The Isle of Pingo Pongo
|The Isle of Pingo Pongo|
|Merrie Melodies series|
|Directed by||Tex Avery|
|Produced by||Leon Schlesinger|
|Story by||George Manuell|
|Voices by||Robert C. Bruce (narrator)|
|Music by||Carl W. Stalling|
|Animation by||Irven Spence|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.
The Vitaphone Corp.
|Release date(s)||September 14, 1938 (USA)|
|Running time||9 min|
The Isle of Pingo Pongo is a 1938 Warner Bros. cartoon directed by Tex Avery. It is the first of Avery's spoofs of travelogues. The cartoon was banned from television syndication in 1968 by United Artists (the owners at the time) for racist depictions of black people and is one of the "Censored Eleven".
The short follows a cruise ship’s trip from New York to the island, presumably located in the South Seas. The ship sails past the Statue of Liberty, who acts as a traffic cop, past the "Canary Islands" and "Sandwich Islands", and the overall story was less plausible than some of Tex Avery's other cartoons.
The cartoon revolves around themes of jazz and primitivism and is set on a remote island. The central character is Elmer Fudd in his second appearance and most of the cartoon consists of travelogue-type narration and blackout gags, many including Elmer Fudd. The inhabitants of Pingo-Pongo are mostly tall, black, and have big feet and lips. Like other cartoons of this time, the native inhabitants resemble animals and reflect stereotypes of African Americans of the time. The natives are at first playing drums, then break into a jazz beat, still described as a "primitive savage rhythm", which leads the audience to connect the savage jungle to modern jazz music.
The ban has been upheld by the cartoon's successive owners and is unlikely to be released on home video. However, The New York Times reports that unauthorized copies are relatively easy to find. The cartoon was reissued as a Blue Ribbon Classic. However, a print with original titles does exist. Additionally, it was recently viewed with other films part of the Censored Eleven at the TCM Film Festival in Hollywood on April 24, 2010 as part of a classic film series, presented by Donald Bogle.
- Barrier, Michael. Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age. Oxford University Press, 2003. page 343
- Goldmark, Daniel (2005). Tunes for 'toons: Music and the Hollywood Cartoon. University of California Press. pp. 91–92. ISBN 0-520-23617-3.
- Slotnik, Daniel (28 April 2008). "Cartoons of a Racist Past Lurk on YouTube". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
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