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Tuesday screening: Toons In Drag

For my Cinefamily animation screening this month we’re examining the cartoons (and especially Bugs Bunny) where male characters dress up as females. Why? Because they did it and it’s funny. From the days of Shakespeare through to the days of vaudeville, silent movies and beyond, cross-dressing has passed into the mainstream as a safe, well-worn comedy staple; think Milton Berle, Flip Wilson, the Kids In The Hall or Eddie Izzard. Whenever our beloved cartoon characters get into the act, however, it all starts to get a little nuttier, and dare we say — hotter? Come for clips of your favorite cartoon stars cavorting as members of the opposite sex, alongside complete short subjects on 35mm and 16mm (including several in Technicolor), all featuring classic moments of animated role reversal.

Join us Tuesday night (5/4) at 8pm, in Hollywood, at the CineFamily/Silent Movie Theatre.

  • Vzk

    Will you be talking about anime/manga traps, whose popularity seems to be growing in Japan?

  • Having watched that trailer, I was surprised to find you may have missed a couple of shorts to add to that preview:

    Hokey Wolf – “Rushing Wolf Hound”
    The Inspector – “That’s no Lady! That’s Notre Dame!”

    Other than that, good choice of toon clips, both old and new =)

  • Looks like funny stuff. What is that part with Donald’s nephews disguised as a Cleopatra look-a-like from? I can’t identify whether it’s from Duck Tales or a classic short.

  • Just posted an bizarre cel of Donald Duck pretending to be female on my blog.
    Any brewer who knows which cartoon it’s from?
    I neeeed to add it to my cartoon library. :)

  • One generation’s “Safe, well-worn comedy staple” is the next generation’s offensiveness that needs umpteen disclaimers if it is to be publicly displayed at all.

    I’ve worked with women who find drag humour extremely offensive and degrading to them and see no difference between it and blackface.

  • Pedro Nakama

    It’s funny in animation but in real life it’s scary.

  • Steve Schwartz

    Ah! This is awesome! I’ve always loved it when cartoons don a dress! But then again, I’m up for a good drag show anyday, that’s just me.

  • Oliver

    These women you mention Don, what’s their opinion of, say, kabuki theatre and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night?

  • “About the cross-dressing thing, back then funny, today disturbing.”

    “Lady, if you don’t find a rabbit with lipstick amusing, you and I have nothing to say to each other.”

  • Steve Schwartz

    also, not a single scene of mulan in there? I’m guessing this is just approaching drag from the humor perspective.

  • David

    You forgot Monty Python! They were the mother of all cross dressing comedy!!!!!

  • Mike Russo

    Roberto, not sure what short that clip is from but it’s definitely not from Ducktales.

  • startstop

    Bugs: “Usually, I play the female love interest!”
    VP: “Yeah, about the cross-dressing thing. Back then, funny. Today, disturbing!”
    Bugs: “Lady, if you don’t think a rabbit with lipsticks’ amusin’, then you and I have nothin’ to say to each other.”

  • Karen

    You forgot J. Edgar Hoover. He loved dressing up girlie style for his boyfriend.

  • top cat james

    “Elvis! Ain’t you kotched that eatin’ rabbit, yet?”

  • The old Disney story guys were always laughing about characters in drag. Seems to be a staple of comedy.

    Actually, I think “blackface” is funny, but that’s just me.

  • Scarabim

    Gawd. Even Popeye???!!!

  • udx

    There’s one modern Toon in Drag moment in Chowder, and that involves the title character himself in the episode “The Broken Part.”

  • Grayson Ponti

    So are any of you attracted to Bugs Bunny wearing a dress

  • “Because they did it and it’s funny.” The best and only good reason for examining something like this:) Wish I could be there.

  • Paul N

    Roberto, it’s a short. It’s the one where Donald and his nephews go to the fair (sorry, don’t remember the name).

  • Steve Menke

    Don’t forget to have at least one cartoon where Bugs sashays to “The Lady in Red”! (Apparently when Carl Stalling saw any notation of “red,” this was his default choice.)

  • purin

    Wow, I don’t remember some of those examples. It does seem especially ridiculous when you view them back to back.
    I think the fact that companies/series with few to no regular female characters use drag so much potentially says a lot about culture (popular and otherwise) and the creators.

  • lampshade

    Hey, doesn’t The Three Caballeros crossdress too?

  • Paul N: It’s STRAIGHT SHOOTERS (…hm, under the circumstances, even the title seems loaded).

  • tedzey

    There’s one moment in the spongebob episode “clams,” where Spongebob gives Mr. Krabs a dollar thinking its his millionth dollar. Then Krabs notices that its been kissed with Coral Blue #2 Semi-Gloss Lipstick. Then spongebob in drag says “actually its coral blue #” then cut off by Squidward!

    One of my favorite moments, and it had spongebob in drag!

  • Shakesperian and Kabuki actors also crossdressed. Let’s ban them!!!!!

  • mbm

    you forgot Martin Lawrence (as Shenehneh on Martin), Jamie Foxx (as Wanda Wanye on In Living Color), and Tyler Perry as Madea as more recent live-action examples

  • I second Floyd Norman’s “blackface” comment. We need a screening for that, too!

  • Charles

    Yeah, I agree with Floyd and Mesterius. But, you should go all out. Why stop at “blackface,” a comic travesty of African Americans leavened with humor?

    In fact, ethnic caricatures & stereotypes in animation is a good theme for a future program. You should include Jews, Asians, Latinos, and immigrants, too. We can ALL giggle at how WE were ridiculously portrayed in the classic periods of our beloved art form. After all, this was the zeitgeist of those times, right?

    • Funkybat

      Actually, an “offensive animation festival” sounds like a good idea. Having dozens of examples of different stereotypes mixed together in one screening would in a way make it less of a hot-button event, since it wouldn’t be all about one group or race. The main problem would be that, from those that I have seen, most “banned” cartoons aren’t all that funny. Even if you are inclined to laugh at the caricatures (and more people than care to admit it are, or Family Guy etc. wouldn’t be as popular as it is) the funny cartoons are outnumbered by the mundane or just plain mean ones.

      My favorite “banned” cartoons are probably “Der Fuhrer’s Face” and “Coal Black.” Both have great cartoon animation, and if you can get past the propaganda/racism, they’re stories that actually have a beginning, middle, and end (which is more than can be said for many of the other “banned” toons.)