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Cartoon censorship: Blurred lines

Cartoon censorship: Blurred lines

PHUKET: Here are The Phuket News’ top five head-scratching incidents of cartoon censorship. Some have been censored or banned for blatant sexism or racism, while others for really strange, even paranoid reasons.

By Jody Houton

Friday 6 December 2013, 08:57AM

PLEASE COVER UP Thailand’s censors are kept quite busy, often for the oddest reasons. Despite the majority of the Thai rural class (men and women) only being required to cover up their chests in the mid-part of the 20th century, thanks to a mandate introduced by the prime minister at the time, Thais nowadays are rather squeamish when it comes to nudity, even cartoon nudity. Shizuka, a female character from Japanese cartoon Doraemon, has her chest area blurred out when she wears a bikini top, while male character from Dragon Ball Z, Son Goku also has his naked chest and nipples blurred out.

NINJAS ARE HEROES Remember the 1980s cartoon Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles? If you do, then you’re probably European. The original title Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was changed because at the time anything associated with ninjas or ninja weapons was seen as controversial. This led to the blurring out of character Michelangelo’s nunchuks, which meant that the only thing the bodacious turtle ever had in his hand was a slice of pizza (cowabunga, dude). Still to this day, many fully grown European men probably believe that Michelangelo is a lazy, cowardly compadre with a junk food habit.

SHOW NO MORE Some cartoons are so offensive that they can never be shown again. Despite winning an Oscar for Best Cartoon/Short Subject, Donald Duck’s adventures in Der Fuhrer’s Face are no longer allowed to be screened in public. The cartoon follows the exploits of the plucky duck as he attempts to punch a cartoon Hitler fairly and squarely on the nose. Surely there could be no greater lesson than giving fascism a thwack? Another WWII era- racist cartoon that was made and later banned was ‘Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips’, which featured Bugs Bunny taunting the Japanese. What’s up, doc?


LANGUAGE SCARE Doraemon makes a second appearance in the top five. Earlier this year, the popular Japanese manga cartoon, which had been dubbed in Hindi for distribution in India, was banned in Bangladesh for fear that its popularity may lead to the impressionable youth that watch it to be unable to learn their native Bengali language. Such fear was substantiated by reported cases where die-hard fans were communicating in Hindi instead of Bengali. Presumably, watching in Japanese was fine.

FLASHING LIGHTS Yet another Japanese cartoon – what is it with the Land of the Rising Sun? In 1997, some 600 children had epileptic fits whilst watching the Pokemon episode ‘Electric Soldier Porygon’. The seizures were apparently brought on by a sequence featuring a series of rapid flashing blue and red lights. The episode was subsequently banned from being shown in Japan and anywhere else in the world. It was later parodied in The Simpsons’ episode ‘Thirty Minutes over Tokyo’, where the family all suffer seizures after watching Japanese programme ‘Battling Seizure Robots’.\

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