#8 Abundance of Racism in Order Cartoons

March 22, 2010 at 7:11 pm (Uncategorized)

In honor of our readings this week about Charles Mintz, I decided to watch a 1935 classic titled,  Scrappy’s Ghost Story due to the description given by Maltin. He states, “brims with imagination and charm- as well as fairly sophisticated visual styling.” Then he describes the use of lighting to create shadows to give an eerie appeal gives this short its uniqueness (Maltin, 1980). After viewing the cartoon, I feel as though Maltin is correct on the magnificent visual styling but there is one thing he left out; the stereotypes on the verge of racism.

Did you catch the racism displayed in this video? If not re-watch the youtube clip from 5:05.

The storyline would have been effective without the stereotypes and racist characters but yet Mintz felt it was necessary to incorporate in the animation. Similar to other films during this time period, in order to demonstrate the African American they changed the color to a midnight black and demonstrated typical stereotypes of large lips and white in the palms, lips, and underneath the feet.  This cartoon also included another minority that was highly stereotyped during this time period which was the Native Americans that appeared white in skin color but is in a headdress and carries a cigar.

This cartoon displays them different behaviors of the races by separating the music and dancing. The clip I had you focus on, shows the European Americans dancing to an upbeat song in which the children enjoy dancing along with. Then it transitions to the blacks doing a mellow and deeper song and a sluggish type of dancing. Finally the last scene is of the Native American outside a cigar shop where the music shifts to a solo drum and the character does a type of call by bouncing his hand on his mouth. The strangest thing of the scene is that the characters are not doing the different types together but in separation. Also, you can notice the children don’t feel the urge to sing a long and dance with the characters.

I feel that Scrappy’s Ghost Story shed light on the abundance of racism in the 1935’s. By the time Scappy’s Ghost Story was produced, racism mocking African Americans and minorities of all kinds was a well established form of entertainment in the United States.  This type of style was designed to entertain Americans by portraying minorities in a comical way. But I feel that this is neglecting viewer’s individual choice and personal responsibility.

References:

Maltin, Leonard. Of Mice and Magic. Plume Books, 1980. Print.

Commented on Sarah Askri and Emily Witt.

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3 Comments

  1. cpocalyk said,

    Cartoons made around that time had a lot of those now-racist elements, but for the period in which they were made, the stereotyping/ racism was primarily for humor. Looking at it, the dance pieces with the “Black/ African American Ghosts” and the “Indian Ghost” seems pretty unnecessary to the story, but then again, maybe it was meant for humor/ satire/ racist purposes. However, especially for its time, the cartoon animation and shadow effects are really good.

  2. Post #8: Rabbit Season. Duck Season. Fire! « History of Animation said,

    […] I commented on Emily Witt’s blog and Amanda Cole’s blog. […]

  3. dominiquefranc said,

    I can never understand a person’s argument or attitude when they state that things of this nature are only now considered racist and that it is no big deal. Yes those were the attitudes (and perhaps still today) of that time but they do have a longing influence. Racism hasn’t suddenly existed and even during those times there was outrage at the representation of Blacks in the media. Used in a humorous context is just as offensive.

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