Monday, February 22, 2010

IE6 is holding us back--bring it down

As a web developer, I occasionally get feedback from clients that their website is "broken". Usually, the client is using Internet Explorer 6 (or one case of the old AOL browser). Consequently, I've had to go out of my way, adding css hacks or html commenting hacks to make the code fit for IE6. Many feelings of rage have passed through my heart as I've dealt with IE6 problems. Fortunately, to my great relief, my employer has decided to leave IE6 off of our UI testing list.

As of today, I'm joining the "Bring down IE6" coup. IE6 is a poor excuse for a browser.

Bring Down IE6

In order to help IE6 users to appreciate better browsers use code like this:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Comic Advertising from Heaven: Church Marquees

I served a mission for the Mormon church a few years ago in North Carolina. North Carolina is part of the bible belt country. I met so many kind people with lots of faith. While walking the streets, I saw hundreds of different churches, some with very comical marquees.

"Don't let your worries get the best of you, remember, Moses started out as a basket case!"

"Spiritual Food Served Here.
If you want delivery, wait for Jehovah's Witnesses."

"Life Guard On Duty... Ours walks on water."

"Jesus is the reason for the season. Don't X Him out."

"Keep using my name in vain & I'll make rush hour longer."

Here are some others I wrote down when I lived in North Carolina as a Mormon missionary (Although I agree with some of these statements, the ideas expressed in these church marquees are not mine):

"Man's Way - Hopeless End,
God's Way - Endless Hope"

"Homosexuality - A sin that God hates"

"Stop, Drop and Roll won't work in Hell."

"Forget Crack - Let Jesus be your Rock."

"2004 will be no more,
2005, let's come alive."

"Come Thirsty. Drink Living Water."

"Mission: Possible, through obedience."

"Plug into the church."

(First letters of each word spells 'BIBLE')

"Love is the language everyone understands."

"If Jesus is your copilot, swap seats."

"Wal-Mart is not the only Saving place."

"Exercise in 2005, Walk with Jesus."

"Be still and know that he is God."

"Each of us matters to God."

"We alter Garments - God alters lives." 
(From a Dry Cleaner)

"'Don't make me come down there.'

"Don't have a Valentine?
Give your heart to Jesus."

"Turn around and bring others with you."

"Loving spouse saying, 'I Love You' with a megaphone."

"Church shopping? We are open Sunday."

"Love: It not only gives, it forgives."

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

"Faith is a journey, not a destination."
(From a gas station)

"Live well, laugh often, love much."

"1 church, 1 vision, 1 way."

"Loving enemy saying 'I Love You' with Fire."

"Lint gets in the pocket, Lent gets in the soul."
(From a laundromat)

"Heaven is just a prayer away."

"7 days without prayer makes 1 weak."

"The emptiest person is full of themselves."

"You can't send the gospel to the wrong place."

Joe's Branch Free Will Baptist Church, "Welcome"
Church in a backwoods small town.

"Earth has no sorrow heaven can't heal."

"Live today as if you were standing before God tomorrow."

"God's love endures forever."

"Is your bible a weapon or an accessory?"

"Christ can resurrect your life too."

"Our spirit fails us if God's spirit doesn't fill us."

"It's never too late to prepare for eternity."

"There will be 'showers' of blessings."
(It was April--playing off the April showers phrase)

Always Say A Prayer."
(Gas station marquee)

"God answers knee prayers."

"'Crucify Him, Crucify Him,' they cried.
'Forgive them,' he prayed."

"One person can make a difference. Jesus did."

"Fast from complaining. Feast on turning to God."

"Nails didn't keep Jesus on the cross. Love held Him there."

"The tomb of Jesus is empty. No Body there."

"Too busy for God is too busy."

"He is risen."

"God's grace is sufficient."

"Dusty Bibles leads to dirty lives."

"God answers knee-mail."

"One birthday isn't enough.
Be born again."

"Faith takes God at His word."

"Love will lift you up.
Sin will bring you down."

"I pray only on days that end with 'Y'"

"God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called."

"We can do all things through Christ Jesus."

"In God we trust."

"God is."

"Plan your life. Invest in God."

"If you haven't been saved, you're toast."

"A Jedi is no match for Jesus."

"Aren't you glad your mother was pro-life?"

"Give Satan an inch and he'll become a ruler."

"Rejoice. Christ Lives."

"The best way to save face is to close the lower half."

"Easter is not a time to dye for."

"Weather Prediction: Reign Forever."

"Love not time heals all wounds."

"Put your fears to rest.
Put your faith in Jesus."

"Salvation is free; But only if you ask for it."

No pain, All gain."

"'That Love thy neighbor thing? I meant it.'

"Prayer doesn't need proof, it needs practice."

"The power of Satan is no match for the power of Jesus."

"God can heal a broken heart, but he must have all the pieces."

"Your faith, or lack of, is your fate."

"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."

"A Christian has a reason for hope and a hope for his reason."

"In spite of inflation, 'the wages of sin' remain unchanged."

"Friends don't let friends go to hell."

"Big band theory: God said 'band' and it was done."

"Big bang theory: 'Are you Serious?'

"It's hard to stumble and fall when you're on your knees."

"This church is prayer-conditioned."

"Good without God leaves you a '0'"

"Jesus. Don't leave earth without him."

"Life is fragile.
Handle with prayer."

"Sin has no measure, color, or size."

"1 cross,
3 nails,

"Got God? 
Most important part of daily diet."

"Download your worries.
Go on line with God."

"Everyone needs a home.
Make this one yours."

"Keep the Faith, but not to yourself."

"No God, No Peace.
Know God, Know Peace."

"To find your way, follow Jesus."

"God loves a cheerful giver."

"'I am also making a list and checking it twice.' -God."
(During Christmas)
"I set before you life and death, blessings and cursings. Choose life."

Jesus is the reason for the season."

"Is prayer first response or last resort?"

"If you pause to think, you'll have cause to thank."
(During Thanksgiving)

"'Damn' is not God's last name."

"God is good. God is great. 24/7"

"God wants full custody - Not weekend visits."

"Every sinner must be pardoned or punished."

"Obey what the bible says, not what men say the bible says."

"Christ died to save us.
He now lives to keep us."

"Free trip to Heaven.
Details inside."

"God blesses those who are willing to listen."

"God's grace is greater than your greatest sin."

"Victory in Jesus - Our Savior forever."

"God has a big Eraser. People don't."

"Take God seriously. Lukewarm fails."

Coming Soon."

"Honor thy mother. Honor thy God."

"Love your enemies. It will confuse them."

"Faith in Christ is the believers passport to Heaven."

"On the other side of fear is freedom."

"God's Amnesty Program - Salvation in Christ."

"We are called to be witnesses, not judges."

"You have a second chance to put God first."

"Got Jesus?"

"If your knees are knocking, kneel on them."

"The password to eternity is 'Jesus'"

"Fear cowers,
Faith empowers."

"This is a ch ch.
What is missing?
U R"

"In tough times, God teaches us to trust."

"The da Vinci code:
This too shall pass. The bible is forever."

"Practice makes perfect.
Be careful what you practice."

"The great commission:
Not just a commandment but a lifestyle."

"Only those who dare to fail can achieve."

"Freedom is costly.
Salvation is free."

"True freedom is found in serving Christ."

"A bible that is falling apart belongs to a person who is not."

"Creation by God.
Evolution by Ape."

"If you don't believe in God, you better be right."

"Warning: Exposure to Son may prevent burning."

"Try Jesus.
If you don't like Him, the devil will take you back."

"When life needs rebooting, remember,
Jesus saves."

"Let your children see Jesus in you."

"Keep going for God.
To stay youthful, stay useful."

"The bread of life never gets stale."

"Let Jesus take the wheel."

"Trust in the Lord. 
It's in the storm that the ship is tested."

"A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor."

Feel free to comment. I'll add any other marquee phrases you leave in the comments.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Trailer Rhetoric in The Edge of Darkness

The Edge of Darkness, a gripping film starring Mel Gibson, uses a multi-genre oriented approach in its trailer. Although I’ve not seen the film, the trailer entertains my interest by sucking me into three separate genres using many attempts at iconography, repetition, equations and hyperbole. Whether or not the actual film meets these different genres is not involved in the discussion. What’s of interest is how the trailer makes these genre statements and why they chose to define the movie through the rhetoric of genre.

In the first 30 seconds of the trailer, we may assume that this is a drama. We see a father reminiscing his years of rearing his daughter and then she returns from her grown up life for a visit. We suspect that this film will be about the relationship between the parent and child. The music and imagery reflect the iconography of a complex/endearing drama specifically about relationships. As Lisa Kernan stated in Trailer Rhetoric, we see an assertion of “an equation … between the spectator’s experience and the characters’ experiences.”

The headlines appear, “Some memories never fade” and “Some feelings never change” further defining the film with generalization—using emotion as a major feature of a drama. However, in a few one-second shots, the trailer quickly modifies its rhetoric towards a detective genre. The father, played by Mel Gibson is suddenly thrown into a crime investigation for the shooting of his daughter. Again, icons of the classic detective genre are shown with a close-up shot of an officer’s gun holster and a crowd of police cars surrounding the home of the crime scene.

However, as the trailer proceeds, the film offsets itself from the classic detective genre and into the likes of a riveting thriller as is noted also by the title of the film, Edge of Darkness. Headlines “Some secrets … take us to the edge” appears and we are whisked away into continuous shots of conspiracy conversations, dark alley scenes, and violent, close calls with death. The headlines change color to red, apart from the earlier drama-oriented blue headlines. We also see flashed images of the daughter with an eerie likeness to the trailers of horror films such as The Forgotten, and The Others. Frequent uses of a blacked screen utilize repetition and emphasize darkness in its physical and psychological manifestations.

The trailer clearly makes a stab using rhetoric to categorize the film into the three genres: drama, detective mystery, and horror. Perhaps the producers were trying to market the film to three separate and segmented audiences. But this generalization into genres allows for a deeper analysis. Historically, these genres have been widely used and perpetuated by Hollywood and millions of movie-goers. While the technology and style of movie trailers has become more sophisticated, we can still connect dots of genre rhetoric.

Conversely, in its very effort to invoke three different genres, the film differentiates itself from any one of those genres. Although the thriller aspect of the film is most ingrained in our minds, we are jarred by the quick transition from one genre to the next. Although the trailer connected the “genre-dots” it still did not take the genre stand—and in doing so, hoped to stand out and differentiate itself.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Walt Disney: A Racist in Song of the South?

Are you a fan of Song of the South? Do you think Disney should release the film? Does the movie carry elements of negative stereotyping or prejudice? Please comment and let me know.

Our lovable animated friend, Brer Rabbit, was quite perplexed with a lifeless tar baby that didn’t offer greetings one morning. “Well, suh, dar he was, sittin' in de middle o' de road -- jes' like you's sittin' in dat chair -- only he's all mixt up wid dat tar baby ...” ( The tale goes that Brer Rabbit decided to give the “tar baby” a big whack for his apparent rudeness. Not knowing this was a “tar” baby, Brer Rabbit soon found himself covered in tar and unable to move.  The controversial issue of racism in the film industry today has led us Americans into a predicament much like Brer Rabbit, in which we have become so entangled in “political correctness” that we restrict our own progress. This level of racial awareness has greatly increased from the day that Brer Rabbit was first animated in Walt Disney’s infamous Song of the South.

Was Walt Disney racist? There is little documentation of Walt Disney’s personal feelings about racism. We do know that he was an entrepreneur and an artist. He had a deep imagination and courage to bring that imagination to life. As the founder and king of animation he started a corporation that stands as one of the largest entertainment businesses of the world. Out of all these characteristics mentioned, Disney’s greatest attribute was his deep optimism. This optimism is what led him to bring such a dream to real life. Disney had a $17 million debt and huge amount of criticism from faithless onlookers when he built Disneyland in 1955. It was his optimism that kept the company moving. His optimism is felt in the animated films he produced. They bear an overly simplified “happily ever after” feel that gives audiences a break from the real world.

In his early years, Disney’s animations were most enticing to children. Take for example, Snow White, Pinnochio, and Dumbo; each of these films contains a certain amount of joyful innocence.  It is a danger to over-analyze children’s animated films, for they were not meant to receive such “adult” criticism. Likewise, it is also a danger to under-analyze children’s films for they are often created with deeper morals in store—morals difficult for children to grasp. This paper seeks to give a proper analysis of Walt Disney’s Song of the South. The film is famous for its revolutionary step into multi-racial media. More specifically, it was a film that offered another perspective of the African American. The debate over the film is considered by one scholar, “the best documented occurrence of public resistance to racism in animated film” (Cohen, 2004, p. 60).  In providing this analysis, we shall be able to unmask the creator of magic—Disney himself, and more clearly form our own personal opinions about the film and its supposed racial stereotyping.

Douglas Brode claims Disney was an African American at heart (2005, pp. 54-57). In his book, Brode compares Walt Disney to a prominent black character, “Uncle Remus,” in the film Song of the South. Remus tells the laughable stories of Brer Rabbit and his crazy adventures on the Southern frontier. Brode says, “Uncle Remus is Disney” (2005, p. 57), owing to the characters desire to tell fanciful stories and his early life of obscurity.

Disney’s first famous toon—Mickey Mouse—was actually the first black animated figure according to Brode (2005, pp. 50-51). About Mickey’s appearance, Brode said, “The white area running from just above his eyes to slightly below his mouth appears masklike, as if the character has adopted this guise in order to ‘pass’ and survive in the Anglo world of his time.” The infamous Steamboat Willie depicts Mickey piloting an old steamboat through the Deep South. In subsequent films, Mickey “performs ragtime for a white audience,” and he “dares enter a suburban neighborhood, bringing soulful music with him, improving the lifestyle immensely” (Brode, 2005, p. 51). These movements invoke a cultural awareness in Walt Disney. He apparently enjoyed the culture of the great Jazz age that had erupted in the black American world of the early 1900’s.

Despite these obvious applications of culturally aware art, Disney was objective about Mickey:

All we ever intended for him or expected of him was that he should continue to make people everywhere chuckle with him and at him. We didn’t burden him with any social symbolism, we made him no mouthpiece for frustrations or harsh satire. Mickey was simply a little personality assigned to the purposes of laughter (

Just like his statement on Mickey, Disney was also a bystander about racism in the films he created. We must realize that he was an entertainer, not a political cartoonist.

Walt Disney was the innovator of childhood imagination. He understood the importance of education and its role in imagination. He made it a pleasure to learn. Disney played off many famous fairy/folk tales that promoted good morals. He used history and culture to broaden the American view. His greatest creation—Disneyland—lets visitors sit at the feet of Abraham Lincoln, enjoy a ride on an old steamboat and learn about technology of the future. Song of the South takes visitors to the late 1800’s in the American South.  This film along with others that Walt Disney created, show diversity and partial reality, and still involves the animator’s perspective and the audience’s imagination.

To begin to analyze a work for racial stereotyping, we must first define what it means to stereotype a race. Typically “stereotyping” has negative connotations. It requires the act of attaching certain characteristics to a particular group of people—in Song of the South, that group is the Negro. Stereotypes have truth built in them. For instance, white folk generally have light tan or “peach” colored skin, whereas African Americans have darker colored skin. Is it wrong to apply the stereotype in this example? Most—white and black people—would agree on these assumptions. It may be dangerous to apply the conditions in a stereotype to every member of its particular group.  An example of a negative stereotype purports that all Americans are prideful and ignorant when touring foreign countries.  True, there have probably been many cases of prideful American tourists; however, to make that assumption about all Americans is obviously an ignorant statement itself. We can be easily offended by such stereotypes because they are either false or negative reflections of the truth.

Only in the last half of the 20th century have people become increasingly sensitive to the any form of political incorrectness. The way an animator depicts a black man as being “less educated” or a Native American as an “injun” may cause turmoil. It is very offensive when the depiction is one that points at the viewer’s race. When this occurs, we as Americans tend to think the animator meant to label all people of that particular race in that fashion. However, that is not always the case.

Early animations depicting blacks are highly offensive to most people. They portray blacks with white handprints, excessively large lips and noses, and a skin that is completely coal black. Clearly these representations are over-exaggerated. Warner Brothers and Universal Pictures have employed these caricatures in many early films of the 1900’s.  These representations can also be found in some of the early Disney works but are not as prevalent. Disney created many productions that used animals as the main characters rather than humans thus enabling him to avoid racial imagery. Song of the South employed a mix of live African American actors and personified, animated animals.

Because of the fear of a racially aware America, the Walt Disney Corporation has never released Song of the South on video. The film is a direct portrayal of a Southern Plantation with an African-American community that “camps” nearby (Miller & Rode, 1995, p. 89). The young white boy, Johnny, who lives on the plantation, becomes distraught after the separation of his parents. He decides to run away but as he passes by a camp of blacks telling stories around a campfire, he becomes captivated by the storyteller, “Uncle Remus.” Coincidentally, Remus tells the story of Brer Rabbit who also tried to run away. Later in the film Johnny becomes friends with Uncle Remus and learns life lessons from the fanciful tales of Brer Rabbit. Johnny’s mother, on the other hand, sees a negative influence in the stories and forbids Remus from communicating with her son. Consequently, Johnny’s white mother partially plays the role of the opponent in the plot.

The film was strongly attacked at its premiere in 1946. African American protesters were mainly concerned with the film’s portrayal of the black man as a slave. The NAACP commented on the film: “Making the use of beautiful Uncle Remus folklore, ‘Song of the South’ unfortunately gives the impression of an idyllic master-slave relationship, which is a distortion of the facts” (Cohen, 2004, pp. 60-61).  Viewing the ugliness of slavery, many of the racially sensitive deny it ever existed in American history. The word “slavery” has always been a very sensitive topic among both whites and blacks possibly because slavery is inherently a part of our country’s heritage. We do not embrace it, but we do not forget it—there are lessons to be learned from it. Disney Corporation claimed the film’s setting was after the civil war in 1867, when slavery was banned by the Constitution.

Bosley Crowther from the New York Times attacked Song of the South for glamorizing the role of the black “Negroes bowing and scraping and singing spirituals in the night that one might almost imagine that you figure Abe Lincoln made a mistake” (Cohen, 2004, p. 60). According to Crowther the film exemplified a slave-master relationship, showing an optimistic black community in good obedience and humility towards the whites. This notion is again flawed, for to be historically correct the movie is a closer portrayal of a late 1800’s South.  Sad history reveals that the freed slaves after the Civil war were still in a state of oppression because of Jim Crowe laws and raw prejudice. Jay Mandle claimed this point simply in the title of his book, Not Slave, Not Free: African American Economic Experience Since the Civil War. In the book he reveals the unfortunate predicament of the freed slaves after the Civil War—that they simply became underpaid sharecroppers with no hope for real financial progression. “Even the post-war period was no Disneyland for former slaves,” says Merlin Jones of ( Even after this lengthy support, the main character, “Uncle Remus” does display certain independence. Brode mentions that the film portrays Remus “as a typical Disney hero who understands authority must, when proven wrong, be challenged” (2005, p. 57).  Remus also values the importance of living close to the earth. The film showed the loving warmth of Remus’s cabin in contrast to the lifeless plantation home (Brode, 2005, p. 54). Remus longingly reminisces in older days when he begins telling a story to Johnny: “De critters, dey was closer to de folks an' de folks, dey was closer to de critters” (

On another note, seeing Remus’s language, we can understand how critics have always attacked the film for stereotyping the Negro dialogue. This is undeniable. The script was produced and revised by Anglos which is unfortunate for the reputation of the film. However, this error does little to degrade the intelligence and character of Remus and even more largely, the African American race. Remus is “Rousseau’s natural man, that philosopher’s best man” (Brode, 2005, p. 54). His good service towards Johnny coupled with his application and teaching of morals through his stories reflects the real man within Remus—making him the most noble and wise character of the film.

After analyzing the supposed African American stereotypes, we may look at the intentions of Walt Disney concerning the racist content. Walt Disney said, "The first books I ever read were the Uncle Remus stories. Ever since then, these stories have been my special favorites. I've just been waiting until I could develop the proper medium to bring them to the screen" ( The original stories of Uncle Remus, written by Joel Chandler Harris (a southern white author), contained deep stereotyping. Disney did have some idea that the content in Song of the South would be deemed racial stereotyping by certain groups. With this oversight, he hired a highly liberal—although white—screenwriter, Maurice Rapf, to revise the script for the film (Cohen, 2004, p. 62). “It would be wrong to conclude… that Walt Disney was a racist. Maurice Rapf points out that everybody at the studio was uneducated concerning what was racist material” (Cohen, 2004, p. 69).

The film is a beautiful work that revolutionized technological animation and racial diversity in film, yet it continues to collect dust in the Disney vault with little to no hope for release. James Baskett (Uncle Remus), was the first actor Walt Disney ever hired ( The film makes out to be an effective portrayal of social equality when contrasted with the prejudices of 1946 when the film was released. At the premiere in Atlanta, Baskett was denied lodging in the city’s Hotels for they were reserved for “white only” (Miller & Rode, 1995, p. 86). Baskett was highly talented and went on to win an honorary Academy Award for his role as Remus. He was denounced by a number of blacks after the Premiere but he now stands in deep remembrance as the lovable voice who sang, “Zip A Dee Do Dah” (

Referring back to the definition of stereotyping, Chris Willis, the founder of, made a profound statement: “Most innocent stereotypes are based upon the common denominator of reality” ( Indeed, every characteristic in the human family can be considered a stereotype and every piece of art whether in film, music, or literature expresses a particular stereotype. The ignorantly optimistic Walt Disney was not aware of the negativity of some of the stereotypes in his film, but in producing it he embraced the African American South. He exposed the “innocent stereotypes” of the rich Negro culture and captured their priceless folktales.

Consider the alternative “politically correct” Song of the South. Disney would have created a film with purely white characters, which all measurably spoke proper English and held equal financial status. How absurd would it be to deprive African American culture of some key characteristics (and yes, a few incorrect characteristics) of their early identity? Walt Disney, in a lecture “On American Culture” (Watt, 1995, p. 101), related that culture comprised not just those fancies of the “elite,” such as highly recognizable and remembered operas and paintings. He commented on the necessity of free choice and that “culture belonged ‘equally to all of us’” (Watt, 1995, p. 102). He said “a person’s culture represents his appraisal of the things that make up life” (Watt, 199, p. 102). In Disney’s mind, culture sprang from all people and, correspondingly, all people have free access to it.

Unfortunately today, there are still social rifts among people of differing races. Brer Rabbit, a toon, provided the ideal medium where two races could unite and provide and atmosphere of equality and toleration. His adventurous experiences were heard and felt by all in the movie. In the end, Johnny and his two friends (one black and the other white) hold hands and dance up onto a hill. Suddenly Brer Rabbit appears, jumping out of the cartoon world and into the real world. All the diversified entities seen in the film—black, white, rich, poor, and toon—finally come together in a symbolism of deleted racial boundaries. One commentator from the African American-produced Pittsburgh Courier said, “The truly sympathetic handling of the entire production from a racial standpoint is calculated… to prove of inestimable good in the furthering of interracial relations” (Brode, 2005, p. 54).

Floyd Norman, an black animator for Disney, now chuckles about the racial prejudice he felt in the 50’s in California. He drove a long commute from his residence in LA to the Disney Studio in Burbank because it was “nearly impossible for a person of color to rent an apartment in Burbank” (Norman, 2007, ¶4). Despite these injustices, Norman uses racial prejudice as a form of humor in his work. As said earlier, it is a danger to under-analyze a children’s film, but equally dangerous to over-analyze one. May we be well-informed of racial stereotypes but, like Norman, may we move forward and laugh off the blunders of the past. Brer Rabbit often overcame his woeful trials by imagining a visit to his imaginary “Laughing Place.”  Song of the South did display forms of racial stereotypes; however, the film cannot be dismissed as innovative, artistic, and delightfully optimistic.

Please sign the petition to have Song of the South released!

  • Brode, D. (2005). Multiculturalism and the mouse: Race and sex in Disney entertainment. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. Retrieved March 23, 2007, from
    Brode provides a positive few of the existence of race and sex in Disney media. His stance is widely different from the rest of the scholarly world which presumably attacks Disney for racial slurs and stereotypes. Brode shows how Disney has made America more diversified and tolerant. This is a great source to show the opposing side of the thesis.
  • Cohen. K. F., (2004). Forbidden animation: Censored cartoons and blacklisted animators in America. Jefferson, NC:McFarland & Company. Retrieved April 2, 2007, from
    This book takes an extensive look at the production, playing and critiquing of Song of the South. It helps to see what was going on behind the scenes while the film was being developed and shot. We can learn from this book, more of the mind of Disney.
  • Mandle, J. R. (1992). Not slave, not free: African American economic experience since the Civil War. (pp. 21-22). Durham, NC:Duke University Press. Retrieved April 6, 2007, from
    Mandle gives some general information of the aftermath of the Civil War. It is a great historical background to the day the movie was set, thus helping me to understand a little of the surroundings that could have showed up in the film.
  • Miller, S., & Rode, G. (1995). “The movie you see, the movie you don’t: How Disney do’s that old time derision. In E. Bell, L. Haas, & L. Sells (Eds.), From Mouse to Mermaid: The Politics of Film, Gender, and Culture. (pp. 86-106). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Retrieved March 23, 2007, from
    Miller and Rode delve into the racial imagery of many Disney films. They speak somewhat objectively, giving decent information and points of view from other scholars. This paper helps to see the real negative side of Song of the South.
  • Norman, F. (2007). Now in full color: A cartoonish take on black history. Retrieved April 1, 2007, from
    Norman gives a great rhetorically sound article on racism in Disney. The most interesting fact about the article is Norman’s ethos—he is black and he used to be a Disney animator. It is helpful to see his perspective.
  • (2007). Song of the south script. Retrieved April 6, 2007, from
    This website is completely pro biased towards Song of the South. It is loaded with information, graphics, and the original script to the film. It also contains a petition now with over 100,000 signatures of those who would like Song of the South to be released on video.
  • Watts, S. (1995). Walt Disney: Art and politics in the American century. The Journal of American History, 82(1), 84-110. Retrieved April 12, 2007, from JSTOR database.
    Watts portrays Disney as a man of both vice and virtue. The article makes connections to Disney and basic American ideals.
  • (no date). 100 Years of Magic - Walt Disney Quotes. Retrieved April 1, 2007, from
    This site is filled with general information about Walt Disney. It’s most helpful aspect is its database of quotes by Walt Disney. These quotes contain great insight into the real man, Disney.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Liberals vs. Conservatives--The Daily Show vs. 1/2 Hour News Hour

Conservative executives at Fox need to understand real facets of humor before they can produce another conservative spinoff of “The Daily Show.” This paper will show the subtle differences between Fox’s The ½ Hour News Hour and NBC’s The Daily Show that may help to explain rating points between the different programming.

The ½ Hour News Hour makes frequent stabs at humor and fails to really hit the target. One of the main attributes of the program is it’s blatant political message. For example, two episodes feature skits about Gun laws. The first episode begins with an interview of a complete gun-ban supporter. Throughout the interview, we find out that the interviewee is actually an avid criminal who was “randomly” shot by an old lady being mugged (mugged by the interviewee), a homeowner being robbed (robbed by the interviewee), and a police officer.  In the end, we “get the message” all too easily that gun violence is caused by definite criminals and not by innocent gun owners.

The second episode shows an infomercial skit about a new system of dealing with gun violence without purchasing a gun. Consumers are shown purchasing and putting up signs which read “gun-free zone.” We then see subsequent skits in which a man with a shot gun attempts to rob a convenience store only to realize that the store is a “gun-free zone.” Dejectedly, he withdraws his robbery attempt.  Both of these attempts at humor are so blatant with political messaging that the moderate voter will most likely change the channel after being told what to think.

Jon Stewart, from The Daily Show, carries a liberal political agenda, but his messaging is much more subtle and sophisticated. In one episode he makes Fox News look like the “New Liberals” based on criteria from quotes made by conservative talk show hosts and guests. He shows how conservatives support the passionate town hall protestors discussing the health care reform. He then juxtaposes those statements with earlier statements by Fox’s News anchors: “…Many protestors are simply loons.” Throughout the entire skit, he continues to show cut scenes from fox news programming and juxtaposing those statements with earlier ideas thus showing a complexity in his humor that Fox was not able to achieve.

The style of The ½ Hour News Hour signifies an evening on Saturday Night Live with its over-exaggerated skits rather than a more sophisticated parody on news programming. Furthermore, rather than helping the audience to form a relationship with the mock anchor, we are frequented with skit interviews. NBC’s The Colbert Report helps us really get to know, and like the anchor, Stephen Colbert, with his brilliant improvisation.

Furthermore, The Daily Show doesn’t always force liberal opinions in every episode. Rather, the show frequently attacks multiple ideas. Weinman said, “It’s hard to be an effective comedian while being an advocate for a party, any party.” Underneath the humor, The Daily Show, ultimately, seeks to be funny while adding bits of liberalism. Conversely, the ½ Hour News Hour makes its first priority in pushing a conservative agenda while trying (but failing) to be funny.

Fox was trying to copy NBC’s news parody success by only looking at the service of the shows. Unfortunately, they failed to see the successful and subtle methodologies and connotations embodied in the humor and thus failed to give conservative news to a young, entertainment-seeking audience.