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American Animated Cartoons of the Vietnam Era
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American Animated Cartoons of the Vietnam Era

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A Study of Social Commentary in Films and Television Programs, 1961-1973

In the first four years of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War (1961-64), Hollywood did not dramatize the current military conflict but rather romanticized earlier ones. Cartoons reflected only previous trends in U.S. culture, and animators comically but patriotically remembered the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and both World Wars. In the early years of military escalation in Vietnam, Hollywood was simply not ready to illustrate America's contemporary radicalism and race relations in live-action or animated films.

But this trend changed when US participation dramatically increased between 1965 and 1968. In the year of the Tet Offensive and the killings of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Robert Kennedy, the violence of the Vietnam War era caught up with animators. This book discusses the evolution of U.S. animation from militaristic and violent to liberal and pacifist and the role of the Vietnam War in this development. The book chronologically documents theatrical and television cartoon studios' changing responses to U.S. participation in the Vietnam War between 1961 and 1973, using as evidence the array of artistic commentary about the federal government, the armed forces, the draft, peace negotiations, the counterculture movement, racial issues, and pacifism produced during this period. The study further reveals the extent to which cartoon violence served as a barometer of national sentiment on Vietnam. When many Americans supported the war in the 1960s, scenes of bombings and gunfire were prevalent in animated films. As Americans began to favor withdrawal, militaristic images disappeared from the cartoon. Soon animated cartoons would serve as enlightening artifacts of Vietnam War-era ideology.

In addition to the assessment of primary film materials, this book draws upon interviews with people involved in the production Vietnam-era films. Film critics responding in their newspaper columns to the era's innovative cartoon sociopolitical commentary also serve as invaluable references. Three informative appendices contribute to the work.

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File Last Updated:
January 27, 2014
This title was added to our catalog on January 28, 2014.
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