Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Betty Boop Cartoon Banned For Drug Use 1934

This is all a little unbelievable, like most early cartoons. Not to mention a little nightmarish. At least Betty looks like a girl: in her first couple of appearances she was a dog with long ears and a snout that popped out from time to time. The animators didn't quite know what to do with her.

After a few episodes she became a sexpot. It's interesting to watch the evolution of her costumes: here, in pre-code Hollywood, she was so scantily clad that you occasionally caught flickers of bare breasts (a wardrobe malfunction, perhaps) and, in her saucily flipped-up hemline, the delta of Venus. By the mid-30s the censors had clamped down, and by wartime she looked like a no-nonsense Army nurse with twill jackets and skirts below the knee.

These were Max Fleischer cartoons, some of the strangest things ever made, and they evolved into Popeye which ran forever but also ran out of steam around the time of the war. Then they became patriotic bullshit and propaganda, and never quite recovered. I like the fact that these characters are all a little hideous, a little smudgy, and almost psychotic in their unpredictable behaviour. By the end they all get stoned, sucking up nitrous oxide like a dentist who has fallen off the rails.

Were cartoons really made for children? I don't think so. They were shown along with movies (there'd be a newsreel, a cartoon, a short subject, and the main feature: or perhaps two), later sent overseas to bolster the morale of the troops. The studios cranked out hundreds and even thousands of them: Disney and Warner Brothers were the big guns, but then you had weirdball Fleischer and, a little later, Bob Clampett with his bizarre puppets-brought-to-animated-life, Beany and Cecil.

This just gets more unbelievable as you watch. Maybe the animators WERE on something.


  1. Can't keep up with you!

    BTW, can you disable the Captcha hoops? It's really time consuming.

  2. I don't know what they are, or I'd be happy to oblige.

    1. In order to win approval of a comment one must try to decipher grotesquely distorted letters and numbers. Sometimes my answers are reject two or three times before the computer finally lets me in. It's to keep spambots from commenting. Blogspot may not give you the option anymore. I didn't have it on my blog when I had one here years and years ago. The company that inflicts this torture upon us is called "Captcha."

  3. Ah! I've done those before. If you keep clicking, they usually get more readable. I went over all my settings recently and I don't remember seeing that one. Blogspot is quite primitive, which is what I like about it (being a primitive sort myself, heh-heh). No, I mean it's fairly simple to set up and use, though there are bugs in it that even my genius son can't get out. I keep saying, if and when I publish again, I'll strike the set and start over and call it The Glass Character, like my first (experimental) one. I will channel Harold and use his voice. Wooo-oooo-oooooo!!!