Saturday, December 13, 2008

Saturday morning cartoon

This one is wrong on sooo many levels. “Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat” (1941) was produced by Walter Lantz, the man who created Woody Woodpecker.

The voice work was done by the great Mel Blanc (except for the sexy female singer, whose identity I’m unable to ascertain).

This was top-of-the-line Hollywood animation. But when television came along, “Scrub Me Mama” (along with other racial cartoons by Lantz) was banned... for reasons obvious.

According to Wikipedia, Walter Lantz didn’t understand the problem. “[W]e never offended or degraded the colored race,” Lantz said, “and they were all top musical cartoons, too.”

20 comments:

Kellybelle said...

I saw lazy Negroes, flies, cotton, big lips, chicken, watermelon, big Black mammies, mulatto Jezebels, innate musical ability--and that was only the first three minutes.

I'll be damned.

bklyn6 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bklyn6 said...

I saw this cartoon not too long ago! WTF.

On second look, the scene of the dude eating watermelon looks like the one in Black Sheep's "The Choice is Yours" video. Or, maybe it's just a requisite of coonish cartoons to have black folk eating watermelon in them.

Days like These! said...

what kellybelle sed

daughterofthedream said...

Help me Jebus! Wow! So much craziness packed into so little! I did laugh though when the cat strolled across the dog.

I am so showing this to my professor whose research focuses on mammy imagery!

Jack J. said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but I think the female singer was Dorothy Dandridge. She did a lot of vocals for cartoons during that time with her sisters.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ You got a source on that, Jack?

Undercover Black Man said...

Jack J.: You might be thinking about the 1943 Warner Bros. cartoon "Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs." Dorothy's mom, Ruby Dandridge, voiced the mammy role. And Dorothy's sister, Vivian, voiced the singing role of So White.

Anonymous said...

I highly recommend seeing the film "Ethnic Notions," which highlights this cartoon as well as some other notable visual representations of black folk. It came out of Berkeley in the late 1990s. A Marlon Riggs project.

Anonymous said...

I'm wack. I came across a post that referenced some of Bill Cosby's comments from 30 years ago when he wasn't pullin so many people up by their bootstraps.

This is the only place I could think of that I would have found such a juicy nugget.

Again, off-topid wackness has been personally and duly noted.

Please assist.

Invisible Woman said...

Holee sh*t...

“[W]e never offended or degraded the colored race”

ummm...can you say complete and utterly delusional?

Those blacks were portrayed as 2% up frrom simian, and let the light skin-ded gal save the day...whatev!

NunaOni said...

Wow I couldn't even finish watching it...

Comb & Razor said...

...the music's great, though!

Jack J. said...

Thanks, I stand corrected, UBM, you're right on Dorothy Dandridge. Now I'm curious of who did the vocals here.

Yeah, I have a hard time with 'toons like this too because you know it led to even more real-life humiliation.

carabosse said...

A small point in Lantz's favor is that he was one of the first to stop making this kind of cartoon (around 1944). Other mainstream studios kept going until 1958. This particular cartoon was withdrawn by the studio in 1949 not because of television, but because the NAACP and the Jewish Labor Committee effectively protested the cartoon's rerelease in 1948.

Universal stopped showing it, and it was never officially made available to TV. When Universal started repackaging cartoons for television in the 70's, people made new prints from all the old negatives and that's how they got put back in the distribution pool. It was up to the individual stations to resist showing them.

[Source: "Forbidden Animation: Censored Cartoons and Blacklisted Animators in America" by Karl F. Cohen.]

Sadly, I still can't find out who the singer is. I found that the music arranger was pianist Darrell Calker. He hung out in jazz clubs in Los Angeles, and apparently used the cartoons as a way to get work for musicians he knew, but I can't find anything about this specific song. And I pride myself on being a research geek. :-( You might want to check this book out, though. The chapter on racist cartoons is really interesting.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ carabosse, welcome to my spot. And thanks for the valuable information.

carabosse said...

I check your blog every day, but I don't post unless I can say something helpful. :-) I'm still a bit iffy on the etiquette of replying to posts just to say, "I liked this" because of old Usenet training about not wasting bandwidth...

L.A. said...

This sh*t makes me want to hit somebody.
I couldn't even finish watching the whole thing.

kenn. said...

Echo kellybelle and...

I think cartoons like this need to be seen by kids who think bufoonery in rap videos (not far from this) is okay.

Coquinegra said...

I couldn't make it through the first 3 minutes, Dude.