Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs

“Some folks think I’s kinda dumb, but I know someday my prince will come.”

Supervision by Robert Clampett; Story by Warren Foster; Animation by Rod Scribner; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on January 16, 1943.

This is, no question, the most famous of the Censored Eleven. If being listed on the “100 greatest Looney Tunes” isn’t reason enough, then how about actually managing to secure a place as one of the “50 greatest cartoons.” (As chosen back in the 90’s, so people were well aware of how offensive this cartoon was, and still is.) And yet, there are some good reasons as to why it earned such a spot. Allow me to explain.

We start with a mother and child. They aren’t going to feature much in our feature. They set up the story, and briefly appear at the end, and that’s it. (Luckily, they’re in silhouette. We already have enough racist drawings.) The child wants to hear the story of “So White and the seven dwarfs.” So the mother tells just that.

The story starts with a queen. She’s a mean one. Know how I know? She’s hoarding wartime luxuries! Sugar, coffee, tires, and scrap metal! That’s stuff our armies could use! How dare she! Seems like all these treasures aren’t enough to satiate her, so she heads over to her magic mirror. (Now that I think about it, where did the queen find that mirror in every variation of this story? Did Rumplestilskin just have a yard sale?)

The queen asks for a prince, and the mirror… er, supplies I think. A prince does indeed show up. His name is Prince Chawmin’, and maybe he just came this way because of the other woman who is around these parts. Despite the cartoon’s title, her name is So White. (Even though her hair IS coal black, but who would want to be named after their follicles?)

(Right, Edward?)

And as for So… I’ll just say it: she is hot. I mean that. She gets my vote for the most attractive animated character I’ve seen. Jessica Rabbit can’t compare. Red Hot Riding Hood has nothing on her. Samus Aran doesn’t cut it. Give me this black beauty any day. Chawmin’ shares my opinion, and the two start dancing, angering the queen. (Who makes one of the scariest faces I’ve ever seen. That’s a little hyperbolic, but it does give me the jibblies.)

Queenie ain’t pleased to see her prince dancing with her… actually, it doesn’t say if she’s related to So. She could just be a very attractive maid. Still, this is enough cause for murder, so the queen calls up Murder Inc. to get rid of So. They’re very adept and arrive immediately. (Good rates too. Anybody can be out of your life for only a dollar! Midgets are half off! Japanese are free. Bad taste, but I’m sorry, that joke got a small chuckle out of me. At least Murder Inc. have wartime priorities.)

Well, maybe they aren’t as adept as I thought. Being alone with So in their vehicle ends up with her getting safely dropped in the forest, and their faces covered in lipstick. (Can’t say I blame them in the slightest. Shame So’s more of a loose woman than I hoped.) Out on her own, and savvy to her source material, So looks for the seven dwarfs. She finds them rather quickly. Most of them look very similar to each other. We’ll call them Dock, Hoppy, Brash, Sweep, and Snazzy. The other two look like Stepin Fetchit, (Because we have to make that reference whenever possible. The joke is timeless!) and chibi-Dopey. (He’s cute. I’ll call him Cheeb.)

They’re happy to take So in, but since there is a World War in progress, she can’t play housekeeper at their place. Instead, she’ll be the cook at their camp. Now, the queen is well aware that So is still alive. (I guess Muder Inc. couldn’t keep their insensitively large lips shut.) Time for the apple. Poison and all. (I’d have just let her eat it as is. It’d given her worms.) Disguised as a peddler, the queen hands So the apple, claiming it’s candy coated. So gleefully swallows it whole. (Which also would just kill her. The poison is just a fail safe.)

Cheeb sees the downed hottie, (complete with core? She didn’t even chew. Where did it come from? The queen just wanted a snack?) He rallies the troops, and they chase the old girl down. They fire Cheeb in a shell towards her, and he knocks her out with a hammer. Almost all well and good, there’s just the matter of So. They need Chawmin’. His kiss will wake her. He shows up, makes what is possibly the first reference to “Citizen Kane” in media, (I’m too lazy to see if my claim there is true) and kisses So.

Something’s wrong here! He kisses and kisses, but she don’t wake up. Seeing his chance, Cheeb kisses her himself, and that does the trick. But why? Sorry, military secret. (The cutie ended up with the hottie. I guess I ship it.)

Favorite Part: The whole cartoon is in rhyme. (Barring a few exceptions.) It makes the whole thing feel like an upbeat jazz number!

Personal Rating: I won’t beat about the bush. This cartoon is full of ugly caricatures, hurtful stereotypes, and outdated jokes. But, if you can remember that and understand that it’s not funny, there is some pretty awesome stuff left over. A fantastic jazzy soundtrack, some pretty sweet voice acting, (done by some honest to goodness African Americans. And Mel. Because Mel is the voice god) and is overall a pretty awesome parody of Disney’s classic film. I give it a 4. Just remember that even if something is offensive, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s garbage.

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