Thursday, 2 October 2014

Context

I was genuinely saddened to read that old Tom and Jerry cartoons are being branded with a racism warning. In a world where there is so much equality and injustice happening right now, it seems wrong to demonise a cartoon cat and mouse from the 1940s.

To look at something seventy years out of context, is to see it through eyes that have no understanding of the period. To judge it against modern standards, is to judge it against standards that it had no opportunity or encouragement to embrace.

Of course, this may just be a legal safeguarding issue. We do live in a time where some people seem ready – even eager – to be offended at the slightest thing. But while some people may be uncomfortable with aspects of Tom and Jerry, others may be uncomfortable at the suggestion that a cartoon they like is "racist". After all, what does it say about you, if you enjoy racist entertainment?

Intolerant attitudes must be challenged and changed, but this feels like a well-intentioned shot in the foot. Until we've fixed the present, maybe we should be more tolerant of the past.

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