Tom & Jerry: Human Performances


By: Samah Mudasar /

Tom and Jerry is one of the most famous cartoons to air. Tom and Jerry has many versions including the television series The Tom and Jerry Show (1975–77), The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show (1980–82), Tom & Jerry Kids (1990–94), Tom and Jerry Tales (2006–08), and The Tom and Jerry Show (2014–present). More than 45 television films have been produced with Tom and Jerry as the lead. Almost everyone has heard of it if not seen it in person. This cartoon series deals with the chase between a cat, Tom and a mouse, Jerry. The artists have obviously made it funny and given the characters human traits to make it more relatable to the young audience the show is aimed for. However, Tom and Jerry also pose many questions about the dominant behavior of humans with non-human animals and the human characteristics these animals possess in real life as well as in the cartoon. Tom and Jerry act like humans, throughout the show along with how the walk on their two hind legs as apposed to all 4, like actual cats and mice do. They don’t talk, no language is used but they the cat is seen drinking coffee and tea to stay awake – a behavior seen among humans, and the mouse is seen having a whole house set up in the mouse hole with a bed, a sofa, a writing table etc. They are also seen writing letter in ink on paper, something humans do or did as a means to communicate. Tom and Jerry are also seen throughout the series falling in love with other cats and mice, respectively. They are seen finding them attractive and behaving in different ways to catch their attention and try to impress them. Tom and Jerry also featured racial stereotypes. “After explosions, for example, characters with blasted faces would resemble stereotypical blacks, with large lips and bow-tied hair.” Tom and Jerry are also seen smoking in some episodes which again would be something you don’t really want children to see or follow. Moving on to sexual references, Tom and Jerry are seen with many hidden sexual innuendo’s. Some say that all cartoons have these for some for the entertainment of adults. Sexual references have been seen a lot in many cartoons.

Tom and Jerry the show – the official title page:

Tom and Jerry the show – the official title page.


This image shows Nibbles, another character in the show, wearing diapers like human babies do:


This image depicts the stereotypical black with big lips and bow-tied hair:


This image shows the African American housemaid: Mammy Two Shoes, seen taking care of the house Tom and Jerry reside in. She was stereotypically black with her accent and body type and has a rodent problem and so she is shown being terrified of Jerry:


This image shows how the show is unsuitable for kids: Tom is smoking a cigar implying that it makes on look “cool” and attracts women:

Source: https://s­media­cache-

This still from the cartoon shows how this episode ends in a suicide attempt by Tom and Jerry both:


This image deals with the sexual connotations presented by this show:


This video shows how Tom is trying to impress Toodles Galore by presenting Jerry to her as a gift and how Toodles Galore and Tom, both, are acting like human girls and boys do:

This video shows the immense violence displayed to the kids in this show. Along with the immediate recovery from injuries – implying the things they are doing aren’t that scary/hurtful:

This video shows the explosives seen being used by Tom and Jerry:


I think I particularly enjoyed Tom and Jerry a lot when I was a kid. But as I began to dive deeper into the cartoon and saw it as an adult, I caught onto the violence, sexual jokes and stereotypical characters that the makers got away with back then. I am planning on reading further into how such cartoons may affect children’s young developing brains and how psychology explains it. I think kids get influenced by watching such things specially when they are showing that the pain caused by committing a certain act is close to none when in actuality it can break your bones of worse. Through the personification of these animals, we forget to value them for how they are or what their true characteristics are.


Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation By W. J. T. Mitchell

A Comic Studies Reader By Kent Worcester, Jeet Heer.


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