Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cartoon a Day: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company "B"

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company "B"
Directed by Walter Lantz (uncredited)
Available on: Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection

This is the first cartoon I've tackled for "Cartoon a Day" that is a big example of the different attitudes about racial stereotypes that existed in the days of the animated theatrical shorts. From an animation standpoint this is a fine cartoon, but it's depiction of African-Americans ends up being a distraction.

The film uses the famous song that inspired the title as the basis. A young jazz trumpeter is drafted and he ends up getting the whole army swinging by the time the short is done.

Things actually start off well. The scenes in the jazz club don't seem to come across as negative. The interesting style of the characters and other elements is illustrated well in the above shot of the drummer.

Unfortunately, as we move on to the army scenes, there is a lot of the negative stereotypes. But that doesn't change the fact that there is some skillful animation here. The characters display a great range of movement, especially as they really get into the music. We do need to be sensitive about how these type of cartoons are presented, but pretending they never existed is just as bad. It is possible to appreciate the artistic elements of these films, while recognizing that we've come a long way in our attitudes in the time since these films were made.

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