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Author Topic: Censoring racism?  (Read 1994 times)
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Lucy

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« on: 03-21-2012 05:01 »

In I Dated A Robot, there is a Scary Door short at the start of the episode. This edition of The Scary Door features Hitler, wearing a Nazi armband but with a blank, white circle with no Swastika in it.
Is it likely that this was denied by the censors in the name of good taste, or just an accident?
(They don't mention it on the commentary.)
Scrappylive

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« Reply #1 on: 03-21-2012 05:06 »

Huhh... I never noticed that before. I doubt it's an issue of racism because they don't really shy away from anything else. Then again, those pesky network censors operate on a plane of safety, not taste.
Lucy

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« Reply #2 on: 03-21-2012 05:24 »

That's true. A lot of censors are very weird.
Eg. In Green Day Rockband all the swearwords are censored but none of the drug references are. Wtf? If I was a parent I'd much rather it if my kid swore than took drugs.

I only just noticed it when I watched it before instigating this thread. I've seen the episode plenty of times before, so I guess it's easy to miss...
futz
Liquid Emperor
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« Reply #3 on: 03-21-2012 06:14 »

If something is in a cartoon that censors don't want shown it is usually just pixelated into a blur. In the US at least the swastika is not banned. Likely it wasn't drawn in in the first place because it may have been too much fussy/detail work. To go back in the animation an redraw or cover it would be expensive. Sniping out frames might goof up the sound track too if not done at natural scene breaks or pauses.
Lucy

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« Reply #4 on: 03-21-2012 06:28 »

I wondered that about the animation, if it would be too much trouble to animate a symbol.
They may have to have done the armband in 3D to keep the image consistent. In the commentary for When The Earth Stood Stoopid, David X. Cohen said something about it being a real ball ache (this isn't verbatim) to animate a guy with tattoos. In reference to Queequeg of course. So maybe it was around the same reasons that the Swastika got left out. Hitler was only on screen for a few seconds so maybe it wasn't worth it.
futurefreak

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« Reply #5 on: 03-21-2012 10:16 »
« Last Edit on: 03-21-2012 10:17 »

Also...we all knew it was Hitler right away, aside from them actually saying it. The swastika, whether racy or not, was a necessarily needed element of that scene. But good eye! I will have to check that out.

So either they were just lazy, or it was a goof as you proposed. I wouldn't be surprised by either. tongue
Lucy

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« Reply #6 on: 03-21-2012 11:06 »

Yeh they wouldn't need it there as an explanatory thing.
If you wouldn't recognise Hitler without the armband then you've been brought up/ taught in a VERY strange way! Ha ha.
Yeh I wonder if it was intentional or not because I'm unsure of how upsetting the Swastika image would be when already combined with the image of the man who was the epitome of discrimination...
If you're gonna show one, then I can't imagine it being any more or less offensive to show both...?
totalnerduk

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« Reply #7 on: 03-21-2012 14:42 »
« Last Edit on: 03-22-2012 00:36 »

The swastika is banned in Germany and other countries. Futurama has a large fanbase in Europe, including Germany.

It makes sense that they'd blank it out. There can be a lot of hoo-hah about airing TV programmes containing that sort of imagery in certain places.

For example, Disney have had problems relating to the use of Donald Duck in Sweden. He is banned from any and all appearances there because he breaks their strict public decency statutes. By not wearing pants. You might not think that this is a huge deal, until you realise that a lot of the Disney franchises making them a shit-ton of money were not allowed in Sweden.

Donald Duck, Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck, Mickey's Christmas Carol, and any of the original Disney Merrie Melodies featuring Donald or his relatives for example. Guess what Disney's biggest cartoon franchise was during the 90s? If you answered anything except Duck Tales, you're an idiot.

If Futurama were to come under criticism for the use of nazi symbols in Europe, it might precipitate a loss of revenue for the parent channel. So a lot of TV companies have rules against explicit nazi imagery appearing on screen. The network usually has a set of blanket rules that cover what they can and can not show on air, and the swastika appears under a lot of "can not" lists.

The maltese cross is often used as a substitute for the swastika, and the nazi flag is often represented as a white circle on a red background. Cartoons in particular need to be careful about this sort of thing, because they are seen as being a medium which targets young people. If folks start to get the idea that TV is beaming nazi symbols into their kids heads, TV companies could come under a lot of fire for it.
futz
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« Reply #8 on: 03-22-2012 00:26 »

Perhaps, but Family Guy has used the swastika several times in episodes. That sort of argues against some sort of marketing sensitivity or network rules and certainly rules out any FCC censorship in the US. It appears to be just a preference of the production team.

You could argue that they are very different shows but in the overall multitude of TV shows they aren't very different in target audience or network affiliation.
totalnerduk

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« Reply #9 on: 03-22-2012 01:14 »

Perhaps, but Family Guy has used the swastika several times in episodes.

The last time I checked, Family Guy was not Futurama. Two different shows made by two different companies under two different contracts for the same network will operate in different ways.

Even if the network doesn't have rules against showing the swastika, that doesn't mean one of the companies involved doesn't. Or an exception might have to be sought. Whatever the reason, a lot of TV shows go out of their way to avoid showing the nazi flag. I've seen it displayed as a white circle on a red background, as a maltese cross on a white or red background, or as various ridiculous things. I think it's appeared in at least one cartoon as a frowny face.

People will go to ridiculous lengths to avoid using a swastika, for the simple reason that occasionally, quite heated complaints arise over it. If you know something is going to be broadcast in Germany, it makes sense to not put swastikas in it for that reason alone.
Lucy

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« Reply #10 on: 03-22-2012 02:16 »

Ah I see. I really didn't know that the Swastika was banned in Germany! How ignorant am I!?
It makes sense though. It would be very upsetting to see it if you lived through the war or otherwise really. It's a horrible symbol of the some of the most heinous cruelty the world has ever known of.
One thing that still confuses me though, the Swastika is banned but images of Hitler aren't?
I guess you can't ban historic figures for education's sake.
Does this mean that most German kids have never seen a Swastika?
Solid Gold Bender

Urban Legend
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« Reply #11 on: 03-22-2012 02:48 »

Didn't The Simpsons use the apparent British Profanity: "wanker"? What's so bad about it?
UnrealLegend

Urban Legend
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« Reply #12 on: 03-22-2012 04:08 »
« Last Edit on: 03-22-2012 04:09 »

I don't pretend to understand German laws, but surely the swastika would be acceptable in a historical documentary? I mean, it is a major part of history.

Besides I don't think I understand how one could be offended by an appearance of the swastika but perfectly fine with Hitler himself.
futz
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« Reply #13 on: 03-22-2012 04:46 »

Um hmmm, but to answer the original question I think it was omitted by internal production choice and not imposed by external forces or by mistake.

Inquisitor Hein
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« Reply #14 on: 03-22-2012 07:56 »
« Last Edit on: 03-22-2012 08:00 »

I don't pretend to understand German laws, but surely the swastika would be acceptable in a historical documentary? I mean, it is a major part of history.

It's also acceptable in the context of art, as long as it does not glorify the Thrid Reich.
But that's the official statement: Various pieces of art can still be banned, for reasons hardly comprehendible, so often a "better safe than sorry" attitude can/will be displayed by artits. E.g. there was major (and not quite unreasonable) concern that "Iron Sky" could be banned in Germany. In 1973, Third Reich Insignia were forbidden on publicly displayed WWII models (though they basically fulfill the criteria for art as well as historical documentation, and in no model exhibition anyone ever started to sing the "Horst Wessel Lied" in front of such a model), etc..etc..etc...
So..a "better play it safe" attitude is common. (Which is -come to think of it- often ridiculous. I mean...everyone KNOWS what belongs in that white blank circle. If you feel the need to draw a Nazi Uniform in your cartoon, you might as well do it right).
Lucy

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« Reply #15 on: 03-22-2012 11:25 »
« Last Edit on: 03-22-2012 11:27 »

I agree Inquisitor Hein, it's a bit like when you see f**k.
Why the stupid stars? Everyone knows it says fork. Right?
smile But seriously, I don't see why f**k and fuck are any more or less offensive than each other.
People get offended by the strangest of things, in arbitrary ways.
If you're gonna leave out something that everyone knows the identity of, then you might as well have the whole thing.

By the way SGB, if we take your question over to the culture questions thread I can answer you there. smile
totalnerduk

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« Reply #16 on: 03-22-2012 15:29 »

Um hmmm, but to answer the original question I think it was omitted by internal production choice and not imposed by external forces or by mistake.

Oh, it's definitely not a mistake. As to external forces, I think that the choice that was made may have been made in order to ensure that none of those external forces would enter the equation.

There is also no swastika in the reichsadler adorning Hitler's podium during the rally in TLPJF.

So..a "better play it safe" attitude is common. (Which is -come to think of it- often ridiculous. I mean...everyone KNOWS what belongs in that white blank circle. If you feel the need to draw a Nazi Uniform in your cartoon, you might as well do it right).

It's been pointed out before that since everybody knows what belongs there, this is one of the most obvious example of pointlessly repressive censorship (even when self-censorship) available. Which is odd, since censorship and repression were two of the nazi party's favourite tactics for controlling the attitudes of the public.


I think the question posed at the beginning of this thread's been answered.
Svip

Space Pope
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« Reply #17 on: 03-22-2012 15:46 »
« Last Edit on: 03-22-2012 15:53 »

totalnerduk: I am pretty sure the thing about Donald Duck is from Finland and not Sweden.  I am pretty sure Donald Duck is very popular in Sweden in the same way he is in Denmark.

I guess you can't ban historic figures for education's sake.
Does this mean that most German kids have never seen a Swastika?

Yeah, I am sure German kids only get taught the good parts of German history.  HEY, REMEMBER WHEN OTTO UNITED GERMANY WITH PERMISSION FROM THE POPE?!  That was great.  Also 1200 years ago.
totalnerduk

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« Reply #18 on: 03-22-2012 16:07 »
« Last Edit on: 03-22-2012 16:11 »

Finland then. Someplace cold where they drive Volvos and call each other on Nokias to ask whether grandma is recovering from the lastest polar bear attack, and who is going to be sacrificed to Odin this year.

I should really look these things up rather than relying on memory, I suppose.

Anyhow, I've just had a quick look into it and it looks like the whole thing was an urban legend (one that has been widely reported as fact) sparked by some youth centre guy refusing to continue the wholesale purchase of Donald Duck comics by libraries for kids to read. In 1977, Helsinki's Youth Board were having some sort of budget crisis, and it turned out this was the most efficient way to shed some of the costs.

One of the more subversive members of the Youth Board in Helsinki made a satirical speech about the twisted and perverted nature of Donald Duck's universe, which had the whole city council in stitches. Amid gales of laughter from all sides, the purchase of the comics was discontinued. Kids throughout Helsinki were bereft of Donald's antics.

Some newspapers in Finland and Sweden got hold of the story and mis-represented it, with headlines screaming that Donald Duck was banned for not wearing pants. The guy who'd made the speech was running for office when his opponents got hold of the story, and it made headlines again.

Read the "full truth" here. Or get the cliff notes via snopes.

Google's most popular related searches are "Donald Duck banned in Finland" and "Donald Duck banned in Sweden", suggesting that confusion between the two is due to the fact that this was reported in the Swedish and Finnish press.

Once the dust settled, Disney did actually sell broadcasting rights to their Donald Duck cartoons all over Scandinavia (some sources do suggest that Disney had a huge problem convincing Finnish and Swedish TV stations they were allowed to braodcast them during the decade or so following the "banning"). The cartoons have proved hugely popular there, and Donald Duck cartoons are apparantly something of a Christmas tradition in many Swedish homes. For no adequately explored reason.
Svip

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« Reply #19 on: 03-22-2012 16:12 »

Well, I never thought it was true.  I was just certain it was Finland and not Sweden.  Thanks for the insightful post.
Inquisitor Hein
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« Reply #20 on: 03-22-2012 16:42 »

I guess you can't ban historic figures for education's sake.
Does this mean that most German kids have never seen a Swastika?

Yeah, I am sure German kids only get taught the good parts of German history.  HEY, REMEMBER WHEN OTTO UNITED GERMANY WITH PERMISSION FROM THE POPE?!  That was grealso 1200 years ago.

Sorry, this is wrong. The Third Reich is a big block in German history classes.
Also, when I was at school, quite some time of that block was used to tell us how we pupils should feel ashamed to be Germans because of the Third Reich...
TheMadCapper

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« Reply #21 on: 03-22-2012 16:55 »
« Last Edit on: 03-22-2012 17:27 »

I guess you can't ban historic figures for education's sake.
Does this mean that most German kids have never seen a Swastika?

Yeah, I am sure German kids only get taught the good parts of German history.  HEY, REMEMBER WHEN OTTO UNITED GERMANY WITH PERMISSION FROM THE POPE?!  That was grealso 1200 years ago.

Sorry, this is wrong. The Third Reich is a big block in German history classes.
Also, when I was at school, quite some time of that block was used to tell us how we pupils should feel ashamed to be Germans because of the Third Reich...

I think many education systems acknowledge the worse parts of their respective countries' pasts. For example, the US teaches students about how we destroyed Native American society, and how we had concentration camps (not death camps, but still...) of our own in WW2, for American citizens who were of Asian descent. A society needs to understand its past mistakes to learn from them.

Edited to capitalize one letter. I am just that picky.
Svip

Space Pope
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« Reply #22 on: 03-22-2012 16:59 »

I guess you can't ban historic figures for education's sake.
Does this mean that most German kids have never seen a Swastika?

Yeah, I am sure German kids only get taught the good parts of German history.  HEY, REMEMBER WHEN OTTO UNITED GERMANY WITH PERMISSION FROM THE POPE?!  That was grealso 1200 years ago.

Sorry, this is wrong. The Third Reich is a big block in German history classes.
Also, when I was at school, quite some time of that block was used to tell us how we pupils should feel ashamed to be Germans because of the Third Reich...

I guess sarcasm isn't taught in Germany.
futurefreak

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« Reply #23 on: 03-22-2012 18:42 »

I have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle jigsaw puzzle circa 1987 that has the swastika on it in the background as wall grafitti. It was promptly recalled. If only the thing was new I could try and sell it for 50 bucks on e-bay like this other guy I found roll eyes

I agree with what was said above - why show Hitler at all if you are gonna censor 4 black right angle lines? I would think just the appearance alone of Hitler would offend some European countries. On that note, I don't care either way, if the image of that symbol brings pain to people then they made the right decision censoring it. Just wondering if the image of Hitler does that too...
Inquisitor Hein
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« Reply #24 on: 03-22-2012 19:05 »
« Last Edit on: 03-22-2012 23:20 »

I guess you can't ban historic figures for education's sake.
Does this mean that most German kids have never seen a Swastika?

Yeah, I am sure German kids only get taught the good parts of German history.  HEY, REMEMBER WHEN OTTO UNITED GERMANY WITH PERMISSION FROM THE POPE?!  That was grealso 1200 years ago.

Sorry, this is wrong. The Third Reich is a big block in German history classes.
Also, when I was at school, quite some time of that block was used to tell us how we pupils should feel ashamed to be Germans because of the Third Reich...

I guess sarcasm isn't taught in Germany.

Oh yes, it is taught. By the same teacher who teaches "Being sarcastic" in Denmark... tongue
(Sorry, but you served me that one on a silver plate...wink )
Lucy

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« Reply #25 on: 03-23-2012 15:43 »

I think it's unfair to teach German kids to be ashamed of being German because of all the horrible WW2 stuff. Germany (as far as I know) is a wonderful country with a very rich culture and language.
One shouldn't be ashamed of oneself for the actions of one's ancestors, but ashamed of the ancestors. If that makes sense? It sounds quite disheartening to tell kids to be ashamed of their heritage.
English history is full of injustice and cruelty but I'm not ashamed to be English, I'm ashamed of the history.
Svip

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« Reply #26 on: 03-23-2012 16:43 »

Germany has taken a different attitude towards it today.  It is far less about being ashamed of it, but understanding it and how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

Not all history is flattering, but the parts that are, are the most important parts to remember.
TheMadCapper

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« Reply #27 on: 03-23-2012 18:35 »

And that's the story of how Futurama taught us that racism and swastikas are bad. The end.

Seriously if you want to talk about this stuff more, go to the off-topic board. That's what it's there for.
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