Re: Nipping the Nips?

From: Chance <>
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 1995 06:12:05 -0700 (PDT)

On Wed, 30 Aug 1995, Dr. Samuel Conway wrote:

> I'm going to try not to stray too far from the topic. I am, of course,
> keeping Swat Kats in mind when I put forth the following question:
> Where is the line drawn?

I think we'll have to draw it here gang...we're driftin' a bit, huh?
This whole sterotyping of minorities/cartoon violence issue is one of the
reasons "SwatKats" is a valuable program. They can do these kinds of
things in anthropomorphic-allegory that can't be done with human
characters nowadays at the risk of bringing down all the heat of Big
Nannydom. The closest that the Kats get to racist stereotyping is
perhaps the "Foreign Investors" - Mr. Yung and his suspiciously-Siamese
Kat-buddies (which I'm SURE I've seen live-ac counterparts of in some
ac/adv film or comedy - maybe Michael Keaton's "Gung Ho"?).

> Then I was struck very hard in the head by the realization that, indeed,
> this is the exact argument that is being offered against violence on the tube.
> I have honestly crusaded against editing out violence on television on the
> grounds that it would not have a harmful effect on children, and yet I find
> myself equally certain that to bombard a child with degrading images of a
> particular race is bound to affect the child adversely.
> Someone help me out, here. This is causing me a crisis.

Easy answer. Forty years down the road we can watch "SwatKats" and find
nothing within the program objectionable despite whatever left-right
shifts have occurred. There is violence in this cartoon, but it's
adversarial good guy/bad guy stuff that's existed since Middle Earth, and
WILL continue to exist well into "The Brave New World". The good vs.
evil theme is central to a lot of good programming, the theme is always
relevant, and showing the consequences in a realistic fashion shouldn't
be considered abhorrent to parents - it is in fact a "primer" for life.

"Good vs. Evil" was a popular theme in 1942 when the cartoon producers of
Warners were on one side, and Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire on the
other. What were traditionally lampoons of generic bad-guys found in
bars, mother-in-laws and other common but relatively non-descript
fixtures of daily life became focussed on the most visible aspects of a
larger and more menacing enemy that was killing thousands of people's
relatives every day. I don't begrudge the denizens of the forties things
like "Bugs Nips the Nips", because we are attempting to judge them using
a set of values which did not exist at the time, and we can't fully
appreciate the conditions that prompted the cartoon's release. Exposing
your kids to these cartoons without explaining their historical context
MAY lead to a problem, but I tend to give kids more credit than that.
Your mileage may vary.

('Course, should there ever be a "visible minority" of Creeplings in our
  future - we could have a problem...)

> Dr. Sambo Conway
> Senior Nip Nipper
> Avid Therapeutics
> Philadelphia, PA

 "Using my amazing powers of intellect, I've concluded that life was more fun
  when I was least there were more TV shows to watch..."
                     "Monty" from the daily strip "Robotman"
Received on Thu Aug 31 1995 - 09:39:03 PDT

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