Nickelodeon Assures ADL it Will Never Run Character or Specific Comic Strip Offensive to Jews Again
New York, NY, October 20, 1998
Nickelodeon, the childrens television
network, has assured the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that it will never again use a
specific character illustration or run a particular edition of a comic strip that was
offensive to Jews. The strip, which ran the week of Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year -
and is part of the Rugrats syndicated comic strip series, portrayed the character
"Granpa Boris" in a synagogue reciting the Mourners Kaddish. The League
called the caricature of Granpa Boris reminiscent of Nazi-era depictions of Jews and said
the use of the Mourners Kaddish demeans the prayers solemnity.
Nickelodeon agreed with ADL about the inappropriateness of the strip, apologized, and
assured the League that it would never run the character or the specific strip again.
Herb Scannel, President of Nickelodeon, told ADL that "
to your point that
the television character of Granpa Boris may not translate well into a comic strip, we
agree. In order to prevent any potential misinterpretation, the Granpa Boris illustration
will no longer be used in the comic strip series." He continued by saying that,
"this particular comic strip will not be repeated in any form, and we will not make
any further use of religious or sacred prayers in the comic strip.
"Unfortunately, the creators of the strip made an error in judgment by referencing
the Kaddish. I agree with you that, however well-meaning, the use of the Kaddish in the
comic strip was inappropriate," said Mr. Scannel.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said, "We are pleased by the speedy
response from Nickelodeon regarding our concerns about the particular Rugrats comic
strip. We commend them for understanding and we are satisfied by their promise to be more
sensitive to these matters in the future and to not run the Granpa Boris illustration or
this particular strip again.
"The caricature of Granpa Boris is reminiscent of stereotypical Nazi-era
depictions of Jews and the use of the Mourners Kaddish in a jocular fashion demeans
the solemnity of the prayer," said Mr. Foxman. "We appreciate Nickelodeons
long record of creative and quality programming and understand that it was not their
intention to offend."
The Rugrats comic strip is a spin-off from the Rugrats cartoon television
show on Nickelodeon, the Viacom International Inc. owned station.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.