Have you ever seen a cartoon we enjoyed like a kid in the 21st century and were horrified when reminiscing? We’re not even talking about bad guys who are meant to be the good ones. Or overall messages that aren’t necessarily problematic. Rather, it’s those moments that are just downright horrifying. Yet no one under the age of 12 would detect. With that being said, these are some of the iconic cartoons that are now seen as notoriously problematic –
Beauty And The Beast
This cartoon was a classic tale about finding love when you least expect it. The poor young girl who begins to grow fond of a mysterious beast after he shows kindness to her can be interpreted as an inspirational tale for young girls and women everywhere. No longer do they have to wait around for the “one” in their life, because no one living creature can be perfect. And the message behind the tale is that it’s not physical appearance that matters, but social behaviour. What happens when we change gender roles? And what if this tale was written by a man? Would this have been accepted by society at large?
The Lion King
Despite the wide popularity of this Disney film, many people tend to overlook these details. It is well known that the Pride lands are ruled by a benevolent king and father. However, his firstborn son was deposed from his rightful position at birth due to the prejudice of a small group of lions who believed Simba to be unfit to rule due to his parentage. Although Mufasa had many wives who produced offspring, they were all female-only one being male and her name being Nala — therefore making it less likely that Mufasa had sired Simba due to his own mother being one of his wives and not Scar’s biological mother (which would have given Big Bro a legitimate claim to the throne).
Furthermore, the characteristics of Scar were never specified in terms of physical appearance (his fur colour could have been black without him exhibiting any problematic queer tropes) or personality, making it impossible for him to exhibit negative stereotypes based on the difference in race/gender etc.
This is perhaps one of the most disappointing Cartoon Network cartoons of all time. The main character, Johnny, advertises a “toxic level” of cockiness as if no woman could possibly want him – and he doesn’t disappoint! While some people might argue that this male cartoon character doesn’t really attract any of the women he chooses to talk to, the fact remains that he approaches them in the creepiest possible manner which sets a terrible example for young boys. The show basically makes light of cat-calling and other sexual harassment that women, unfortunately, have to get used to regularly – personally I found it incredibly disturbing when one episode even made fun of girls who get angry at guys for trying to talk to them.
Courage The Cowardly Dog
Perhaps you’ve already heard of this old classic that spanned generations. But it was (and continues to be) a scary production for a generation of young children who couldn’t quite fathom why they had to stay up late at night to watch what they considered grotesque and unsettling pen and ink drawings on a television screen. From the one with the terrifying creature who looks like Frankenstein gone bad, to that one where Grandma gets possessed by mobster ghosts; the list goes on.