The head of Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS), Ambassador Salah Abdel Sadek, has attributed the rise of violence and extremism across the Arab world to children’s cartoon Tom and Jerry, video games and ‘violent’ movies.
During a speech at a conference titled ‘The Media and the Culture of Violence’ at Cairo University, the Ambassador said that Tom and Jerry sets an idea in the viewer’s mind that violence is natural.
“[Tom and Jerry] portrays the violence in a funny manner and sends the message that, yes, I can hit him…and I can blow him up with explosives. It becomes set in [the viewer’s] mind that this is natural,” said Ambassador Abdel Sadek.
“Video games are spreading…[those] that came out recently with technological advancements. It has become very normal for a young man to spend long hours playing video games, killing and spilling blood and he’s happy and content,” continued the Ambassador, adding that young people are then faced with social pressures that push them to resort to violence, which they consider normal and understandable.
After the SIS head’s statement, privately-owned Youm7 published an article titled “Five Accusations Tom and Jerry Faces in Egypt”. The article says the cartoon teaches children about negative habits, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, and stealing.
The author of Youm7’s article adds that Tom and Jerry warps the idea of justice, helps children come up with sinister plans, and encourages violence and the use of sharp instruments such as knives, guns, and chainsaws.
Despite the SIS head’s statements, it does not yet appear that the government will actually take any steps to censor Tom and Jerry or video games. However, Egypt has had a history of censoring movies, primarily due to the sexual content depicted in some scenes. For example, Wolf of Wall Street’s running time was reduced by 45 minutes in Egypt, with many scenes showing sexual activity and drug use cut.
Tom and Jerry, an American cartoon, was created in the 1940s. Numerous episodes have been the subject of controversy, mainly over racial stereotypes and the glamorization of smoking.
The U.S. and the United Kingdom have censored some episodes that included racial stereotypes, while Boomerang in the UK made some edits due to the prominent nature of smoking. Meanwhile, Cartoon Network in Brazil censored two episodes deemed “politically incorrect” over “editorial issues and appropriateness of the content to the target audience.”
Feel like reminiscing? Watch one episode of Tom and Jerry below!