I love cats, so I hate Jerry the mouse. Of course, the original, Academy Award-winning MGM/Hanna-Barbara “Tom and Jerry” cartoons are among the greatest cartoons ever made. I used to thoroughly enjoy watching them, and I would laugh hysterically at their antics. But in recent years these cartoons have become almost intolerable to me because of their blatant anti-cat racism.
The entire basis for the humor in these cartoons is seeing Tom, the cat, suffer pain and abuse. At the same time, we’re supposed to side with Jerry, the mouse, and think that he’s wonderfully cute. Have you ever had mice running around in your house? If you did, I’ll bet you didn’t go “Awww…isn’t that cute?” Especially if you had just slaved over a hot stove all day to lay out a big, elaborate banquet for your guests and some rotten mouse climbed right up onto the table and started wolfing down your turkey legs, stomping through the potato salad, and wading around in the Jell-o.
Why do people side with Jerry against Tom? Tom is only doing his job. Actually, Tom would rather be stretched out in front of the fireplace, sawing a few logs. But because of Jerry constantly rampaging through the refrigerator or cavorting all over the dinner table, with no regard whatsoever for anyone but himself, Tom is forever being pressed into service by his owners and ordered to “catch that mouse.” In fact, he’s frequently threatened with being thrown out into the snow if he doesn’t. So what usually happens? Jerry ends up stretched out luxuriously in front of the fireplace, gnawing on a turkey leg, while Tom stares longingly through the window in the snow with icicles hanging off his face, and we’re supposed to go “Awwwww.” Not me. I want to terminate that stinking mouse just as much as Tom does. Terminate…with extreme prejudice.
Most of us would much rather have a cat living in our house than a mouse. Why? Because mice are vermin. Cute little Jerry gnaws holes in the walls, spreads germs and disease, and craps wherever he feels like it. Sticking big eyelashes and a jolly bowtie on him doesn’t change this one whit. If you saw Jerry running around in your Thanksgiving dinner, you’d be after his ass with a sledgehammer whether he was wearing a friggin’ bowtie or not. Or you’d be pointing at him and screaming for your cat to “KILL! KILL! KILL!” Because cats in your house are a good thing. Mice are not.
Tom is often depicted in these cartoons as pure evil. Sometimes he narrows his eyes, rubs his hands together, and cackles just like Snidely Whiplash as he plots against the innocent little Jerry. Have you ever seen a cat do this? I haven’t. Tom is also shown inviting his low-class alleycat friends into the house for wild parties while the owners are away. I’ve had inside cats for decades and I’ve never caught any of them doing this. Oh yeah, and of course Tom’s friends are all a bunch of no-good, destructive alkies, while Jerry’s friends are all–you guessed it–“cute.” KILL! KILL! KILL!
I would love to be able to enjoy the great old “Tom and Jerry” cartoons the way I used to before I finally became enlightened to this horrific injustice. But I can’t–it’s just too horrific. Like I said, these cartoons are infused with blatant anti-cat racism that is just as offensive in its own way as those “Slap the Jap” cartoons from World War II. Instead of laughter and delight, they now fill me with rage and consternation. Instead of enjoying them, I now find myself on my knees in front of the television with my trembling fists raised to the heavens, screaming “NOOOOOOOOO!!!” When my neighbors hear this, they think, “Oh, my god–he’s either being attacked by home invaders, or he’s watching ‘Tom and Jerry’ again.” Well, Jerry–cute little Jerry–is a home invader. And he deserves to die horribly.