My focus in my groups was animation. And recently, in another class of mine, we talked about racial stereotypes in the DreamWorks film Shark Tale. The characters of Oscar and the two jellyfish serve as African American stereotypes (Oscar being American black and the Jellyfish being Jamaican black). Even certain lines in the film show a clear presence of race. Oscar is trying to teach his puffer fish boss, Sykes, a complicated handshake. When he can’t quite get it, Oscar says, “Don’t sweat it, a lot of white fish can’t do it,” clearly establishing Sykes as white and Oscar as black, even though they’re fish. Then there are the two jellyfish characters, Ernie and Bernie. Both with Rastafarian accents and are animated in a way that makes their stingers look like dread locks and their heads look like typical Rastafarian hats. These are just some of the many obvious examples of racism Shark Tale has. For some other issues featured in it, I posted the link to a video “LETS FAIL: Shark Tale || 33 Things Wrong With DreamWorks Movie.” This video also highlights how the film portrays gender and sexuality as well.

Here’s the video:


3 responses »

  1. kristenhong says:

    It’s interesting watching Disney movies that I watched as a child and watching it again at this age. There are gender and racial stereotypes that are much more prominent.

  2. palomapineda19 says:

    To add on to Kristen’s comment, I was really interested by your presentation as I have never thought about the blatant racism that is presented in animated movies. I found an article on The Guardian asking “Why are Hollywood’s animated movies full of racist stereotypes?” Linked here:

    I would love to see examples of animation that defy typical narrative and racial stereotypes. I think we need to focus on holding big animation companies accountable for the stereotypes they perpetuate. Overall interesting subject and would love to see where you take this topic in regards to the BLM movement.

  3. bhedigan says:

    It’s interesting that the proliferation of racial stereotypes is not limited to just children’s animation. Video games are another wildly popular form of animation, and they are just as bad, if not worse. People of color rarely make appearances as anything but background characters, and when they do appear in that capacity, they are most often limited to stereotypes such as: the “gangster” or “thug” (ex: Grand Theft Auto V), the “terrorist” (ex: literally any Call of Duty game), or the “mercenary” (ex: Uncharted 1&3) to name a few. Even games that allow players to create their own character assume these characters to be white by default (find me box art for a game where the create-a-character protagonist is anything other than white – they don’t exist). What about animation makes the field such a racially-limited space? I have to wonder if the problem isn’t rooted in how white the animation industry is. Are there any statistics out there for how racially diverse the industry is? I would definitely be interested in seeing the numbers.

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