The Thundercats are Racist!

We Don’t Serve Your Kind Around Here

A couple of weeks ago a new version of a “classic” 80’s toy commercial/cartoon series, Thundercats, premiered on Cartoon Network. There was a lot of discussion about the show in the nerdosphere, much of it focusing on whether the program was a reboot or a sequel to the original program.  There were also the debates of which was hotter: the new Cheetara or the old one.  Finally, a lot of people remarked on the fact that the Thundercats (not just the band of protagonists, but their culture at large as depicted at the start of the show) were incredibly racist. Throughout the premiere, their society’s abuses and biases against the other races of their world were on full display.  Some questioned whether a team of racists would be accepted by audiences.
Some people blithely responded that racism had been tackled in other childrens’ shows and that this was no different.  The problem is that there’s a very significant difference between this show and others: here, the racists are the heroes
Take the X-Men. The racism is directed at them. They’re the victims of the whole thing. Even Magneto, who is “reverse racist” (you know, hates humans) is a villain. There’s a serious problem with making the  protagonists the racists; audiences are likely to root against them.

Towards the end of the premiere, the city of Thundera was destroyed by the lizard people.  Are the lizard people the villains? From the look of it, they were the oppressed striking for their freedom. In any other version of this story, Mumm-ra (the lizard peoples’ leader) is basically Braveheart and Lion-O is the British King. The problem is that we’re supposed to root for Lion-O.

Oh, sure, one could argue that “well that’s the brilliance of the writing team; they’re taking those cliches and turning them on their head and forcing the audience to sympathize with the villains.” But that would be the voice of fans deluding themselves into thinking a kids’ show on Cartoon Network is intellectually challenging material.  Also, if the writers were working on that deep a level then the third episode with its heavy-handed “message” and erratic pacing would need some kind of excuse … or just the explanation is that it’s par for course for a kids’ cartoon. That explanation would make complete sense, too, because it’s a kids’ cartoon

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3 thoughts on “The Thundercats are Racist!

  1. Your analysis is weak old man… :)I agree that the Thunderian culture is racist, and arrogant, and the lizards have a good reason to want to kick their tails.However, firstly, the main protagonist, Liono does not share the common prejudice, to the extent of protecting two lizard prisoners from an angry mob. Possibly because, in his travels through the lower city in search of technology, he's come to see none cats as people, not sterotypes.Second Mumm Ra is not William Wallace, he'd more Lord Voldemort. He's using the lizards as his cat's paw. He doesn't share their goals of freeing themselves from Thundarian control, he just needed bodies to attack them so he could get the Eye. Much like the half blood Tom Riddle trolled the entire pureblood supremacy movement into following him, supposedly to institute unquestioned rule by purebloods, in fact to make him ruler of magical Britian and to hell with how many of his own people got killed in the process.General Slythe might be closer to Braveheart, though he's shown he's quite willing to sacrifice his own men to expediency as in 'Song of the Petlars'I also agree that some of the plots of later episodes were a lot more choppy and poorly thought out, and feel dissapointed by that. But the original conception, and the willingness to put in nuances and more than the black and white morality of the earlier cartoon wins only applause from me. Like My Little Pony – Friendship is Magic, this is designed for adult viewers as much as kids.

  2. I think the show has racial undertones, especially the older version, but not the ones presented by the OP. The key is knowing your history. Look at the two sides in the original show. You had a medieval style kingdom: racially homogenous, led by a hereditary monarchy, and advised by a religious institution (Jaga and his clerics). This kingdom is destroyed by a motley crew of conspirators – The Mutants of Plun-Darr who hate the Cat race, and want to get their hands on an ancient relic (representing the seat of power?). There are Three 'races' of these mutants: One lizard,(Scythe) short, flat-footed, pointy ears, a low-sloped forehead, etc. Another is brown (Jackalman) and a white or grey haired character with much more human features (Monkian). So what's the stereotype?The key here is to realize that the revolutions which brought down the hereditary Christian monarchies in Europe were organized and funded by the Jews, at least that's the 'racist' story. Likewise, Jews have often been compared to lizards or reptiles in antisemitic literature. Thus, Skythe represents Semetic Jews; Jackalman, Sephardic Jews; and Monkian the Ashkenazim. Who does Mum-Ra represent? I don't know. He has a sun and two snakes on his chest and he lives in a pyramid. I've heard antisemites who claim the Jews overthrew the Egyptian kingdom; also, the illuminati, which uses a pyramid as its symbol, has often been declared to be a Jewish organization. So, maybe that has something to do with it.Idk, that's all I got. What do you think?

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