Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Good Old Days of Massive Cartoon Cuts

One thing about Warner Brothers cartoon packages on Teletoon Retro is that they provide kind of a historical overview of how cartoons have been cut up at different times. Warners' Canadian distributor doesn't like sending out uncut, complete cartoons if there's a "Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show" or "Road Runner Show" tape available, but at least that provides a chance to see what was considered offensive at different times.

For example: in the "Merrie Melodies" package from the '90s (being run alternately with the "Merrie Melodies Show" from the '70s), all gun gags are cut out by means of freeze-framing, so in "Hillbilly Hare" or "Duck! Rabbit, Duck!" they just freeze-frame on Bugs while the shots occur offscreen. But that same package from the '90s included "Caveman Inki," because the Inki cartoons were not yet considered taboo for TV viewing. But Warners left "Caveman Inki" out of the package of "Porky Pig Show" cartoons they prepared for Teletoon (the only package of uncut cartoons, and that only because the '60s "Porky Pig Show" tapes don't exist any more), because they substituted black-and-white cartoons for any color cartoons that they had marked as potentially offensive.

And, of course, the "Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show" is like a primer on what networks considered to be unacceptable. For comparison purposes, here's "Big House Bunny" complete:

And here's a version that (I think) used to run on network TV, where fully one-third of the cartoon is cut, eliminating all the execution gags.


Geoff said...

And then there's the Road Runner Show, in which the shorts themselves appear to be pretty much uncut (except for the opening and closing titles)... but there are a handful of abrupt edits to the interstitial gags -- which were MADE for TV! (ABC is known to have made a handful of edits when it picked up Road Runner reruns in the early 70s, a couple of years after they aired on CBS.)

There's one other rarity, airing in the early 70s Merrie Melodies Show, which apparently was originally packaged for overseas markets. It contains the final WB short, "Injun Trouble" starring Cool Cat. Historically significant for being the final short released theatrically by WB, ending a run that began in 1930. It's also believed to have NEVER been broadcast on US television.

J Lee said...

Growing up in New York, you actually got to see the censorship slowly make its way across the cartoon universe from the early 1960s on -- since it's the media capital and the place where people know that if they stage an effective protest they'll be noticed, the folks airing the cartoons there were always more sensitive about what would cause them problems than in other parts of the country.

The 'Censored 11' was censored there a decade before the shorts were pulled by United Artists; blackface end gags like in "Fresh Hare" or "Goofy Groceries" were gone by the early 1960s, and even Indian gags like in "Yankee Doodle Bugs" were purged in the mid-60s. On the national level, groups like Peggy Charren's Action for Children's Television were going after Warners for their gun gags by the late 1960s (as well as other shows aired on the networks' Saturday morning blocks), leading to the edits seen on CBS and later ABC in their network packages, and by the early 1990s, those types of edits had made their way to the other shorts, once they became part of the national cable packages on Fox Kids or Nickelodeon.

(The ironic thing is that, on Peggy's Wikipedia page, it says, "She is an outspoken critic of censorship, and has taken a public stand against the American Family Association's campaigns to ban various programs." Yea, whatever, though I suppose there is a semantic difference between "ban" and "cut to shreds to the point it's completely incomprehensible", though I'm not sure there's all that much that separates the two when you get down to it.)

Caftan Woman said...

It's "Free Beer", not "Free Admission". It's just wrong having to explain a joke to your kid when you're watching a cartoon.

Ricardo Cantoral said...

I never realized how much of this cartoon I missed until I saw it in the golden collection.

Also OT Jamie but recently I managed to see the first two Harry Palmer films. THE IPCRESS FILE is definetly the best of the two, it's possibly the best spy thriller ever made. Alot of Bond people worked on this one and FUNERAL IN BERLIN, Ken Adam, Harry Saltzman, Peter Hunt, John Barry, Guy Hamilton and Guy Doleman. FIB was also a very good film but I the plot became very confusing after the funeral scene.

Anonymous said...

i love cartoon when i was a boy =)