Speedy Gonzalez, or Speedy, is a Mexican mouse that first appeared in the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes cartoon series in 1955. Speedy wears a traditional rural Mexican outfit consisting of an oversized yellow sombrero, white shirt and trousers, and a red kerchief, and speaks with an exaggerated Mexican accent. Known as “The Fastest Mouse in All of Mexico,” Speedy is famous for outrunning and outsmarting a variety of dumber, lazier cats and other foes – all with exaggerated Mexican accents and other stereotyped traits. In the episode Mexicali Schmoes, two cats try in vain to capture Speedy and his cousin, Slowpoke Rodriguez. Speedy has been voiced by five different actors since 1953, each of whom is white. He will be voiced by George Lopez in an upcoming 2014 release, who is also producing the film. And for the record – “schmo” is a Yiddish word, popular in America, meaning a fool or a bore.
Although the stereotypical nature of these and other Speedy Gonzales clips are clear, Speedy remains beloved by many Latin Americans and Americans of Latino heritage. Do you believe Cartoon Network did the right thing by censoring the Speedy cartoons or by later reversing the ban?
Do you think that the historical nature and classic status of these and other cartoons can be justification for keeping them on the air, regardless of such problematic prejudices?
Speedy Gonzales has been the subject of some controversy since his appearance in the 1950s. In 1999, the Cartoon Network ceased to air speedy Gonzales, voicing concerns over its ethnic stereotypes, noting that Speedy’s foes and fellow mice are generally shown as slow, lazy, and sometimes even intoxicated. Critics have also lamented that the Spanish dialogue, although minimal in comparison to the English, is largely comprised of misplaced references to popular Mexican foods. Despite the controversy in the United States, however, Speedy remains extremely popular throughout much of Latin America, and was returned to the American airwaves in 2002 in response to lobbying by the League of United Latin American Citizens. The cartoons are prefaced on some DVD releases with the following disclaimer: “The cartoons you are about to see are products of their time. They may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. While the following does not represent the WB view of society, these cartoons are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as to claim these prejudices never existed.”