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Controversial cartoons

By Deborah Netburn, Todd Martens and Jevon Phillips, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers


The promos for Stripperella say, “She’s an exotic dancer by night, a sexy superhero by ...later night.” And there you go. Most fans love the animation, but fight scenes on top of a giant vibrating banana are probably what put it over the line. (Spike TV)
Betty Boop
“Be Human”

There’s a whole lot of cruelty to animals in this 1936 Betty Boop short. Betty sings about how we should all treat animals as equals, even as the evil mustachioed farmer next door whips his dog, punches his cow in the mouth and throttles his chicken for not laying enough eggs. (Inkwell)
South Park
“South Park”

It seems that the most popular phrase from a person viewing “South Park” is “Did they really say/do that?” With spoofs -- some mean-spirited, some probing, most funny -- on celebrities (Tom Cruise, Barbra Streisand, Rosie O’Donnell, etc.), the handicapped (Timmy and Jimmy), religion (Scientology, Judaism, Mormonism, Christianity), Trey Parker and Matt Stone have cemented the show in the annals of television history. (Comedy Central)
Fritz the Cat,” “Heavy Traffic” and “Coonskin”
Fritz the Cat,” “Heavy Traffic” and “Coonskin”

Ralph Bakshi had no trouble seeing cartoons as an adult form of entertainment. His first feature film “Fritz the Cat” was completed in 1972 and became the first animated movie to earn an X rating. He followed that up with “Heavy Traffic” about a Jewish cartoonist and his black girlfriend, and then followed that with “Coonskin” about race. (LAT Library)
Red Hot Riding Hood
“Red Hot Riding Hood”

This Tex Avery classic take on the fairy tale begins quietly enough, until the Wolf threatens to quit, claiming the cartoon he’s in is nothing but “sissy stuff.” Cut to “Grandma’s joint,” where Little Red Riding Hood is re-imagined as a nightclub stripper.

There are two endings for the toon: a never-released one in which Wolf and Grandma have inter-species babies, and a second, in which the Wolf blows his head off. The former is said to exist today only in stills because censors disapproved of the implications of bestiality. (Cartoon Network)
Bugs Bunny
“All This and Rabbit Stew”

Back in 1941, when this cartoon was released, people did not have a problem going for broke with offensive black stereotypes. Bugs’ adversary in this film is a slow-witted, inarticulate, slouching black man with a pale mouth who is out hunting rabbits. Bugs outsmarts him several times and then wins the man’s clothes in a game of dice. (YouTube)