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Birth of An Industry: Blackface Minstrelsy and the Rise of American Animation

Nicholas Sammond, Author

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Conclusion, Page 284

Blackface continues into the 21st century, as when white Australian comedian Chris Lilley performs as the rapper S.mouse in his video Animal Zoo (2011).

In an moment of precarity and surveillance, claims to authenticity have become both valuable and fraught, and blackface has resurfaced in this "post-racial" moment as a way to accumulate authenticity by criticiziing racial formations even as one participates in them. Examples of this include Chuck Knipp's problematic performances as the drunken church lady Shirley Q. Liquor; an episode of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's Life's Too Short, in which a black, lesbian dwarf acted as a marker for ideal identitarian positionality; and Billy Crystal's reprisal of his imitation of Sammy Davis Jr. at the 2012 Academy Awards.

Unlike the minstrel shows of the nineteenth century and early cartoons, these performances acknowledge the wrongness of their performance, anxiously evoking bigotry as its own disavowal.
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