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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 152

The Fleischer Song Car-Tune My Old Kentucky Home (1924) frames Stephen Foster's minstrelesque lyrics in the pleasures of a group sing-along, linking racial fantasies to nostalgia and sentimentality. 

I've Got Rings on my Fingers (1929) illustrates a popular song about a castaway Irish man named Jim O'Shea, who has been accepted/crowned by "natives" and writes home to his love to come join him as queen. The sing-along segment of this cartoon features "black" dancers performing in a manner resembling a minstrel act. 

When It's Sleepy Time Down South (1932) features the Boswell Sisters depicts the Great Migration, and involves racist fantasies of Southern life and social relationships. The song works to evoke a deep nostalgia for a peaceful bygone era, even among listeners with no connection to the South.

Popular attractions at the time of their release, these cartoons produced nostalgia through audience engagement, recalling vaudeville and silent cinema, and romanticized segregation and slavery. 

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