Friday, November 16, 2007

Coonie Tunes

I'm a little tired and sore and so I don't want to expound too much but I hope you'll be able to see the many ways that this cartoon, Clean Pastures, is racist. (i must say though that it first offended me when the showgirls were wearing Carolina blue outfits-made me a little queasy.) But since I don't want to think yet I turn to my handy surrogate brain, wikipedia for more information about it:

Schlesinger and Warner Bros. had problems with Clean Pastures from the start. Hollywood censors alleged that the film ran afoul of the Hays Production Code because it burlesqued religion. Later commentators surmise that the censors also objected to the portrayal of a Heaven run by African Americans. In 1968, the short's stereotypical portrayal of black characters prompted United Artists to withhold it from distribution as one of the infamous Censored Eleven.
Daniel Goldmark alleges that the film is a burlesque of black religion and culture in its portrayal of Pair-O-Dice as "heavenly Harlem shops and singing choirs". In his interpretation, the film's use of rhythm is a metaphor for faith. This demonstrates white Americans' placement of jazz alongside religion and "the unfettered expressions of emotion associated with it" as aspects of African American culture. The cartoon implies that jazz cannot be replaced in the black psyche, as the musicians in the film must appropriate jazz, not compete with it, to draw Harlemites to Pair-O-Dice. The mortal characters are given no information about why Pair-O-Dice is better than Harlem, but the upbeat music is enough to lure them there. Even the Devil himself takes the bait. In the end, the film reaffirms the vision of Paradise from The Green Pastures, with its "perpetual Negro holiday [and] everlasting weekend fish fry.
Contemporary black commentators argued that to white audiences, Connelly's The Green Pastures simply reinforced the notion that black people presented a danger that needed to be contained. Weinsenfeld argues that this is also the case with Freleng's parody. To white viewers in the 1930s, the film's implication that blacks care for nothing but gambling, drinking, and dancing only reinforces notions of the dangers posed by urban blacks. According to Goldmark, the choice of performers caricatured is telling; that Armstrong and Calloway are depicted as angels indicates that their crossover appeal was strong enough among whites that white audiences would not have felt threatened by the notion that they were angels in Heaven. Weisenfeld notes that by focusing the narrative on Saint Peter and his Stepin Fetchit underling, the animators ducked the potential offense white audiences might have felt upon seeing a black God.

from 1937 "Clean Pastures"


well, at least there are black people in heaven, which is more progressive than the Mormon church of Mitt Romney's adolescence. and it does include one of my favorite, overusable quotes ever "there's always room for one more."
i give it 2 and a half nooses.

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