Tom and Jerry, the animal-cartoon series is centered between the its two title characters, Tom the Cat and Jerry the Mouse, and features many other recurring characters as well.
The series plots usually center on Tom’s failed attempts to capture Jerry and the havoc and disorder that follows. Though this show targets kids as its major audience, it presents a lot of adult humor and content that has also created a lot of controversy because of its racism, sexism and violent content. Like many animated cartoons from the 1930s to the early 1950s, Tom and Jerry featured racial stereotypes. The most controversial element of the show is the character Mammy Two Shoes a poor black maid who speaks in a stereotypical african american accent and has a problem with mice. The title “Mammy” can be traced back to the antebellum south in which African American women were still slaves and would be the primary caretakers of their owner’s white children.
The fact that the creators were making a character from a dark part of American history and using it for comical purposes, is inhumane and insensitive. Mammy was an old, obese dark-skinned women and always wore a bandana which was exactly the character Mammy Two-Shoes looked liked. Along with the racism, much like all the old cartoons, Tom and Jerry featured a cast with almost all male characters with a handful of females purely shown for sex.
The show featured Toodles Galore, an eyelash-batting seductress who spoke rarely and made Tom go crazy. Jerry also had his share of women with Toots and Tara who made appearances throughout the show purely to tempt Jerry. A binary opposite that I found extremely prevalent in this TV series was Strong vs.
Weak. Normally one would think that strong is favored, but in fact, the creators flipped that stereotype in this show, because Jerry, the weaker one, usually ends up triumphant as he escapes Tom’s evils plans and is successful with the revenge against Tom. Which could lead to another binary opposite, Brains vs. Physical strength. In this show, the brains, or Jerry is favored more because he outsmarts Tom and proves you don’t have to big or strong to be victorious.Controversial topics such as racism and sexism were not the only ideas that angered parents. Smoking, drinking and intense violence were common and prevalent in almost all of the episodes. Violence and gore, especially, were handled lightly and were portrayed as things that were completely normal in everyday life.
In conclusion, Tom and Jerry is a massive hit TV show with quick and funny plotlines for the whole family to enjoy, but the racist, sexist, and violent themes presented make it contentious and controversial.