A retrospective initially intended to feature every Bugs Bunny cartoon will fall just short of complete, as Cartoon Network executives have decided not to air a dozen of the animated shorts deemed too racially charged.
In one episode, the wisecracking, carrot-chomping Bugs is featured parodying a black-faced Al Jolson; in another he calls an oafish, bucktoothed Eskimo a "big baboon"; and in yet another he distracts a black rabbit hunter by rattling a pair of dice.
These and other racially charged cartoons were supposed to be included in the retrospective slated for next month on AOL Time Warner Inc.'s Cartoon Network, until executives changed course last week, The Wall Street Journal reported today.
Bugs Bad for Business?
Initially the network planned to air the cartoons late at night with prominent disclaimers, explaining that the cartoons were representative of their time and should be viewed as historical records.
That idea was nixed after Warner Bros., which owns the rabbit, expressed its worry that the episodes might affect the company's extensive merchandising ventures.
The Cartoon Network holds licensing agreement with Warner Bros. for the entire library of Bugs Bunny cartoons.
Sensitized by the civil-rights movement, Warner Bros. began pulling the cartoons lampooning blacks in the late 1960s, animation expert Jerry Beck told the Journal. Cartoons featuring stereotyped American Indians were taken out of circulation about five years ago.