Sign in or register
for additional privileges

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

Nicholas Sammond, Author

You appear to be using an older verion of Internet Explorer. For the best experience please upgrade your IE version or switch to a another web browser.

Introduction, Page 14

A central conceit of early minstrelsy was that its ostensibly white performers had traveled to plantations and witnessed the authentic songs, dances and wordplay of African American slaves. This fantasy treated the slave as a natural commodity, an object and owner of nothing, not even her own thoughts and gestures. 

In the 1800s, this minstrel as happy trickster was embodied by Jim Crow, later by Tambo and Bones. In the twentieth century there are echoes of the minstrel in characters such as Lincoln Perry's Stepin Fetchit and Redd Foxx's Fred Sanford from Sanford and Sons. 

Even as late as 1953, in John Ford's The Sun Shines Bright, Perry performs his controversial Fetchit persona, falling asleep and snoring loudly in the courtroom. He speaks with heavy-lidded eyes and droopy lips, and excitedly joins in with the banjo player to sing and dance to the minstrel tune "Dixieland". 

Perry's character is also parodied in the 1935 Disney Silly Symphony short Broken Toys. In this uplifting Depression-era short, a group of discarded toys bands together to repair each other, then marches off to give themselves to orphans. While most of the toys make valuable contributions to the repair effort, the Stepin Fetchit doll has a hard time staying awake; African Americans had a harder time embodying racialized ideals of New Deal uplift.

More recently, white entertainers have used blackface in attempts to comment on the racial formation of the moment, an example being Ted Danson's widely criticized appearance in burnt cork alongside his then-girlfriend Whoopie Goldberg at a 1993 Friar's Club roast. 
Comment on this page
 

Discussion of "Introduction, Page 14"

Add your voice to this discussion.

Checking your signed in status ...

Previous page on path Introduction, page 7 of 17 Next page on path
Bones    Tambo    Image    Moving Image    Sound    Black and White    1930s    Color    1950s    Walt Disney    1970s    Live Cinema

Related:  Space, Page 197Labor, Page 119Labor, Page 128Space, Page 187Performance, Page 74Space, Page 190Race, Page 257Race, Page 252Performance, Page 42Race, Page 251Race, Page 232Space, Page 170Space, Page 194Race, Page 220Conclusion, Page 292Performance, Page 40Space, Page 193Race, Page 230Performance, Page 46Space, Page 155Performance, Page 80Conclusion, Page 304Space, Page 148Conclusion, Page 286Introduction, Page 23Space, Page 182Performance, Page 52Labor, Page 113Conclusion, Page 302Space, Page 165Labor, Page 122Performance, Page 70Race, Page 225Performance, Page 35Labor, Page 112Performance, Page 72Conclusion, Page 289Performance, Page 45Space, Page 188Conclusion, Page 303Space, Page 150Space, Page 162Race, Page 206Race, Page 213Conclusion, Page 296Performance, Page 67Space, Page 146Performance, Page 82Performance, Page 34Introduction, Page 6Space, Page 191Performance, Page 41Space, Page 175Labor, Page 132Introduction, Page 21Introduction, Page 29Introduction, Page 30Space, Page 163Performance, Page 84Space, Page 183Performance, Page 44Space, Page 184Conclusion, Page 273Performance, Page 50Labor, Page 101Introduction, Page 2Introduction, Page 18Race, Page 231Space, Page 143Race, Page 224Race, Page 239Labor, Page 102Conclusion, Page 290Space, Page 178Space, Page 152Labor, Page 88introduction-page-22Labor, Page 110Labor, Page 109Race, Page 248Conclusion, Page 284Space, Page 195Race, Page 229Race, Page 258Conclusion, Page 300Race, Page 247Labor, Page 129Conclusion, Page 274Race, Page 221Performance, Page 62Labor, Page 133Race, Page 204Race, Page 253Race, Page 254Labor, Page 126Space, Page 138Performance, Page 78Space, Page 156Introduction, Page 15Race, Page 235Space, Page 192Performance, Page 60Conclusion, Page 298Space, Page 172Labor, Page 93Race, Page 261Labor, Page 123Space, Page 169Race, Page 219Space, Page 141Performance, Page 54Conclusion, Page 278Space, Page 177Performance, Page 77Introduction, Page 1Conclusion, Page 291Labor, Page 131Conclusion, Page 275Space, Page 189Introduction, Page 16Introduction, Page 4Space, Page 181Space, Page 171Space, Page 137Space, Page 159Performance, Page 43Introduction, Page 26Introduction, Page 9Performance, Page 47Labor, Page 96Performance, Page 56Introduction, Page 20Conclusion, Page 268Introduction, Page 12Labor, Page 98Race, Page 245Conclusion, Page 272