The issue of race and ethnicity is an important aspect of intercommunion and cooperation between the representatives of different ethnical groups (Chan et al., 2007). The way people perceive other races and ethnicities is predetermined by their development and influence of direct and indirect factors on their world picture. The attitude to different races forms in early childhood and develops till the adulthood. Accordingly, children receive information that formulates their attitude to different races and ethnicities since the early years of their lives. One of the most powerful ways of such influence is cartoons. One probably could not find children who do not like cartoons and adults who did not watch cartoons when they were kids. Hence, through cartoons, children receive much information that has a great impact on their perception of the world including such aspects as race and ethnicity.
In order to prove this statement and identify whether cartoons have the effect on children’s viewing of race and ethnicity, it is necessary to provide the analysis of cartoons considering their cultural and ethnical aspect. For this goal, the paper will discuss the two American cartoons focusing on how the issues of ethnicity and race are presented there. The first cartoon is Jackie Chan Adventures; it is a good example that illustrates the cross-cultural relations in a children cartoon. Despite the fact that the main events of this cartoon are dedicated to some mysterious and fantastic topic, a child receives much information about the oriental culture. In this cartoon, the main heroes are Asian Americans – Jackie Chan, his uncle, and nephew Jade. All they are the representatives of the Asian culture though they live in the United States. Besides the main characters, there are also secondary heroes such as Thoru, a large Japanese man; El Toro Fuerte, a Mexican wrestler; Fin, an Irish-American comedian, and Captain Black, the head of Section 13 (Squillace, 2000-2005). Moreover, there is a plenty of the representatives of other ethnicities as in every episode the heroes visit different places. According to this fact, this cartoon is a good subject for the analysis, because it includes the representatives of different cultures such as Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, and Irish. Every character demonstrates the specifics of his/her ethnicity. For instance, Uncle is illustrated as a wise old man, who constantly teaches others and knows almost everything about this world. Jade is the example of Chinese agility and always needs to sneak in a plug. Thoru is a slow, fat, but very kind big guy; he is not very active but embraces knowledge and physical might. A Mexican wrestler El Toro is described a bit stereotypically; he is big, muscled but always wears his wrestler’s mask and fights in a wrestler style. Fin is a skinny, redhead man with a long nose and infamous behavior. Captain Black is a representative of the American society; he is very polite, judicial and reflects calm and readiness to act.
The differences in characters based on their ethnicity had no effect on the cartoon’s plot. Positive and negative characters were representatives of both cultures. For instance, Jacky Chan is a Chinese who fights against bad ninjas and the American criminals. According to this fact, this cartoon did not divide positive and negative characters based on their ethnical origin. In general, it can be said that the cartoon shows that good and bad people exist everywhere regardless of their race or ethnical belonging.
The cartoon that is entitled Pocahontas portrayed about ten representatives of the Mongoloid race (the Reds) and six representatives of the Nordic race (Englishmen) (Pentecost, Mike Gabriel, & Goldberg, 1995). The main characters of the cartoon are Pocahontas, her father, and Captain John Smith, who falls in love with Pocahontas. These three characters are extremely important for the plot; in fact, they create the storyline. The story is about the princess and captain’s love to each other and Pocahontas’ father who was against their relationships.
In fact, there are overall differences in the behaviors and attitudes of the representatives of different races. For instance, the cartoon shows that Mongoloid race is very brave, hot-tempered, and rather stubborn, while Nordic race is calm, not so brave and easy-going. Though one can see one similarity – Pocahontas’ father is a chieftain of the Reds and John Smith is a captain; therefore, one can say that they engage in similar activities having the authority . Nevertheless, the characters of both races were portrayed positively in spite of the fact that they were enemies. To sum up, the two races were depicted positively, but there was showed their different worldviews and tempers.
In conclusion, it can be said that these cartoons might emancipate children from racial or ethnical discrimination. After watching these cartoons, they will not judge other ethnicities according to the stereotypes that exist in the society. The cartoons have showed that one may find something interesting, pleasant, and familiar in other races. Jacky Chan is a character that increases the interest of young generation in the eastern culture and mutual arts. Hence, due to the impact of this cartoon, children receive an opportunity to view this world wider. These cartoons may have much influence on children in future, especially if they visit other countries or enter a college where students from different countries study. Thus, they will not perceive other races and ethnicities as something strange or hostile. Moreover, other cultures will increase their interest, because the cartoons they saw in childhood showed that people of other ethnicity are mysterious and have much that one can admire. Thus, the contribution of cartoons to destroying racial stereotypes helps to establish positive relations with the representatives of other races in future.