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Censorship & Racism:

Then and Now

Censorship

In Prof. Mack’s day (as evident in the clipping below), movies were censored, while his Punch & Judy shows with all their customary puppet mayhem and several racial stereotypes (The Chinaman, The Jew, The Negro) were considered healthy entertainment for young people.

Today Punch & Judy shows are censored by those concerned with violence, feminist issues and spousal abuse, while movies that are full of sex and violence, although nominally “rated” are readily available at theaters, on television, cable and as rented videos with little or no restrictions on admission or access.

 

Racism

Two very telling instances of our changing attitudes about race are revealed in the Prof. Mack Scrapbook. The first being the cast of characters in Charles Mack’s Punch and Judy shows which included “The Chinaman”, “The Jew”, and “The Negro.” Such obvious references to racial stereotypes no longer exist in any contemporary Punch & Judy shows. Their presence would not only not be inherently humorous but would be offensive to most of today’s audiences.

The second instance of racism is not as obvious. Charles McCarty changed his name to Charles Mack because of the strong anti-Irish feelings at the time. The acronym “NINA” widely used in New England at the turn of the century meant “no Irish need apply.” Today’s Punchmen (and women) hopefully do not feel compelled to change their names in order to be employed.

 

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