Thursday, February 22, 2007

Harmless Childhood Fun

Chabert suggests in the comments box to the post below that the Muslim figures are redolent of Warner Brothers cartoons and American mas art, among other things. If anyone has seen Spike Lee's Bamboozled, you know it finishes with a montage of film and cartoon depictions of black people as inept, comical, and fundamentally as bestial. All of it giftwrapped in a posture of innocence, light-heartedness, wholesome comedy, childish fun etc.

Here are a couple of clips:

I also found some material from Disney, Warner Brothers and various advertisers. These are highly sophisticated racist caricatures, in which the cartoonists demonstrate an easy familiarity with the ways in which racism can be used for physical humour. If you simply itemise what the caricaturists choose to amplify and exaggerate for comic effect, there is a remarkable consistency in all of it: the snaggled, protrusive, outsized teeth; snarling mouths; evil or mad eyes; dripping tongues; bulbous or hooked noses; exaggerated lips etc. In the case of Arabs, one might add unkempt bushes or stubbles, which contains an implication about hygeine, and the scimitar whose connotations are obvious. The movement and posture, moreover, is either baffled or predatory, but never dignified or human. I put some of this together into a video: