Sunday, December 14, 2008

Racism in Animation 2 (Christmas Cartoon 20) - Santa's Surprise (1947)

Here is Santa's Surprise, an old 1947 animation from Paramount studios.

This shows how sterotypes in those times weren't intended to be offensive, although they easily could be.

Here you have everything stereotypical, including a black boy who shines shoes, and a Chinese boy who does laundry (and has a very stereotypical accent).

"This is the first appearance by Little Audrey. She would make a cameo in a Popeye cartoon "Olive Oyl For President" early in 1948, before inaugurating a new series of her own in June 1948.

"Like so many things from the 1940s, this cartoon is full of what would today be considered offensive racial stereotypes in what was probably an attempt at diversity. Check out the design on the black and Chinese kids, especially. "

More on this movie (above quotes from here):

This animation was created by Famous Studios, which was the successor to the Fleischer Brothers studio.

"Famous Studios, later renamed Paramount Cartoon Studios, was the animation division of the Hollywood film studio Paramount Pictures from 1942 to 1967. Famous was founded as a successor company to Fleischer Studios, after Paramount acquired Fleischer Studios and ousted its founders, Max and Dave Fleischer, in 1941...

"Fleischer Studios was a successful animation studio responsible for producing successful cartoon shorts starring characters such as Betty Boop and Popeye the Sailor. The studio moved its operations from New York City to Miami Beach in 1938, following union problems and the start of production on its first feature film, Gulliver's Travels (1939). While Gulliver was a success, the expense of the move and the expanded staff required to produce the feature created finance problems for the Fleischer Studios. The studio depended upon advances and loans from its distributor, Paramount Pictures, in order to continue production on its short subjects and to begin work on a second feature, Mister Bug Goes to Town.

"Compounding the problems the studio was facing was the fact that the studio's co-founders, brothers Max and Dave Fleischer, were becoming increasingly estranged, and not speaking to one another due to disputes. On May 21, 1941, Paramount assumed full ownership of Fleischer Studios, and had the Fleischer brothers submit signed letters of resignation, to be used at Paramount's discretion. Following the unsuccessful release of Mister Bug in December 1941, Dave Fleischer, no longer able to cooperate with Max, left Miami for California, where he was hired to run Columbia Pictures' Screen Gems animation studio. Paramount responded by producing the letters of resignation, severing the Fleischer brothers from control of their studio.

"Paramount renamed the studio Famous Studios, and although they had ownership of the company, it remained a separate entity. Four top Fleischer employees were promoted to run the animation studio: business manager Sam Buchwald, storyboard artist Isadore Sparber, animator Dan Gordon, and Max Fleischer's son-in-law, head animator Seymour Kneitel. Buchwald assumed Max Fleischer's place as executive producer, while Sparber, Kneitel, and Gordon shared Dave Fleischer's former responsibilities as supervising producers and credited directors. Gordon remained only briefly before departing after 1943. Although the Fleischers left the studio at the end of 1941, Famous Studios was not officially incorporated until May 1942, after Paramount's contract with Fleischer Studios had formally run its course.

The Famous Studios cartoon series include:

Popeye the Sailor (inherited from Fleischer Studios, 1942 – 1957)
Superman (inherited from Fleischer Studios, 1942 – 1943)
Noveltoons (1943 – 1967)
Little Audrey (1948 – 1959)
Little Lulu (1943 – 1948)
Screen Songs (1947 – 1951; originally produced by Fleischer Studios 1929 – 1938)
Casper the Friendly Ghost (1950 – 1959)
Kartunes (1951 – 1953)
Herman and Katnip (1952 – 1959)
Modern Madcaps (1958 – 1967)
Jeepers and Creepers (1960)
The Cat (1961)
Swifty and Shorty (1964 – 1965)
Honey Halfwitch (1965 – 1967)
Merry Makers (1967)
GoGo Toons (1967)
Fractured Fables (1967)

More on Famous Studios (above quotes from here):

More Racism in Animation...

Racism in Animation 3 - Pluto's Dream House (1940):

Racism in Animation 2 - Santa's Surprise (1940):

Racism in Animation 1 - Fantasia (1940):

We're posting Christmas cartoons every day until Christmas!


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