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View Full Version : I can't believe I never noticed this in Tom & Jerry...


Avalonian
06-30-2003, 01:20 AM
Something in a Tom & Jerry episode my kids were watching tonight made me really sad. It's an episode I've seen many times before, but the meaning of this particular bit never dawned on me before.

In the episode in which Tom is killed and takes a loooong escalator up to the pearly gates, we get a brief glimpse of an elderly, officious cat checking cats off as they come in. The first one is wearing several casts and walking on crutches. Another is flat as a pancake ("Didn't see the steamroller coming, eh?" says the elderly cat). Clearly, the arriving cats are in the condition that suggests their death.

Next, the elderly cat reads off three names, but looks around. No cats are evident. Then he peers over his podium to see a sack on the ground, sort of wriggling and rolling its way along. The sack is tied closed, but with all the wriggling it opens and three little kittens wriggle their way out, and pounce through the gates. playing. Nothing direct is said, but the implication is clear to me that the unwanted kittens had been tied up in the sack and drowned (or otherwise killed).

Naturally, my kids missed it, just as I did when I was their age. I just sat there, amazed that they actually threw that in so nonchalantly.

Damn.

Leaper
06-30-2003, 01:26 AM
I remember that. Yes, they were drowned; the sack was soaking wet.

Yeah, it's a pretty discordant note. These days, I doubt you'd see the images of Hell they had back then in, for example, a lot of the Warner Bros. cartoons. Those were kinda freaky. Not that I was particularly disturbed when I first saw them, but I can see how some might be kind of freaked out by, say, the flame-filled Hell full of red bulldogs that Sylvester once landed in.

Larry Mudd
06-30-2003, 01:29 AM
Disposing of a litter of kittens or puppies in this way was an established cartoon cliche for a goodly long time.

Askia
06-30-2003, 01:34 AM
A cliche based on horrifically based on true life events. My father's father routinely got rid of unwanted pets on his Tennessee farm this way.

One year he got so fed up he rounded up all the kittens in a old fishing net and buried alive in the compost heap/

Avalonian
06-30-2003, 02:01 AM
Oh, I'm well aware of the reality of it, Askia. My grand-uncles on the farm in Wisconsin used to do the same thing, as I found out years after the fact. I was just surprised to see it referred to almost in the fashion of a gag.

I've never seen the reference before, Larry Mudd. What other cartoons was it in?

Zenster
06-30-2003, 02:21 AM
I remember seeing that cartoon. And, yeah, the reference was pretty clear. Back in the days of no SPCA to euthanize unwanted animals, this was a pretty common (if heartless) practice. On a farm, spare feed for animals represented a large chunk of change. Animals had to be working critters and too many of them served no purpose.

This reminds me very little of an old Roman method of execution. The prisoner was tied into a large sack along with a dog, a cat and a rooster, then the whole shebang was thrown off of a bridge into deep water.

Sock Munkey
06-30-2003, 02:25 AM
Why those three animals? Was it symbollic or was it to keep the person too busy fighting the animals to get out of the sack?

Walloon
06-30-2003, 02:27 AM
Was the officious cat behind the lectern supposed to be St. Peter? That in itself is interesting.

Avalonian
06-30-2003, 03:11 AM
Originally posted by Walloon
Was the officious cat behind the lectern supposed to be St. Peter? That in itself is interesting.

Walloon, that was the impression I had, though again, the whole thing was left vague. There were implicit references to Heaven and Hell through the whole cartoon, and I do believe that the old cat was meant as St. Peter.

Zenster
06-30-2003, 03:53 AM
Originally posted by Sock Munkey
Why those three animals? Was it symbollic or was it to keep the person too busy fighting the animals to get out of the sack?I think their intention was to make the prisoner suffer just a little bit* as the animals in turn fought each other and then tried to fight their way out of the sinking sack.

* When I say "just a little bit," this is in the same sense as an Englishman looking at the ocean and saying, "Rather damp, yes."

Pergau
06-30-2003, 09:08 AM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by Walloon
Was the officious cat behind the lectern supposed to be St. Peter? That in itself is interesting.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Definitely it was a feline St Peter, if there was a dog heaven it would have been a doggie St Peter.

I still can't get over the fact that heaven isn't computerised.

Zebra
06-30-2003, 09:27 AM
Originally posted by Walloon
Was the officious cat behind the lectern supposed to be St. Peter? That in itself is interesting.


I think he is St. Purrer.


:)

labboy
06-30-2003, 06:28 PM
We also used to do the kittens in a sack method of disposal. Now that we are civilized we take them to the pound where low paid government officals put them in the humane cat gas chamber. The old way might have been better, in a do your own dirty work kind of way.

StGermain
06-30-2003, 07:29 PM
I remember reading one of the Anne of Green Gables books (I can't remember which) and Anne was at the Teacher's College. She says she hopes she gets back to the farm to play with the kittens before Matthew drowns them. People then could barely manage a doctor for themselves, let alone for their animals. There were no spay and neuter programs. They weren't considered evil or even cruel people, just pragmatic ones. In fact, Anne herself was supposed to be a boy that could take over the farm chores for an aging Matthew. Her previous foster home was as a mother's helper to a woman with a bunch of kids. Love wasn't part of the adoption equation - everyone (human and animal) had to work for their keep.

StG

World Eater
06-30-2003, 07:29 PM
Wow, in regards to the OP I never caught that, and I've seen that cartoon a million times.

Pretty sad.

The Chao Goes Mu
07-01-2003, 01:50 PM
I loved Tom & Jerry as a child and never really noticed how maudlin it was. I guess I always thought of them as more "innocent" than the Fairy Tales that tormented my dreams throughout my childhood. I suppose we haven't really come that far from the horrors of Hansel and Gretel or Repunzel. ::Shudder::
However, one possible reason that T & J may have used this type of imagery is, as a few of you have stated, it was a common practice, especially on farms, to get rid of unwanted kittens this way. So, perhaps, providing the writers had any forsight, they were trying to address this issue and ease the minds of the little ones by showing them getting out of the bag and happily scammpering throught the "Purrrrrly Gates" Pun very much intended.

The Chao Goes Mu
07-01-2003, 01:52 PM
I loved Tom & Jerry as a child and never really noticed how maudlin it was. I guess I always thought of them as more "innocent" than the Fairy Tales that tormented my dreams throughout my childhood. I suppose we haven't really come that far from the horrors of Hansel and Gretel or Repunzel. ::Shudder::
However, one possible reason that T & J may have used this type of imagery is, as a few of you have stated, it was a common practice, especially on farms, to get rid of unwanted kittens this way. So, perhaps, provided the writers had any forsight, they were trying to address this issue and ease the minds of the little ones by showing them getting out of the bag and happily scammpering throught the "Purrrrrly Gates" Pun very much intended.

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