The Problem With Cartoons


Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

A Problematic Image: This still frame comes from the show “Tom and Jerry” (Episode 59). The image shows two people that are supposed to be native villagers. The small one is really Jerry (the main character of the show) who painted the black paint on himself to blend in with the villagers.

Antwuan Sparks, Op-Ed Editor

Cartoons are the best thing to ever come into my life. From Courage the Cowardly Dog to SpongeBob SquarePants, these wacky characters have had a major influence on my life. However, being older and revisiting these shows, I  realized just how dark and sometimes political these cartoons could be. These cartoons can influence and inform young minds about the wrong things. When in reality they are only supposed to be entertaining the young.

These cartoons covered dark topics that I just never forgot even when I grew up. For example, in Spongebob, I can point to an episode in particular that I never forgot about that even as a child I knew something was a little off. In Season 2, Episode 17, Spongebob has to write an essay for boating school. Throughout the episode, Spongebob procrastinates and eventually falls asleep at his desk which leads to him dreaming about how his house sets on fire. 

The scary thing about this episode is the part where the house is on fire. As the house starts talking about how Spongebob set him on fire for not writing his essay. This episode stood out to me when I was young since I took it as if I don’t do my homework bad things will happen. Now, that I am older I see how this influenced me when I was younger and why it shook me up so much.

But it was a good shake up and it made me want to do school work and it influenced me in a positive way. It made me unconsciously not want to procrastinate and not do my school work even if it was done in a ridiculous way it had an impact on me.

Episodes and shows like this can have a great effect on children even at such a young age. That is why it is important to make sure we aren’t forcing any political agendas or even societal norms on children. Let them figure it out on their own. Even in old Dr. Seuss books that I have actually read as a child like the book “If I Ran The Zoo”. When I was young I saw the faces of the characters and I saw how stereotypical they looked and I believed it’

I see how people are concerned about what effect this has on younger viewers watching and this makes them believe that Africans look like that. That is why it is so important to be careful with what type of influence cartoon characters have on the younger audience.

The biggest narrative I believed all the way up until my sophomore year of high school was that Africa was this poor, ancient land, where they hunt animals and live like barbarians, due to seeing it in cartoons like “Tom and Jerry.”.

Also, Disney has misrepresented just about every culture and race throughout their history. Look at films like “Peter Pan”, “Aladdin” and many other films.  Peter Pan shows Native American people as these tribal people who can’t speak proper English and dance around fires all day. Especially the character Big Chief, his face is red, and he speaks broken English. 

And the rest of the tribe has this same description throughout the film. It makes Native American people look horrible to a younger audience who may not know the history behind Native American culture. This would make the child believe this is just how Native American people act on a daily basis.

Same with Aladdin in the way they represent Semitic People or people in the Middle East. Aladdin shows them as these jittery, big-nosed, fast-talking people. That sells weird unorthodox products in these shantytowns. Big films like these teach wholesome messages to the kids watching them but represent the cultures within these films in such an ignorant way.

Now, I don’t believe cartoons( old or new) should be canceled or banned. We as people just need to be careful about what is shown to the younger audience as it can change their whole thought process and perspectives for the better and also for the worse.