A Brief History Of Hiding Dicks In Cartoons

Earlier this week, an episode of Netflix's children cartoon Maya the Bee was pulled after a hidden phallus was discovered by an angry parent. Now, the studio behind the cartoon looks to be pursuing charges against the penis-drawing artist. But in truth, sneaking dicks and other sex jokes into cartoons is weirdly long-standing animation tradition.

Image: Netflix

As long as there have been children's, well, anything, there have been adults sneaking in things that should go over the heads of the target audience, whether it's "Finger Prints" from Animaniacs or that time on Cow & Chicken when a bunch of biker women showed up and started munching the carpet.

Animation has sometimes gone a step beyond just jokes. In the days when movies either just played in theatres, or when pausing a VHS at just the right time was a tricky proposition, slipping a dirty drawing into a single frame was the source of a number of true stories and urban legend.

Disney has been accused of it several times, though it has mostly denied it. Famous examples include 1992's Aladdin, where Aladdin sounds like he's saying "Good teenagers take off your clothes," and 1994's The Lion King, where someone reportedly wrote "SEX" in the sky (some say it was SFX, for special effects). But sometimes, animators have to get extra sneaky to get their jokes past the censors.

Hence, the hidden dick.

Now, one of the most famous -- and one of the earlier -- purported hidden dicks was from The Little Mermaid's home video box art (which I owned a copy of). It came out in 1990, six months after it was in theatres, and people pointed out that one of the spires on King Triton's castle looked remarkably like a penis.

Snopes later debunked this theory by chatting with the artist himself, who said he drew the cover in a hurry and didn't notice that one of the spires looked like a dick until someone in his church group pointed it out. Still, no one has ever forgotten The Little Mermaid's castle penis. Once you see it, you can't un-see it.

And while The Little Mermaid penis scandal was denied, there was another hidden sex bit even earlier that Disney did end up confessing to. In 1977's The Rescuers, there's a scene where Bianca and Bernard fly through the city on the back of Orville the albatross, and there are two separate frames where a real topless woman can be seen through a window of a building in the background.

According to Snopes, Disney recalled over three million copies of The Rescuers Down Under in 1999, over 20 years after the film came out, because of the images.

There's an obvious penis in 1991's An American Tail: Feivel Goes West. While Tanya Mousekewitz is singing "Dream to Dream," where there's a brief flash of a penis doodle right next to her face. I recently watched the movie on Netflix. And yep, it's there. You can't miss it.

But it's not just dicks that are being snuck into animation, you've also got female anatomy. In 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Jessica Rabbit's vagina gets a brief exposure after she and Bob Hoskins are thrown from a cab during a car accident. Someone removed her underwear for a few short frames, leaving her completely bare.

The studio behind Maya the Bee might be furious that a penis snuck its way onto the show (read its apology here), but it's not the first time that's happened in the history of animation. But in the era of streaming and screencapture, maybe it's time for everyone to grow up a little.

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    More disturbing, pervy, and worrying are the psychos who complain about this stuff.

      What do you mean, its a penis kids cannot be aloud to know what that is

        Not sure whether you're joking or not...

        The stupid thing is roughly half the audience already has one so doesn't care. And the other half of the audience has probably seen one (even at that age) and doesn't care either because they're too young to give a damn. After all lots of little kids get bathed together regardless of whether they're brother and sister. It's not sexual, it's just anatomy at that stage.

        While it probably shouldn't be snuck into a cartoon it's not like it's going to scar them for life or scare them or anything.

          I was most definitely joking. Australian's in particular are very prude compared to many other places in the world.

            No worries, sometimes humour doesn't translate well on the net.

            It's weird, I remember as a little kid (like 3 years old or something) running around on the beach naked. No one batted an eye. But now... there'd be ten different types of outrage.

            The prudishness is weird, since we have people merrily parading topless on the beach, or dressing like prostitutes for selfies. Then turning around and being offended by other little things. It's like a complete blind spot.

              Yep. I am living in Switzerland at the moment, and the attitude over nudity etc is just so different. Children are just aloud to be children.

              On top of that they walk to and from school by themselves, it is encouraged and almost mandated. At the age of 4. The cross streets etc and there is basically no talk about stranger danger. In Australia the kids were terrified because it was so ingrained in them to be afraid of everyone because they are going to snatch you.

                I remember being taught about stranger danger 40 years ago, but that didn't stop parents letting kids walk to school. I don't see a problem with educating the kids about possible risks but trying to cotton wrap them is futile.

                I think the threat's overblown. Yes I'm sure the odd kid does get snatched, but a lot of them seem to be by people they know. It's less stranger danger and more creepy relative/friend danger. And unless you *never* let your kids out of eyesight then there is *always* risk, not just going to and from school.

      How about boobah, not a cartoon, but the end of the show in theyre in their cribs they ARE micropenises with big ballsacks and for bonis points actually ejaculate from the middle of their heads at the start of the show!!!

    Have a look at Peppa Pig’s head. Tell me it isn’t!

    A history and you only show two examples?

    I recall John, from Play School, talking about "a lovely back door" when one of the women (could have been Bettina?) was pretending to be a house. He was hilarious, often.

      There was a brotish show called 'Rainbow' with an outtake reel for a bbc christmas party that ended up released where theyre talking about 'getting out your balls and playing with your twangers. If you dont have balls ask if you can play with someone elses' - google it!

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