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10 Hilarious Right-Wing Freak-Outs Over Children's Cartoons

From 'The Lorax' to Spongebob, Fox and its friends are weirdly terrified of children's animation.
 
 
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Photo Credit: x.Jason.Rogersx at Flickr.

 
 
 
 

The right wing is hyper-paranoid that liberals have some secret power-cabal to shift the cultural politics of America (er, they confuse themselves for themselves), and therefore can find a bogeyman in anything. We’ve seen this plenty on the GOP campaign trail, with their attacks on, and fear of (broadly) women, gays and people of color. Sometimes they attack directly, but other times they find a strawman to mask their hate—contraception or marriage equality. But what happens when conservatives’ abject terror gets so ridiculous, paranoid and out-of-whack that the basic culture wars don’t do it for them anymore?

That’s when they start going after kids' shows.

It’s absurd that any Fox pundit would spend an inordinate amount of time talking about the dangers of animated cartoons, but it’s happened more times than is even comprehensible—including very recently, when Lou Dobbs went off on a rant about Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (see below). Certainly, like any art form, cartoons carry deeper meanings than their surface animation and funny voices—and often these meanings fall into the progressive wheelhouse. Still, if anything can make right-wingers sound loco, it’s hearing them rant about the actual Looney Tunes. Here’s a brief recent history of conservatives going off on their demonic foes... the cartoons.

1. Fox vs. The Lorax

Recently Lou Dobbs took to Fox to express his concern that The Lorax—a computer-animated interpretation of the Dr. Seuss classic—is “indoctrinating our children” into “espousing the virtue of green-energy policies come what may.” During the discussion, The Lorax was “slandered” as being a “tree-hugger” and vilified for its “anti-industry message.” Perhaps most hilariously, Dobbs attempts to draw the line between mega-corporation Universal Pictures’ partnership with various companies to promote “eco-friendly products,” and the protesters at Occupy Wall Street. Dobbs: do you know what you’re talking about, even?

While the storyline from Seuss’ 1971 book does indeed chronicle the ways over-industrialization can harm nature, the concept of a secret Hollywood cabal sitting around trying to figure out ways to turn the tiny children of the world into liberals through 40-year-old books is laughable, and reads Dobbs as more than a little paranoid. But this isn’t the first time The Lorax has been criticized for its plotline, which is essentially a cautionary tale against slash-and-burn farming. In 1988, a California hardwood flooring factory published its rebuttal, The Truax, which detailed the ways in which the logging industry was actually helping the environment. Either way, Ed Schultz had the best rebuttal: “Maybe Fox is just upset [ The Lorax] is more realistic than the cartoon characters on Fox.”

2. Fox vs.The Muppets

So the recent movie’s not a cartoon version of the Muppets franchise (long live Muppet Babies), but its kid-friendly nature keeps it in this list. When Jason Segal’s reimagined version of Jim Henson’s beloved puppet world was released this past December, Fox Business was irate at the storyline: an oil baron wants to tear down the Muppets’ HQ to drill, baby, drill. Speaking on "Follow the Money," the Media Research Center’s Dan Gainor complained, “It’s amazing how far the left will go to manipulate your kids to give them the anti-corporate message,” and that Hollywood hates corporations. Question for Dan Gainor: do you realize what a corporate, capitalist machine Hollywood is?! Eric Bolling maybe doesn’t, because then he asks Gainor, “Are there any Occupy Wall Street muppets?” Oh, brother.

Speaking purely from an aesthetic perspective, the fat-cat oil baron as an archetype in cartoons has existed since the early 20th century at least, and The Muppets' plotline is surely borrowing from that old-timey classic concept. Take Looney Tunes’ 1952 clip “ Oily Hare," for example, in which a dastardly oil tycoon wants to destroy Bugs Bunny’s home in order to drill. Even earlier was “ Get Rich Quick Porky” (1937), in which Porky Pig is duped by a dastardly oil baron into investing his savings on bad land. Let’s face it: America felt disdain for oil tycoons long before Occupy came along. (And in those days, Looney Tunes was conservative!)