Pages

Jump to bottom

23 comments

1 Bob Levin  Sun, Apr 22, 2012 8:22:07pm

I've really gotten into the culture of the 1930s and 40s. I don't dress in that way, but I observe quite a bit. As it turns out, just about all of the cartoon characters from those years were based on working actors and musicians that everyone recognized.

I even saw a movie where a man spoke with the voice of Elmer Fudd. Not Mel Blanc doing Elmer Fudd, but this guy's natural voice was what we've come to know as Elmer Fudd.

Years pass, and all of these folks pass away. All that is left is the cartoon caricature of their existence--but we don't know about the people the cartoonists were drawing--and it appears to be worse than it is, nowadays.

It should be noted that all of the people being lampooned were making very good money during the Depression, and were themselves comics. But the sense of humor was different then, as the comic took on their own fictitious character, usually stupid and prone to slapstick. There were comedy teams, each with a 'gimmick'. In the fifties comics were more themselves, still doing schtick, but the self-deprecating, neurotic routine was creeping in.

Then shocking became funny. Followed by irony and satire. And that's where we are today, when you really can't tell the difference between the Onion and the real news.

2 SpaceJesus  Sun, Apr 22, 2012 9:28:28pm

um...

3 Sheila Broflovski  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 5:06:28am

re: #1 Bob Levin

You miss the point. This film was not made in the '30's '40's or '50's which in those days were full of sickening racial stereotypes. This movie was made in 1992, and the character was voiced by Tim Curry, who could have spoofed himself from RHPS, but instead did a "black man" voice for a "toxic cloud monster" with stereotypical "minstrel show" lips.

4 JEA62  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 8:35:50am

And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Perhaps the character's black because oil is black and black is the traditional villain color. Not everything's about race.

5 wrenchwench  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 9:05:39am

re: #4 JEA62

And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Perhaps the character's black because oil is black and black is the traditional villain color. Not everything's about race.

Unintentional Irony?

Self-refuting comment?

Tragedy?

6 Sheila Broflovski  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 9:45:06am

re: #4 JEA62

And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Perhaps the character's black because oil is black and black is the traditional villain color. Not everything's about race.

I wasn't talking about the toxic cloud being a black color, but the stereotypical minstrel-show big lips. As pointed out above, they could have used the RHPS disembodied red lips instead of a racial stereotype.

7 JEA62  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 12:06:58pm

re: #5 wrenchwench

What color was Darth Vader dressed in from head to toe? Seen an old Western? The Wicked Witch in Oz? Malificent in Sleeping Beauty or the Queen in Snow White? The Devil in Night on Bald Mountain sequence in Fantasia (which was the obvious inspiration for this sequence)? It's a convention, especially in animated movies.

Don't kill the messenger. I didn't make up the rules.

8 JEA62  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 12:09:20pm

re: #6 Learned Mother of Zion

I get that - I've seen the old cartoons with the blackface and big white lips. I just don't think that was the intent here. I saw Ferngully (don't waste your time - even Robin Williams couldn't save it) and I don't think it's racism, intentional or unintentional.

9 Bob Levin  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 12:12:19pm

re: #3 Learned Mother of Zion

I was talking about the Dumbo crows. And I ended up doing some research after I wrote the comment. My first thought was not, these are black people, but rather, who are these crows supposed to be. I checked out Cabin the the Sky, since I remembered a cigar chomping character in that movie--and would that movie be considered racist?--but Cabin was made after Dumbo.

Two of the crows had the moves of Willie Best and Steppin Fetchit. Steppin, or Lincoln Perry in real life, was very accomplished, became a millionaire in the 30s and 40s, wrote for the Black newspaper in Chicago, eventually became a member of the Nation of Islam. Before films, he owned a carnival, and was huge in vaudeville. It then occurred to me that radio was huge in those days, which led me to Amos 'n Andy. The voice of one of the crows was definitely based off of Kingfish. But this show was like Andy Griffith in radio days, with sophisticated stories, and the kind of warmth that Mayberry was known for. Was the Andy Griffith show racist because no Black people lived in Mayberry?

I kept reading. The actual crow performers were contract players for Disney, I believe they were Black men--but that led me to questions about Disney himself. Nowadays, we can't see the works of Lincoln Perry, or some Disney films because they aren't politically correct. And Disney, we know his reputation. Turns out, Neil Gabler was granted access to the Disney archives and concluded that Walt was not the antisemite of legend.

However, in the process of all of this I found there were many Black vaudeville performers who we will never know about, just like there were many Black baseball players we will never know about, who where very popular and successful in their day. Not to mention that the reputation of performers who simply took the best available work, and did quite well, are not recognized as helping to bring about the changes in the later part of the century--when they helped a great deal.

10 Simply Sarah  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 12:18:02pm

re: #9 Bob Levin

What the heck are you trying to say here? You ramble on and on about this and that, but the main takeaway seems to be saying that "Don't call old works racists! That's just how things were then!"

11 wrenchwench  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 12:30:20pm

re: #7 JEA62

What color was Darth Vader dressed in from head to toe? Seen an old Western? The Wicked Witch in Oz? Malificent in Sleeping Beauty or the Queen in Snow White? The Devil in Night on Bald Mountain sequence in Fantasia (which was the obvious inspiration for this sequence)? It's a convention, especially in animated movies.

Don't kill the messenger. I didn't make up the rules.

I don't blame you, except perhaps for missing the irony in your comment.

Disney productions have been rife with racism. You name a lot of Disney productions there. A more blatant example than yours was deleted from the 1960 re-release of Fantasia.

Sure, black hats vs. white hats may have preceded Disney, but that doesn't mean it's not racist. Just because something is a convention doesn't mean it's not racist.

re: #9 Bob Levin

See above.

12 Bob Levin  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 12:32:03pm

re: #10 Simply Sarah

I'm saying that you can't jump from Huck Finn to Chris Rock. And even if you can't see the movement leading to the changes that eventually took place, people were trying to get to those changes. It may not look like it, but they were strong, smart people.

I'm also saying that to find the real racism in those days, you didn't need to look for subtle messages. Groups existed that were proud of their racism. The Klan marched through Washington D.C. in the 20s. They had the backing of law enforcement and members of Congress. They didn't play with symbolism.

The entertainment industry was different in many ways, trying to avoid politics and controversy. And eventually, many civil rights organizations recognized these stars for their accomplishments. Whatever forces that led to the demise of that kind of racism were working back then--the forces were just not quite as visible or as clear as Dick Gregory.

13 Bob Levin  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 12:40:11pm

re: #11 wrenchwench

Oh there's no question that those scenes are uncomfortable to watch. But the folks who created those scenes were most likely part of the Civil Rights movement in their later years--not supporters of George Wallace.

14 wrenchwench  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 12:42:28pm

re: #13 Bob Levin

Oh there's no question that those scenes are uncomfortable to watch. But the folks who created those scenes were most likely part of the Civil Rights movement in their later years--not supporters of George Wallace.

That doesn't mean they weren't perpetuating racism by creating those scenes.

15 Simply Sarah  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 12:45:30pm

re: #13 Bob Levin

Oh there's no question that those scenes are uncomfortable to watch. But the folks who created those scenes were most likely part of the Civil Rights movement in their later years--not supporters of George Wallace.

I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous. You're basically saying that we should ignore the racism in works because the people that made said racist works probably maybe you think potentially did something to fight racism later. Which is funny, since the film industry has a really bad history when it comes to race and it's still not exactly a shining example now.

16 JEA62  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 12:57:51pm

re: #11 wrenchwench

You seem to be saying I don't think racism exists in movies. I know there's racism is in old movies and especially old cartoons; I'm aware of the removed section in Fantasia. And I know the stereotypes portrayed in Disney, Warner Bros, Tom and Jerry, and other cartoons. I know about the banned cartoons (I bought a DVD that somehow had one of them on it - it's disgusting). I know about the removed sections in a few of the T&J cartoons also.

17 wrenchwench  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 1:10:53pm

re: #16 JEA62

You seem to be saying I don't think racism exists in movies. I know there's racism is in old movies and especially old cartoons; I'm aware of the removed section in Fantasia. And I know the stereotypes portrayed in Disney, Warner Bros, Tom and Jerry, and other cartoons. I know about the banned cartoons (I bought a DVD that somehow had one of them on it - it's disgusting). I know about the removed sections in a few of the T&J cartoons also.

Your first comment here

re: #4 JEA62

And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Perhaps the character's black because oil is black and black is the traditional villain color. Not everything's about race.

implies that you don't think Alouette's example above is racist.

Your second comment seems to excuse other examples because they fall within convention.

I don't doubt that you know there's racism in movies and cartoons, and by commenting on your comments, I don't mean to criticize you. We differ only in degree, I guess, or else I just read you wrong.

18 Bob Levin  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 1:15:09pm

re: #14 wrenchwench

I think at some level they were trying to get rid of it. It's counter-intuitive, but I think that's the case. This is what so much of the generational fight was about in the sixties, the generation gap. It was my generation being absolutely dumbfounded that our parents and grandparents could have put up with such a horrible system. And our parents simply could not communicate to us how much they did fight, and how hard they did try to change things.

What both generations were looking at was an extremely deep and almost unmovable problem--which still persists today, although significantly weakened. I just think it's important to recognize the work that they did, and the thickness of the wall they were trying to bring down.

Here's an indicator of how thick the wall was--it took WWII to significantly weaken it, not bring it down, to significantly weaken it. What do you think five generations from us will say about our attitudes? How would you feel if two generations from now kids tell you that you really didn't care or do enough about the issue of hatred?

19 Bob Levin  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 1:23:44pm

re: #15 Simply Sarah

No, not ignore it. Just don't repeat it. And don't vilify those who really wanted to see it change, but just couldn't change it enough.

20 wrenchwench  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 1:25:31pm

re: #18 Bob Levin

I think at some level they were trying to get rid of it. It's counter-intuitive, but I think that's the case.

Unless you know what specific people you are talking about, and what their actions besides making these cartoons were, you are being what I consider to be overly generous towards them, by assuming the best about them.

It was my generation being absolutely dumbfounded that our parents and grandparents could have put up with such a horrible system. And our parents simply could not communicate to us how much they did fight, and how hard they did try to change things.

My mother's battle was obvious to me, from the time she taught me to say 'catch a tiger by the toe' rather than the other version, through using me as her sidekick proving that landlords would rent to us white folks but told the black family there before us the place was taken, and so on.

How would you feel if two generations from now kids tell you that you really didn't care or do enough about the issue of hatred?

Maybe I'm avoiding that by harping on these tiny nuances. :) Or maybe I'm just avoiding work...

I'm done now.

21 Bob Levin  Mon, Apr 23, 2012 1:41:42pm

re: #20 wrenchwench

Unless you know what specific people you are talking about, and what their actions besides making these cartoons were, you are being what I consider to be overly generous towards them, by assuming the best about them.

I do know their names. That's part of my point, we should know their names. Regarding the cartoons--Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Fred Quimby, Mel Blanc, William Hannah, Joseph Barbera, Tex Avery, Walt Disney, his animation staff, the Sherman Brothers, who composed the songs. I don't know that much about Walter Lantz.

My mother's battle was obvious to me, from the time she taught me to say 'catch a tiger by the toe' rather than the other version, through using me as her sidekick proving that landlords would rent to us white folks but told the black family there before us the place was taken, and so on.

So then there wasn't a generation gap in your family. That's good. It was happening all over the nation in the sixties. I had similar lessons from my parents. Still, until I began to understand exactly what my dad went through in WWII, I never really understood what they went through. And I still don't--because they never spoke about the war, or the Depression. But I'm trying, and the more I learn, the stronger they become.

I think generations from now, we'll be seen as fools. I believe the future generations will solve the problem, and they will do it with a feather, being astounded that we chose dynamite--which obviously, Grandpa, wouldn't work.

22 b_sharp  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 2:24:57pm

This is what I saw when I first watched the clip.

I think seeing racism in animated oil with a big mouth and a giant chin is letting your imagination run away with you.

Is there anything else in the cartoon that leads up to this being racism?

23 Sheila Broflovski  Tue, Apr 24, 2012 7:02:01pm

re: #22 Innumerate Numerologist

This is what I saw when I first watched the clip.

I think seeing racism in animated oil with a big mouth and a giant chin is letting your imagination run away with you.

Is there anything else in the cartoon that leads up to this being racism?

1:34 into the clip, big-lipped cannibal heads.


This page has been archived.
Comments are closed.

Jump to top

Create a PageThis is the LGF Pages posting bookmarklet. To use it, drag this button to your browser's bookmark bar, and title it 'LGF Pages' (or whatever you like). Then browse to a site you want to post, select some text on the page to use for a quote, click the bookmarklet, and the Pages posting window will appear with the title, text, and any embedded video or audio files already filled in, ready to go.
Or... you can just click this button to open the Pages posting window right away.
Last updated: 2021-06-05 2:51 pm PDT
LGF User's Guide RSS Feeds Tweet

Help support Little Green Footballs!

Subscribe now for ad-free access!Register and sign in to a free LGF account before subscribing, and your ad-free access will be automatically enabled.

Donate with
PayPal
Cash.app Shop at amazon
as an LGF Associate!
Recent PagesClick to refresh