4 Times Cartoon Characters Became Political
As two-dimensional works of fiction who can’t vote (and sometimes don’t even bother to wear pants), children’s cartoon characters seldom tend to get involved in government affairs — which makes it all the stranger when beloved toons do dip their toes into the political process.
While Shaggy never lobbied for the legalization of Scooby Snacks, and Garfield didn’t run for public office on the platform of abolishing Mondays, some cartoon characters have attempted to engage with politics, and things got really weird as a result, such as the time when…
Yogi Bear Fought Back Against His Yellowstone Oppressors, With the Help of the U.N.
Yogi Bear isn’t exactly famous for his political activism — unless you consider stealing picnic baskets an act of anti-capitalist rebellion. But back in 1961, the comic book Yogi Bear Visits the U.N. found Jellystone’s most famous resident taking action against his human oppressors. It all starts when Yogi discovers an old treaty between an Indigenous tribe and the U.S. government, promising the land that became Jellystone Park to the bears.
Fed up with having his food supply cut off by Ranger Smith, Yogi then attempts to essentially de-colonize Jellystone, pleading his case to the United Nations that the national park should be turned into a “sovereign nation” for bears called “Bearsylvania.”
Yogi’s proposal is shot down, with the U.N. refusing to honor the treaty, but he continues to fight. Eventually, the U.N. Human Rights Commission visits Jellystone and decides that the bears should get to run the park — for one measly day a year. But weirdly, Yogi is totally happy with this outcome, remarking, “You know, Boo Boo, thanks to the United Nations, this is a better world.” Foreign Policy Magazine noted that this ending is not wholly different from reality because “repression 364 days a year does seem uncomfortably close to some situations the United Nations suggests — at least implicitly — that people bear.”
Arthur Went to Washington, Shared Pizza With Human-Aardvark Hybrid Bill Clinton
Long before Florida conservatives were attempting to ban Arthur books for introducing the concept of (*gasp*) kissing to children, everyone’s favorite bespectacled aardvark actually met the president.
In the episode “D.W. Goes to Washington,” Arthur’s sister wanders off during a White House tour — instead of being tased and thrown in a cell, she somehow befriends the Commander in Chief and, as a result, the whole family is invited for dinner, which for some reason was pizza. Instead of bothering to create a new character, the writers simply cobbled together a human-aardvark version of the current president at the time — thus giving us an Island of Doctor Moreau-esque Bill Clinton.
And the less said about the George W. Bush bunny rabbit monstrosity that briefly showed up in a 2001 episode, the better…
The Muppet Babies Embraced Democracy After Being ‘Jailed’ for Anarchy
With the exception of the time they joined ALF and Slimer to narc on a random teenager, the Muppet Babies were rarely political. But one episode, oddly, found the cartoon creatures exploring various machinations of political theory.
After the Muppet Babies’ nanny — who’s mostly absent and, come to think of it, wildly negligent — instructs the kids to come up with rules to govern their playroom, Kermit and his pals cycle through various principles of societal organization, including a monarchy headed by Piggy, which naturally leads to Fozzie being tortured, and anarchy, resulting in the Muppets being confined to the couch, which they interpret as a literal prison sentence.
Then, instead of just doing her damn job, the nanny gives the kids a book about democracy and leaves again. Kermit is eventually elected president but lets Piggy twist her future boyfriend’s term into an authoritarian regime. Yay, democracy?
Winnie the Pooh Ran Against Richard Nixon in a Mock Presidential Campaign
Back in 1972, Richard Nixon ran for re-election against presidential hopeful George McGovern in a campaign that famously involved breaking into the DNC headquarters at The Watergate Hotel, later dramatized in the movie Dick (and some other movies, too, probably). Over in Disneyland, a third candidate entered the race: Winnie the Pooh.
In a truly bizarre stunt — especially considering that America was in the throes of the Vietnam War at the time — A.A. Milne’s silly old bear became a mock candidate, complete with mock campaign rallies and mock ticker-tape parades. Pooh ran on a platform of battling “the high price of ice-cream cones” and guaranteeing to “put honey in every pot” in America. So, presumably, he was totally cool with keeping the military-industrial complex plugging along.
Disney revived the gimmick for the following election in 1976, and this time, Pooh even got his own campaign song suggesting that “Pooh is right for you.”
Of course, Pooh would never be able to be president, considering that he was an English toy named after a Canadian bear and, therefore, wasn’t born in the United States.
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