Sunday, April 22, 2012

Patty Mayonnaise: Race Warrior?

Girl, you knocked me to the ground. Bitches always be trippin'.
I've discovered one wonderful thing about becoming a responsible adult:

If you stay up late enough at night, there are plenty of old cartoons on television.

Admittedly, it's also kind of a curse, insofar as Transformers Generation 1 is pretty weak, as is G.I. Joe, Doug, Rugrats, Hey, Arnold! and every other show I can catch at 1 a.m. Up-shot: these shows were really straightforward about being preachy or, more often, a little racist.

Except when it came to race, surprisingly. I guess you could be a little culturally racist back then, just not racially racist. Point in fact: I just watched a few episodes of Archer. They openly say, "You're black…ish?" Granted, that's for adults, but adults who are my age and therefore remember characters like Suzie from Rugrats. Suzie was black. No one ever said anything, because it didn't matter to her character, but she definitely spoke and acted with a particularly … urban '90s flare.

Or, let's continue being forthcoming, Patty Mayonnaise was almost certainly at least a quarter black.

Listen, Doug was Caucasian. His dad was a little Jewish or Mediterranean, and his mom was so pink it's patently obvious she was Irish. Skeeter was clearly supposed to be African-American as far as style was concerned, but is dad was an angry, stout, German type. Beebe Bluff was a WASP, but purple, Roger was classic, middle-America green-trash hick, and the Dinks were also rather violet, and rich, so let's accept that they're similarly in vein with Beebe's heritage.

But Patty was orange. So was her dad. She definitely wasn't Hispanic, but she was by far the darkest character on Doug next to Skeeter, even though she and her father both had blond hair. Taking Skeeter into account, and her resemblance to her father, the most reasonable explanation is that Patty was the offspring of her half-black father and her either also half-black or otherwise light skinned, now-deceased mother.

Is this a big deal? Not in the slightest! But it's weird, in retrospect, to realize it was never addressed. The protagonist's love interest was a minority in their school, who at times faced discrimination, but only ever for being a girl, or talented, or too popular for her own sanity. Never because of her heritage or her paraplegic father. Did all the other Bluffington kids work through those foibles prior to the fourth grade?

Honestly, I'm pretty glad that race was never made an issue in Doug. It was entirely superfluous to the characters, which says a lot about race relations among the children in Bluffington. Maybe that's not how they did things in Bloatsberg.

Still, they made a big deal out of everything else, even the Beat(le)s. Just surprising they never tapped that well.

You know, like Doug obviously did after prom.

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