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

Nicholas Sammond, Author

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Introduction, Page 30

The racist representation of African-Americans is marked by continuity and discontinuity. The minstrel did not necessarily disappear with the decline of blackface minstrelsy in the late 19th and early twentieth centuries. It faded from prominence, but was joined by more virulent and intense caricatures in the swing era. 

George Pal's Puppetoons (1932-47) used hand-carved dolls in stop-motion cartoons. This short, Jasper and the Haunted House, features several stereotypical representations of black people, particularly the main character Jasper, a "pickaninny" about to deliver a gooseberry pie who encounters the trickster characters of Professor Scarecrow and Blackbird. 

In Disney's live action/animation film Song of the South (1946), James Baskett appears as Uncle Remus performing "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah". This song is part of the film's retelling of Joel Chandler Harris's "Uncle Remus" tales (1881). These popular stories by a white author were represented as African American folktales, given voice through the character of Uncle Remus, a kindly old former slave. "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" is also based on the from the pre-Civil War folk song "Zip Coon," which was popularized by George Dixon in 1834.
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