Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (1943) Poster

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  • Merrie Melodies.

    What's the difference? See: this FAQ entry Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The term "racist" is so promiscuously and so imprecisely used, and is so fraught with suggestions of incomparable evil, that the question is meaningless at best, mischievous at worst. If we define racism as a belief that certain races of men are inferior to others, and that members of certain races may rightly be treated inhumanely, there is no evidence for racism in this cartoon.

    A more useful question might be, "Is this cartoon insulting?"

    Argument for "yes." This cartoon suggests that black women are sexually promiscuous, that black men are so devoted to craps they'd have dice put in for front teeth; and that black men are cowardly (Prince Chawmin'), stupid (one of the dwarves) and lazy (another dwarf). The drawings alone (with the exception of So White) emphasize racial features in an derogatory and offensive way.

    Argument for "no." When this cartoon was made, ethnic and racial jokes certainly had the power to offend, but they weren't considered always and invariably insulting. The jokes in this cartoon may be no different from the kind the cartoon studio made about every other racial and ethnic group. It may be unfair to impose the standards of modern etiquette on those of the past. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Yes. See: The Censored 11 (on Wikipedia) Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Argument for "yes." The caricaturing of racial features is so patently offensive to modern sensibilities that broadcasting this on television would be an exercise in lunacy.

    Argument for "no." One might suppose that in an age of gangsta rap and WB sitcoms that no one would dare suggest that a wacky Warner Brothers cartoon like Coal Black could be considered patently offensive. But then one would be unfamiliar with the moral preening of our age. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Working with writer Warren Foster, [Robert Clampett] came up with two of his wildest cartoons in 1943. Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (1943) is a flamboyant wartime spoof of [Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)] with an all-black cast; incredibly rich in gags and in visual ideas, it was originally projected as a two-reeler but curtailed to normal length by the budget-minded Leon Schlesinger. The film's stereotyped characters and 1940s-style enthusiasm for sex leave many modern-day viewers aghast. The dialogue is strictly jive talk, and the pulsating music bounces the action along as the evil queen calls Murder Inc. to "black out So White" and keep her from Prince Chawmin', who has sparkling dice for front teeth. Some scenes are direct parodies of the Disney feature, as when So White sings to her reflection in a washbasin and is joined by the amorous Prince. The Sebben Dwarfs who rescue So White from the frightening forest are in the Army now - and react to this damsel's kisses in a way that Disney's dwarfs never thought of. There's even a goofy-looking member of the crew who's an ersatz version of Dopey. The twist comes when little Dopey's kiss awakens the poisoned So White after Prince Chawmin's athletic kisses have failed. From: Leonard Maltin, "Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons," NY, 1987, pp. 250, 251. The other wild cartoon he mentions is Tin Pan Alley Cats (1943) (1943). Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Watch Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (1943) on collegehumor.com here. Edit (Coming Soon)

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