Jazz, Ideology and the Animated Cartoon

Barry Keith Grant

in Film's Musical Moments

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780748623440
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651115 | DOI:
Jazz, Ideology and the Animated Cartoon

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This chapter explores the emergence of the jazz cartoon of the 1930s and 1940s. Although jazz has had a significant presence in the movies from the arrival of sound onwards (during ‘the jazz age’ itself in the late 1920s) its ideological connotations have been a source of struggle and considerable tensions, especially around race. Hollywood's casting of ‘sweet’ – that is mainstream – jazz as primarily a white musical form in feature films such as The King of Jazz (1930) is problematically paralleled by the use of ‘hot’ jazz in animated cartoons such as Jungle Jive (1944), in which racist stereotypes of black men as sexually predatory ‘zip coons’ preying on white women prevail. Rather than dismissing such films as ephemeral because of their status as programme fillers, this chapter argues that they were often the site of an aggressively asserted insistence on black primitivism in which jazz is the primary signifier.

Keywords: Hollywood; jazz; animated cartoons; films; race; The King of Jazz; Jungle Jive; black men; white women; black primitivism

Chapter.  5404 words. 

Subjects: Film

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