Children's lit/film/whatever that's just TOO dated for safety

I seem to remember, reading* Mary Poppins* as a child, that there were lots of references to “niggers.” And of course there’s Little Black Sambo.

Are there others that most of us would agree are so outdated that your average child should be, well, for want of a better word, shielded from them? I’m not talking about the hysterical “updatings” of Grimms or Andersen as not progressive enough; I’m talking about egregious things such as the racism in my examples.

IIRC, they’ve already updated Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to remove some unsavory references to nonwhites.

I think that the portrayal of the Indians/Native Americans in Peter Pan would be considered offensive today. (The character of Tiger Lily was supposed to be a member of the Piccaninny Tribe (and piccaninny is of course today an offensive word).

I think it was the author (Roald Dahl) himself who did this. The Oompa-loompas were originally African, and their portrayal could be seen as racist.

I think Hugh Lofting’s Dr. Dolittle books are another series that have been “updated” for these more racially sensitive times.

I read a lot of those books in their original form–some library books have been on the shelves for years–and I think they really helped me understand racism, the history and the pervasive nature of it. It taught me that “a racist” wasn’t some scary man in a white hood, but normal people with dated, wrong ideas.

I can’t stopping my kid from reading any of that sort of thing, at any age, really.

The only media I can see limiting my kids’ access to is stuff with really violent, gory imagery, because it seems to me that some kids have a lot of problems processing those–they will stay with them for days (some adults are like that, too, but it seems more common in kids). But I wouldn’t block “wrong thinking”.

I say leave it all out there so kids can see how silly their ancestors were and learn from it. Hiding from history just increases your chances of repeating it.

No, nothing that I am familiar with.

I’m a believer in this basic philosophy; I’ve often said that there’s no such thing as too much information. But I’m not sure I’d give an unexpurgated Mary Poppins to a 7 or 8 year old; the issues that would arise are too complex–and too misleading about what the world is like today–to discuss intelligently with them. After all, Mary Poppins minus the Edwardian racism is a delightful children’s story, entertaining and adventurous and all those good things. Mary Poppins WITH the racism is ultimately a cultural oddity about racism. Not something I’d foist on any 7 or 8 year old.

Dr. Seuss updated And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street to remove the yellow hue and pigtail from a “Chinaman who eats with sticks” and changing his description to “a Chinese boy.” However, If I Ran The Zoo still contains references to capturing African chieftans and “helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant.”

As I’ve noted on this Board before, the Bobbsey Twins books (!) have surprisingly racist depictions in them, which subsequent discussion in that thread seems to indicate was later cut out.

Similarly (even though it’s not kid lit) Agatha Chrite’s Ten Little Indians (itself arguably suspect) used to be Ten Little Nigger Boys. And there’s the series of Florence Kate Upton’s books about the Golliwog that would definitely not pass muster today:
(Even though Alan Moore has made the Goliwog a character in his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier)

Two for the price of one here:

Which has been nicely updated as Little Babaji. It’s interesting how little had to be changed to elminate the racist elements from the story.

Aside from the drawings, what were the racist elements? Aside from the drawings and (I guess) the name of the character, I don’t recall anything from the story that was perjorative. And the title character isn’t even black; he’s Indian, IIRC.

I’d be curious what our Continental dopers have to say on the topic.

“Oma! Look! Hans and I have in the attic many old interesting childrensbooks found!”

“Um, dear, maybe let your Opa and I go through those a for few minuten, first go you both outside to spielen, hmm?”

Nothing really. The hero is a clever, resourceful boy who outsmarts some wicked tigers. As I recall all the new version changed was the character names, the art, and a few terms to locate the story more firmly in India (using “ghee” for example, intead of “butter”).

Judging from this thread, racism is apparently the only bad thing in the world.

I can’t speak for Little Black Sambo himself, but in my experience most old children’s fodder that has been censored in the last 20 years is not so much racist as just “insensitive” in the eyes of some very vocal bleeding hearts of today. For example I honestly loved and still love Song of the South and don’t really understand why Disney is hiding from it.

Wow, I didn’t realize we were discussing the world; I thought we were just talking about cultural changes in children’s literature. Pretty wide discrepancy between general and specific: “cultural changes in children’s literature” . . . versus “everything in the whole world.”


Which was in turn changed to And Then There Were None. Which a friend of mine found, if not offensive, annoying because it gave away the ending.

Can’t please 'em all!

I know the original editions of The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries had some ‘racist’ elements.
Of course Disney doesn’t even release Song of the South on video or DVD. But they do have a newish ride in the parks based upon the movie. (splash mountain)