Cancel Culture

Captain Underpants Author Self-Cancels Book for 'Passive Racism'

Passive, indeed.


Dav Pilkey is the author of the bestselling children's book series Captain Underpants. He also wrote (and illustrated) a spinoff, The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future, which was published in 2010.

Now Ook and Gluk is unpublished. Scholastic and Pilkey announced last week that the book would no longer be available.

"Together, we recognize that this book perpetuates passive racism," said the publisher in a statement. "We are deeply sorry for this serious mistake."

This act of self-cancelation was prompted in part by a petition that claimed Ook and Gluk was filled with racist imagery of Asians:

I am a Korean-American father of two young children, ages 5 and 7. Both are huge fans of Dav Pilkey, author of wildly popular series Captain Underpants and Dogman, and recently borrowed "Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen From the Future" by the author from their local library.

I realized the book relied upon multiple instances of racist imagery and stereotypical tropes, including a Kung Fu master; wearing what's purported to be a traditional-style Tang coat, dashes for eyes for the Asian characters, stereotypical Chinese proverbs, and a storyline that has the Kung Fu master rescued by the non-Asian protagonists using their Kung Fu skills (despite the fact that they were taught said skills from the supposed master).

The originator of that petition was not satisfied with the book merely disappearing from shelves: He also demanded an apology and "accountability" from Pilkey and a donation to "an AAPI [Asian American and Pacific Islander] community organization." In a statement posted to his YouTube page, Pilkey pledged to meet all of these demands.

"I hope that you, my readers, will forgive me, and learn from my mistake that even unintentional and passive stereotypes and racism is harmful to everyone," said Pilkey. "I apologize, and I pledge to do better."

Authors and publishers are free to take their work off the market. Still, there's cause for some concern here. With this level of apologizing, you might have expected Ook and Gluk to be really, really racist—at least something comparable to the most offensive Dr. Seuss cartoons. As it turns out, the evidence of passive racism here is extremely thin. (The adjective "passive" was sort of a giveaway.) The person who teaches Ook and Gluk about kung fu is indeed drawn as Asian, and he does engage in various traditional Asian activities. If the caricature had been less accurate, would that have made it better or worse?

Most of the characters in Pilkey's work are drawn to be funny-looking; as best as I can tell, the plots of the stories are absurdist and vaguely scornful of authority. The Captain Underpants series are among the most frequently challenged books in American schools and libraries: The crude humor, offensive language, violence, and pro-LGBT content have often come under attack from social conservatives. Now they're taking flak from another direction.

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  1. What an awful world we’re creating for ourselves.

    1. As I’ve said before, these complainants aren’t good people who take things too far just because they feel really strongly about racial justice.
      It’s because they’re terrible, awful, evil people who are using phony allegations of racism as an excuse to indulge their garbage natures.

      The poseurs who signed that phony petition, should be the ones handing out groveling apologies.

      1. Yeah, they want to destroy shit, not help.
        Douglas Murray says it very well. You shouldn’t listen to criticism from people who don’t mean you well.

    2. You’ve got that right. Instituting a (self) censorship regime is insane.
      What’s amazing is how little effort it takes to get works erased, which only encourages more of this nonsense and ultimately a sterile existence.

    3. Make 6,000 dollar to 8,000 dollar A Month Online With No Prior Experience Or Skills Required. Be Your Own Boss And Choose Your Own Work Hours. Thanks A lot…………..USA PART TIME JOB.

    4. I am a Korean-American father of two young children, ages 5 and 7. Both are huge fans of Dav Pilkey, author of wildly popular series Captain Underpants and Dogman, and recently borrowed ok and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen From the Future” by the author from their local library…………….MORE DETAIL.

    5. Most of the characters in Pilkey’s work are drawn to be funny-looking; as best as I can tell, the plots of the stories are absurdist and vaguely scornful of authority…………MORE DETAIL.

  2. Now they’re taking flak from another direction.

    And they deserve it for being such a groveling weenie. Anyone who puts up with that, deserves it.

    1. Notice they didn’t remove or apologize for any of it till this. “crude humor, offensive language, violence, and pro-LGBT content” is a-ok. But drawings of Asians is forbidden. Seems sorta like Muslims and Mohammed. Should we remove all drawings and references to Asians everywhere?

    2. “I am Captain Underpants”, she said, hiding in the woods from the Firemen.

        1. I saw England
          I saw France
          I saw no racist underpants

  3. “stereotypical Chinese proverbs”

    Confucius say, “Bird in the hand is NOT better than two in the bush”

    1. Confucius say, “Man who takes a journey to wokeness shall be poor by the 1000th step”.

    2. “Many man smoke, but Fu Manchu.”

    3. “Man who eats bat for sexual aid may fuck the whole world”.

      1. Confucius say bat emblem of longevity.

        Confucius still dead seven dynasties later.

    4. Isn’t it “One in a bird is better than two in the hand”?

      (“A bird” can also be replaced with “the bush”)

  4. Hey Robby, you should start calling this shit what it is:

  5. Self-criticism sessions are an important part of the creation of the New Communist Man, as practiced by the Red Guard.
    Or, he could just be too stupid.

    Now we know he is a self-identified racist, can we burn all his other books?

  6. We need to dissolve into separate nations; one for the sane, another for the idiots. I’d say it’s about 50/50.

    And be prepared; the idiots, who mostly infest urban areas, will come begging for food and other essentials within a short time. This immediately after they’ve eaten all of their pets.

    1. And be prepared; the idiots, who mostly infest urban areas, will come begging for food and other essentials within a short time.

      When you see them approaching, play a recording over a loudspeaker demanding they cannibalize the fatties after which they will be granted entry. Once they eat the fatties, shoot them anyway.

    2. This immediately after they’ve eaten all of their pets.

      I refuse to believe that they are all smart enough and all of their pets dumb enough achieve this end. They might eat all the goldfish provided the aquariums and koi ponds are shallow enough.

    3. I hope you’re already inclined to prefer smaller groups!

  7. There better be a whole lot of trans and queer in that book if Pilkey hopes to make the ALA’s 2021 Banned Books List.

  8. Ugh. How is any of that racism? Do East Asians not have differently shaped eyes? Lots of people draw non-Asians with black dots for eyes. Is that racist too? If we can’t have fun with each other’s cultures, we’re not going to have any culture at all that’s worth having.
    And while I’m being cranky, what the hell cultural or historical connection (besides the PIs having come from Taiwan over 1000 years ago) is there between Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that makes them a “community”? This is all just setting people against each other.

    1. Imagine the outrage if an Asian character was drawn with round eyes. He’d be accused of whitewashing.

      Also consider how many Asians teach martial arts to white people. Is the goal to teach them just enough to not be any good at it?

      1. Also how many old people teach young people things they can not do as well as they used to… but can still teach it.

        1. What I’m learning is that the Karate Kid plot should be changed to this:
          Mr. Miyagi starts teaching Daniel Karate, but realizes that he is the real champion, and he can’t allow this precocious child to steal his cultural heritage.
          Mr. Miyagi Karate chops Daniel and decided to enter the tournament himself. He easily conquers all the westerners, after which they all apologize for attempting to appropriate his culture and vow to never do any activities, eat any foods, or wear any clothing related to Asian cultures again.
          Racism is defeated at last!

          1. According to this, isn’t having an Asian character as a Karate Master or Sensei racist? Is using the word Sensei racist?

    2. The really absurd thing is that their traditional art does the same thing.

      The more realistic paintings of women’s faces that aims for realism are more subtle with the eye tilt, length, and narrowness, but the works with less detailed faces use lines and narrow, slants. Almost like our depiction of Asians comes directly from their own art.

      1. Well then that’s cultural appropriation. They’ve got you coming or going.

    3. Ask a chinese friend about jungle asians some time…

      1. Emperor Ming The Merciless has decreed death in the radium furnace for any who dare appropriate the syllables of Mongo

  9. This is what a moral panic looks like. And it’s all thanks to our totalitarian Leftist friends aka progressives or Democrats.

  10. When do we begin to burn books? What’s the over / under?

    1. There are books left to burn?

      No, we can’t take the chance that someone might read one of the forbidden books before burning it.

    2. Books aren’t burned, just deleted from the hard drive.

    3. They are literally burning these books. They have issued a recall of all inventory. They are trying to get them off of the shelves at libraries. I am talking about scholastic, the publisher. They are issuing a warning to all libraries that they have sold the books to.

      You don’t have to imagine anything. They are literally doing it right now as you watch.

  11. Fucking loser. Never apologize. They’ll never forgive you, and it just energizes them to look for more.

    1. Fuck that nonsense. It takes character to sincerely apologize for rational reasons.

      Nobody is perfect. If we cause suffering through our own ignorance and we learn or choose to sincerely do better, an apology is how we let those hurt know our intentions to begin conflict resolution.

      If however the perceived suffering we cause is the result of our sharing truth, reality to the delusional, an act of love, there is no reason to be sorry.

      The reality is that different races can look and act differently. Depicting that is nothing to be sorry about.

      1. Yes, it takes character to sincerely apologize for rational reasons.

        But that’s not what is going on here.

        1. I don’t think so either.

          I think that the woke zealots of the cancel culture are coercing people with very real threats to discard rational critical thinking and accept their indefensible ideology.

          The founders of the constitution anticipated this and gave us the inalienable right to free speech to allow open debate to carry the day.

          Just having the right obviously isn’t enough. We have to stand up for our rights in steadfast opposition to those who don’t.

    2. “They’ll” never forgive you? The author is one of “them.” He doesn’t forgive himself.

  12. So how do you draw a cartoon chink, or nigger or spic or gringo?

    Stick drawings? How woke am I?

    1. Just to remind any new readers here… Rob the Miserable denies the holocaust! Don’t engage with it; it knows NO reason, NO logic, NO facts, and CERTAINLY no honesty or benevolence!

      1. Just to remind any new readers here…SQRLSY the Psychotic eats feces! Don’t engage with it; it knows NO dinner etiquette, NO oral hygiene, NO respect for boundaries of the dogs in the park, and CERTAINLY will die of hepatitis!

      2. I accept that the holocaust did actually occur.
        But I’m sympathetic to Rob, because I inherently don’t trust anything that you aren’t allowed to question, whether that be religion, science, or history.

        1. I don’t need no stinking dipshit sympathy.

          If you want to review the evidence that soundly refutes the holocaust you can read the book,

          Breaking the Spell: The Holocaust, Myth & Reality.

    2. You can’t without being racist, so avoid racism by only drawing white characters in your cartoons.

  13. Worse than this I’ve seen people pre-apologizing for some unknown wrong they will get called out for in the future.

    Like seriously that is gonna work. The process is the punishment, you don’t get to flog yourself.

  14. This seems especially ridiculous because the express premise of this book (which I’ve read) is that the story you’re reading is being written and drawn by elementary school kids who are a couple of goofs (Harold and George from the Captain Underpants books), so one would hardly expect a nuanced portrayal of race and culture from them!

  15. At least now that Pilky has apologized, this has all been put behind us, all is forgiven, he can now move on with his life and we can all be friends again.

    1. Will you be here all week?

      1. Not if he says something offensive and we have to cancel him!

  16. dashes for eyes for the Asian characters

    As opposed to the proper way of portraying eyes.

  17. Needs more flagellation.

  18. Now they’re taking flak from another direction.

    Uh… the article lays out how the flak is not internal to the publisher or the author but the result of a 3rd party petition. So, how is this a self-cancellation any more than any of the others?

    1. It’s a “self-cancellation” because it’s the author who’s withdrawing the book from publication. There’s no indication that the publisher thought there was a problem, so he presumably could have toughed it out if he had wanted to.

  19. Self censorship = cancellation

  20. Depicting race is not racist.

  21. Time to start punching cancellers.

  22. With Captain Underpants and Dr Seuss getting cancelled, I’m going to have to write a few children’s books for my grand kids.
    How about, “Captain Saggin’Pants Earns an Autopsy” or “Woke, woke, have a stroke”?

  23. “pro-LGBT content”

    Don’t ya love it?

  24. Sorry, folks, but everything is racist to folks who see everything as racist.

  25. The Charlie Chan movies have been somewhat cancelled, but people don’t realize that he talked that way not because he was Chinese, but Hawaiian. He was based on a real life detective that spoke a Creole form of English that was apparently common in Hawaii at the time.

    1. Black people also used to speak the minstrelly, and that shit has been verboten for 30 years.
      I wonder how long before the slave narratives get cancelled. Not only do the writers attempt to portray what the former slaves actually sounded like, many of the former slaves didnt think slavery was all that bad.

    2. While I’m personally a fan of the Charlie Chan films and think criticisms of them being racist are often overstated (Chan is smarter and more capable than all the white cops and in most of the pre-WW2 films he’s busting rich white people!), the films are far more “cancelled” due to having white actors in “yellow face” portray the character than because of how the character talked.

  26. One offended reader. Others feigning offense because they were told to. Welcome to 2021.

    1. He’s a little less lame than that Mumford and Sons douchenozzle.

      Cannot believe how insanely LAME entertainers are. Weren’t they once, you know, kinda cool?

      1. It’s the real threat of cancelling, exercise free speech and you’ll never work again.

        They used to be cool before the woke cancel culture stepped all over our rights because we let them, like a bitch.

  27. Why is a korean guy losing his shit about a chinese character doing kung fu? Does it offend his nonexistent chinese heritage?

    1. Does this mean we can group them all up as Asians again?

      1. Despite thousands of years of war with one another, it is clear that all Asians are now unified against a common enemy. White Supremacists.
        These groups by definition include:
        Central Asians Afghani, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgians, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Mongolian, Tajik, Turkmen, Uzbek. East Asians Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Okinawan, Taiwanese, Tibetan. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (in the U.S. Jurisdictions & Territories) Carolinian, Chamorro, Chuukese, Fijian, Guamanian, Hawaiian, Kosraean, Marshallesse, Native Hawaiian, Niuean, Palauan, Pohnpeian, Papua New Guinean, Samoan, Tokelauan, Tongan, Yapese.Southeast Asians Bruneian, Burmese, Cambodian, Filipino, Hmong, Indonesian, Laotian, Malaysian, Mien, Singaporean, Timorese, Thai, Vietnamese South Asians Bangladeshi, Bhutanese, Indian, Maldivians, Nepali, Pakistani, Sri Lankan.
        About a year ago former president Trump referred to a flu that originated in China as the Chinese Flu. This despicable behavior led to millions of white supremacists (mostly young black men) organizing brutal attacks on Asians of all descriptions. This formerly diverse group now speaks with a single voice and a single goal. The permanent rule of the Democratic party.

  28. – Chinese teaches kung fu = racism
    – Westerner teaches kung fu = cultural appropriation

    – Chinese depicted with slant eyes = racism
    – Chinese depicted with round eyes = erasure

    See how these things work?

    1. … not really, no

  29. If it comes from Change-org, shit-can it.

  30. The entire Hong Kong film industry will be shocked to know that depicting Chinese people as Kung fu Masters wearing traditional garb is racist.

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