"You making fun of me? Do I make you laugh?!"
And Harley plays the role of the abused victim perfectly, pining after the Joker and willingly calling him when she gets the chance, totally excusing his terrifying behavior. This fact is never explored or condemned in the show -- it's just sort of written off as "Harley is a crazy person in love with The Joker." The Joker's cruelty is pretty much accepted -- anyone watching the episode is clearly meant to think, "Well, he's The Joker, what the hell did you expect?" Batman inadvertently presents both a textbook example of an abusive relationship and the societal tendency to blame the victim for her situation.
Hey Arnold! Compares Wearing Glasses to Racial Segregation
In the episode "Rhonda's Glasses," Hey Arnold! tries to tackle the issue of racism by using a character suddenly having to wear glasses as a metaphor for segregation. The episode focuses on Rhonda, one of the cool kids who normally enjoys a privileged seat at the front of the school bus with all of the popular, successful children with bright, fulfilling futures. Meanwhile, all of the geeks and melvins are relegated to pariah thrones in the back of the bus (where they belong). However, one day Rhonda learns that she is nearsighted and has to start wearing glasses, a totem of uncoolness that automatically sends her to the back of the bus.
"This is the worst thing human beings could ever do to each other!"
Soon, she learns firsthand about the other struggles of the geek underclass, prompting her to heroically refuse to move to the back of the bus in protest, after which the bus class system is abolished. So, it's basically a simplified version of the story of Rosa Parks ... if she had been a white person experiencing a temporary case of "discrimination," the main consequence of which was her feeling slightly more awkward than usual.
That's the thing -- having to wear glasses is probably the worst racial analogy that the well-meaning show could have used, because they are something you can literally remove whenever you choose. Some of the geeks banished to the back of the bus aren't even wearing any freaking glasses. Furthermore, the only reason the bus class system is changed is because one of the popular kids finally experiences a tiny shred of injustice (sort of like The Help, when the black housekeepers learn to start standing up for themselves only after a rich white woman is courageously offended by their mistreatment).
"A glasses-wearing white woman ... we're through the looking glass(es)."
Again, it's easy to see what they're going for. But, in the end, it's like if Julianne Hough was denied a mortgage while wearing her blackface Halloween costume, only to promptly get a $500,000 loan approval the moment she took it off. "Now I know what it's like to be discriminated against!" No, you really don't. And it's better if you don't start thinking that you do.
Matt can be found on Twitter here, and he blogs here.
For more inappropriate cartoon moments, check out The 6 Creepiest Things Ever Slipped Into Children's Cartoons and 5 Grossly Inappropriate Jokes Hidden in Children's Cartoons.
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