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Anthropophagy and anthropomorphism: constructing ‘Post-Colonial Cannibal’

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In the 1930s and 1940s, a popular genre of animated film emerged in the United States – the ‘cannibal cartoon’ – in which the anthropomorphized ‘white hero’, marooned on an island, was captured by a tribe of savage cannibals and thrown into the cooking pot. London-based comic art project Let Me Feel Your Finger First are designing a new animated character – ‘Post-Colonial Cannibal’ that makes reference to – and challenges – the depiction of ‘the savage’ in these early animated films. This article presents and discusses some of LMFYFF’s initial design ideas and examines two examples of the cannibal cartoon, Ub Iwerks’s Africa Squeaks (1931) and Walt Disney’s Trader Mickey (1932). Focusing on the animators’ visualizations of the cannibal king, the cannibal tribe and the anthropomorphized ‘white hero’, the article identifies particular components of the animators’ designs and considers the coded meanings contained therein. LMFYFF reflect on the influence of blackface minstrelsy and consider the cannibal’s place in animation’s ignoble history of racial stereotyping. And LMFYFF pose Post-Colonial Cannibal’s implicit question: how can a medium that has historically depended upon caricature – with its accompanying modes of simplification, exaggeration and distortion – represent otherness?

Keywords: LMFYFF character; Let Me Feel Your Finger First; Post-Colonial Cannibal; anthropomorphism; anthropophagy; black representation; cannibal cartoon

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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  • Animation Practice, Process & Production is a journal presenting, analysing and advancing how animation is created and shown. From Pixar to Parn, Aardman to X-Men, Motion Capture to Mobile Phone, GUI to Gallery, all forms of animation will be revealed and assessed. Illustrated contributions are invited from practitioners and scholars of animation. Innovative models of critical presentation and analysis are especially encouraged. All topics engaged with the practice, process and production of animation, from a range of perspectives, will be considered.
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