Cartoon writers have the unenviable task of creating something a toddler will love, without it making mom or the babysitter want to blow their own brains out. So, the way they do this is by throwing in little racy jokes they know will go over the kids' heads.
But, as we've mentioned before, some of the stuff they slip past censors is pretty shocking ...
#5. Yosemite Sam Braces for Prison Rape
Warner Bros. has been making Looney Tunes cartoons since 1934, back when they played before movies in the theater instead of on Saturday mornings on television and were routinely seen by way more adults than children (and because it was the 1930s, the cartoons contained way more Nazis). So it's pretty much always been standard practice for the writers and animators to throw in jokes aimed specifically at the grown-ups in the audience.
This short was originally titled "Duck you, Hitler!"
The transition from movie theaters to children's television didn't compel Warner Bros. to stop sprinkling risque humor into the otherwise G-rated antics of Bugs Bunny, and we're not even talking about all the times that Bugs tricked Elmer Fudd into belching ruinous shotgun blasts into Daffy Duck's face.
For example, in the 1995 episode "Carrotblanca," Bugs manages to trick Yosemite Sam into locking himself in prison. As soon as Sam realizes his mistake, he turns around to discover that he is trapped in a cell with a Island of Dr. Moreau-era Marlon Brando lookalike wearing pink bunny slippers and a "nobody can hear you" grin.
"Yosemite? When we're done you're going to be Grand Canyon."
Yosemite Sam's cellmate is a bulbous commercial fisherman with an exposed midriff, a pink shower kit, and a singular desire to remind Yosemite Sam that there is but one bed in their shared dungeon. The scene lasts only for a second, but it isn't exactly bursting with subtlety -- Bugs Bunny has just sentenced Sam to be prison-raped by an impossibly beefy bunkmate for all eternity.
I wish I could tell you that Yosemite fought the good fight, and the animators let him be.
I wish I could tell you that, but prison is no fairy-tale world.
There is no other way that gag could possibly be interpreted, although it does manage to provide some context for Sam's general antagonism towards Bugs Bunny. This is something of a running gag in the world of cartoons, by the way. There's another prison rape reference in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants. He shows his pet snail two bars of soap and with a wink warns him not to drop them:
It sounds like a nonsense warning (who cares if you drop a bar of soap?) unless you know it's a joke phrase used to warn people about getting raped in a prison shower. As in, "Don't drop the soap, because when you bend over to get it another inmate will shove his cock into your ass."
And speaking of cartoon references to anal penetration ...
#4. Arthur Almost Gets an Anal Probe
Arthur is a long-running educational cartoon series on PBS starring some kind of rat/aardvark creature and his equally difficult to classify animal friends, who teach young children important lessons about school, bed-wetting, and not making fun of kids with asthma. It's basically exactly as tame as you'd imagine a cartoon whose highest aspiration is to teach little kids not to be assholes would be.
Then there's the bizarre episode "The Contest," which parodies the animation styles of several other popular cartoon series, including fellow kid-friendly shows like Dexter's Laboratory and tap-dancingly adult programs like Beavis and Butthead; Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist; and South Park. Because what preschooler doesn't delight in the occasional Dr. Katz reference?
"The SquiggleVision soothes me." -Fictional Baby for this caption joke
The point when things really get out of hand occurs during the South Park homage. It's baffling enough that Arthur would reference a show in which the main characters throw the word "fuck" around like rice at a wedding, but the specific episode of South Park being referenced is the accurately titled "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe," wherein Cartman gets a hunk of sentient metal embedded deep within his asshole by marauding extraterrestrials.
In the Arthur episode, Arthur (depicted in South Park's trademark cardboard cut-out style) is kidnapped by aliens and taken aboard their spaceship. Arthur is put on a table:
And hit with a beam that makes his clothes fly off:
"Want me to zap your glasses? You're not going to want to be able to see this."
Arthur says, "You're not going to eat me!" because he, unlike the writers, doesn't know what source material is being referenced. Specifically, this:
Comedy Central Productions
But just exactly at the moment when the adult viewers are saying, "Oh holy fuck they're going to show Arthur getting his anus smashed by an alien probe oh god why," the aliens abruptly change their minds and eject him from the ship. It's a clever little "See what almost happened there?" wink from the writers, where what "almost happened" was the main character getting anally violated. Which at this point we're convinced is some kind of standard in-joke among cartoonists.
#3. Spider-Man Makes a Semen Joke
The Spectacular Spider-Man, oft-referred to as the greatest Spider-Man cartoon ever made, was praised for its sharp dialogue and its ability to freshly portray the innumerable characters in the Spider-Man universe while still remaining loyal to the source material. The slavish adherence to character accuracy held true even for characters that would normally be disqualified from children's programming, such as Black Cat:
They did change certain things.
Black Cat is a thief/occasional vigilante who routinely tries to thwart Spider-Man by dealing out massive, incapacitating boners that are impossible to conceal in a skin-tight unitard and thus neutralize his ability to pursue her without breaking several public decency laws. She does this with the cunning use of sexual innuendo, a character trait that The Spectacular Spider-Man decided must be included, despite the fact that its target audience was around 10 years old.
For example, in one episode, Spider-Man is attempting to apprehend Black Cat by chasing her around a warehouse, spraying his web all over the place like Jackson Pollock. After some of it lands on her hand, Black Cat teasingly warns, "You better not get your goop in my hair."
For you innocent-minded types who may not know: There is a long-running joke in the franchise that Peter Parker's webs are an analogy for puberty and semen. And by "joke" we mean we're pretty sure that's what the original writers intended, too -- he hits high school and suddenly starts squirting the white stuff all over his bedroom. Just to drive the point home, Spider-Man replies to Black Cat with, "Don't worry, it comes off with ice or peanut butter." We can safely say that this scene makes The Spectacular Spider-Man the first children's cartoon to give helpful tips about getting cum out of your hair.