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

Nicholas Sammond, Author
Race, page 7 of 25

 

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Race, Page 224

As Mickey Mouse heads upriver in Trader Mickey (1932), he strums the classic minstrel tune "Old Zip Coon" on his banjo, reprising his first sync-sound performance in Steamboat Willie (1928).  

In these instances, Mickey as minstrel evokes the Old South, the plantation, and slavery. The minstrel was based upon the fantasy of a black body in willful disobedience: lazy, cunning, resistant to pain, and able to navigate the brutal regime of chattel slavery through that cunning. Like many animated continuing characters in early American animation, Mickey performed just that sort of resistance.

 
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