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Forbidden Animation: Censored Cartoons and Blacklisted Animators in America

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0786403950
ISBN-10: 0786403950
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Editorial Reviews


"a masterful job...a welcome addition to the current literature in the field of animation" -- Society for Animation Studies Newsletter

"a pioneering effort that will stand the test of time.... Recommended highly for all types of audiences" -- Choice

"an interesting study...sheds new light on some little known episodes...a valuable addition to your animation library" -- The Pegboard

"chronicles the perpetuation of racial stereotypes and the studios' efforts to stop producing such animation. Recommended for film collections and the larger reference sections" -- Public Library Quarterly

"detailed career overview" -- Film Review

"investigates the subjects of racist imagery, blacklisting and so-called 'uncensored' adult-oriented animation-and how studios have responded to censorship pressures" -- Animation Journal

"thorough, informative and wholly entertaining" -- Film Arts Foundation

"very accessible and interesting" -- Anymator

"well researched...an interesting view of the industry" -- Film & History

About the Author

Karl F. Cohen teaches animation history classes at San Francisco State University and is also an independent film distributor. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Mcfarland & Co Inc Pub (March 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786403950
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786403950
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,695,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed "Forbidden Animation". I am a huge fan of animation history, and I am happy that books about the political censoring of animation in the past and present are finally being produced. Karl Cohen should be commended for his thorough research of the subject, he definetly tried his hardest to bring an objectional perspective to the recorded documents involving the censoring of cartoons and animators. The books only real downfall is its lack of images-I'm not someone who has to have pictures, but when art and animation is the subject, you understand it more when you have something to look at-. I highly recommend this book to any animation historians out there, as well as people who want a better understanding of cartoons and their makers.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Animation has always been a reflection of popular culture, sometimes on the cutting edge, sometimes just a mainstream reaction. Yet because of the popular idea that animation is "kids stuff," it is sometimes not taken seriously. Cohen tries to shine a light on how animation goes way beyond "kids stuff" and reflects on the social forces that went into the creation of animated shorts and features. Despite being seen as a niche, animation has been subjected to a lot of self imposed rules of what can and cannot be shown, and to a lot of outside forces by both organized efforts such as the Hayes Office and less organized efforts such as popular protests against films like Coonskin or Fritz the Cat.
You do not have to know a lot about animation to enjoy this book. It helps, but most of us have been exposed to a number of the examples cited over the course of growing up. And what is politically incorrect is a moving target, so what was acceptable in one era is wholly out now. We see it even today with the television censorship of violence in classic cartoons.
It's also important to note that despite being seen as a less serious medium that could often get away with more than film, animators were still subject to the same winds of politics as illustrated by the final chapter on blacklisting. Animators were asked to name names to the HUAC, and many did not work in Hollywood again for defying the committee. Until I read this book I had no idea of the breadth of this blacklisting upon animators and it reinforces the shame of this era of our history.
Rather than passing judgment, Cohen uses mostly illustrations to show his point, letting the reader decide how much was/is too much. And he brings this battle of content into the late 20th century with examples of battles over The Simpsons, and Ren and Stimpy. Overall a very fascinating look into an area that is usually glossed over or ignored.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book for research purposes - my thesis is on animation censorship and Cohen's book has proven to be a valuable source of information. It's too bad it came out not too long before South Park first aired - I bet he could have had a field day with that show. Cohen obviously did lots and lots of research, not only from written sources, but going so far as to conduct interviews with various people in the industry so that his book has totally exclusive content. It also isn't just about Western-made cartoons either - there's information on imported animation as well as independent films and even strikes at all the big animation studios. And Cohen really covers all bases too. I think he goes on about Song of the South for about 20 pages alone.

My only complaint is that there isn't more artwork. Don't get me wrong, there are some images, but it's a book about animation! There were only a few pieces of artwork throughout the whole book. I kind of wish Cohen would have at least done that thing where authors will put a few pages of color images right in the middle of the book.

Don't let my one complaint sway you from a purchase, though. This book is very much worth it and is a great source of information right up to the 1990s. I almost wish he'd release an updated version covering things from the 1990s to the present - with the current airing of many more mature cartoons like South Park, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Robot Chicken, Metalocalypse, The Boondocks and many other titles, the author would have plenty of new material to cover.
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