If you were to look at a map of Africa from February 1938, you would find a continent full of European colonies. Many of the countries identified themselves in the names of the colonies such as Belgian Congo, French West Africa, Portuguese Guinea, and Spanish Sahara. Elsewhere in Africa, Libya was an Italian colony, Nigeria and Rhodesia were British, and Angola and Mozambique were Portuguese. Meanwhile, European and American popular culture typically depicted the continent as full of dark-skinned, cannibalistic, and nearly naked natives or powerful Europeans ruling the Africa like the fictional character Tarzan. The political philosophy that Africa was the “white man’s burden” to civilize still held sway among Westerners.
In this environment emerges the fifth cartoon of the Censored Eleven: Jungle Jitters. This Technicolor episode of Warner Brothers’ “Merrie Melodies” series is yet another entry directed by Friz Freleng, and it follows his pattern of filling the first few minutes with quick gags and then a thin plot for the remainder of the film. In this case, dark-skinned and half-clothed natives star in the gags. Their jewelry serve as jump ropes and as a merry-go-round prize. The merry-go-round consists of natives sliding up and down on their spears in a circle. Concerning ethnicity specifically, the lips of a native dramatically shiver after he eats a persimmon.
After these gags is a plot full of colonialism. A dopey,canine caricature of fictional radio character Elmer Blurt arrives at the native community. He is a pale-skinned, fully clothed door-to-door salesman, and the natives immediately put him in a pot for boiling. However, when they tell their queen–a blond, pale-skinned, fully clothed anthropomorphic chicken–about the visitor, she orders them to bring him in for her to meet. She becomes infatuated at first sight and calls for an immediate wedding, and the salesman goes through with it. But when it is time to kiss the bride, the groom voluntarily jumps back in the boiling water.
What would land this cartoon in the Censored Eleven in 1968? Probably the ethnic humor and the standard design of dark-skinned characters having lips take up the bottom-third of the head made the film a target for removal from television syndication. Those characters take up a majority of time on screen in the cartoon, making it impossible to censor just those scenes and leave much of a cartoon remaining.
Also, if you were to look at a map of Africa from 1968, you would find that many of the African colonies had become independent countries. There was no more Belgian Congo or French West Africa. Libya had gained independence, and the indigenous people of Portuguese Guinea were at war with their colonizers. With European countries taking measures to decolonize Africa in some parts and the indigenous taking matters into their own hands in others, the image in Jungle Jitters of Africa as the “white chicken-woman’s burden” no longer was relevant in 1968.