Between being a pop culture blogger, a parent, putting books into people’s hands for a living, and frequently acting as the go to guy for these things on Facebook, I have had a lot of thoughts and opinions plus some research into Dr Seuss over the last week.
It was announced that the publisher who owns the rights to Dr Seuss books will no longer publish 6 of the books. To be honest, six that were not best sellers and many were unaware of. Some of these books I’ve never heard of much less read before this happened. These aren’t popular books. No one is pulling Cat in the Hat or Grinch. This is a private company deciding that between low sales numbers and some questionable content it’s not worth it to print more of these books. Which is their right as a company. Thousands of books go out of print every year. There’s a reason people like me search thrift stores and used book stores constantly. Much of the stuff we want isn’t currently being published.
Also, if kids like my own son wanted these books then something different would have been done. A new printing with some editing done to the questionable parts. There’s a 1952 MGM cartoon that I love called Magical Maestro. A dog opera singer upsets a magician who then pranks and harasses him throughout the concert. Yet for decades now two offensive moments have been edited out. And I notice it when the cartoon appears on Boomerang. But that’s only because I’ve seen it hundreds of times. No one casually watching would ever spot it. Or any of the other edits that have taken place. Guess what, some things that were accepted in 1930s during a World War might be offensive now nearly a hundred years later. Maybe we don’t put racist images in front of children for as long as we can. I heard a certain word on a show my 7 year old son was watching and shut that down immediately. Nothing against the show, nothing against these cartoons, nothing against Dr Seuss. But collectively we should agree to not put certain things in front of children. Movie ratings aren’t cancel culture. They’re a guide. Not perfect, but at least something to help parents decide what their children can watch.
Sure, we all watched stuff we shouldn’t when we were kids. Did we have appropriate reactions? Did we understand what was happening and why? The implications of it? Chances are no. It’s not just about seeing something, it’s also about understanding it within larger context. I wouldn’t censor or chance Huck Finn because that’s the entire point of the book! But a 2 second joke about a cartoon dog in black face doesn’t really matter to a 6 minute cartoon’s plot. But what does and does not matter within these Dr Seuss books?
I have that stack of Dr Seuss books in front of me and I will be reading them to figure out what has been deemed racist and why. Also, could the book be published without the image in question and keep the integrity of the story? Then, there is also a compromise where these books are no longer in the children’s section, but in the adult section. Printed, packaged, and displayed differently with the historical context in mind. Much like Dr Seuss’s World War II cartoons which I also have in front of me. Those are not marketed to kids because we know without understanding history these comics range from nonsensical to kids all the way to racist. Over many posts I’ll be looking at these Dr Seuss works solely as a pop culture blogger not as any official representative of any part of books, literature, or education.
All of that said, thank you for making it this far. As these posts are shared online I will not be debating people. My thoughts will be included within the article. Anyone with a counter argument wants to get their two cents in? Get your own blog. It’s free on most sites. Write away. However, evidence shows that many who are so offended and believe this is cancel culture have not bothered to actually read any details about this decision. If they had the top selling books on Amazon – “The Cat in the Hat,” “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” – would be vastly different. Because none of those are the books in question!
Anyways, next up will be McElligot’s Pool. Like the Facebook page, follow on Twitter, click the Follow option right on the website so you’re aware of the next parts of this series plus all the other fun content on this site.