What Baby Boomers Didn't See - Little Rascals
A whole generation of baby boomer kids grew up watching "The Little Rascals"
on TV beginning in 1955 and continuing through the mid-60's.
They watched over and over, a syndicated package of 80 comedy shorts
produced by Hal Roach that were originally produced for movie theaters
and shown in-between movies during 1929 and 1939.
The shows that Baby Boomers saw on TV sent out an important message that
molded the character of that new generation.
White kids play with black kids and everybody is treated equally.
I watched the shows daily on WGN-TV Channel 9 in Chicago as kids
all over America did on their local station.
But apparently, our parents and their parents who were sitting in the
movie theaters in the 1930's saw "The Little Rascals" very differently.
For the first time, all 80 of the shorts have been recently been made
available on DVD in their original and unedited versions.
I have just watched one a night for 80 nights.
Some of them are quite shocking. Many of them have scenes that are
outright racist to the limit.
"I don't remember seeing that scene," I said to myself upon viewing these
for the first time since the early 1960's.
A little research explained everything.
Out of the 80 shorts that were syndicated to TV,
23 of them were heavily edited to remove racist content.
6 of them were so racist that they were removed from the
package in their entirety and never seen by a whole
generation of kids. One was never seen because it dealt with
the subject of divorce.
This means that almost one half of the original versions
were heavily edited or removed completely for racist content.
Before you say, "who cared enough in 1955 to remove racist content?,"
somebody at the syndication company was sensitive and smart enough
to do it. They made a conscious decision that a whole generation of
kids seeing these for the very first time were not going to see this
However, the obvious is clear.
The parents of the baby boomers saw the originals in the movie theaters
and it served to reinforce bigoted and prejudice attitudes in that generation.
They probably did not realize that was happening, but it was.
A majority of the edited parts are quite shocking.
And it makes you wonder.
The original intentions were quite noble.
The Little Rascals was popular and still is to this day because it
shows kids just acting as kids.
It showed both white and black kids playing together, scheming together,
having old fashioned fun together and everybody treats each other equally.
At least that's what baby boomers saw.
Why they had to ruin it for the kids of the 30's with such racist material
left in is something to ponder. In that time and place, the studios must
have thought they were being funny and nobody said anything otherwise.
Otherwise, seeing the clothing, houses, cars and related styles of the 1930's
is just wonderful. And so is the fact that kids can play on the streets of a
big city without parents worrying about anything, kids not using profanity
non-stop, and all the rest.
The edited "Little Rascals" is still charming after 80 years.