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The Cultural Politics of Race and Ethnicity in Animation
Synopses & Reviews
While cartoons are generally regarded as harmless and fun cinematic diversions, they, like all art forms, have generated controversy. The authors discuss history of controversy over racist content in animation, and the social and political climates that foster such depictions. They also consider the impact of anti-racist political resistance on racial/ethnic stereotyping in animation, and the evolution of images over time.
Though many films are discussed, the authors focus on the 1940s and 1970s, as both periods produced cartoons that were noteworthy in the political struggle over racist imagery. For example, 1943's “Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarves” is a film significant not only for the extreme controversy stirred by its content, but also for the fact that its director had set out to make a film celebrating African American culture. Conversely, the 1970s saw Bill Cosby's Fat Albert television series become the first major American animated entity where content was created and controlled by an African American. The book concludes with a dialogue on whether banning purportedly racist animations was a good or bad idea, whether the portrayal of “non-whites” in animated films has improved over the years, and whether racist images persist in new forms.
About the Author
Walter Santucci is an Animation Director at 6 Point Media, and teaches Animation History and Animation Production at California State University, Los Angeles, USA.
Kelly J. Madison teaches in the Television, Film & Media Studies department at California State University, Los Angeles. Her main area of expertise is in the cultural & media politics of "race" and racism.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Definitions
Chapter 3: "Don't Make Me Act Black!": Constraints on African American Artists in the First Half of the 20th Century
Chapter 4: "If I'm Not Who You Say I Am, You're Not Who You Think You Are": History of Images of Whiteness and Blackness in Animation
Chapter 5: "Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarves"
Chapter 6: "No Offense..."?
Chapter 7: Resistance
Chapter 8: Song of the South
Chapter 9: The Disappearance of Scenes and Entire Films
Chapter 10: The 1970s: Another Fertile Decade
Chapter 11: How Far Have We Come?
Chapter 12: Conclusions
Appendix A: Filmography
Appendix B: Bibliography
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