The Columbia Critic

A place to debate anything we want to. We'll talk Columbia campus issues. We'll talk up the homosexual problem. We'll talk China. And we'll talk without resorting to partisan rhetoric. We may be left. We may be right. But we aren't going to be quoting any party line. We're leading the discussion. But feel free to chime in. Hannity and Colmes this is not.

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Prudish Americans

From the normally astute Chinese journalist "Angry Chinese Blogger" comes an interesting interpretation of American children's cartoons and our society. His argument suffers from combining very offensive and only slightly offensive subject matter in one list, as well as making some rather broad generalizations about American youth. If we are sheltered for not wanting to show our kids many of the things on the list below, does that really make us prudish? I honestly can't say "prudish" is the word that comes to mind when I consider American television or society in general:

"King of the Prudes?

With American companies being keen to able to deliver imported animation to as wide a market as possible, they are often unwilling to include any content which may cause offense to conservatives, or which might trigger a boycott among of programs or merchandise by free spending parents.

As such, anything that may be deemed 'controversial or contentions' is often emoved.

Elements commonly cut from imported children's animation in the US include.
Sex, (including non-sexual activities associated with love, romance or dating, or the showing of underwear)
References to puberty (excluding pimples)
Curse words (including mild curse words)
Violence involving physical contact (for example, martial arts) or wounding with blades
Foreign religions
References to the death of friends or family members
References to history made from perspectives that differ from that of the US
Deep social issues.
All of which US culture is uncommonly sensitive to.

References to taboo topics of the day; including school shootings, terrorism and environmentalism, are also removed on an irregular basis. As are guns that fire physical ammunition, or depictions of bladed weapons.

Similarly, many animations imported into the US are often 'dumbed down' when they are distributed, or dubbed into English.

This is done because US animation audiences are commonly several years younger than their foreign counterparts, and they generally lead more sheltered lives, making them unlikely to watch the same shows, or be able to deal with the same issues, at the same ages as the original intended audience.

In some instances such rewrites and 'dematuring' have resulted in the removal of up to 1/3 of footage form an imported animated franchise, the rearranging of episodes so as to lessen/greaten the emotional impact of certain plot lines or to increase the prominence of certain characters, or even the wholesale re branding of foreign franchises to make them appear to contain American characters and to be set in American cities."


  • At 3:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It might surprise you to know that Angry Chinese Blogger wrote this after reading several hundred comments left by American readers on international messagebaords dedicated to either Walt Disney cartoons or Anime, in which American readers themselves either complained about how 'prudish' much of American society was when it came to animation, berated foreign animation for being 'full of sex and violence', an dafter having soe considerable time in direct corispondence with American TV viewers.

    It may also come as a surprise to you, that this article was writeen after reading numerous interviews with Amemerican studio executives and PR workers, who explicitely stated the above infomration in depth and in detail.

    In short, Angry Chinese Blogger wrote this after speaking to real American audiences, and asking what they thought about this situation.

    The opinions that you are reading are the opinions of the people that Angry Chinese blogger asked.

    This is all moot though. When it comes to what is considered acceptable for a child to watch, the facts are indesputable. America routinely censors any and all childrens cartoons that it imports based on their sexual and political content.

    For example, three popular serieses

    Pretty Sailor Sailor Moon
    One Piece
    Card Captor Sakura

    All three had between 1/2 and 1/3 of their material deleted by the censors because it 'wasn't appropriate for children', even though the were considered appropoiate for small children in Japan.

    Even series like Hamtaro, which was aimed at ages 5+ was censored for apparent 'sexual content' when it was imported to the US.

    Let me give you a brief case study to clarify things.

    Tonari no Totoro, known as my neighbor Totoro in the US was written as a family film in Japan suitable for age 5+.

    It contained a scene in which a father was baithing in a mid sized japanese hottub with his two pre pubesant daughter, both aged under 10.

    Throughout the scene no genitls were shown and there was no inpropriatious activities. It was well recieved in Japan.

    However, this film caused outrage when it was reased uncut in the US with people making accusations that the father was a pedophile and that havign a man baith with his dughters was in some way sick or unnatural, and that showing it in a 'family' film' was wrong.

    Members of the political right called on the distribtor (walt Disney) to censor it, and Wal-mart unilaterally placed the DVD on high shelves and gave it an internal R rating, despite an earlier release of the film by FOX having recieved a G rating several years erlier.


  • At 3:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    May I suggest that, rather than writting here, you nip over to the original article on my blog and let your opinions be heard directly.

    FYI, a trackback would have been nice.


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