."Characters such as Mammy Two Shoes, a faceless black maid, "were wrong then and are wrong today," Amazon warns.
While there's no doubt that Mammy Two Shoes is a character who would never be allowed on television today, Amazon's warning, which does not address the show's sexist content, is an "empty-headed" form of "false piousness," according to British cultural commentator and sociology professor Frank Furedi. "We're reading history backwards, judging people in the past by our values," Furedi told the BBC.
Cartoon historian Jerry Beck shared similar thoughts with The Daily Beast, noting, "Amazon seems to have forgotten that Tom and Jerry was made for adults as much as it was for children. [Amazon] should be showcasing Tom and Jerry among classic movies in a way that gives them cultural context. The advisory is really meant to warn parents that the cartoon may include things like smoking or the black housekeeper that they might have to explain to their children."
This is not the first time the classic cartoon has had issues with modern censorship. Only last year, two episodes of Tom and Jerry (from 1951 and 1948) featuring the use of blackface were cut from the Warner Bros.' Golden Collection, which also incited criticism for erasing cultural history.
In 2005, Whoopi Goldberg stressed the importance of maintaining Tom and Jerry's politically incorrect material while introducing the Looney Tunes Golden Collection. "[They] are presented here to accurately reflect a part of our history that cannot and should not be ignored, she said. "Removing these inexcusable images and jokes from this collection would be the same as saying [these prejudices] never existed."
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