Horrible racism in Looney Tunes did more than discriminate against rabbits, cats, and coyotes. In some old cartoons, Japanese, Native Americans, and black people were depicted in extremely offensive ways and were often portrayed as villains. Racist Looney Tunes cartoons have been around since the 1930s and are largely reflective of America's feelings during the Great Depression, World War II, and the early stages of the Civil Rights movement. Even the best Looney Tunes characters may not have been excluded from making fun of someone else.
Horribly racist moments from Looney Tunes are some of the most cringeworthy cartoons you've ever seen, possibly even worse than some of the most absurdly racist toy lines produced. In 1968, United Artists pulled eleven shorts deemed too racist to be seen from circulation and they came to be known the "Censored Eleven." Apparently, the shorts were so offensive that it was impossible to just edit them to make them acceptable. Just like horribly racist vintage ads, stereotyping in Looney Tunes will make you cringe. Check out these racist moments in Looney Tunes and vote up the most surprising scenes you can't believe actually aired.
In 1944's Angel Puss, a young man in blackface attempts to drown a cat, but it escapes without him knowing. As the cat torments and teases him as a "ghost," his simple and slow mind make him fall for prank after prank. In addition, the fact that the man would kill a living thing rather than pass up the money makes his character lazy and void of ethics.
This cartoon was included in the Censored Eleven list for the offensive racial stereotypes embodied in the main character, In fact, even his name is offensive, as "Sambo" is a derogatory slang term used to refer to black males.
The title of 1943's Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarfs is offensive enough itself, but this all-black World War II-era parody of Disney's Snow White gets worse. Animation supervisor Bob Clampett was inspired by Duke Ellington's Jump for Joy, consulted black performers, and gave them voice actor roles, but the short didn't escape racism.
The Prince Chawmin' character has a full set of gold teeth and So White is used for several jokes with sexual undertones, including the implication that she slept with her assailants in order to escape. Black people aren't the only ones at the butt end of the racist jokes, either - there is even an advertisement for hit men that appears on-screen, reading, "We rub out anybody for $1.00; Midgets: 1/2-price; Japs: free."
Coal Black is part of the Censored Eleven and was banned for its racist characters.
A short-lived Looney Tunes character named Uncle Tom made his debut in the 1931 Merrie Melodies short, Hittin’ The Trail For Hallelujah Land. In a not-so-subtle rip-off of Walt Disney's Steamboat Willie, a singing steamboat sails down the river carrying musicians in blackface while stereotypically superstitious Uncle Tom has a run-in with cemetery skeletons.
Tom reappeared in the 1937 Merrie Melodies short, Uncle Tom's Bungalow, a parody of Uncle Tom's Cabin stuffed full of stereotypical black characters. The cringeworthiness hits a peak as Tom is about to be whipped by the evil white villain and proudly proclaims, "My bottom might belong to you, but my soul belongs to Warner Brothers."
Both of these shorts are part of the Censored Eleven and were banned in 1968 by the studio.
1938's The Isle of Pingo Pongo uses a parody of a travel documentary to introduce viewers to a fictional South Seas island. Unfortunately, the islanders are all racist depictions of stereotypical natives with extremely dark skin, enormous lips, and odd-shaped heads.
Also released that year was the Merrie Melodies short, Jungle Jitters, in which a dog-like traveling salesman knocks on the door of a group of African cannibals under the rulership of a skinny white lady. Like the islanders of Pingo Pongo, the natives have large lips, speak primitive gibberish, and apparently keep in shape by using their nose rings as a jump rope.
Both of these shorts were added to the Censored Eleven in 1968.