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Western Animation: Coonskin

"Warning: This film offends EVERYBODY!"
— The blurb on the movie's VHS box

Coonskin is a 1975 Blaxploitation Parody (and Darker and Edgier take on the Br'er (pronounced "bruh", for brother) Rabbit stories) written and directed by Ralph Bakshi. It has been described as a spiritual predecessor to The Boondocks. Bakshi once described it as his best film.

What's that? You say you've never heard of this film? Blame Al Sharpton and CORE, who protested the film (without seeing it; Sharpton famously said "I don't got to see shit; I can smell shit!") despite its getting support from the NAACP as "difficult satire".


Tropes used:

  • Angry Black Man: all three Br'ers are this, but especially Brother Rabbit.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Rabbit, in his impeccably tailored white suit.
  • Biggus Dickus: We get a glimpse of one of the Godfather's sons' penises during his introduction. It's hanging down past his knees.
  • Blackface: "Darky" imagery is used throughout the film to ridicule racism in films of the 30's and 40's. Additionally, a cop is given this treatment as part of a Humiliation Conga and Sonny uses it as a disguise when he attempts to assassinate Brother Rabbit.
  • Blaxploitation Parody
  • Boom, Headshot: Several, some as mundane as the woman who shot a rat right between the eyes, some as dramatic as Madigan losing the top of his skull from concentrated gunfire.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Rabbit gives Alucard a run for his money when he shoots up a heroin dealer's house, riddling everyone present with dozens of holes at an impossible pace, wielding what appears to be an M1911.
  • Camp Gay: All of the Godfather's sons, except Sonny.
  • Color Me Black: In one scene a racist, homophobic, and corrupt cop on the mob's payroll is drugged by Brother Rabbit in an attempt to take out the mafia. When he wakes up, he's covered in blackface and wearing a dress. Still tripping off acid, he freaks out believing he has actually become a gay black man and begins firing his pistol randomly until a pair of police officers gun him down because they're as racist and corrupt as he is and confuse him for an actual black man.
  • Corrupt Hick: The Sheriff who likes to end his Saturday nights with some "black whoring".
  • Creator Cameo: Ralph Bakshi voices the cop on the megaphone who gets shot in the face by Madigan.
  • Deconstructive Parody
  • Deep South
  • Depraved Homosexual/All Gays Are Promiscuous: It was 1975 and this can be easily seen as a parody of gay people. An orgy of Unfortunate Implications ensues. Even Brother Brother Incest.
  • Fan Disservice: Just about every depiction of nudity and sex is intentionally repulsive. Except when Bakshi throws in his usual big-breasted women, of course. Though some of it can have a Misaimed Fandom in gay men who like chubs.
  • Femme Fatale: Miss America, who routinely uses her sexuality and feminine wiles to murder black men.
  • Framing Device: Samson and Preacher are trying to bust Randy out of prison in a Great Escape while Poppy tells Randy stories about Brother Rabbit.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Barry White is Brother Bear, Philip Michael Thomas voices Brother Rabbit, and Scatman Crothers is the man singing the opening credits song.
  • "I Am" Song: Satirically done in the opening credits song "Ah'm a Nigger Man."
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Before it was released on DVD, it could be only be found through torrents and out of print VHS tapes.
  • Leitmotif: Miss America, with a hideously off-key rendition of "America, the Beautiful".
  • Little Bit Beastly: Rabbit, Bear, and Fox are this with a dollop of black caricature.
  • The Mafia: the primary villains of the film. Bakshi did this as a reaction to The Godfather, feeling it glorifed the supposed honor of the Family.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: Quite a lot of it at times.
  • Ms Fan Service: Miss America.
  • N-Word Privileges
  • Preacher Man / Badass Preacher
  • Precision F-Strike: The film opens on a "Fuck You".
    I see ya Lord, I sees ya Lord, I see ya Lord and you'd better well, fucking well, see me!
  • The Promised Land: Subverted: Rabbit, Fox and Bear go to the last place they can keep hustling, Harlem. Turns out Harlem's a dump. Just to underline the fact that it's a dump we get a short story from a woman and her baby who were left by her cockroach husband (literally a cockroach) up to her shooting a (literal) rat in the face.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect
  • Shout-Out:
    • The entire story of "Coonskin" is a shout out to the Uncle Remus stories, made famous by the Disney film "Song Of The South", which also mixes animation with live-action. All three characters, Br'er Bear, Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Fox lend their names from these stories. The scene where Br'er Rabbit begs not to be thrown outside in a garbage can, only to come out and proudfully boast "'Cause I was born and raised in a garbage can" references a similar scene in the Uncle Remus stories, only with a briar patch. Near the end the scene where Br'er Rabbit jumps past the criminals stuck inside a tar baby is also a wink to these stories.
    • The story about Malcolm the Cockroach pays tribute to George Herriman, noted African American cartoonist and Bakshi's favorite cartoonist. Another Herriman character, Ignatz the Mouse from Krazy Kat, also has a cameo during this scene.
      • A cockroach named Malcolm also appears in Bakshi's later shorts Malcolm and Melvin and Babe, He Calls Me.
  • Shown Their Work: Ralph not only did his research for this movie, many African-American viewers remarked that they couldn't believe that this was written and directed by a white guy, as much of it rang true for them in its portrayal of how blacks have been treated both in the United States and by the film industry.
  • Species Surname: The three leads, as the gravestones for Rabbits mother and father feature the surname of Rabbit, Fox is addressed as Preacher Fox, and Bear is announced in a boxing arena as "Brown Bear".
  • Stock Footage: Old newsreels are frequently played behind the animation.
  • Surreal Humor / Surreal Horror: The whole movie due to its lack of a consistent plot thread, but especially Madigan's death and the Tar Rabbit scene.
  • Take That: Ralph Bakshi hates The Mafia and the film The Godfather. There's a massive Take That towards The Godfather in this movie, and the Mafia is generally portrayed negatively here and in Heavy Traffic. Also, this entire film is a Take That towards the Blaxploitation genre, Disney's Song of the South, and the history of racist portrayals of African Americans in Hollywood films.
    • Savior being a revolutionary who loudly proclaims the virtues of a black uprising solely so he can con believers out of their money while being firmly in the pockets of a white businessman is a double whammy for corrupt evangelists in general (who were all over TV in the late 70's/early 80's) and specifically for black community leaders who sold out the civil rights movement for their own personal gain.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: The Sheriff and his daughter.
  • Uncle Tomfoolery: Several of the background characters.
    • Lampshaded when a character is spreading the news of Savior's death in what he believes to be an inconspicuous manner by running around dribbling a basketball.
  • Where Da White Women At?: The short man representing the general black community who's in an abusive relationship with Miss America.
    • There's also a scantily clad white woman in the office of Savior's nightclub.
  • White Dude, Black Dude: A variant joke in the opening:
    "350 of you white folks committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, and out of the 350 there was only two that was niggers."
    "And one of them was pushed!"

Clue ClubThe Dark Age of AnimationDastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines
Cooley HighFilms of the 1970sCriminally Insane
The CondorAnimated FilmsThe Croods

alternative title(s): Coonskin
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