T Nation

Character Disney Cut from Fantasia

In 1940, Disney released Fantasia, which has become one of the all-time classics of animation. The groundbreaking film is made up of several vignettes, each set to a classical composition performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra and its conductor, Leopold Stokowski.

The segment of the film set to Beethoven’s “Pastoral Symphony” contained three shots with a black female centaur (named Sunflower). Performing menial duties for the blonde, white female centaurs, Sunflower is a racial stereotype along the lines of Amos and Andy, Buckwheat, and Aunt Jemima.

http://www.thememoryhole.org/arts/sunflower.htm

I haven’t seen Fantasia in years and don’t remember much about it, but unfortunately this was common in that era. Fantasia is from the 40’s remember.

Looking past the racist black-face drawings of the time, there was some good to come of the cartoons. There was a Merrie Melodies cartoon called “Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs” that many consider a cartoon masterpiece. It was one of the first cartoon parodies of a well-known fairy tale to use an all-black cast. It is also one of the first to use jazz as its musical score.

Like I said, I don’t know much about the history of Fantasia, but, in this case, it looks like it was a good decision to remove the character’s scenes.

Here’s the video of “Coal Black…”

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6488478953309613618&q=coal+black

It was a racist time. Walt Disney has been accused of being racist several times. There’s a whole lot of racial cartoons from that era… I did a presentation on it in my history of jazz class a year ago. Both of these examples are Merrie Melodies, I believe. There’s one of Luis Armstrong’s head chasing a white man through te cut of africa, which is inhabited by black people that look like monkeys…

There’s one of three black kids on stage whose wine sounds like a jazz device of the 30’s. Also in this clip, their whining is silenced by feeding them watermelon. A black baby in the audience saw them get their watermelon and started crying. His mother responded by reaching into her purse and grabbing 1/4 of a watermelon, the seeds of which he spit out onto the back of the white man’s head in front of him.
After my presentation, people looked at me like I was a racist bastard… Ahhh… Memories…

Interesting thread…

Disney has also “disowned”
“Songs of the South” for it’s racial overtones (despite winning the 1947 Academy Award for Best Song with “Zippity-Doo-Dah”).

It doesn’t fight any copyright infringements or releases in Asia and Europe.

Very interesting Corporate stance. But for Disney, image means a lot.

Mufasa

[quote]ssn0 wrote:
In 1940, Disney released Fantasia, which has become one of the all-time classics of animation. The groundbreaking film is made up of several vignettes, each set to a classical composition performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra and its conductor, Leopold Stokowski.

The segment of the film set to Beethoven’s “Pastoral Symphony” contained three shots with a black female centaur (named Sunflower). Performing menial duties for the blonde, white female centaurs, Sunflower is a racial stereotype along the lines of Amos and Andy, Buckwheat, and Aunt Jemima.

http://www.thememoryhole.org/arts/sunflower.htm[/quote]

And your point to this is what?
Are you complaining about a CARTOON that was made in the 40’s?

I wish that all women had the same proportions and clothing choice as Coal Black…

– ElbowStrike

It needs to be looked at in its historical context. All of those were in keeping with the mainstream thought of its day. In the 40’s most white folk didnt think of blacks as being like them. So the stereotypes were not considered offensive.

As a young boy in the early 70’s “the song of the south” was re released and my mother took me to see it. I dont recall either of us being offended. I was very young at the time. Disney however has to put the interests of its investors and partners above the “artistic merit” of this film.

I could see it being given a short, dvd run for those who would care to see it.

There are several “insensitive” characters that disney has shelved. The crow sequence from Dumbo has been edited out for the same reason.