Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Specific Acting in Looney Tunes-Duck Twacy


While we're on the subject of specific acting you might wonder where I got the idea to do it in cartoons.

Specific acting is something we all take for granted in live action because each real actor is a live person who brings his or her own personality and observations of other humans to the screen or stage.
This is something all humans have naturally. Everyone you know has specific faces he makes and gestures she does etc...so we expect to see this kind of acting in our favorite TV shows and movies.

Most of us don't expect to see it in cartoons. Why? Because hardly anyone does it. Why? Because not very many artists ever thought of it and because it is hard to draw.

I accepted generic acting in cartoons when I was a kid, because I was so mesmerized by the sheer magic of drawings that were moving at all.

I started to become a bit more discerning when I was a teenager and I realized how much more sophisticated the Warner Bros. cartoons were than the other classics-particularly in how much more believable the characters were.

I found myself particularly attracted to Chuck Jones' cartoons and I noticed not only his slick drawing style, but also the unique expressions he drew.

I especially liked when he would invent an abstract expression that no human could actually do-like the famous "D-uh" take he draws where the two whites of the eyes are joined and one is bigger than the other. Thanks to Pat Lewis for finding me this frame below!

I used to copy all the funny expressions Jones did and talk to my friends about it. They thought I was a real weirdo let me tell you! Anyway, Jones' cartoons tend to be pose to pose, so whenever he invented some funny pose or expression, he would hold it long enough for you to notice it. That's cool!

When I was 20 I discovered Bob Clampett's cartoons and was instantly blown away by how much richer and more inventive they were than even my favorite cartoons of my childhood.
As a contrast to Jones' work, Clampett's cartoons are not pose to pose, they tend to be moving constantly. The amazing thing is that so much information is happening and yet it all reads - even without holding every idea!

He would have characters act and in a single sentence there would be a bunch of custom tailor made new and specific expressions to describe each inflection of the dialogue!

When I began freeze framing his cartoons a whole new world opened up to me. I realized why his cartoons were so exciting-something was happening on every frame! Not just bookended in the held poses. Clampett and his animators could control all this information and make you absorb it and understand it all. This is fantastic control-I can tell you from experience, it's really hard to do and back then no one else was doing it.

My pal Andrea, (Duck Dodgers) has done a great service to cartoon fans by posting still frames of classic cartoons all over his site.

Below are just a few frames from one scene of Bob Clampett's The Great Piggy Bank Robbery.

Note that the first frame is pretty normal looking.

This is animated by the great Rod Scribner. He uses every part of the drawing to get across subtle distinctions in the characters' mood at each instant of his acting.
He even changes the shape of the pupils during the animation to add color to the emotion.
This scene was one of the great revelations of my life!
Many of these expressions can't be described in words. I know what Daffy is feeling on the frame below but can't tell it to you. The picture speaks better than any words can.
Sometimes a duck has teeth, other times he doesn't. I remember an executive telling me to change a storyboard panel once because "ducks don't have teeth." It was a talking duck, by the way.
Look at the picture below sideways but don't let your Mom catch you.

That goes double for the one below! (I've seen this in real life many a time!)
Seeing Jones' cartoons and Clampett's cartoons gave me the idea to look not only at cartoons for acting ideas, but to look at real life, study actors and on top of all that even invent physically impossible expressions that can only be drawn.

I'm hooked on specific acting and can never go back.

Click the link below to see more of this scene, and if you scroll down the page fast it will animate! If you are a young cartoonist and want to learn fast, I suggest you copy these drawings and then go freeze frame more old cartoons from the 1940s and copy them over and over until you start to absorb all the great principles of the best cartoons ever made.

http://classiccartoons.blogspot.com/2006/03/to-my-hero-john-k.html

Hey Andrea, isn't there another close up scene of Daffy near this one that's even crazier?
"Hey, what's the matter with me? I'm Duck Twacy!"


70 comments:

Aimee's Sketch Blog said...

That's cwazy!!

Andrew J. said...

Ha. When I was really little, I didn't really like The Great Piggy Bank Robbery for some reason, even though it starred my number 1 favourite cartoon character of all time (Daffy). But today (I'm 15 now...) I appreciate that cartoon so much because of its crazy frames and animation. Ha, it rules.

By the way, I laughed at that teeth thing. Hehe.

BrianMORANTE said...

Those are awesome. I never went to college for animation. I pretty much taught myself by watching all this stuff and R+S. This is the closest thing to a school I've been in for a while. Thank you Mr.K

danG said...

I think the main difference is that these cartoons weren't created for kids. Don't get me wrong as a child I loved these cartoons, but people made what was funny to them, not what they thought would please everyone. And that is lost in many artforms today(not just cartoons) You are trying to do what pleases everyone, not just what amuses yourself.
-danG

Duck Dodgers said...

John K said :

" Hey Andrea, isn't there another close up scene of Daffy near this one that's even crazier?
"Hey, what's the matter with me? I'm Duck Twacy!"

Yep! I'll post it soon!

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen this cartoon for many years. When I was little I could tell when it was a Chuck Jones cartoon but never noticed the other directors. But I watched old Looney Toons every day and always took notice that modern TV cartoons were not nearly as well animated, and could not understand WHY.

And not to be an ass kisser, but the frames from "altruists" posted below look just as great and exciting and original as the frames from "piggy bank robbery." It's true!!


-Jordan
www.timwarnermovie.com

Duck Dodgers said...

( Please answeer to my email, john...i hope-hope-hope----)

Jitterbug said...

They were meant for EVERYONE not just kids like most cartoons today, rather they were meant to apppeal to everyone and all ages (kids too), that is why they are timeless.

The Dick Tracy Spoof was one of my favorites as a kid.

lastangelman said...

OKay, I've been freeze framing/slo-mo-ing this sequence since listening to your commentary for this cartoon on the Golden era box set - now I GET what you mean - did Scrivener do that on purpose, you think, or was this some "cwazee" but wonderful accident or do we all have twisted little minds?

My older brother and myself used to re enact this and other WB cartoons in the backyard (we loved Foghorn Leghorn and the Dog - that stuff was very confrontational!)

C. A. M. Thompson said...

(I've seen this in real life many a time!)

So I guess you kissed a lot of ducks in your day.

Hey wait a minute! Oh, that dirty Rod Scribner.

nightwing said...

haha...i put all the frames in flash and watched em in action

Mitch K said...

There IS a scene around that, which is ever crazier. I tried drawing it one night, and I drew about 38 frames before I ran out of paper. It's amazing -- EVERY drawing is important! It's also amazing that somebody could manipulate a 'duck bill' like that.

I never thought of looking at that duck from the side... haha

BrianB said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nico said...

best. cartoon acting. ever.

BrianB said...

John, have you ever thought of doing the constant animation of Warner Bros from back in the day? When I see a Clampett cartoon, it's a lot of animation seamlessly moving into the next gesture. The entire body in on the animation. With APC, it seemed like it had a lot of stop and go timing. Quick body movement to this pose, quick body movement to this pose. A tendency to move from an extreme animation, to a middle pose, to an extreme animation. There's also a lot of still bodies with only a part of the character moving.

Is this intentional for style, comedic timing, to let people catch some of the great poses, or for easier production? I'd love to see some of Rod Scribner-esque animation today but it's not on tv anywhere. Network animation is just horrid. I think yours meanwhile, is a style of your own.

But the thing I loved about Clampett was it really kicked up the energy. He had such discpline to never bore or overuse any certain style either. I loved Tortoise Wins By A Hare for example. Bugs tirade for sure. Nothing of a cyle, but a straight 30 seconds of blowing up. - but also The bits at the Tortoise's house where Bugs rocks back and forth in a beard, has an 8 frame point to the beard, and into an old man shake. Kind of rigid purposely.

And all the while the Tortoise has a slow fluid movement. But his whole body is performing subtleties and animating despite being a relaxed character; Washing his dishes with Bug's beard, pausing body movement only to speak. Clampett's cartoons don't seem to waste any time for still shots unless it's a gag or a gag character.

I think the stop and go affaur prevents the acting from being as engrossing - or rather as real - as it can be. But I love with Clampett that there is no single style for his cartoons. Certain characters like Bugs has a nact for constantly moving and thinking.

I would think putting that kind of variety of timing in your cartoons, would go along with what you were saying about specific acting. Am I crazy or.. What do you think?

C. A. M. Thompson said...

Oh god the part in Tortoise Wins By A Hair with Bugs typing under his beard has to be one of the funniest sequences in animation.

Ivan D said...

Great stuff! I'm really enjoying your blog entrys, John, they're extremely informative.

Here's my best Daffy Duck impersonation, taken from a scene with him and Donald in 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?' (My Donald is rather average though):
http://www.pixeljoint.com/istvan/daffyvsdonald.wav

lastangelman said...

Daffy's tongue in Piggy Bank is almost a character unto itself constantly threatening to upstage the duck himself. Is this where Daffy's lisp got more pronounced (except maybe in Art Davis's brilliant Daffy shorts - why doesn't anybody ever shout out Art Davis? He got such a raw deal as a director! When he lost his unit and had to work under Freleng, that must have been so soul-crushing- imagine if Freleng lost his unit and was told to work under Jones)?
But back to Daffy's tongue. I mean most fowl tongues in animation 'til then has been thin papery or nonexistant - Daffy's tongue is a huge thick juicy adjuct just as important form of expression as his eyes, arms and hands. I'm sure Sylvester borrowed Daffy's tongue now and again - speaking of Sylvester ....
Something that was a bit of a mindblower to me was finding out that Mel's secret of doing Daffy voice was that it was exactly the same as Sylvester's voice but recorded at a different speed. Under Freleng, Sylvester was a prop for Freleng's gag department and rarely ever got achance to act.
Fortunately, until Jones and Freleng gave Daffy a charactercetomy, we still have Daffy at his most histrionic and manic in this toon(wait a minnit, Book Revue -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_Revue - was a damn great Clampett short and Daffy's performance, the animation and voice acting is stupendous - I wonder what Danny Kaye thought of it?)

C. A. M. Thompson said...

Yeah, I think Art Davis did some amazing cartoons with Daffy like Stupor Salesman and What Makes Daffy Duck. "Hey, buddy! You need a house to go with this doorknob!" Davis wasn't on the level of Jones or Clampett but his cartoons were always very entertaining unlike Freling's. It must have sucked for him to have to animate for Freling after directing. They should have kept Davis as a director and gotten rid of Freling.

Thad K said...

"They should have kept Davis as a director and gotten rid of Freling."

It'd never happen. Freleng had seniority at the studio over even Jones. Davis was demoted simply because his unit was the 'b-unit'. That's why most of his stuff got made in Cinecolor!

Besides, it would've been McKimson who would've gotten the can in favor of Davis... And I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in a world with no Foghorn Leghorn!!!

Duck Dodgers said...

Hhmmm...I do not like Foghorn Leghorn lime many of you-----

R2K said...

I love duck tracey.


Bathrooms
Rockets

the heart of the world said...

great screen grabs from Andrea

David Germain said...

I've always made sure that any character I draw is actually expressing an emotion rather than just sitting there like a zombie (unless of course the character IS a zombie). I especially worked toward this after really getting into Chuck Jones' and Bob Clampett's work.



Actully, I made a post dedicated to Rod Scribner on my blog recently. We can all pay tribute to Rod both here and over there as well.

David Germain said...

Under Freleng, Sylvester was a prop for Freleng's gag department and rarely ever got a chance to act

Actually, Sylvester is the Spencer Tracy of toons. He's easily as close to the perfect character as Bugs or Daffy. Instead of taking up too much space here, I'll just refer everyone to this online essay of sorts about Sylvester. It's all explained there.

Gabriel said...

So, how did Clampett manage to keep everything moving all the time? Did he plan key poses but never held them? Did they do it just 'straight ahead', making it up along the way and doing the lypsinc in separate runs?
I really like the part Daffy starts jumping and talking just after he finished the comic, its amazing how all the body language and the speech seem to follow each other.

KosmicFreeway said...

As a kid, I was a Warner Bros. purist. Other cartoons did nothing for me. As an adult, I can honestly say the only cartoons that I enjoyed as much as Warner Bros., was Ren & Stimpy. Pure magic.

James Scotto-Lavino said...

I can't handle it. Reading these posts for a few days, and already I've ordered $100 worth of 1940's WB cartoons. I'm desperate to see Coal Black, but have no idea how I would go about doing it.

John, you're the most creative person we have in this business. But I found myself tinking the other day that you must be extremely frustrated. Just seeing the package art for the APC Ren & Stimpy set has me freaked out. I want this set. And the idea that it hinges on the sale of seasons you didn't even work on is a crime.

When I was in high school, I wanted to get into animation so badly. With no options, I've spent decades learning film and graphic design just for the possibility of getting close to it. You need anything, let me know. I'll spend whatever kind of time it takes just to be able to say I had a hand in something this revolutionary.

-JSL

Joel Bryan said...

As far as ducks talking/having teeth goes, there's an old Oscar Wilde quote about how people can believe the impossible but can never believe the improbable.

Maybe that has nothing to do with it.

I really dig the idea of specific acting, in cartoons or comics. Generic acting in H-B tv cartoons never bothered me a lot because I had lower expectations for them.

In comics it seems like it'd be easier than cartoons to study film or mirror expressions to convey emotions or acting because you one have to make one drawing... but they rarely do it there, either.

Consequently, things that could be wrung for all they're worth get shorthanded and end up boring or poorly drawn.

Anonymous said...

James Scotto-Lavino said...

When I was in high school, I wanted to get into animation so badly. With no options, I've spent decades learning film and graphic design just for the possibility of getting close to it.


JSL, I feel your pain! All I ever wanted to be when I grew up was an animator. I graduated HS in 1976, and the thought of recycling walks on the FAT ALBERT show just wasn't appealing to me. I learned another trade, got into manufacturing and now with all the jobs going to China, I'm darn near unemployable. Hey - maybe I did become an animator after all!

JohnK said...

>>

John, have you ever thought of doing the constant animation of Warner Bros from back in the day?

There's nothing more I'd rather do. That's called "full animation" and costs a lot more than "limited animation" which is what we're stuck with on TV. At least the budgets that I'm used to. If we ever had a budget like the big primetime cartoons, all the work could easily be done in the country and animated fully like it was in the 1940s.

Alicia said...

You hit the nail right on the head again John. I love Chuck's drawings for the expressions and subtleties that I can only find in his cartoons. Chuck taught me that a single expression can convey more humour than listening to Jim Carrey rant on and on for five minutes. These are the things I would point out to my friends when I was younger and still to this day that they just don't understand.
When I found Bob Clampett & Tex Avery, they showed me that you can have vivid actions and loud humour without making it unbearably obnoxious. That damn Genie from Beauty & The Beast drove me bonkers and made me feel like any boisterous character was just an excuse to please little children who didn't know any better and get them to buy toys. The truly daffy Daffy was comic genious who pushed the envelope on insanity with out driving me insane. We definately have Bob to tahnk for that.

Pat Lewis said...

John--

I believe this is an example of the Chuck Jones "take" you're talking about, right?

http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/3081/wile6.jpg

Pat Lewis said...

...and another:

http://www.tultw.com/pics/wile039.gif

glamaFez said...

And what about all those bizarre characters who gang up on Duck Twacy all at once....that's what I remember most about the cartoon. That's about a hundred times more interesting than that damn blue genie.

Heather_Chavez said...

Everytime I read your blog I learn to see things differently. With a keen eye I now keep in mind the quailites you highlight in animation.

Charles Brubaker said...

The frames from "Piggy Bank Robbery" was great. Rod Scribner was a good animator, even when he worked on "George of the Jungle", despite the show's low budget.

Oh, and John, what do you think of Art Davis? His style wasn't as crazy at Clampett, but his cartoons was pretty good, too.

Daniel Carter said...

John K., can you tell us more about the differences between "full animation" and "limited animation"?

In spite of my lifelong obsession with cartoons, I know very little about the technical aspects of animation.

School us, brother!

Aimee's Sketch Blog said...

Direct more fans to your blog/ more hits for your site: sign up for these free sites- technorati, starcounter, and link2blogs

I'm getting quite a few hits from these and I just posted this blog yesterday...

benj said...

Interesting post as always...
Keep em coming John!

Jorge Garrido said...

Hey, Andrea, after you post the other Duck Twacy scene, post Scribner's Bug's tirade after he sees Tortoise Beats Hare in Tortoise Wins By A Hare. Where he kicks the projector over adn does that heavy pacing thing and waves his arms around like a madman.

Jitterbug said...

I loved, loved , loved those Cartoons, the only time which Bugs Bunny loses. Some of the funniest cartoons ever made.

Gabriel said...

I'm with Jorge, that scene is amazing. Plus it's kind of rare to see Bugs Bunny pissed off. Sometimes he's so much of an wise ass that he annoys me.

Duck Dodgers said...

Jorge, cool idea! I will do it....

Blanco said...

"I'm desperate to see Coal Black, but have no idea how I would go about doing it."

Not the best quality but if your desprate enough you can find some toons on YouTube.

Coal Black

Baron Von Josho said...

>>There's nothing more I'd rather do. That's called "full animation" and costs a lot more than "limited animation" which is what we're stuck with on TV.

I thought when you did a cartoon with Carbunkle, those WERE "full animation"...? Obviously, I'm an idiot.

Eamo said...

Hey John,
What do you think of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends and Samurai Jack? I know you don't like flat animation and backgrounds, but these two seem to be standouts for me. Samurai Jack is very poetic.

Gabriel said...

I thought when you did a cartoon with Carbunkle, those WERE "full animation"...? Obviously, I'm an idiot.

Yeah, obviously. Heh, just kidding man. I don't know if you're refering to any specific cartoon, but the thing is, John's limited animation is full of impressive poses. When we think of limited animation, most of the time we think of Yogi Bear, Jetsons, etc. Those are totally different, most of the time the characters bodies stay in neutral position while the head bob up and down during speech. I'm not kidding you, pay attention, they alternate between two head positions so it doesn't become completely static. I never liked those cartoons, but when I figured this out i was appaled. That's one of spumco's greatest merits, their limited animation is totally different than what other people had been doing until they came around.

BrianB said...


Yeah, obviously. Heh, just kidding man. I don't know if you're refering to any specific cartoon, but the thing is, John's limited animation is full of impressive poses. When we think of limited animation, most of the time we think of Yogi Bear, Jetsons, etc. Those are totally different, most of the time the characters bodies stay in neutral position while the head bob up and down during speech. I'm not kidding you, pay attention, they alternate between two head positions so it doesn't become completely static. I never liked those cartoons, but when I figured this out i was appaled. That's one of spumco's greatest merits, their limited animation is totally different than what other people had been doing until they came around.


Exactly. Spumco's animation is completely rich despite it. And the terrific acting and poses really put it so far above what other shows ever attempt. The drawing skills of the studio alone is better than anything elser out there by a mile.

Anonymous said...

To Daniel Carter above: what I understand of limited versus constant animation:
Limited animation is where only the keyframes are created by the main animators, and the fullfilment of the remaining frames/drawings are done by another team. It's the usual thing being done today. It's also usual for those frames to be done outside the United States, where the price for having them done is cheaper. There was a very funny episode of the powerpuff girls on this subject. Somehow, in the middle of the episode, the script was scrapped, or lost, and it was up to the "in-betweeners" in China(or some other part of the "third" world) to develop the rest of their script. Very amusingly, the rest of the episode ran a bit like a manga, and they developed the story so that the powerpuff girls would come into their workplaces and save them from their enslaving bosses.
Bloody gutsy, and amuzing at the same time!

Anonymous said...

Always loved Daffy's "Now you see them..." teeth. More great Daffy madness in one of Tashlin's, the title escapes me, and all my reference books are packed away pending library shelf construction, but it's the one where the cute little baby duck grows into uber-obnoxious Daffy, making the dad of the house's life a living hell. Great stuff, particularly the ax gag: "Grusome, isn't it?"
Ditto to Jorge's Tortoise scene: top notch Scribner.
And ditto to the underappreciated Art Davis, "Bowery Bugs" is one of the best BB's ever made, and "A Slick, a Chick and a Hick" is a riot, a fascinating cultural snapshot, and quite a unique cartoon.
This is my new favorite blog, John, great work!
Chris

tim said...

Nice, that's one of my favorite Warner Bros. cartoons ever!

Gabriel said...

Limited animation is where only the keyframes are created by the main animators, and the fullfilment of the remaining frames/drawings are done by another team.

Hm, I don't think that is it. I think limited animation is mainly characterized by animating only certain parts of a character, as opposed to redrawing everything all the time. For example, Fred Flintstone runs and they only animate his legs, or Space Ghost pulls a lever and they only animate his arm. That stuff got popular in the 60s I think (maybe late 50s?). They also started using boring neutral camera angles. Everything is viewed from the side, like a theatre. That allows recycling a lot of the animation. And of course, the jokes started being more based on the text, because it's cheaper than animating visual gags.
If i'm wrong, someone please correct me.

miles said...

there has NEVER been and never will be such strange acting as there is in Ren and Stimpy - ever - to me you are the David Lynch of cartoons and as much as you are hooked on observing and incorporating strange acting i am hooked on watching you act strange...thank you oh strange one!

Bill said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tim Kelly said...

The giant mouse from The Great Piggy Bank Robbery pops up in two of the Filmation Tom and Jerry cartoons. Was that Eddie Fitzgerald's doing?

Anonymous said...

gabrielbr said:
"If i'm wrong, someone please correct me."

You're not wrong.

akira said...

john, you're scaring me... what do you remember when you turn that last drawing sideways? i think i understood what the second to last drawing was reminiscent of, turned ninety degrees, but ... that last one.. did i miss a day of sex-ed class or something?...

anyways, i'd love to hear your feelings on one of my favorite cartoons of all time, "puss cafe" directed by Charles Nichols... have you seen it? i have laughed more at that cartoon than any other(even Ren and Stimpy)... It kind of feels like a looney tunes cartoon to me and i wonder if Charles Nichols and others (ward kimball) at disney were pushing to start making more "Loonier" cartoons at the Disney studio because of the WB influence...?

Josh "Just What the Doctor Ordered" Heisie said...

In my opinion, whilst the acting is excellent in The Great Piggybank Robbery, I think the overall animation and visual appeal is better in 'A Gruesome Twosome.' I also love the excessive violence, and how evil Tweety is.

Mr K, do you think you could post some of your sexy girl drawing theories sometime too?

Eric C. said...

John, your awesome!

That Commentary on GPBR was great.
My favorite Clampett piece is Russian Rhapsody (a.k.a. Gremlins from the Kremlin, La da da dah dah.)It totally reminds me of your work.

I thought you did really excellent acting in Ren Seeks Help. That totally WOWED me.

Bye the way,

WERE'S REN & STIMPY THE LOST EPISODES GOING TO BE ON DVD ?

I'm so HAPPY, I can hardly contain myself.

Kristin said...

Hey John,
When you sed to look sideways on one of the frames, is it supossed to look like a girls...uh.....thing?

David Germain said...

Yep. ;)

(Incidently, I did something similar to a house in my student film.) >;D Hansel und Gretel Check that out here if you like.

JohnK said...

>>Mr K, do you think you could post some of your sexy girl drawing theories sometime too?

Well you need to go to Katie Rice's blog for that. She's much better than me.

Click her link from my site!

Eric C. said...

Hey John,

When you use allot of paper or tracing paper for animation,

what do you do with the drawings after?

Do you erase them and recycle them for scrap, do you toss them out or you auction them on eBay ?

_Eric

David Germain said...

Eric, alot of studios keep their finished animation drawings around usually in a file somewhere. This way, if any animators have problems with similar scenes, they can go back and seehow others solved such problems (watching animation from their favourite toons woks to a certain degree but unfortunately those don't come with their original dope sheets and like that).
Another reason to keep finished animation around is so that *gasp* they could maybe reuse those same drawings in another scene or even another episode. But that's only if the budget was REALLY low, the deadline was coming up REALLY fast, and the director thought he could get away with it. (Friz Freleng did this often, a little too often).

Reel Fanatic said...

Not much to add really .. just wanted to say great blog and thanks for posting those Daffy pics .. priceless!

lastangelman said...

Hey John!
Found it Found it found it!!!! In your blog post for You better learn to love classic cartoons you posted a jpeg screenshot of Bugs Bunny literally going all to pieces - and I remembered that scene but I couldn't recall the cartoon. I noted that in your blog post you were using screenshots from quite a few of the banned eleven shorts, so I Googled , Yahooed, Wikipedia'ed, did the Straight Dope and Waybacked Machined and found the cartoon - Tex Avery's last Bugs Bunny short (uncredited), All This And Rabbit Stew. I haven't seen that since I was five years old! What an amazing Bugs Bunny short!!! The Stepin Fetchit character is absolutely hilarious and very well animated, the way he shuffles is almost flawless and it is funny - but how racsist is it really? Can anyone watch this flick today, who isn't brain damaged and know it isn't poking fun at African-Americans in general but at a stereotype, a generalization which doesn't really exist? I think guilty-concsioused white Americans are more offended by this than most African Americans would be offended. I can see a lot of Elmer Fudd's body actions and reactions from The Big Snooze was directly copied from the hunter character in ...Rabbit Stew.

David Germain said...

FYI, the voice of the Fetchit character was done by a white guy named Danny Webb. But, this information certainly doesn't make this cartoon racist at all.
If a white guy does an impression of a specific black guy and has to wear some kind of brown paint in order to help that impression, that's fine. There should be no problems. It only becomes racist when the performance implies that "this is how ALL black people act". That's when it could become hurtful.
And, since this cartoon has a caricature of a specific black actor (namely that of Mr. Stephen Fetchit) then it is not racist at all. The crap shoot at the end might be, but hey Dave Chappelle portrayed that very same thing in the first season of his show. In this case, it's harder to tell.

Eric C. said...

John,

When are you going to make that movie with Ralph "Bobby's Girl" ?

_Eric

brandon pierce said...

Respond: More great Daffy madness in one of Tashlin's, the title escapes me, and all my reference books are packed away pending library shelf construction, but it's the one where the cute little baby duck grows into uber-obnoxious Daffy, making the dad of the house's life a living hell. Great stuff, particularly the ax gag: "Grusome, isn't it?"
That cartoon is called "Nasty Quacks".
BTW, Mr. K, howabout you and Eddie Fitzgerald produce a movie, or a documentary on Bob Clampett's career? Doesn't have to be live-action, maybe a cartoon documentary. What 'say?