If you thought Charlie Hebdo cartoons were controversial, you'd be surprised by Bugs Bunny
Bugs Bunny was officially aired for the first time in 1940 today. On the 77th anniversary of the popular cartoon, here's some unpopular things Bugs did that became controversial and even banned.
On July 27, 1940, Bugs Bunny debuted in Tex Avery's 'A Wild Hare'. The grey rabbit struck a chord with everyone. He was witty, clever and known to outsmart all his antagonists. But the 1940s was not a great time for Bugs, as his creators took his stories too far. Here are some Bugs Bunny cartoons that you may not have seen because of controversies and bans, especially because of racist and politically incorrect content.
1944: Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips - The one with Japanese soldiers
The Empire of Japan was the USA's main enemy during the World War II. Bugs Bunny lands on an "island" and encounters a "short, bucked tooth, bare-footed" Japanese soldier. Bugs later finds that the island is full of Japanese soldiers. "Japs! Hundreds of 'em!" he exclaims.
Bugs shows no mercy against the Japanese soldiers, greeting them with several racial slurs such as "monkey face" and "slant eyes", and bombing them by hiding grenades in Japanese ice cream bars.
The title is a play on the verb "nip" as in "bite" and "Nips", as Japanese people were referred to, because "Japan" is known as "Nippon" in Japanese.
Even though the cartoon was considered very controversial because of the portrayal of the Japanese, it was still aired on television. It was also made available in home video tape collections in December 1991.
1945: Herr Meets Hare - The one with Nazis
This was one of the last major wartime cartoons from Warner Bros. It was released before Adolf Hitler committed suicide and after the fall of Nazi Germany. The film was condemned because Bugs made fun of Hermann Göring, a leader from Nazi Germany who was considered the second most powerful man in Germany at the time.
There are scenes in which Bugs insults the integrity of Göring’s medals on his Nazi uniform, by biting one with his teeth. Göring bends one himself, and finds that they are fake, and mumbles anti-Hitler sentiments. The cartoon was made available to German prisoners in the United States at the time, and they found it offensive.
With a bunch of other World War II cartoons, Herr Meets Hare was unofficially banned from broadcasting and video distribution.
1941: All This and Rabbit Stew - The one under the 'Censored 11'
Censored 11 is a group of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons which were banned due to racist jokes or stereotyping, violence, smoking and drinking, or suicide. All this and Rabbit Stew was on the list because the plot involved an African American hunter, whose character was based on Comedian-actor Stepin Fetchit. The hunter was described as a "shufflin', big lipped, sleepy-eyed country coon". Although Warner Bros did not mean to associate the hunter with Fetchit, the actor was already seen in relation to the negative stereotyping.
This was the last Tex Avery-directed Bugs Bunny cartoon. The title is a parody of that of All This and Heaven Too, a Bette Davis movie from 1940.
All this and Rabbit Stew and the other Censored 11 cartoons, are available as low cost DVD collections, even though the distribution rights of the original cartoons are owned by United Artists.
In 2001, Cartoon Network planned for a Bugs Bunny cartoon marathon called "June Bugs", where the character's every cartoon was going to be aired. But the above cartoons, including 9 others, had to be removed from the show.
Controversies aside, here are some other interesting facts about the much-adored rabbit:
Tex Avery may not have been the creator of Bugs Bunny. In April 1938 a rabbit with Bugs' personality, though looking very different, was originally featured in the film Porky's Hare Hunt. The rabbit introduces himself with the odd expression "Jiggers, fellers," with a laugh like that of Woody Woodpecker.
In 'A Wild Hare', Mel Blanc became Bugs' standard voice, and Bugs started using his catchphrase, "What's up, Doc?" The cartoon received an Academy Award nomination for Best Cartoon Short Subject.
Bugs did not star in a Looney Tunes film until that series made its complete conversion to only color cartoons beginning in 1944.
At the end of the cartoon 'Super-Rabbit', Bugs wears a United States Marine Corps uniform. As a result, he was made an honorary Marine Master Sergeant.
In 1944, Bugs Bunny made a cameo appearance in Jasper Goes Hunting, a cartoon by rival studio Paramount Pictures. Bugs pops out of a rabbit hole, saying his usual catchphrase; after hearing the wrong theme song, he says "Hey, I'm in the wrong picture!" and then goes back in the hole.
In 1997, Bugs was the first cartoon to appear on a U.S. postage stamp. At the time this was considered controversial, as it was seen as a step toward the 'commercialization' of stamp art.