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Cuphead and the Racist Spectre of Fleischer Animation (unwinnable.com)
submitted 1 year ago by neku
[–]toasthaste 1 point2 points3 points 1 year ago
I'm not clear what the author thinks the cuphead devs/animators should have done differently :0 Are they trying to argue that the game should have had racist caricatures in it, so as to not overly sanitize the source material?? Cause I, uh, disagree with that a lot, if that's the case.
[–]neku[S] 2 points3 points4 points 1 year ago
Going into the article, I felt similarly, but after reading I felt that the author managed to articulate the ways that the ostensibly "colourblind" elements of Jazz era cartoons that Cuphead invoked have roots in white American racism.
I'm not sure that the author is calling for the Cuphead devs to not have made a game in this style. (If they are, that's their prerogative and I don't know enough to say if I agree or disagree with their stance; they're certainly more qualified to judge than I am.) I suppose that you could draw a parallel between Studio MDHR attempting to reproduce the visuals of the Jazz era as "just visuals" that "[leaves] all the garbage behind" (instead of a style heavily associated with American racism), as a sort of "depoliticising" of something that some Black Americans know to be political.
I suppose that the argument the author is ultimately making is that trying to reproduce Fleischer style animation without the unsavoury bits doesn't appropriately reckon with its deeply racist past. The question of how to make a Cuphead-style video game that does, while still retaining its cheery persona, is a more difficult question; ultimately, though, it isn't necessarily the author's job to answer it. Their position, I think, might be that answering that question is a part of responsibly designing a video game that does emulate the cartoon style of the 20s.
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