New warnings on Tom and Jerry 'empty-headed'

New warnings of "racism" slapped on classic Tom and Jerry cartoons have been attacked as "empty-headed" by a sociologist and cultural commentator.

Tom and Jerry

On iTunes and Amazon, Tom and Jerry cartoons now come with a warning some episodes show "ethnic and racial predjudice" once "commonplace" in US society.

"Some of them may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society. These depictions were wrong and are wrong today," the warning states.

But Professor Frank Furedi has labelled the warnings as "false piousness" and a type of censorship which "seems to be sweeping cultural life".

"We're reading history backwards, judging people in the past by our values," the University of Kent professor told the BBC.

Claims of racist stereotyping centre around the cartoon's depiction of African-American maid Mammy Two Shoes.

Over the years Warner Bros has altered the character, changing her voice or replacing her with a white housemaid.

In one DVD release of the Tom and Jerry cartoons in 2005, the US comedian Whoopi Goldberg recorded an introduction, saying the cartoons: "come to us from a time when racial and ethnic differences were caricatured in the name of entertainment."

Goldberg, a fan of the cartoons, added that retaining the racial and ethnic stereotypes was important because they "accurately reflect a part of our history that can not and should not be ignored."