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September 1996, Week 2


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
David Desser <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 11 Sep 1996 20:13:38 -0600
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (45 lines)
I don't like these kinds of threads about one-to-one connections between
what's on screen and what it means to generalized audiences, and it's even
more complex with something as tricky and as potentially damaging to
reputations as claims of "racism."  But let me put it from the point of
view of a father of a child (obviously a super-intelligent one, but still a
youngster).  Is it racism if no one notices?  Do you, Simone, or others,
really believe that kids, THE PRIMARY AUDIENCE FOR _THE LION KING_ have ANY
idea who does the voices for animated characters?  That kids from 3 to say,
10 or 1, or older still, really have a clue who is black or white behind
the screen or care if they do know ? And if they don't know, much less
care, then how could a film show signs of racism solely based on WHO does
the voice of allegedly "bad" characters. Are Mexican-Americans ALL coded as
"bad" if Cheech Marin does the voice of a hyena?  And are all
African-Americans coded as bad if Whoopi Goldgerg is also a hyena?
Alternately, are all Brits bad because Jeremy Irons does the really bad
guy?  And if people know it's Whoopi, what about all the GOOD characters
she's played for YEARS!
 Let me give you a different kind of example; this from Disney's _Dumbo_
(1940).  The crows who sing the song about seeing an elephant fly are
clearly coded as 'black' within the 1940s racist or racialist context.  But
kids today do not, absolutely do not, pick up any racist undertones or
overtones, or anything other than it's cute crows singing about an unlikely
event, an elephant flying.
There is enough racism in mainstream American society to fight against in
most places and venues.  Let's not find obscure examples or even
non-existent ones.
At 7:49 AM 9/10/96, Simone L. Fary wrote:
>        Secondly, in my original message, I said that SOME of
>the bad animals had African-American voices.  I'm not sure that
>just because some of the good animals also had AA voices, and
>some of the bad ones were white that we should dismiss the
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