Annotated Bibliography – Cultural Appropriation in Cartoons/Animation

Reid Passmore

Xu, Mingwu, and Chuanmao Tian. “Cultural Deformations And Reformulations: A Case Study Of Disney’s Mulan In English And Chinese.” Critical Arts: A South-North Journal Of Cultural & Media Studies 27.2 (2013): 182-210. MasterFILE Elite. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.

This paper discusses the exact omissions and misrepresentations of ancient Chinese culture in Disney’s Mulan. Often it is easy to point out cultural appropriation, but it is much more difficult to point out exactly where the cultural appropriation occurs. Understanding this is key for repairing the damage done. Xu’s and Chuanmao’s study analyzes it from both the side of the appropriators and the appropriated ensuring no sides are missed. Use this article to demonstrate specific elements of cultural misrepresentations in Mulan.

Leventi-Perez, Oana, “Disney’s Portrayal of Nonhuman Animals in Animated Films Between 2000 and 2010.” Thesis, Georgia State University, 2011.

Leventi-Perez’s thesis offers multiple examples of non-human characters demonstrating racial/gender stereotypes to pull from for the podcast. Not all of his thesis is pertinent to the podcast however, such as the relationship between humans and non-humans. Much of it is useful however, such as its reference to the monkeys in “Jungle Book”, the siamese cats from “The Lady and The Tramp”, and the crows in “Dumbo”. He uses all of these references to show how Disney racializes non human characters.

Burguera, Xavier Fuster. “Muffled Voices In Animation. Gender Roles And Black Stereotypes In Warner Bros. Cartoons: From Honey To Babs Bunny.” Bulletin Of The Transilvania University Of Brasov, Series IV: Philology & Cultural Studies 4.(53) 2 (2011): 65-76. Academic Search Complete. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.

This article offers a specific example of a cartoon, “Tiny Toons”, demonstrating common stereotypes for females and race. The article also offers the argument that Disney characters’ stereotypes are ingrained into the minds of the young as normal. This article would be useful for offering more concrete effects of cultural appropriation. Additionally, it attempts to explain why early cartoons exhibit racism through vaudeville. It explains that characters such as Mickey Mouse were originally based off of blackface.


Daniel Wang

Schaffer, Scott. “Project MUSE – Disney and the Imagineering of Histories.” Project MUSE – Disney and the Imagineering of Histories. John’s Hopkins University, 1996. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <;.

This source offers a perspective on how Disney appropriates histories and alters them to convey American imperialist ideals. Scott Schaffer’s paper is divided into two main sections. The first section enlightens the reader about how Disney appropriates local cultures, geographies, and histories, while the latter section elaborates on how Disney attempts to establish a “world order.” This source will enable us to focus on the ramifications of appropriation in children’s media. Besides tackling the bigger issue at hand, Scott Schaffer analyzes a series of Disney cartoons (Aladdin, The Jungle Book, etc.), which we can use to support our argument.

Price, S. (2001), Cartoons from Another Planet: Japanese Animation as Cross-Cultural Communication. Journal of American & Comparative Cultures, 24: 153–169. doi: 10.1111/j.1537-4726.2001.2401_153.x.

This Harvard publication explores how Japanese animation is a means of “cross-cultural communication.” This source compares and contrasts Disney and Japanese anime. Shinobu Price primarily investigates the importance of audience/viewer. He distinguishes between how foreigners perceive Japanese anime and the true meaning behind the symbols and content. In our podcast, we are planning to include a section comparing and contrasting cultural appropriation in Western versus Eastern cartoons. We will use this source to analyze the importance of identity of the viewer when determining cultural appropriation.

Mia Adessa Towbin , Shelley A. Haddock , Toni Schindler Zimmerman , Lori K. Lund & Litsa Renee Tanner (2004) Images of Gender, Race, Age, and Sexual Orientation in Disney Feature-Length AnimatedFilms, Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 15:4, 19-44, DOI: 10.1300/J086v15n04_02

This journal studies how race, gender, and sexual orientation is portrayed in Disney films. For the purposes of this particular project, the race aspect will be analyzed. The authors of this journal analyze 26 different Disney films and concluded that Disney represents minority cultures in the following ways: 1) negatively and 2) exaggerated class stereotypes. In fact, the authors use specific examples from Aladdin and Peter Pan to portray these aspects of cultural appropriation. We will use this article to provide our overarching arguments on cultural appropriation.


Aliyah Hill

Reversal of Roles: Subversion and Reaffirmation of Racial Stereotypes in Tom and Jerry. (n.d.). Retrieved April 8, 2016, from

This article provides textual evidence to discuss the racial stereotypes and connotations associated with “Mammy”, the black character in Tom and Jerry. There is one episode specifically where viewers get a glimpse of her face. She is storming back from a party and crashes through the wall in order to get back to the house.


(2015). Tom and Jerry, 36 Episode – Old Rockin’ Chair Tom (1948). Retrieved April 08, 2016, from’

The main focus of our podcast is cultural appropriation and besides describing visual elements, audio will also play a fairly large role in the podcast. Listening to what’s occurring clip by clip in the cartoons allows the audience to visualize the actions taking place while the characters are communicating in the show. It further challenges the audience to view the originally innocent children’s shows from the perspective that we will create as a group. This clip specifically introduces the black character in Tom and Jerry. Loud, aggressive, and a funny sounding accent is all that can be attributed to her as only her lower body is ever displayed. Tom and Jerry will be evaluated further for the purposes of the podcast.

ERIC – The True Lion King of Africa: The Epic History of Sundiata, King of Old Mali., 1994-Nov-18. (n.d.). Retrieved April 08, 2016, from

This article on the cultural appropriation seen in the Lion King is interesting because it does a great job explaining the argument but an even better job addressing the counterargument. The writer hits on the parts of the movie that were accurate portrayals and very closely aligned to the history books. The fact that black characters were casted (for the voices) and African animals were used as the story characters received very good feedback from the African American community. However, vital parts of the story were missing which took away from the true significance of the African epic.

Jonathan Hughes

9 Cartoons You Didn’t Realize Were Racist & Totally Inappropriate For Kids. (2013). Retrieved April 08, 2016, from

This source comes includes an episode of Arthur, however this was not to say that the entire series was racist but it becomes apparent that Francine’s character was built around very typical black stereotypes. Muffy tries to comb Francine’s hair in one scene and the comb gets stuck inside of Francine’s hair. Additionally, there were only two items hanging in Francine’s closet which was an oversized male jacket and a dress with a hole in it. Muffy takes Francine to the hair salon where the woman asks in shock: “What do we have here”. As Francine leaves to pay, she puts her money on the counter and says, “There goes my new soccer ball”, signifying that she had very little money. At the end of the clip, Muffy tells Francine that she will never be like her. Francine was definitely ostracized throughout the clip solely for characteristics associated with her race.


This article makes a really good point about not only the tv show displaying cultural appropriation, but it talked about the set up around this show where more emphasis was put on the target viewers. Specifically, Disney is known for introducing their tv shows. For example, “Get ready to do the impossible with Kim Possible ”. However, this article found a discrepancy in the complexity of the introductions when introducing a predominately black show such as The Proud Family. The introduction proclaimed, “Get on back to The Proud Family”. This is a very interesting argument that I look forward to investigating more about within the realms of our project.

Scafidi, Susan. “Who Owns Culture?” Google Books. Rutgers Uni Press, n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2016. <;.

This is an online book focusing on the ideas of cultural appropriation and cultures themselves. Using this as an introduction, we can introduce the idea of cultural appropriation in the eyes of a scholar. It focuses on the authenticity of products such as books, shows and created toys and clothes. Who Owns Culture? opens up ideas that show that most all thing in the American lifestyle is brought about from other places and questions the origins of ideas and products.


Sheeba Mathew

“Études Caribéennes.” Disney Animation: Global Diffusion and Local Appropriation of Culture. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2016. <;.

This article focuses on Disney animations on a global scale. The marketing aspect of Disney’s statistics show that there is a fondness of their characters and cartoons by the the younger audience when it depicts foreigners and their concepts of a “far away place”. With their imperialistic ways, they reinforce ideas about the status quo “American life” and “family values” to which they see fit. In their cartoons and animations, they use common “statistics” which can also be understood at stereotypes to make the shows more relatable to the viewers.


Jenkins, Eric. “Special Affects.” Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <;.

The is an online book focusing on Disney and their special affects on cinema, animation and on the consumer. Disney actively culturally appropriates images and ideas from other cultures just for their creation of films and shows. What they do to stop problems is the legal idea or “transfer”. Their whole idea of “transfer” hides the fact that they take aspects from various cultures to create their productions. Transfer for them is the idea to “make over in production or take control of”. By slightly changing the stories and ideas from other places, they can say it is their own idea.

Schenkel, Katie. “The Nightmare Before Christmas Is Actually About Why Cultural Appropriation Is Terrible.” The Mary Sue The Nightmare Before Christmas Is Actually About Why Cultural Appropriation Is Terrible. The Mary Sue, n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2016. <;.

This article is in analysis of “The Nightmare Before Christmas, a popular movie that is a spin off of the the original story of “The Night Before Christmas”. The way this story is portrayed , it can be understood that the  aspects of this cartoon film is talking about cultural appropriation. A skeleton from “Halloween” walks around through the season of Christmas, can be representative of cultures, and tries to be apart of it by stealing from the snowman and trying to become his own Santa. When cultural appropriation can be defined as  “ unauthorized use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc. It’s most likely to be harmful when the source community is a minority group that has been oppressed or exploited in other ways or when the object of appropriation is particularly sensitive, e.g. sacred objects.”, this movie clearly shows  aspects of the downfall due to cultural appropriation.


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