Monday, October 19, 2009

Jim Crows or Jive Turkeys?

Cher said recently that when she saw the film DUMBO (1941) as a kid - and saw those singing birds, she thought to herself "I can do that" - and set her course for show biz.

The crow leader is named Jim Crow.

Jim Crow: [singing] I seen a peanut stand /And heard a rubber band /I've seen a needle that winked its eye / But I been done seen about everything / When I see an elephant fly.

Despite their jazzy pimptastic personalities and jive-talking - the crows are heroic in the film.

One blogger writes: Come on, blackbirds acting in a manner stereotypically assigned to African-Americans isn't that offensive. At least they didn't just get some white guy to do his best "black voice." Oh, really? They did?

Yes - caucasian Cliff Edwards (best known as the voice of Jiminy Cricket) voiced "Jim Crow".

Still nowhere as bad as Sunflower the pickaninny centaur in Fantasia (1940) who was edited out of the film by 1969.

Sunflower is a big Whoopsie Daisy! element- or should I say "Whoopsie Disney!"


Mr. Fiendish said...

I think it should be considered that this was a very different time for political correctness, and it wasn't just blacks who were stereotyped, but also Asians (the Fu Manchu movies for example). And it was all over the place, in all kinds of movies, from horror to drama, where blacks were simply butlers and maids. I think we should be glad that we live in more enlightened times. Well, except if you're a Puertorrican like me. THey still won't have us on the bridge of the Enterprise.

Great article.

Vincent-louis said...

Since cartoons are always stereotypical images in some respect and considering the time period these films were made, I never found them particularly offensive. The crows in Dumbo are heros and seem to actually break through the stereotype in some ways while re-enforcing it in others. I never thought they should have cut "Fantasia" it was a good reminder of how much things have changed! (of course all the new controversy over disney's new film will bring this all up again soon!)

Pantheon Zeus said...

Within 7 years, Movie studios were receiving pressure from the NAACP and local LA black-owned newspapers to stop the negative stereotypes...

Now in 2009, Disney finally adds a black girl princess to their roster of white, asian, arabic, and native-american princesses.

After 80 years, we felt it was finally OK to do something that focused on black people,” said Disney executive Kristin McMurphy. “Plus, with Obama in the White House, it was time to replace old black stand-ins like the crows from Dumbo and the jive-talking monkeys from The Jungle Book.”

Oprah voices her mother and was consulted on the potentially racist angles. Oprah gave it the ok.

I love that the film is set in New Orleans... but why does the black princess have to be a frog the whole time?

It aint easy being green.

Vincent-louis said...

Have you seen the preview of the 1st 5 minutes? It's beautiful... I mean really incredible looking. It has a quality computer animation still can't quite touch.

Pantheon Zeus said...

YES, I think it's really pretty.

ps -
I watched Snow White on blu ray on ecstacy 2 times in a row the other night. The 2nd time with commentary. ha! so gorgeous !

Vincent-louis said...

I'm jealous! I can't afford dvd's these days blu-ray or otherwise. My B/F got me the Pinochio Blu-ray for my b-day last year... that's my favourite i think