The Censored Eleven is a term referring to 11 pre-1948 a.a.p.-owned, Merrie Melodies and one Looney Tune, shorts that were taken out of circulation by United Artists, (by then the owners of the pre-1948 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons) in 1968 due to racial stereotyping from United States television. In these cartoons, racial themes are so prominent in the cartoons that the copyright holders believe that no amount of selective editing could ever make them acceptable for distribution.
Dubbed versions exist for every pre-1948 cartoon, but the Censored Eleven probably do not have dubbed versions, as well as Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips. Every cartoon other than these 12 Turner owned cartoons is presumed to have a dubbed version. The Censored 11 have a.a.p. prints, like all other cartoons at the time.
Censored Eleven list
The cartoons featured in the Censored Eleven are:
- Hittin' the Trail to Hallelujah Land (1931, directed by Rudolph Ising)
- Sunday Go to Meetin' Time (1936, directed by Friz Freleng)
- Clean Pastures (1937, directed by Freleng)
- Uncle Tom's Bungalow (1937, directed by Tex Avery)
- Jungle Jitters (1938, directed by Freleng)
- The Isle of Pingo Pongo (1938, directed by Avery)
- All This and Rabbit Stew (1941, directed by Avery)
- Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (1943, directed by Robert Clampett)
- Tin Pan Alley Cats (1943, directed by Clampett)
- Angel Puss (1944, directed by Chuck Jones)
- Goldilocks and the Jivin' Bears (1944, directed by Freleng)
Angel Puss is the only Looney Tunes entry in the Censored Eleven. The other ten shorts are all Merrie Melodies. Goldilocks and the Jivin' Bears is the only one to be not produced by Leon Schlesinger. It was also the first cartoon to be produced by Eddie Selzer. Hittin' the Trail for Hallelujah Land is the only black and white short on the list. All the others are in color. Also, Hittin' the Trail for Hallelujah Land was the only Piggy cartoon on the list, The Isle of Pingo Pongo was the only Egghead cartoon on the list, and All This and Rabbit Stew was the only Bugs cartoon on the list. All the others are one-shot cartoons. Among the poll of cartoon directors of the list, Friz Freleng directed the most cartoons on the list (4 cartoons in the list), followed by Tex Avery (3 cartoons in the list), Bob Clampett (2 cartoons in the list) and lastly, Rudolf Ising and Chuck Jones (with only 1 cartoon each in the list).
Several more cartoons have been removed from circulation since this list was created, such as Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising's Looney Tunes featuring blackface caricature Bosko, and the Inki series of cartoons by Chuck Jones. Two cartoons directed by Tex Avery during his stint at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer are often included in cartoon compilations that list the Censored Eleven, despite the fact that they are not WB shorts: Uncle Tom's Cabana (1944) and Half-Pint Pygmy (1948). Also World War II cartoons concerning the Japanese and/or Germans (i.e. Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips, Tokio Jokio, etc.) have been pulled from circulation. Nips the Nips did make it to the Golden Age of Looney Tunes: Vol. 1 LaserDisc and the Bugs Bunny By Each Director VHS, but when the Japanese American Citizens League complained about the short's inclusion on the VHS, the distribution of both releases stopped, and all future pressings of The Golden Age of Looney Tunes: Vol. 1 replaced Nips the Nips with Racketeer Rabbit.
Some cartoons that remain in release have been heavily edited to remove stereotypical depictions of blacks. The Gone With the Wind satire, Confederate Honey, is one. Fresh Hare is often missing of a scene in which a blackface Bugs and Elmer sing "Camptown Races". Friz Freleng's 1937 cartoon September in the Rain features some black characters, but is not entirely focused on them, so has occasionally reappeared without them. These cartoons are however available uncut on The Golden Age Of Looney Tunes laserdisc releases.
On the other end of the Warner Bros. Cartoons studio's life, Injun Trouble, the last ever original Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies short released, is extremely rare due to the racial stereotyping of Native Americans seen in the cartoon, as well as the generally poor critical reputation of the WB-7A cartoons of the late-1960s.
Hocus Pocus Pow Wow, directed by Alex Lovy and released the year before Injun Trouble, is also somewhat rare for the same reason. Both a 1952 Sylvester and Tweety cartoon Tom Tom Tomcat and a 1960 Bugs Bunny/Yosemite Sam cartoon Horse Hare are generally not shown in the United States because of negative stereotyping about Native Americans.
Official DVD release
TCM showed 8 of these in 2010 at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, for a possible DVD release. The 3 that were not shown were Jungle Jitters, Angel Puss, and All This and Rabbit Stew. The reasons behind this are unknown.
At the New York Comic Con in October 2010, Warner Bros. confirmed that an uncut DVD release of the Censored Eleven via the Warner Archives would come soon; however on December 1 animation expert Jerry Beck announced that WB was planning to just go ahead with a traditional retail release, which would feature the Censored Eleven, fully restored, as well as some other rare cartoons and bonus material. As of March 2012, this has not come to fruition. However, on August 10, 2016, Jerry Beck mentioned that the WB market is too dead for DVD releases.
He said, from an email, "None of those announced DVDs are coming out. Warner Bros. considers the DVD market dead for classic cartoons. There are no plans for further DVDs or Blu-rays featuring classic cartoons. I am talking to Warner Archive and maybe at some point they will release some older MGM or WB cartoons, but there are no plans to do so at this time."