Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Stereotypes: Six books of Dr. Seuss have been discontinued

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Tony Vaughn
Tony Vaughn
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Six albums by famed American children’s author Dr. Seuss have been removed from the catalog for containing racist stereotypes and caricatured depictions, SUS Enterprises, which manages the rights of the author who died in 1991, said Tuesday.

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Among the titles removed from the list is the phrase “I think I saw it on Mulberry Street,” which specifically features “Chinese Boy”, carrying a bowl and chopsticks.

In If I Ran the Zoo, characters with long mustaches appear in traditional Chinese clothing.

“These books portray the characters in an inappropriate and wounded manner,” said Dr. Seuss, explaining that the decision to retire was made last year, in agreement with the publisher, Penguin Random House.

“Taking these books out of sale is just one aspect of our commitment and our plan to ensure that Dr. Seuss’s company catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” the group added in a statement released on Tuesday.

Theodore Seuss Geisel (1904-1991), better known as Dr. Seuss, has since the 1930s become one of the most prominent references in children’s literature in the United States, and his creations have been exported to many countries of the world.

Dr. Seuss’s books have sold more than 600 million copies, and the universe he invented has often been adapted for cinema, including “The Grinch” (two films), “The Lorax”, or again “Horton”.

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Seuss scientist has often been criticized in the past for conveying, according to many observers, clichés about different ethnic communities and even being accused of promoting white supremacy.

A study published in 2019 by the Conscious Kid Association, which promotes equality among young people, highlights the use of caricatures of Chinese, Japanese, or Middle Eastern characters.

It also showed that the only two black characters seen in Dr. Seuss’s albums were photographed with only a loincloth carrying wild animals.

The study also presented Dr. Seuss’s animals as a means of stereotyping racial representation, foremost among which is The Cat from “The Cat in the Hat”, one of the author’s most famous books.

According to several publications, the cat was inspired by the “black face” culture, which is a caricature of blacks by white actors in makeup.

Many young comic book authors born before the war have been criticized for their approach to minorities, notably Hergé and his book Tintin au Congo.

Since the 1980s and 1990s, representations have evolved and now generally avoid cliches and caricatures.

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