Do Some Cartoons Offend You?

Slice of SciFi reported that New Line Cinema will be making a feature-length Speedy Gonzalez movie. You remember Speedy Gonzalez from the classic Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoons? The fastest mouse in all of Mexico? Some folks thought his cartoons were insensitive to Mexicans, offensive racial stereotypes (especially Speedy's lazy cousin, Slowpoke Rodriguez).

The new film will star comedian George Lopez as the voice of the hyper rodent, and he has promised to celebrate the positive aspects of the beloved character and avoid any of the controversial depictions that sparked some people to protest the original cartoons. According to George's wife, Ann Lopez, who is one of the producers of the film adaptation, the participation of George Lopez brings a "Latino seal of approval" to the production. (Make of that what you will.)

Old cartoons have sparked protests many times over the years. Many of those protests are legitimate reactions to what are now obviously ignorant (and sometimes hateful) depictions of characters in blackface and worse. Others have generated debate over whether speech impediments like stutters or lisps are valid targets for humor or just cheap shots at real challenges that some people face. Are Porky Pig and Daffy Duck funny or offensive?

Some think the protests are Political Correctness Overkill. Will the French protest the smelly skunk Pepe LePew? Will Tazmania find reason to boycott the Tazmanian Devil? If life is discovered on Mars, will they sign petitions to ban Marvin the Martian?

I don't mean to make light of any real offense that Mexicans might feel when they see old Speedy Gonzalez cartoons. All I know is that I enjoyed his stories as a kid and viewed Speedy as one of the cooler fictional mice around, better than Mighty Mouse, better even than the iconic Mickey.

What I find truly offensive is that they will make this adaptation a blend of live-action and computer generated animation. What's wrong with traditional, two-dimensional cartoons? If Speedy Gonzalez ends up being more like the recent versions of Garfield, Scooby-Doo, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and the rest, then all the original fans of Looney Tunes should be protesting. I hope the new movie doesn't end up being a bland, annoying, cheesy mess, in which case all moviegoers, Mexicans and other, would have even more reason to disapprove.