Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Animated Racism

At the Animation Show forums, ParamountCartoons93 panics when he finds out that his little brother is about to watch a racist cartoon:

Do you think my little brother should watch the public domain DVD if it has racist material? Because I'm worried about him seeing a cartoon black mammy on the Little Audrey cartoon BUTTERSCOTCH AND SODA, He is seeing it in the car on the way to the library! I tried to stop him, but it was too late!

A discussion on racism in cartoons ensues:

I wouldn't worry about it. My parents bought me a public domain tape when I was about seven or eight which had "All This and Rabbit Stew". I must have saw that things ten times before my parents saw it, and they explained to me what it was. If you are worried you should explain to your brother what it is he is seeing and explain to him how the times were then. Keep in mind also that millions of People, a good majority of them including children saw these films at movie houses and palaces.

Ray Pointer adds:

First of all, the black maid in LITTLE AUDREY, "Petunia" was a reincarnation of "Mandy" from LITTLE LULU. In terms of stereotypes, "Mandy" was far more stereotypical in her design. But in both cases the characters were based on a black maid stereotype that consisted of verbal puns based on bad grammar. This was based in part to actual people who were uneducated, but had a great deal of heart and fortitude. In both cases, however, the maids were not subserviant, but authority figures to a young white girl. The only harm in seeing this is not having an awareness that this is not the only black personality. There are many others, and this was a major issue that brought about the banning of such images. But there are some people who still act in ways similar to this, and for all the efforts made to correct black images in films, in many ways new stereotypes have been created that are more threatening and negative than those of the past.

The thread then takes a disturbing turn, courtesy of Milton Knight:

A white animation fan admitted to me that he is a frequent viewer of the Evil Queen's "Magic mirror on de wall" scene from COAL a slow-motion video loop, watched "with one hand", so to speak.

Knight comes back a bit later, and the weirdness continues:

The guy I mentioned wanted to commission me to do an art piece: The cast of COAL BLACK having an orgy, in semi-imitation of the familiar PLUTO'S RETREAT tableaux. In the foreground was to be Elmer Klansman's robes...with a razor in his back, dead in a puddle of his own blood. I turned the offer down, simply because people's obsessions over 'racist cartoons' bores/irritates me (in that order).

Umm... Okay. As a palate cleanser, here's some last words from JackSpit:

I just think he should be explained WHY it's no longer acceptable to take that approach now, give him context, just because there are ugly truths behind the laughs-- It's a great cartoon, don't get me wrong, but my earlier post says what my concerns are-- it's hard to live down some of the dark past of the world and it's biases.

(By the way -- the image above is from the cartoon in question, and is courtesy of Classic Cartoons.)


Anonymous said...

Petunia is the black maid on Little Audrey Cartoons and it is not shown on TV today due to black stereotypes. Petunia, the black maid, is modeled after Gone with the Wind actress Hattie McDaniel.

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Anonymous said...

Leonard Maltin said to those people: Don't judge them, try to understand they were of that time.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps some people take way too much offense on something that wasn't there: racism.

Matthieu said...

this cartoon was made decades ago so things have changed since then. hope it is not too bad for the little kid