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Mickey Mouse and the Medicine Man

Posted at 15:28 on December 31st, 2012 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Just stumpled upon something really weird that I want to share with you: Mickey Mouse taking speed and starting a career as a pusher in a nondescript racist african setting...
Mickey Mouse and the Medicine Man
I know that Disney had it's fair share of politically incorrect junk (like the Nazi-Donald cartoon), but this strip has aged really badly... Just Say No! ;)
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Posted at 16:00 on December 31st, 2012 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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No, no, no! You got it completely wrong! Mickey and Goofy liberated those poor people from the yoke of the evil, greedy medicine man! They are basically single-handedly introducing true civilisation to the dark continent!

In all seriousness, though, I do own a large number of Disney comics and many of my favourites could very well be called racist or at the very least politically incorrect. You know, those stories in which Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck would just take a short plane trip and suddenly be in an exotic world full of evil warlords, antique weaponry, dense jungles, uncharted deserts etc. Or a bit later, the same thing would happen with spaceships which would take them to planets which would be exactly like a twisted past earth.

I don't believe for one second that this makes me a racist or that deep down, I actually share any of the superstitions or prejudice used in these stories. The thing is just that they conjure up a great sense of adventure and also an innocence which is simply lost in our hand-wringing days when everything has to be triple-checked with the legal department before publication.
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Posted at 17:01 on December 31st, 2012 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Don't get me wrong: I also love(d) Disney Comics (especially "Lustige Taschenbücher") for their sense of wonder and simplicity, but the strip posted above walks a fine line between naivety and distastefulness.

For what it's worth, I think this is a perfect example of how our moral values are constantly changing: Back in the days when this was published, this strip probably wasn't anything special, but nowadays things have changed quite a bit. For the better (stereotypical 'Africa') and for the worse (hypocritical 'drug use').
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Posted at 17:34 on December 31st, 2012 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Herr M. at 17:01 on December 31st, 2012:
Don't get me wrong: I also love(d) Disney Comics (especially "Lustige Taschenbücher") for their sense of wonder and simplicity, but the strip posted above walks a fine line between naivety and distastefulness.

Well, of course! As long as one is aware of the context and the implications, though, I don't see a problem with any of the stories.

Do you remember "Der Gürtel aus dem Morgenland" in LTB #3, for example? That story has got adventure, fantasy, science fiction and humour all mixed into a nevertheless tight and coherent plot. It portrays the inhabitants of a fictional middle-eastern country as technologically backwards, superstitious, warmongering and generally uncivilised. I don't care, it's just fiction! And the gags are really not based on racial stereotypes, but human archetypes. (There is another funny story in the same book which is extremely racist by today's standards – much more racist than this Medicine Man story.)
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 17:39 on December 31st, 2012
Posted at 20:04 on January 1st, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 17:34 on December 31st, 2012:
Do you remember "Der Gürtel aus dem Morgenland" in LTB #3, for example?


Well not really, since my collection only started when they went full colour (issue 119) and #3 isn't one of the few older issues I have. ;) But generally speaking as far as I can remember the racial stereotypes weren't that severe, especially since most of the time strange cultures had reason to them and differences were respected. And whenever people like Scrooge tried to take advantage of "the savages", he always had to learn the hard lesson, that they were cleverer than he thought. Also (almost) no names or cultures from the real world where used.

And in my opinion it's a good sign that the comic above wouldn't be that gross if the majority of the Disney comics weren't comperatively tame. But it stands to reason, with the vast amount of strips published over the decades, that there are some which don't stand up to todays standards.
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Posted at 21:14 on January 1st, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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In the end, too much thinking about these issues always ends like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speedy_Gonzales#Censorship. How stupid is that?

Quote:
my collection only started when they went full colour (issue 119) and #3 isn't one of the few older issues I have

I have almost all of them. The stupid thing is that those reprints are basically unbuyable. They have all been recoloured in an ugly way, sometimes even the text has been changed.
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Posted at 21:28 on March 24th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Have you guys ever seen the foxy fagan comics? A short lived series by joe barbera (of hanna/barbera fame, co-creator of the tom & jerry cartoons) and harvey eisenberg. They flopped & have fallen into the public domain. While most of the comic is as innocuous as a standard tom & jerry toon, one segment is the most blatantly racist material I've ever encountered.
As with the disney stuff mentioned in this thread, I don't think it was intended to be offensive, it was just a product of it's time.

http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/preview/index.php?did=7702&page=45


Image
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Edited by Cypherswipe at 21:31 on March 24th, 2013
Posted at 11:41 on March 25th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Heh – well, that's not much worse than the stereotyped Ebony White character in The Spirit :)

What do you guys think of Tintin in the Congo? It's about this Belgian reporter going to the African colony, hunting wild animals for their ivory, teaching the naive the children of a primitive native tribe and becoming the chief of said tribe later on. In fact, even Tintins dog Snowy becomes the chief of another tribe, because he's obviously superior (he's very white)!

What I find so sad about that one is that there isn't even a good adventure story in there. It's really just Tintin interacting with these 'funny' primitives, 'bringing them civilisation' with 'hilarious results'.

Mind you many other issues of that series are really very good, and I would definitely recommend reading them!
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Posted at 16:54 on March 25th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Well, the first three Tintin stories (in the country of the Soviets, in the Congo and in America) are really awful. The series started as a copy of anti-soviet propaganda leaflets, and apparently Herge only decided to remove the stereotypes after making friends with an asian guy, who told him those things were stupid.

This also reminds me of Edjar p. Jacobs, the creator of Blake & Mortimer, as he worked with Herge painting backgrounds. That comic is such a mess of stereotypes that sometimes it's hard to believe it's serious, I love how the series starts with the evil chinese nuking the free world.
Posted at 19:42 on March 25th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Wandrell at 16:54 on March 25th, 2013:
Well, the first three Tintin stories (in the country of the Soviets, in the Congo and in America) are really awful. The series started as a copy of anti-soviet propaganda leaflets, and apparently Herge only decided to remove the stereotypes after making friends with an asian guy, who told him those things were stupid.

It's not like those later books are free of stereotypes, though. Every time you spot a Japanese person in a Tintin book, you can safely assume he will be evil (I don't believe there was ever a single Japanese woman in there). At least it doesn't seem to have a racist background, though, because at the same time, Chinese people are usually portrayed as cultured, polite and 'good'.

I don't think there has ever been a Tintin story actually set in Japan. So it's my hope that if that had happened, there would be have been less stereotyping; in those stories set in China, all the Japanese people appearing are either with the military, government or in the espionage business, after all.
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 19:43 on March 25th, 2013
Posted at 23:14 on March 25th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Cypherswipe at 21:28 on March 24th, 2013:
Have you guys ever seen the foxy fagan comics? [...]

http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/preview/index.php?did=7702&page=45


The strange thing about this particular comic is, that the story per se isn't racist. If you were to put in some other guy, with better grammar and spelling capabilities, it would be perfectly normal. Even the drawings aren't that offensive (though they do have too broad lips). Actually I like the small fellow, since I share his love for water melons. ;)

Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 19:42 on March 25th, 2013:
(I don't believe there was ever a single Japanese woman in there).

Kind of reminds me of this: The Rule and the image of one special kind of alien in modern media:
Image
Spot the mistakes and get ready for some weird sensations...
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Posted at 09:01 on March 26th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Herr M. at 23:14 on March 25th, 2013:
Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 19:42 on March 25th, 2013:
(I don't believe there was ever a single Japanese woman in there).

Kind of reminds me of this: The Rule and the image of one special kind of alien in modern media:
[...]
Spot the mistakes and get ready for some weird sensations...

While of course making a general point, my first run-in with this rule was in 2009 when someone seriously complained about the game I had just written violating that rule. I found this criticism to be completely pointless, because the story was about an extremely antisocial guy with severe psychological issues which basically prevent him to interacting with anyone (especially women) and the narrative was very intentionally narrowed down to his view on things. So there can be really good reasons where failing to comply with 'the rule' can have very good reasons. Which does not excuse the masses of sloppily written crud.

As for those images posted in that blog, same thing ;) No, seriously: American superhero comicbooks are not a great example for this, in my opinion, because the males also look like complete aliens in those; seriously – who has body proportions like that? From what I've seen of Japanese comicbooks, things seem to be much more unbalanced there, indeed. I have to say, though, that some of the poses people complain about in the blog, are not impossible as they make it seem to be. Sure, the intention of showing a female character from the back with her upper torso twisted around is clearly a sexist one – but it's not physiologically impossible. I can twist as far as it's shown on most of these pictures without hurting my back! Not that any male reader would want to see me doing it ;)

Anyway, this sort of sexist portrayal is definitely a sort of successor of the racism of the old days. That story Cypherswipe posted reminded me of another followup trend as well, though: funny (non-human) 'creatures' or robots! These 'funny, primitive sidekick' roles are still very much alive, but they are usually just taken by groups which cannot really complain. Or what do you think those robots in Star Wars were for? If that had been made just 20 years earlier, this would have been 'funny negroes'.
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Edited by Mr Creosote at 09:04 on March 26th, 2013
Posted at 18:45 on March 27th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Herr M. at 23:14 on March 25th, 2013:


The strange thing about this particular comic is, that the story per se isn't racist. If you were to put in some other guy, with better grammar and spelling capabilities, it would be perfectly normal. Even the drawings aren't that offensive (though they do have too broad lips). Actually I like the small fellow, since I share his love for water melons. ;)


Yeah, if they had used proper spelling (or even given him some other accent) and swapped out watermelon for some other food ("it's the land of pizza!") it wouldn't have been racist.

re tintin: I never read nor watched it. Tintin just felt like an even more boring ripoff of johnny quest than johnny quest himself. (Yes, I use the term ripoff, even though tintin came first, because he just feels like a cheap copy.)


Funny you should bring up japanese comics (manga, to be more accurate), since I'm a big fan of manga. In the past 5yrs or so, I've read about 300 manga series & am in the process of reading about 750.
Bodily proportions in manga can be extremely distorted, but they can also be extremely realistic. There are countless manga artists and each has their own style, plus each genre tends to favor certain styles.
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Posted at 21:01 on March 27th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Cypherswipe at 18:45 on March 27th, 2013:
Yeah, if they had used proper spelling (or even given him some other accent) and swapped out watermelon for some other food ("it's the land of pizza!") it wouldn't have been racist.

Hmmm... Actually what's racist about eating water melons?

Originally posted by Cypherswipe at 18:45 on March 27th, 2013:
Funny you should bring up japanese comics (manga, to be more accurate), since I'm a big fan of manga. In the past 5yrs or so, I've read about 300 manga series & am in the process of reading about 750.
Bodily proportions in manga can be extremely distorted, but they can also be extremely realistic. There are countless manga artists and each has their own style, plus each genre tends to favor certain styles.

300! Boy that's quite a feat! My meagre 10 or so are no match for that... :) What I especially like about mangas is, how different they are to the US mainstream mishmash. Especially the stereotypes and in particular the foreign ones are refreshingly absurd. And they show an very odd fascination with german culture. One of my favorites scenes in an anime (I know not manga, but closely related) is Asuak speaking 'German' in Neon Genesis Evangelion... very weird.

Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 09:01 on March 26th, 2013:
So there can be really good reasons where failing to comply with 'the rule' can have very good reasons.

Sure, there are more than enough cases, where the 'Test' doesn't make sense. Also there are actually films that fail the opposite test (men instead of women). Still it does have a point: When I first heard of the rule, I laughed about it and didn't take it serious, but once you start thinking about it and take a closer look, you will come to realise how often women just play a function but not a role in films. And to be honest: I think this is kind of boring, since I prefer my women with at least a little bit of spirit and personality. ;)

Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 09:01 on March 26th, 2013:
Sure, the intention of showing a female character from the back with her upper torso twisted around is clearly a sexist one – but it's not physiologically impossible.

Well some of the poses are downright impossible, and those that aren't seem to be very painful and irrational (especially in a fight scene). But I like this blog, because the pictures are so over the top, with artist's that not only lack in talent but also in taste.

Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 09:01 on March 26th, 2013:
[...]reminded me of another followup trend as well, though: funny (non-human) 'creatures' or robots! These 'funny, primitive sidekick' roles are still very much alive, but they are usually just taken by groups which cannot really complain.

A really interesting thought... unsurprisingly it's a lot more subtle this way, because almost no-one will identify with those characters in the first place.
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Posted at 21:11 on March 27th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Watermelons & fried chicken are very stereotyped "black" food. I don't know how or why watermelon became a stereotype food, I just know that it is.
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Posted at 00:17 on March 28th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Herr M. at 21:01 on March 27th, 2013:
What I especially like about mangas is, how different they are to the US mainstream mishmash. Especially the stereotypes and in particular the foreign ones are refreshingly absurd.


I'm not sure about manga origins, but the mainstream american comics, which are superheroes, was a derivative product from pulp stories. So superhero comics, at it's core, try to copy a genre full of stereotypes, which is one of the problems I see from it.

On the other hand, the huge production of manga makes them to have lots of stereotyped plots, just to recycle and create easier.

Still, some of the best comics are japanese, such as Nausicaä, Blame!, Junji Ito's comics or GUNNM.

Originally posted by Herr M. at 21:01 on March 27th, 2013:
One of my favorites scenes in an anime (I know not manga, but closely related) is Asuak speaking 'German' in Neon Genesis Evangelion... very weird.


Or the weird alter-ego of the count of Montecristo speaking french on Gankutsuoh, or the use of Spanish guild titles in Last Exile (they say maestro, though maestre would be more correct, and actually genderless...). After all Europe is exotic for them.

But their germanophile background is a bit worrying sometimes, because it's clearly anchored on the WW2, and their view about nazism or the SS, due to the distance, tends to be very different and lack any of our taboos.

Originally posted by Mr Creosote at 09:01 on March 26th, 2013:
Sure, the intention of showing a female character from the back with her upper torso twisted around is clearly a sexist one – but it's not physiologically impossible.


Talking about bizarre body positions, I can't find any good image but JoJo's bizarre adventure is the boss of it. And most of the times they are males. Actually, I think there is some weirdly manly vibe there, but I suppose all fighting series, filled with big muscle men, have that vibe in a way or another.

But I think this is derailing a bit the post.
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Edited by Wandrell at 00:23 on March 28th, 2013
Posted at 18:16 on March 28th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Surprisingly, this comic from 1942 (when racism was still rapmant) is NOT racist. It depicts the little black boy as just any boy. He doesn't have balloon lips, he doesn't talk like an idiot, and the only remotely racist thing he does is eat a slice of watermelon at the end (but his animal friends are sitting there eating it too).

http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/preview/index.php?did=7798&page=1
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At the end of the day, you're left with a bent fork & a pissed off rhino.
Posted at 20:06 on March 29th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Cypherswipe at 21:11 on March 27th, 2013:
Watermelons & fried chicken are very stereotyped "black" food. I don't know how or why watermelon became a stereotype food, I just know that it is.

Well you live and learn... and I will never look at water melons the same way again. Also notice the many modern day examples posted in that blog. Quite stupid actually.

Originally posted by Wandrell at 00:17 on March 28th, 2013:
I'm not sure about manga origins, but the mainstream american comics, which are superheroes, was a derivative product from pulp stories. So superhero comics, at it's core, try to copy a genre full of stereotypes, which is one of the problems I see from it.

I think this goes back even further, to ancient (especially Greek and Norse) mythology. Just think of all the superpowers most gods and heros have, and how one-dimensional most of them are. Did you read (the original) Conan? Robert E. Howard even went so far as to write an extensive background story that tried to connect the myths of the old days with his hyberian pulp stories. Not to forget Tolkien, though I wouldn't call his Middle Earth actual pulp.
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Posted at 00:38 on March 30th, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Originally posted by Herr M. at 20:06 on March 29th, 2013:
I think this goes back even further, to ancient (especially Greek and Norse) mythology. Just think of all the superpowers most gods and heros have, and how one-dimensional most of them are. Did you read (the original) Conan? Robert E. Howard even went so far as to write an extensive background story that tried to connect the myths of the old days with his hyberian pulp stories. Not to forget Tolkien, though I wouldn't call his Middle Earth actual pulp.


Robert E. Howard loved to mix history with his stories. Also, the original Conan is a viking, not the semi-nude guy which I think is actually was created by Frazetta.

Also Middle Earth is, basically, the first world war on the nordic sagas stories. It's the story of a war which, thanks to technology, reaches such proportions that have not been seen since mythical ages. Also it takes things from the Volsung saga and the Nibelungenlied, like the cursed ring and the broken sword, and probably from other myths.

Superheroes on the other hand are very pulp. Some more like others. Batman for example is yet another copy of the mysterious millionaire vigilante, like the Shadow, the Spider or Green Hornet. After all, these comics started in the thirties. It was people like Jack Kirby or Stan Lee which, on the sixties, created the superhero kind we know.

Jack Kirby, who couldn't write well if his life depended on it even thought he had great ideas, for example thought that superheroes was an attempt at creating a modern mythology, and so he mixed gods archetypes with his characters. I think that's why some of his characters, like Darkseid, are still memorable.
Posted at 20:40 on March 31st, 2013 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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re comic heroes & ancient myhtology: Look how well hercules and thor fit into the marvel universe. Granted, they are altered somewhat from their mythological versions, but not all that much.
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At the end of the day, you're left with a bent fork & a pissed off rhino.
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