The Top Hollywood Scandals: An Animated Controversy
Not since Fatty Arbuckle's infamous Hollywood parties in the 1920s has there been such a flurry of debate about the morals and behaviour of some of the biggest names in Tinsel Town.
Enough is enough some are saying and the guns are out for the stars of the big screen and the small screen.
But it is the two-dimensional celebrities of the TV and Movie industry who are under the microscope more than ever. The outrageous antics of 'South Park' have been vilified for such scenes as naked angels fluttering through the air and Satan having rumpy-pumpy with the late Saddam Hussein.
They seemed a perfect match but fundamentalist Christian groups described such goings-on as "cinematic cyanide" and demanded they be banned. Cartman was not available for comment, thankfully enough.
The Fox Channel's comedy 'Family Guy' has been the object of dozens of complaints about its on-screen nudity and profanity to such an extent that the FCC was involved.
In one episode 'Business Guy' in December 2009 lead character Peter Griffin is seen taking his father-in-law Carter Pewterschmidt to a strip club and introducing him to the wonders of a lap-dance. But it wasn't just the old man who suffered a heart attack as moral watchdog's were spitting nails at the screen and blood-pressure ratings soared.
The horrors of the Quagmire
Also the shock of over Dan Quagmire's sex reassignment surgery in May 2010 is still reverberating around the showbiz circles. Plus the reaction of family dog Brian Griffin in the show with 37 seconds of vomiting marked a new record for a continuous upchuck on TV by either human or animal.
Apple and fig-leaf
Of course in this technological age of the internet and multi-media outlets it is not only in the movies that cartoon nudity has become a hot potato.
In June 2010 Apple censored a web comic version of James Joyce's classic story 'Ulysses' by cropping a nude picture. Ironically the original novel was censored in the 1920s so 'Thus spake Zarathrusta' indeed, you might say.
The decision created some anger over the cover-up of several pictures. These included a man's weiner exposed in mid-flight as he dived into the sea and also a woman's breasts which were going to be covered by, of all things, a fig leaf.
Try introducing that into the plot of one of the most difficult reads in 20th century literature. After a week Apple climbed down after having a second, and much closer look at the comic.
Spreading the Marge
The original decision was seen as a backlash against controversial events such as Marge Simpson's photo spreads in Playboy in 2009. Now supporters of freedom of cartoon expression in Hollywood and elsewhere are delighted that freedom will reign.
The furore over the fact that Marge Simpson featured on the cover of ‘Playboy’ magazine was met with predictable anger by many sections of conservative American society.
The woman who made fashionable the blue bee-hive hairstyle became the pin-up girl for the nation’s red-blooded youth.
Editorial Director James Jellinek has admitted the contents inside the magazine were “very, very racy” adding that “she is a stunning example of the female form”.
Never before had the animated community been subject to such widespread and public scrutiny. I say this without a trace of irony or an inkling of any new-found enthusiasm behind closed doors.
The Moral Majority backlash
Mabel Bouffant, lead spokeswoman of ‘Mothers Against Everything’ was particularly outraged, as usual. Speaking in September 2009, she said:
"Isn't it bad enough that we laud this family and suffer them staring out from our stamps without this too"
A cure for bad circulation
The Chief Executive of Playboy Enterprises, Scott Flanders (no relation to Ned) was trying to address falling sales of the magazine as it competed with the internet.
Circulation had fallen dramatically from 3.15 million to 2.6 million since 2006. “It’s never been done” he explained “and we thought it would be kind of hip, cool and unusual”. However, is this anything particularly new or have we all been here before?
Veteran cultural historian Harvey Backslider certainly seems to think so.
“I remember when I was a kid in the 1930’s the uproar caused by Minnie Mouse flashing her bloomers on-screen and Donald Duck’s downright refusal to wear pants."
"But if that wasn’t enough to ruffle some feathers, then the sight of Betty Boop’s legs certainly did. I mean, they sure were something, especially those well-drawn thighs."
Betty was specifically targeted by the National Legion of Decency at the time and the Hays Code of 1933 eventually made her cover up at the risk of losing her career.
"You know, my dear mother almost divorced my daddy over that woman and I might never have got here.”
A further more detailed exposition of Betty Boop's dalliances with the censor is provided by noted author Carolina Muscle in his classic article 'boop boop a boop' which gives a fuller history and plenty of pictures. And I mean plenty!
A sordid history recalled
And there are many other examples of on-screen deviance throughout the cinematic history of the USA. Arguably they are much more contentious than the recent controversies and hysterical debates.
Certainly the Simpsons scandal paled into insignificance compared to the distaste that greeted Bugs Bunny’s on-screen transvestism as early as the 1940’s which led to calls for his sacking.
We are also reminded of the infamous ‘spaghetti sucking’ scene from ‘Lady and the Tramp’ in 1955 which was almost cut due to its lascivious content. Even Pinocchio's extendable nose caused an uproar.
And most notably there was the 1988 scandal of Jessica Rabbit who was portrayed as actually being married to a hyperactive cottontail. In the conservative atmosphere of that decade in the 1980s anyone condoning inter-species relations was bound to meet furious opposition.
It was the end of her fledgling career and she’s never appeared in a major Hollywood movie again. So perhaps Backslider has a point and the media is getting all this way out of proportion.
Politics laid bare
Not according to radical Republican Congressman Milton Dumpster who perceives a wider picture and deeper implications of a new trend.
“These characters are an example of what happens when you stick a Democrat in the White House. But what do you expect from a 2-D POTUS who's a TV cartoon himself”
But what of another man at the heart of this issue, Homer Simpson himself. Reflecting back, what does he have to say about having his wife splashed across the pages of a soft-porn magazine.
“It was OK with me” , he said, “First time in years I got to see her naked”
Shinkicker (author) from Scotland on October 24, 2010:
Too right Jennifer
Betty still shines :-)
Jennifer Ann from Australia on October 23, 2010:
Betty Boop is a 10 in cartoon pin-ups. Marge just isn't in her class. thanks for a chuckle.
attemptedhumour from Australia on October 10, 2010:
That's a hell of a lot of info again big mon, but what i want to know is who these wowsers are and why do they keep poking their noses into our cartoon characters. They'll be banning murder next. Well maybe they've got a point on that one, but not on our Marge. Keep whining, you're good at it. PS I know there is a big mon and a wee mon, but is there a medium sized mon? and what, once again, is a bampot, silvergenes wants to know too. Thanks
Shinkicker (author) from Scotland on October 02, 2010:
Absolutely Cheap Trick
But if Madge is putting it about then what chance do we have :-)
cheaptrick from the bridge of sighs on October 02, 2010:
What ever happened to"Change the channel if you don't like it".With TVs these days a parent can block stuff they don't want their kid's to see.Thanks for this Shin,it reminds us that the Fundamentalist religionists are alive and well and repressing their sexuality as usual.
Shinkicker (author) from Scotland on September 29, 2010:
I'm sure Newts affect the weather. I once heard of a shower of frogs falling from the sky.
Thanks for reading.
Marge is a real pin up but Betty was hot. I think I'll go read your Hub again :-) Cheers
carolina muscle from Charlotte, North Carolina on September 29, 2010:
Haha... I thought Marge in Playboy looked pretty hot... not bad for a chick with blue hair, anyway.
Thanks for the mention, buddy.. GREAT HUB!!!!
Micky Dee on September 26, 2010:
They aren't trying to pin that Fatty Arbuckle stuff on Obama are they? He wasn't old enough for that one. It rained today and I'm pretty sure Newt Gingrich was to blame for that. Oh well. Same stuff since 1776. Great hub!