An old animated cartoon from 1931shows how things have changed in the last 75 years. For one thing, back then cartoons were made for adults to watch before or between features at the movie theater; today cartoons are made for kids to watch on TV.
Betty Boop’s parents are immigrants, making Betty a first generation American. This was probably much more the norm in 1931 than now. It had never occurred to me until watching this cartoon how tough it would have been to be a teen under those circumstances. Not only would you be fighting the generational differences, but the Old Country verses the New Country differences as well. I grew up in an era in which many of my friends had grandparents who barely spoke English–Betty Boop grew up with these people as her parents.
Notice the unbridled sensuality in this cartoon. Betty is barely clothed and one can see well up past her garter belt often, which would be kind of risque in a cartoon today, much less one almost a century old. I was also struck by the surreal portrayal of the goings on in the cave Betty stumbles into with her friend, something I wouldn’t have expected in 1931. And it was interesting to note the use of the electric chair electrocuting characters in a cartoon. Can you imagine a portrayal of capital punishment in any form in a cartoon today?
The short Cab Calloway intro shows that Michael Jackson didn’t really invent the Moon Walk, he just tweaked Cab’s version from long ago.
Cab Calloway and Betty Boop