Seeing this old cartoon got me to remembering others I had seen as a boy that dealt with the South, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. I remembered several, and with the help of You Tube I found a number of these. I am not sure what we can learn from these cartoons from the 1940s and 1950s, but they seem to say something about how we remembered the the Old South and the Civil War....before the Civil Rights Movement.
A number of these cartoons had less than flattering depictions of slaves, and I suppose the political correctness thing is part of the reason that they are not shown any more. For example, in "Confederate Honey," there is a scene of slaves picking cotton. Most are doing it by hand, but one is using a push lawn mower which throws the cotton into a bag on his back. The scene shifts to a boy handing cotton to his reclining father. When the boy puts too much cotton in his father's hand the father says something to the effect that he is being too ambitious, when the boy removes some the father says "that's better." This cartoon also takes some liberties with Gone with the Wind. Instead of Rhett Butler, Elmer Fudd is Ned Cutler, and instead of Scarlett O'Hara, she is Crimson O'Hair Oil.
In "Southern Fried Rabbit," Bugs Bunny meets up with his old antagonist Yosemite Sam, but this time Sam is a Confederate still fighting the war years later. Bugs's reason for going down South is to cash in on a bumper carrot crop in Alabama that he reads about in the newspaper. When Bugs reaches the South he exclaims, "Well shut my mouth and call me corn pone!" When Bugs meets Sam, he tells him the war has been over for 90 years. Sam replies classically as any unreconstructed Southerner would, "I'm no clock watcher!" When Sam accidentally runs across the "Mason-Dixon" line he surprisingly says, "Great horny toads...I'm up North!" He quickly retreats to Southern ground and says, "Gonna have to burn my boots, they touched Yankee soil." In this one Bugs uses a number of disguises to fool old Sam. He is a slave, Abe Lincoln, General "Brickwall" Jackson, and Southern Belle, "Scarlett." When he is Lincoln he asks Sam, "What's this I hear about you beating slaves?" Sam can only reply, "but, but, but, but." Bugs then walks off telling Sam to look him up at his Gettysburg address.
In "Rebel Without Claws" Tweety is a Confederate messenger pigeon. Now, I have never heard of using messenger pigeons in the Civil War, but how else are you going to work a bird into a cartoon about the Civil War? Sylvester is the Union's secret weapon to destroy the messenger. At one point Tweety says, "I thought I saw a damn Yankee cat." At another he says, "I wonder why they put the South so far South?" Sylvester and Tweety even have a scene on an ironclad ship. Tweety is finally caught and gives the famous Nathan Hale line (from the Revolutionary War), "I only regret that I have one life to give for my country." A group of misfit Yankee soldiers then proceed to shoot Sylvester standing nearby.
One that I couldn't find to re-watch was "Mississippi Hare." It of course is another that features Bugs Bunny, and if I remember correctly is much like the story lines of "Southern Fried Rabbit," and "Dog Gone South."
Again, I don't know what these tell us about history....if anything, but it is interesting to view them from through a post-Civil Rights Movement lens. Images of African Americans ,and white Southerners for that matter, have changed drastically since the 1960s. Hopefully we don't lose our sense of humor and we can still laugh at at least parts of these. But, at the same time, I hope we realize that part of what we see in these old cartoons can be offensive to some people, and that they are largely the views of days gone by for most people.
Here are links to some of these clips. Remember, some people may find parts of these offensive.
"Southern Fried Rabbit"
"Dog Gone South"
"Rebel Without Claws"