Monday, May 16, 2011

052 Tokio Jokio

Title: Tokio Jokio
Studio: Warner Bros.
Date: 05/15/43
Cpl. Norman McCabe
I. Ellis
Don Christensen
Musical Direction
Carl W. Stalling
Series: Looney Tunes
Running time (of viewed version): 7:05
Commercial DVD Availability: -

Synopsis: Blackout gag cartoon in the format of a captured Japanese newsreel.

Comments: Opens with scratchy film leader effects with a narrator saying it is captured from the enemy. This is followed by a text sign joke in the form of a newsreel title. Land of the rising sun has a rooster in front of it, which turns out to be a polite but menacing glasses needing bucktoothed buzzard. I'm not quite sure why the characteristics of big teeth became forbidden for Japanese characters in the US when big bad teeth independently acceptable as stereotypical characteristics of the British. Of course, the Japanese visual caricature was more universally used in American cartoons than teeth are for the British (which tends to be more for punctuation), and I can see why US cartoonists would need to break themselves of the habit. Similarly, it's still acceptable to have the British have certain stereotypical vocal patterns and accents, but it is less acceptable to have Japanese characters display similar traits (although perhaps that particular prohibition is not as predominant anymore; but then the speech patterns in English of people who did not grow up knowing English a) tend to have a level of uniformity for people from particular backgrounds that on reflection makes the caricature an extension of observable phenomenon and b) is dependent on ultimately non-racial characteristics, namely foreign-ness, which does not reflect on the physical characteristics of our own nationals of the same race. This is not meant to judge the forbidding of certain observable caricatures as acceptable, simply as an observation of a distinction between a largely forbidden caricature and a less forbidden caricature). Other stereotyped things: kimonos, sandals, glasses, hats, politeness, eye shape, weak mustaches. (Are the hats actually caricatures? They're the same as egghead hats; maybe it's just a WB in house thing.) Perhaps outfits are not entirely stereotyped, as there is at least one man in a three piece suit and tophat, and a guy in a button down shirt with no tie doing the sports, and a guy in a baseball uniform, soldier uniforms (tho the guy in the diaper should count as a different stereotype, namely sumo). Of course a main difference with the Japanese caricatures was that the cartoonists had difficulty caricaturing Germans and Italians generally. They could caricature the shit out of Hitler (and his staff) and Mussolini, but generally failed to caricature Germans as Germans. A visual caricature of Aryans certainly could have been developed, but wasn't really. They had to caricature actions, like goose stepping. For the Japanese caricature this might be analogous to the bowing traits of the Japanese caricatures. But the cartoonists did not limit themselves to appearance caricatures of the Japanese leadership (and when Japanese leader caricatures did appear, they tended to not be nearly as distinct as the Mussolini or Hitler caricatures). Tojo wore black round glasses and a mustache; I wonder to what extent that aspect of the general stereotype of those glasses was based on him? Lots of fairly pleasant backgrounds, but nothing really great. The cartoon just ends after a more or less random gag. Lots of literal Tex Avery type sign gags. The body type is the same basic bodytype WB used for anthropomorphic mice, and some other human characters. The art shows a move towards simplification.

This was Norman McCabe's last directing gig for WB. He got drafted (thus the rank in the credits). He would eventually work for Depatie Freleng on the Pink Panther, and would outlive the other WB directors, not dying until 2006.

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