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Censored Eleven

The Censored Eleven is a group of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons that were withheld from syndication by United Artists in 1968. UA owned the distribution rights to the Associated Artists Productions library at that time, and it determined that these eleven cartoons were too racist or offensive for contemporary audiences.

Many cartoons from previous decades are routinely censored on television, video, and DVD today. Usually, the only censorship deemed necessary is the cutting of the odd racist joke or instance of graphic violence. For example, one classic cartoon gag is the transformation of characters to blackface after an explosion or an automobile backfiring. Such small amounts of objectionable material only require relatively minor cuts in the cartoon to make it palatable to censors. However, in the Censored Eleven, racist themes are so essential to the cartoons that the copyright holders believe that no amount of selective editing can ever make them acceptable for distribution.

Of the cartoons included in the Censored Eleven, animation historians and film scholars are quickest to defend the ones directed by Bob Clampett, especially Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs. Despite its politically incorrect content, this cartoon is frequently included on lists of the "greatest" cartoons ever made. In a Usenet message on the newsgroup rec.arts.animation writer and author Michelle Klein-Hass wrote stated:

"...some even look at Clampett's Jazz cartoons and cry racism when Clampett was incredibly ahead of his time and was a friend to many of the greats of the LA jazz scene. All of the faces you see in Tin Pan Alley Cats and Coal Black And De Sebben Dwarves are caricatures of real musicians he hung out with at the Central Avenue jazz and blues clubs of the '40s. He insisted that some of these musicians be in on the recording of the soundtracks for these two cartoons. " -- message posted on February 24, 2002

When he obtained distribution rights to all pre-1948 Warner Bros cartoons in 1986, Ted Turner vowed that he would not distribute or air any cartoons from the Censored Eleven. Since Time Warner bought back the cartoons in 1996, this policy has shown signs of weakening, as Warner Bros. is rumored to be producing a series of DVD collections of classic Warners cartoons in the vein of Disney's Disney Treasures series.

Several more cartoons have been removed from circulation since this list was created, such as the Inki series of cartoons by Chuck Jones. A total of twelve Bugs Bunny films were not aired on Cartoon Network during its "June Bugs" marathon in 2001.

Despite the efforts of UA, Turner, and AOL Time Warner, however, many of the Censored Eleven are available on bootleg or public domain video.

The cartoons in the Censored Eleven are:

Hittin' the Trail to Hallelujah Land (1931)
Sunday Go to Meetin' Time (1936)
Clean Pastures (1937)
Uncle Tom's Bungalow (1937)
Jungle Jitters (1938)
The Isle Of Pingo Pongo (1938)
All This and Rabbit Stew (1941)
Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarfs (1943)
Tin Pan Alley Cats (1943)
Angel Puss (1944)
Goldilocks and the Jivin' Bears (1944)

Two cartoons directed by Tex Avery during his stint at MGM are often included in cartoon compiliations that list the Censored Eleven: Uncle Tom's Cabana (1944) and Little Pygmy.