Jungle Jitters (Merrie Melodies)
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Jungle Jitters is a 1938 Merrie Melodies cartoon directed by Friz Freleng and written by George Manuell. The cartoon focuses on a dopey salesman coming across a native village in the African jungle but gets prepared to be cooked in a stew pot by the native tribe but gets rescued by a white queen. This was one of the few Censored Eleven cartoons, as well as the most infamous.
Why It Deserves To Get Eaten By Cannibals
- This cartoon has a very dark concept of cannibalism, as it portrays Africans as cannibals and white people as being greedy scumbags, which is horrifyingly offensive. It's also a sexist cartoon too because women are portrayed as male-crazy perverts.
- Most of the jokes are unfunny and dull.
- Not only does this cartoon poke fun of Africans, but also Asians as well in one scene, and another where the Africans are acting like Native Americans and Indigenous people in general.
- Hideously bad designs for most of the characters, especially the blackface African cannibal natives and the salesman.
- Has loads of padding such as the opening with the African cannibals dancing.
- Some of the animation is reused as well, such as the natives banging their forks and knives on the table.
- The salesman feels like a rip-off of Disney's character, Goofy, but without all of the likability and charm.
- The ending was not only bad, but very dark with the salesman choosing to get eaten by the cannibals instead of having his life spared.
- This cartoon's amount of racism is so high up, it is actually racist to everyone regardless if you are white, black, Indigenous, Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, etc. Therefore, it is the most racist cartoon that's ever existed.
- For all these reasons above, this has been widely considered to be the absolute worst cartoon out of all the eleven cartoons of the infamous and notorious Censored Eleven.
- Great voice acting.
- The animation is decent for the late-1930s standards.
- Few of the nice gags, including the Merry-Go-Round gag at the beginning.
- Passable musical score by Carl Stalling.
- Animation director Friz Freleng would eventually learn from his mistakes and would later direct much better and funnier Looney Tunes cartoons in years to follow, especially when he returned to Warner Bros., after his brief stint at MGM working on The Captain and the Kids cartoons between 1938-1940.
Originally, the cartoon had received positive reviews.
The Film Daily said on January 31, 1938, "Producer Leon Schlesinger goes to darkest Africa in this one with a highly amusing set of characters... There are some very funny sequences and gags, with the characterizations very amusing."
National Exhibitor agreed on February 1: "It sounds forced to say that this is better than the best so far, but that is what one must say about a series that improves continually. This is full of cute little touches that will be best appreciated by a class audience, but will still have the masses chuckling."
However, as time went on, it became panned by critics and audiences due to how the cartoon portrays white people as being greedy and African Americans as cannibals. Because of this, the cartoon was banned from reruns since 1968 and is now part of the infamous Censored Eleven. In fact, Warner Bros. was so ashamed of it, they allowed United Artists to lapse the cartoon into the public domain, meaning anyone can use it for any purpose.
The short currently holds a 4.9/10 on IMDb, making it the second lowest rated short of the Censored Eleven, only behind "Angel Puss".
- The humor in this cartoon (and pretty much any other Golden Age short featuring jokes about black people) is more of a case of outdated social views of black people rather than a case of true and intentional racism.
- The working title for this cartoon was known as The Fulla Bluff Salesman (a play on the Fuller Brush salesman), as evidenced from a model sheet during production time.
- "His Mouse Friday" - A 1951 Tom and Jerry short that also contains African cannibals.