Part 2: Racism in Entertainment
Racism in America reaches all platforms, including entertainment. In the early to mid 19th century racism in entertainment became widely popular. For example, Minstrel shows were theater performances where white performers used blackface and a variety of skits making fun of African Americans. Minstrel shows were around since the 1830s and up until 1910, and were very popular in American society.
“Jump Jim Crow,” by Thomas Rice was a famous song used in many Minstrel performances.
Cartoons and Kids Shows
In the 19th century, many cartoons used racist imagery depicting African-Americans with big lips, lazy, eating watermelon every second of the day, ugly, and ape like features. African Americans were not the only ones that were targeted. During the 40’s, the US used propaganda against the Japanese. They were depicted with large squinted eyes and big teeth.
Racism was almost always used in kids shows, like Looney Toons. I always say racism is learned rather than genetic. Back then, various companies like Disney or Warner Bros allowed racism in their kids programs, to teach young kids racism early in life. It was similar to Hitler’s idea of an Aryan Race, where people born with blue eyes and blonde hair were considered superior. These companies brainwashed children to make them think that based on cartoons, that’s how they should treat or view those people. Many cartoons took it way too far. For example, the “Censored Eleven” are a group of Looney Toons and Merrie Melodies that depict harsh racist stereotypes. “Uncle Tom’s Bungalow” is one of these cartoons. It is a parody of the 1852 classic novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Many cartoons or kids show characters also have used blackface, like Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, and Tom from “Tom and Jerry.”
The Disney company is all too familiar with racist stereotypes. The most controversial is the 1946’́s Song of the South. The movie follows the adventures of Brer Rabbit, as told by Uncle Remus. It did really well, money wise, but many people believe the poor depictions of Uncle Remus and other former slaves was widely offensive. Also, in an animated short, Santa is seen testing dolls to see if they are good enough to be toys. When a white doll comes down the slide, it’s a real pretty doll, it says momma and gets approved as Santa stamps it. When a black doll comes down the slide it stumbles, says, ̈ Mammy ̈ (a term used for a black woman who worked in a white family and nursed the children), the doll then stamps its own butt. WatchMojo released “Top 10 Insanely Racist Moments In Disney Movies That You Totally Forgot About,” where they explained ten racist instances in Disney movies.