Animating Culture: Hollywood Cartoons from the Sound Era

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Animating Culture: Hollywood Cartoons from the Sound Era


Eric Loren Smoodin

Date published:



New Brunswick, N.J.:Rutgers University Press

ISBN: 0813519489 (cloth, 0813519497 (pbk.)


The author analyzes the animated short film and argues that cartoons appealed to a wide audience, not just children, and did indeed contribute to public debate about political matters. 

He examines issues often ignored in discussions of animated film, issues such as social control in the US army’s Private Snafu cartoons, and sexuality and race in the “sites” of Betty Boop’s body and the cartoon harem.

His analysis of the multiple discourses embedded in a variety of cartoons reveals the complex and sometimes contradictory ways that animation dealt with class relations, labor, imperialism, and censorship.

His discussion of Disney and the Disney Studio’s close ties with the US government forces us to rethink the place of the cartoon in political and cultural life. The author reveals the complex relationship between cartoons and the Hollywood studio system, and between cartoons and their audiences.


  • Smoodin , Eric . Animating Culture: Hollywood Cartoons from the Sound Era. Rutgers University Press , 1993 . 240. Print.

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