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Mighty Mouse cocaine controversy

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There's nothing better than making many moral guardians and TV parental groups gang out on you because the main character of your show was snorting pink cocaine, that actually he was snorting remains of a crushed flower!

During the production of the episode "The Littlest Tramp" of Season 1 of Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, editor Tom Klein expressed concern that a sequence showing Mighty Mouse sniffing the remains of a crushed flower resembled cocaine use. Ralph Bakshi did not initially view the footage; he believed that Klein was overreacting, but agreed to let him cut the scene. John Kricfalusi expressed disbelief over the cut, insisting that the action was harmless and that the sequence should be restored. Following Kricfalusi's advice, Bakshi told Klein to restore the scene, which had been approved by network executives and the CBS Standards and Practices department. The episode aired on October 31, 1987, initially without controversy.

On June 6, 1988, Donald Wildmon, head of the American Family Association (AFA), alleged that "The Littlest Tramp" depicted cocaine use, instigating a media frenzy. Concerning Bakshi's involvement with Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, the AFA claimed that CBS "intentionally hired a known pornographer to do a cartoon for children, and then allowed him to insert a scene in which the cartoon hero is shown sniffing cocaine." Bakshi responded, "You could pick a still out of Lady and the Tramp and get the same impression. Fritz the Cat wasn't pornography. It was social commentary. This all smacks of burning books and the Third Reich. It smacks of McCarthyism. I'm not going to get into who sniffs what. This is lunacy!"

Bakshi defended the episode, saying, "I despise drugs. I would be out of my mind to show a cartoon character snorting cocaine in a cartoon", and stating that Wildmon had interpreted the scene out of context. "Mighty Mouse was happy after smelling the flowers because it helped him remember the little girl who sold it to him fondly. But even if you're right, their accusations become part of the air we breathe. That's why I cut the scene. I can't have children wondering if Mighty Mouse is using cocaine." On CBS's order, Klein removed the sequence from the master broadcast footage.

Wildmon claimed that the edits were "a de facto admission that, indeed, Mighty Mouse was snorting cocaine". Bakshi agreed to the removal of the offending 3½ seconds from future airings of the episode because of his concern that the controversy might lead children to believe that what Wildmon was saying was true. Wildmon's group then demanded the removal of Bakshi but, on July 25, 1988, CBS released a statement in support of him.

A long time later on January 28, 1997, Kricfalusi defended the episode of this controversy in his interview with the San Francisco Examiner: "I don't take drugs, so it wasn't some kind of in-joke. The episode had nothing to do with drugs. But there was a lot of intentional stuff in the show that they could have gone after."


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