Meaning of the Colors in the Portrayal of the Animated Characters: A Structuralist-Semiotic Content Analysis of Tom and Jerry

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Md Mohiul Islam
Hamedi Mohd Adnan
Mohd Amir Mat Omar
Nilufa Akter


Tom and Jerry has been dominating the watch-lists of the cartoon lovers of all ages around the globe since its birth in 1940. It gradually has become one of the most popular cartoons of all time by winning the hearts not only of the children but also of the adult by displaying the slapstick comedy through an unending rivalry between Tom, the cat and Jerry, the mouse. The other characters like Butch (villain), Spike (dog), Toodles Galore (heroine), Nibbles (Jerry’s nephew), Topsy (alley cat), Meat Head (alley cat) have added extra flavors to the plot of different episodes. However, it is not only the slapstick comedy and the unending feud between the cat and the mouse that has made the cartoon to be a topic for discussion. Through the characterization, Tom and Jerry has created some controversies which turned the compass towards racist representations of the African Americans in the cartoon. However, the use of colors while characterization in the very cartoon persisted untouched. The concentration of this study is on the characters of Butch, the alley cat within black and Toodles Galore, the white kitten. Hence this study focuses on the usages of different colors in portraying different characters in Tom and Jerry. Through a content analysis focusing the colors used for the characterization of the different characters of the cartoon, this study discovers the stereotypical depiction of the villain and the heroine through respectively black and white in Tom and Jerry. By adopting structuralist-semiotic analysis as an approach, this study reveals the relationship between the colors and the attributes of the characters in Tom and Jerry, specifically the character of the villain and the heroine. Through this relationship between colors and characters, and by analyzing the characteristics of the characters along with the meanings of colors in the western world, this study also discovers how the Western media has used the colors to make a stereotypical depiction of the villain in black and the heroine in white in Tom and Jerry.



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