Check this out: a brief but thought-provoking INTERVIEW with Dan Haskett, a name that should need no introduction to anybody working in animation today. It’d be great to see somebody do a more in-depth talk with Haskett at some point, but for now, this’ll have to suffice. Here’s a comment that stood out in particular, in which Haskett addresses the lack of black characters in feature animation:
Q: What are the challenges to getting more Black characters in animated movies?
Haskett: We have to make our own movies. I don’t want Disney to do the Black characters. I’ve already seen what they do with the Asian characters and the Mexican characters and the Hawaiian characters and I don’t like it. There’s your image up there but what are you doing with it? What are you saying with this image? I remember during the making of “The Little Mermaid” there was an idea, wouldn’t it be funny to make Sebastian the crab be a Jamaican? And basically what that meant is give him a big, fat lower lip and popping eyes – and that’s what they had in the film. A lot of our folks think that because it’s a cartoon that it’s harmless, that you can put a coon image in a cartoon and it will be harmless. But it’s very importantâ€¦people remember those images.
We have to make out own stuff we can’t depend on Hollywood to make better pictures. Hollywood is not interested in you. They’ve made allowances but it’s nowhere near where it ought to be. There is still a lot to be done in American animation in multicultural representation.
And here’s Dan speaking about the animation world’s changing landscape: