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

Nicholas Sammond, Author
Labor, page 20 of 21

 

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Labor, Page 132

Demonstrating animation's important role in using  music to sell the new technology of sound film, The Band Concert (1935) was the first Mickey Mouse cartoon in color, and featured Mickey conducting an outdoor concert of the William Tell Overture. Donald Duck's invasion of the concert, playing "Turkey in the Straw" on a fife, hearkens back to the vaudeville stage...and to blackface minstrelsy, since "Turkey in the Straw" was originally known as "Old Zip Coon."

As Mickey struggles to maintain control over the band, the storm segment of the overture seems to produce an actual tornado. The issue of Mickey's control over the music, and how much the music in turn controlled the entire band, echoes performances of the animator's control over their own animation and audience.

Compare this short to earlier Disney's first sync-sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie (1928), which also uses "Old Zip Coon."
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