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

Nicholas Sammond, Author
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Space, Page 175

As sound films became popular in the late 1920s and 30s, cartoons were increasingly presented as containing sound, rather than merely accompanied by music and sound effects.

Both Amateur Nite (1929) and The Opry House (1929) use the theatre as a narrative frame for non-diegetic music, a background of sound. This framing technique for  sound soon gave way to the use of diegetic sound in cartoons. That is, sound and music changed from being a background to the action of the cartoon, to become something that the characters could hear and contribute to. 

In Amateur Nite, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit goes to a stage show and sees acts performed by animal characters with distinctly black bodies and white lips, a visual reminder of the role of blackface minstrelsy in vaudeville and in animation. Similarly, The Opry House depicts Mickey Mouse going to a show and performing three acts: snake-charming, an impression of a Hasidic Jew, and a piano solo. 

Bimbo's Initiation (1931) differed from past Fleischer cartoons that often played with the relationship between flat, 2-D drawn space and "real" cinematic space. In this cartoon Bimbo gets sucked into a manhole and ends up in a fantastic unified cinematic space that is shifting and unstable. 

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