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
Tambo    Bones    Live Cinema    Image    Moving Image    Sound    Black and White    1930s    Color    1950s    Walt Disney    1970s

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