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Showing posts from July, 2010

National Stereotypes, Chuggington's Frostini and Why We Still Have a Long Way to Go

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Classic cartoons from the golden age were riddled with clumsy national stereotypes, so that non-American characters were instantly recognizable by their accent, dress, actions and even profession. Mostly harmless, these stereotypes formed the minds of generations and created myths that persist even today.
Take, for example, the myth of the mandolin-playing, singing Italian waiter. I have been in restaurants in the US where waiters sing because "that's what they do in Italy", but though I lived a long time in Italy I never saw a waiter sing there. In fact the source of this myth for a generation of people is the restaurant scene in Disney's Lady and The Tramp -- the scene where the dogs eat spaghetti and meatballs. Just for the record, spaghetti and meatballs is also not something you would ever find it Italy, but that's another story.
Over the years the most offensive stereotypes were eliminated, even to the extent of censoring existing cartoons, but what surpri…