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Unintentionally Racist Showtunes

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Mildred Plotka
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Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#1
Posted: 10/13/09 at 5:46pm
I'm writing an essay on racism in musical theatre through the ages. Not musicals or songs that talk about racism but songs with racial slurs (or lines from musicals). Ie: "I'm an Indian too" or "Ugg-a-Wugg".
"Broadway...I'll lick you yet!"
AwesomeDanny
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#2
Posted: 10/13/09 at 5:49pm
So, not like "everyone's a little bit racist" from Ave Q, but like all the n-words said in Ragtime?
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#2
Posted: 10/13/09 at 8:07pm
There are a couple of doozies in the Anthony Newley british show "The Good Old Bad Old Days"
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#3
Posted: 10/13/09 at 8:17pm
Would a Disney movie count?

The Siamese Cats who sing We Are Siamese in Lady and the Tramp. The slanted eyes, buck teeth.
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#4
Posted: 10/13/09 at 8:20pm
The use of the 'N' word in Ragtime was intentional. It is used to portray the common word usage and mindset of the period. Much like the songs in Grey Gardens.

Songs from Peter Pan are unintentionally racist. Specially the ones concerning or sung by the Native Americans. Ug A Wah!

Those Blocked: SueStorm. N2N Nate. Good riddence to stupid! Rad-Z, shill begone!
Updated On: 10/13/09 at 08:20 PM
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#5
Posted: 10/13/09 at 8:30pm
^^Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking when I posted about Ragtime being unintentionally racist. These days, every racist comment in a musical is intentional.
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#6
Posted: 10/13/09 at 8:37pm
"Ugh-a-Wug" doesn't bother me much anymore now that they changed the lyric from "I will come and save the brave noble redskin" to "I will come and save the brave noble warrior".
The song as a whole is still slightly offensive because of the gibberish, but not nearly as much as it was.
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#7
Posted: 10/13/09 at 8:39pm
you probably need to be looking at musicals pre 1980. A lot of the most racist songs you will find are from movie musicals from the 1930s.
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#8
Posted: 10/13/09 at 8:46pm
Show Boat:

In "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man of Mine," Queenie sings "My man is shiftless / An' good for nothin' too. / He's my man just the same. / He can be happy / With just a spot of gin. / I even loves him when his kisses got gin."

Later in the scene Magnolia (the white daughter of Captain Andy) imitates the black characters dancing and one of the characters says, "Lookit dat gal SHUFFLE!"

Oscar Hammerstein's original lyric for the song "Old Man River" began "N****rs all work on de Mississippi / N****rs all work while de white folks play." Hammerstein was making an intentional progressive social statement.

By 1936, the line had been changed to "Darkies all work on de Misssissppi..."

By 1946, the line had been changed again to "Colored folk work on the Mississippi..."

By 1951, it had been changed to "Here we all work on the Mississippi..."
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#9
Posted: 10/13/09 at 8:47pm
Have you ever heard original lyrics from Show Boat? "N*****s all work on the Mississippi, N*****s all work while the white man play"
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#10
Posted: 10/13/09 at 11:30pm
I wonder if we will hear the original lyrics in the Signature Theatre's SHOWBOAT.
As much as we don't like to hear the N word, when it is placed in historical context, it can have power to show the racist times the story is placed.
PORGY AND BESS and SHOWBOAT were written by White composers,
from a certain generation.
In the 60's when Civil Rights were emerging, Laurents, Comden and Green wrote HALLELUJAH BABY. Three white writers explaining the Race Story in two Musical Comedy hours.
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#11
Posted: 10/13/09 at 11:34pm
This isn't a showtune, but the entire Chinese ending of Anything Goes is rather politically incorrect
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#12
Posted: 10/13/09 at 11:43pm
There are a ton from Avenue Q

"No, just little judgments like thinking that Mexican
busboys should learn to speak goddamn English!"


Princeton:
There's a plane going down and there's only
one parachute. And there's a rabbi, a priest...
Kate Monster:
And a black guy!
Gary Coleman:
Whatchoo talkin' 'bout Kate?
Kate Monster:
Uh...
Gary Coleman:
You were telling a black joke!
Princeton:
Well, sure, Gary, but lots of people tell black jokes.
Gary Coleman:
I don't.
Princeton:
Well, of course you don't - you're black!
But I bet you tell Polack jokes, right?
Gary Coleman:
Well, sure I do. Those stupid Polacks!
Princeton:
Now, don't you think that's a little racist?
Gary Coleman:
Well, damn, I guess you're right.


Christmas Eve:
BRIAN! Come back here!
You take out lecycuraburs!
Princeton:
What's that mean?
Brian:
Um, recyclables.
Hey, don't laugh at her!
How many languages do you speak?
Kate Monster:
Oh, come off it, Brian!
Everyone's a little bit racist.
Brian:
I'm not!
Princeton:
Oh no?
Brian:
Nope!
How many Oriental wives
Have you got?
Christmas Eve:
What? Brian!
Princeton:
Brian, buddy, where you been?
The term is Asian-American!
Christmas Eve:
I know you are no
Intending to be
But calling me Oriental -
Offensive to me!
Brian:
I'm sorry, honey, I love you.
Christmas Eve:
And I love you.
Brian:
But you're racist, too.
Christmas Eve:
Yes, I know.
The Jews have all
The money
And the whites have all
The power.
And I'm always in taxi-cab
With driver who no shower!
Princeton:
Me too!
Kate Monster:
Me too!
Gary Coleman:
I can't even get a taxi!


"How bout a little black dress?"~hannahshule "I have a penis, not a vagina." ~munkustrap178
Updated On: 10/13/09 at 11:43 PM
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#13
Posted: 10/14/09 at 12:17am
I would say Avenue Q is intentionally racist. Or at least intentionally offensive. It's not supposed to be PC.
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#14
Posted: 10/14/09 at 12:20am
Would "Hominy Grits" from Grey Gardens count?
"Hi there, we represent The Broadway Better Business Players for a Better Tomorrow. We're trying to start a petition to get second rate shows taken off the marquee and with your help we can stop Mamma Mia from ever playing again." -Brad Jones in Suburban Knights

"Is it true you have Ralph Jr at the bottom of your purse in a jar of formaldehyde?" - Felicia
"No, but I wish I did so I could shove it down your throat!" - Bernadette

"This play is sh*t! This play is sh*t! F*CK YOU TERRENCE MCNALLY!!"- Patti LuPone as an angry theatre goer at 'Master Class'

"Being normal is VASTLY overrated..."
- Aggie Cromwell
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#15
Posted: 10/14/09 at 12:24am
Hominy Grits was written intentionally to have racist overtones. It is a song created to be similar in tone to the old song "Short'en Bread"


Which, by the way we were still singing in Grammar School in the early 1960's. Then again the unedited Bugs Bunny Cartoons and Little Rascals were still aired on television, including Lil' Inki and the Myhna Bird.
Those Blocked: SueStorm. N2N Nate. Good riddence to stupid! Rad-Z, shill begone!
Updated On: 10/14/09 at 12:24 AM
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#16
Posted: 10/14/09 at 12:29am
I love that Siamese cat song.

"We are former residents of Siam
There are no finer cat than I am"

I don't think the song itself is racist. What they did with the artwork in some version I can't tell you.
The Siamese Cat Song
Updated On: 10/14/09 at 12:29 AM
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#17
Posted: 10/14/09 at 12:36am
Not a musical but a play and a tad bit off topic, they are performing O'Neil's "The Emperor Jones" at the Irish Rep (yep shilling the show!). It will be interesting to see what the audience reactions will be. They are leaving all the 'N' words in.
Those Blocked: SueStorm. N2N Nate. Good riddence to stupid! Rad-Z, shill begone!
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#18
Posted: 10/14/09 at 1:09am
How about that stupid song from Memphis (I know, there are a lot of them) where they sing, "everybody white wants to be black on Saturday night"????
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#19
Posted: 10/14/09 at 7:29am
The Chinese business in Thoroughly Modern Millie has always been a little bit squirm-producing for me.
Faced with these Loreleis, what man can moralize!
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#20
Posted: 10/14/09 at 8:01am
Make sure you understand the difference between racism, racial sterotypes, and racial slurs.

Most of the examples here aren't racism.
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#21
Posted: 10/14/09 at 8:06am
The Chinese in It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman - Everything's Easy and any bit. It's as bad as Millie. And the Chinese have been replaced in versions - the TV made them stereotyped gangsters and I saw a production which made them stereotyped Soviet communists.

Then Strouse and Adams wrote a stereotyped number for Annie wherein various ethnic parents try to claim Annie - jewish, asian, aftrican-american. It was wisely not put in the show, but it's on the CD.
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#22
Posted: 10/14/09 at 10:13am
The Mikado has two -- Ko-Ko's "little list" song in Act I and the Mikado's song in Act II -- that use the n-word. That's a big reason why a lot of times those songs are completely rewritten for a production using modern-day references.
Updated On: 10/14/09 at 10:13 AM
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#23
Posted: 10/14/09 at 10:25am
Agreed about The Mikado- although the most squirm-inducing moment in Mikado is when Ko-Ko mentions offhand that black singers and "All others of his race" ought to be exterminated.
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re: Unintentionally Racist Showtunes#24
Posted: 10/14/09 at 11:24am
I think there are a few lines in Anything Goes that are unintentionally racist, referring to the Chinese men on board the ship.