The 6 Stupidest National Outrages About Fictional Characters
There are two statements you can make with 100 percent certainty about any fictional character in history: somebody has drawn that character naked, and someone has voiced a public complaint about that character for an objectively ludicrous reason.
Characters in children's entertainment seem to get the worst of the latter (and probably the former as well), constantly finding themselves at the center of absurd controversies manufactured by misguided people who apparently exist solely to tear the joy out of everything they see. For example ...
The Malaysian Government Banned Power Rangers for Promoting Heroin Abuse
In America, fears that the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers were corrupting children went no further than kids suffering awesome injuries while trying to imitate the show in their driveways. But the Power Rangers problem in Malaysia was a bit different (and dumber). In December 1995, the Malaysian government took the show off the air because, according to them, it was encouraging kids to stick needles in their veins and fill them with hospital-grade opioids. We admittedly do not remember the particular episode in question.
As it turns out, the ban had nothing to do with the show's content. Malaysia targeted Mighty Morphin Power Rangers because they thought the word "morphin" was a little too close to "morphine." The country's deputy home minister claimed that the show was telling children that all they needed to do to become superheroes was find that shaky man hanging out behind the mattress store and score a dime of sweet, sweet H. Admittedly, Zordon must've slipped those teenagers something, because it only takes him nine seconds to convince them that thrusting oversized belt buckles into the air and shouting the names of prehistoric animals will transform them into magical ninjas.
However, despite failing to take similar precautions as Malaysia, no other country reported an increase in the number of preteens climbing on the Horse. It might have been because morphine doesn't exactly come on the candy rack at the drugstore, or it might have been because no one else in the fucking universe would've ever come to that daffy "morphin/morphine" conclusion.
In the end, Malaysia decided to allow Mighty Morphin Power Rangers back on the air, provided the show dropped the "Morphin" from the title and the characters fought rubber aliens as the Mighty Power Rangers ... which honestly doesn't make any less sense as a title, we suppose.
Harry Potter Fans Rage Against an Obviously Asian Character Being Portrayed as Asian
Cho Chang, the pretty Ravenclaw girl in the Harry Potter series who gives Harry his first kiss/non-embarrassing erection, was the center of a huge backlash when the film version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was released in 2005. Katie Leung, the actress cast as Cho, conceivably expected some amount of fan hate when she accepted the role, because it goes with the territory when you're making nerd movies. What caught Leung off guard, though, was that an unusual number of fans hated her for the unforgivable crime of being Asian.
Years before the similarly vile Hunger Games race "controversy," some Harry Potter fans were deeply confused and upset over the fact that the actress playing Cho Chang wasn't a God-fearing white girl like Cho was in their minds. "How," you may be asking, "could they have been taken off guard by this, when 'Cho Chang' is arguably one of the most Chinese names ever written down on paper?" Well, according to the grievants, Cho had to be a white English girl adopted by Chinese parents who gave her a Chinese name, because how else would she have been accepted to Hogwarts, a purely British school of wizardry? Evidently, the suggestion of a mystical race of British Chinese people was too far-fetched for a story featuring dragons and centaurs -- that's simply too much magic for an audience to digest.
And it's not like the books ever say that Cho isn't white, except, you know, for the freaking illustrations:
The final ridiculous argument in this debate saw angry, racist nerds insisting that Cho must be white because the books say she has freckles, and no Asian person in the history of Earth's celestial rotation has ever had freckles.
To her credit, Katie Leung doesn't seem to have been affected by the ordeal. But regrettably, some fans will undoubtedly continue to spit venom at her until J.K. Rowling writes the next set of Harry Potter books and changes Cho Chang's wand to a goddamned chopstick.
London Banned Peter Rabbit for Being "Middle Class"
The Inner London Education Authority was a local council tasked with providing proper education to London's children. For some reason, they decided to accomplish this goal by banning all of the children's favorite books. In the interest of social justice, political correctness, or whatever buzzword was in vogue back then, in 1985 the ILEA declared that all "racist, sexist, and imperialist books" were to be removed from school shelves. Oliver Twist, for example, was tossed on the grounds of being "anti-Semitic," while Tom Sawyer was determined to be "sexist" and "racist" (in all fairness, Charles Dickens was a bit of an anti-Semite).
However, in a move that made significantly less sense, the ILEA banned Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit for the salacious crime of portraying "middle-class rabbits."
Yes, that Peter Rabbit, the one who lived with his family in constant fear of Mr. McGregor, the farmer who owns all of the vegetables they depend on to survive, and who killed Peter's father. Somewhere in all of that, the ILEA felt that Peter Rabbit was flaunting too much privilege, and that this somehow constituted a complete lack of representation of poor, oppressed rabbits in Beatrix Potter's world -- clear evidence of the author's sinister middle-class agenda (although at no point in the story do we recall Peter and his wife driving the kids to soccer practice in their Prius).
At this point in the 1980s, the ILEA was already notorious for being borderline fanatical, so while the book ban pissed off plenty of people, it didn't exactly shock them. Luckily for the children of London, the ILEA was abolished in 1990, along with their ridiculous bans. Margaret Thatcher then presumably chased them out of London with a rake, collecting their discarded clothes and using them to build scarecrows.
Ferdinand the Bull Was Condemned as Fascist/Communist/Pacifist Propaganda
In 1936, author Munro Leaf wrote a children's book called The Story of Ferdinand, about a gentle Spanish bull named Ferdinand who gets snatched up and forced into a bullfighting match. However, much like that one kid everyone had on their soccer team, Ferdinand plops down in the middle of the field and smells flowers rather than pay any attention to the furious shouting around him.
The book ended up being a massive hit, and it was even made into an Oscar-winning Disney short, but Ferdinand was not without his critics. You see, 1936 also marked the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, which as its name indicates, took place in Spain, exactly like The Story of Ferdinand. Because this benign tale of a kind bull refusing to fight took place in a country embroiled in a bitter conflict, stupid people became convinced that The Story of Ferdinand was slimy covert pacifist propaganda.
That seed of sinister doubt bloomed into full-blown conspiracy hysteria, and pretty soon Ferdinand became a schizophrenic Rorschach test in which every extremist in Europe saw subversion from their bitter enemies. Fascists saw it as communist propaganda, communists denounced it as fascist indoctrination, militarists declared Ferdinand to be pacifist brainwashing, and some pacifists considered the character to be a mean-spirited parody of their cause. Consequently, The Story of Ferdinand was banned throughout Italy, the Soviet Union, and Germany, where Hitler ordered the book to be burned as "degenerate democratic propaganda." Which honestly isn't that surprising, because Hitler was a book-burning shithead who probably would've burned his own book if it didn't have his name on the front.
All of this was a shock to Munro Leaf, who had only cranked out The Story of Ferdinand to give his illustrator buddy something to add to his resume. Leaf had to spend the rest of his life thinking up new ways to politely say, "Seriously, people, it's just a fucking bull that likes flowers."
A School Banned All Books Featuring Pigs Because They Might Offend Muslims
In 2003, in the English town of Batley, the Park Road Junior Infant and Nursery School (nine-time winner of the coveted "Most British Name in History" Award) became concerned about all the books in their classrooms that featured pigs as characters, because more than 60 percent of their students were Muslim and not permitted to eat pork because of their faith. In order to avoid possibly offending anyone (and presumably because they thought Muslims would explode if they read the word "pig"), the school instituted a wholesale ban on any book containing pigs, sending some of our most beloved childhood characters, like the Three Little Pigs and Wilbur from Charlotte's Web, straight to the literary slaughterhouse, which in this metaphor is the dumpster behind Books-A-Million.
Predictably, there was an explosion of outrage among the media, parents of the non-Muslim students, and parents of the Muslim students. That's right, not a single Muslim student or parent had actually complained about the school's choice of literature -- the school arbitrarily decided to ban all pig-centric fiction on their behalf. The Muslim Council of Britain even had to chip in and explain that they are totally OK with children's books featuring pigs, because like most people who aren't lunatics, they can make a distinction between reading about something and eating it.
The school's headmaster insisted that they were only trying to "ensure that all of our children are awarded the respect that all human beings deserve," which we suspect is another way of saying, "We have no idea what's going to set you terrorists off, amirite?" Ultimately, the school allowed the books back in their classrooms and learned a powerful lesson in the process: If you're going to get offended on a group's behalf, it's a good idea to at least check with them first.
Sesame Street Angered Mississippi by Showing That Black People Exist
When it debuted in 1969, Sesame Street was both the first American show scientifically designed to educate kids and one of the first to boast a diverse, racially integrated cast (and a giant talking yellow bird). This was in the late '60s, when "white flight" (the exodus of white families from the inner city to the suburbs) was in full swing, so the idea of different races being able to live together was unthinkable to many people, primarily ignorant dickheads.
So while Sesame Street's primary concern was to recruit children for the powerful alphabet lobby, it also exposed them to the idea that people of different races and cultures can totally be friends, and that inner city neighborhoods aren't necessarily places of squalor, desperation, and drug violence. However, this message proved problematic for the state of Mississippi (see: "ignorant dickheads," above), whose official policy at the time was to promote the idea that all black people were vampires or something.
It may be hard to believe, but Mississippi in 1970 was not the cornucopia of tolerance we know today. When PBS first brought Sesame Street to the state, they were targeted by activists campaigning for "freedom of choice," which here means segregation (see, they wanted the "freedom to choose" to never be around black people). Appalled by Sesame Street's depiction of racial harmony as a completely normal thing not exclusively practiced by insane Martians, they pushed for the state to ban the show. The Mississippi Commission for Educational Television duly complied, reportedly explaining that they weren't ready for Sesame Street's integrated cast.
This created a bigger shitstorm than a muddy diaper put on a centrifuge. The national news media didn't sugarcoat their outrage over the decision, which caused the commission to cave and lift the ban after one month. Which is ironic, considering that watching Sesame Street could've taught them a thing or two about believing in themselves.
Related Reading: People get riled up over the most ridiculous things. Like how folks in the Congo went crazy because of penis thieving sorcerers. Or that time the BBC banned a song because it mentioned Coca-Cola.
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