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The trouble with 'toons

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It’s a tough time to be animated. With politically correct activists and mad-as-hell advocacy groups perpetually rampaging for change, no one is safe — not even beloved childhood figures. All we can say is, Fat Albert’s pal Mushmouth had better call his lawyer.

OFFENDING CHARACTER: Little Mermaid

OBJECTION: ”[Disney] characters like Pocahontas, [Aladdin‘s] Jasmine, and the Little Mermaid are now made to appear sexual to children,” says Carmen Pate, spokeswoman for the Washington-based Concerned Women for America, which joined a boycott July 23 of Disney products. ”Is that something we want our children exposed to?”

DEFENSE: ”While we recognize and respect that the CWA differs from others in their opinions,” says a Disney spokesman, ”we also know that millions of people of all ages have appreciated [the cartoons].”

OFFENDING CHARACTER: Mr. Magoo

OBJECTION: ”The character is a mechanism for making fun of the blind,” says Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, objecting to Disney’s upcoming live-action feature Mr. Magoo, starring Leslie Nielsen. ”When he doesn’t have his glasses on he’s an idiot.”

DEFENSE: ”Mr. Magoo does not in any way make fun of or demean blind people,” reads a Disney statement. ”[He is] a kindly gentleman who is nearsighted, not blind.”

OFFENDING CHARACTER: Porky Pig

OBJECTION: ”For the last 50 years, children who stutter have been teased and bullied by being called Porky Pig,” says Ira Zimmerman, formerly of the National Stuttering Project. In May 1996, Zimmerman spoke out at a Time Warner stockholders meeting, suggesting that ”maybe they should consider retiring the character.”

DEFENSE: ”We continue to stand by Porky Pig,” says a Warner spokesperson, noting that the studio features multiracial and disabled kids standing with Porky and other characters on its website. The caption reads, ”Everyone’s unique & th-th-that’s good, folks!”

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