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