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Blackface-Style Caricature

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1922 ad for Picaninny Freeze Ice cream

A racist caricature usually seen in very old cartoons, with a design that resembles Blackface. Characters drawn in this style have solid black skin, exaggerated red or white lips, and round white eyes. This is very much a Discredited Trope, and most examples are either an Old Shame that franchises try to cover up, or going for Deliberate Values Dissonance in order to provide commentary on racism. Straight examples may still occasionally be found in non-American works, especially in media from places where it's not considered a cultural taboo.

Cartoons made in the mid-twentieth century would sometimes combine this with Ash Face, in which characters would briefly adopt a blackface look and sometimes perform other acts reminiscent of Minstrel Shows, such as dancing a cakewalk and generally engaging in Uncle Tomfoolery. This served as a Parental Bonus for parents who were more familiar with minstrel show tropes.

See also Facial Profiling, a broader trope about how cartoons indicate race. May also overlap with Unfortunate Character Design.


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  • Hendler's Ice Cream had a print ad in 1922 for their "Picaninny Freeze" depicting a tiny solid-black girl with huge lips holding a watermelon (which is historically stereotyped as food for black people).
  • The British jam and marmalade company Robertson's notoriously used a blackface "golliwog" character as its logo from 1910 until 2002. The company officially stated that the abandonment of the character was not due to anti-racism but simply to the character no longer being familiar to children.
  • A 1935 ad for Elliot's White Veneer features two identical black boys with curly hair, completely black skin, and big red lips. One boy covers the other with white paint. The tagline: "See how it covers over black?"
  • This gift card from the 50s depicts a stereotypical black child with a sexually suggestive pose.
  • A 1938 Nazi exhibition for "degenerate music" (i.e. any and all music associated with Black and Jewish communities) was advertised with a poster depicting a big-lipped Black jazz performer with a Star of David lapel pin.

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Banana Fish manga is guilty of this with most of the Black characters, notably Cain Blood. Since the manga is a bit dated, originally debuting in the 1980s, when the 2018 anime was created, MAPPA updated the designs to be less offensive.
  • Cyborg 008 (a.k.a. Pyunma) in Cyborg 009 originally had a blackface-like design despite being one of the heroes and not a source of comic relief, but he was changed from Super Vortex onwards.
  • Dragon Ball: Mister Popo, Staff Officer Black and other black characters have a blackface appearance, which has been a long-standing nightmare when it comes to trying to export the shows. This, combined with his status as a "servant" character, has long made Mister Popo a target of criticism, to the point that 4Kids Entertainment changed his skin color to blue when Dragon Ball Z Kai aired on Toonzai.
  • Kimba the White Lion depicts African characters with black skin and very large lips.
  • Osamu Tezuka's original Metropolis (2001) manga had blackface caricatures in one page, seen standing in front of a store called "Hottentotto travel". Note that "Hottentot" is a racial slur that comes from the mockery of the language of the Khoekhoen tribe of southwest Africa.
    • Some of the early chapters of Tezuka's Black Jack also features Africans and African-Americans depicted like this. Later chapters with Black characters have them drawn much more realistically.
  • In One Piece, one of Buggy's crewmates (who only made an appearance in the Orange Town arc in the manga, but has made a few bit appearances since then in the anime) has an appearance that closely resembles blackface, which resulted in his skin being recolored to white when the anime was dubbed by 4Kids Entertainment. While he keeps his original skin tone in the Funimation dub, his skin tone was made white again in the Digitally Colored version of the manga.
  • Pokémon: The Series: The Pokémon Jynx drew considerable controversy with its official introduction in the episode "Holiday Hi-Jinx", as the decidedly female Pokémon initially sported a black face with prominent lips which drew accusations from Western viewers of it being potentially offensive for its uncanny resemblance to blackface; one critic even labeled it among the most "Politically Incorrect Pokémon" of the series. In response to these criticisms, Nintendo eventually recolored Jynx with purple skin to offset the resemblance to blackface, and the character has been altered several times in Pokémon media to avoid further offense.
  • Shaman King: Chocolove was originally drawn with large lips resembling a blackface caricature, though they were colored darker than his skin (rather than brighter, as typical with blackface). The 2021 series changed his design so that his lips are not much larger than that of the Asian and white characters and are colored the same tone as his skin.

    Comic Books 
  • Black characters in Asterix tend to be drawn like this. One story in Uderzo croqué par ses amis parodies the fact by depicting a ridiculously bad strip supposedly drawn by a young Uderzo. It features a Roman optio and his 'politically-incorrect Romans', soldiers who are drawn in a blackface style even more extreme than the style in the original comics.
  • In the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, Bombie the Zombie has the blackish-brown skin, white eyes, exaggerated lips and golden ear and nose rings. Ironically, this makes him one of the more human-looking characters among a cast of Dogfaces and Funny Animals. Notably, his first animated appearance in DuckTales (2017) changes him into a dogface as well, with gray rather than black complexion, to push his design away from this trope.
  • Spoofed with the character of Galley-Wag in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Based on a character from the children's book The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwogg (which plays the trope straight), in this version his appearance is explained by him being an alien. In fact he's made out of dark matter.
  • The title character from Memin Pinguin looks like this. It also gives him a Non-Standard Character Design, as all the other human characters, including his mammy-looking mother Doña Eufrosina, look much more realistic than him.
  • Monica's Gang: Jeremias was originally conceived with pitch-black skin. His design would undergo significant overhauls throughout the years, at which point he gained thick pink lips, a circle-shaped nose and round eyes that differentiated him from the rest of the (mostly white) cast. Though another redesign was attempted in the New '10s, it was deemed unnecessary and criticized even by black readers, leading to his appearance being reverted to the way it was at the beginning of the millennium.
  • Ebony White from The Spirit was one of the first black characters that interacted and aided main characters, being the Kid Sidekick of The Spirit helping him to solve cases as well being the Plucky Comic Relief of the series. However, he was drawn with a blackface style (not to mention the wordgame pun of his name), and was widely rejected by readers, some of whom even treated Will Eisner as a racist. Ebony has been so controversial, historically, that many adaptations changed him into a normal African-American boy (the 1987 Pilot Movie and DC Comics run in the 2000s) or simply erased him (the 2008 movie).
  • The original Tintin books would often draw black characters in this style — these designs were edited out in later versions.
  • Whitewash Jones from The Young Allies is quite possibly the most egregious example of this entire trope, described by Seanbaby as a "chemical spill of offensive stereotypes." His redesign in the '60s and '70s was such a meager improvement that the only thing it accomplished was making him look like an actual human being.
  • The early Captain Marvel comics had Billy Batson’s friend Steamboat an African American with a simian like appearance and very large red lips.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dennis the Menace (US): In 1970 cartoonist Hank Ketchum decided to introduce a new character, a black boy named Jackson. Unfortunately, Jackson was drawn in such a stereotyped manner that it inspired angry protests and some newspapers even issued editorial apologies. Jackson made only one more appearance. Ketchum always maintained that he didn't mean to insult anyone and the text accompanying Jackson's appearances was always completely innocuous, but Ketchum was apparently unable to draw a little black boy in a way that wasn't insulting.
  • Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) sometimes depicted black characters in racist ways in cartoons intended for magazines. One featured a store selling various things are which are puns on familiar sayings. Under a sign urging people to buy "a high-class nigger for your woodpile" are depictions of several black men waiting to be purchased.

    Films — Animation 
  • One of Cleopatra's servants in Asterix and Cleopatra falls squarely into this trope.
  • Ralph Bakshi's Coonskin uses this as part of the film's vicious satire on racism in America. While the film caused tremendous controversy, the blow was softened by both its stunningly accurate depiction of race relations and the film's Largely African American cast and crew. Pictures and footage of actual blackface and "Darkie iconography" are sometimes used in the background to hammer the point home.
  • The Little Mermaid features a blink-and-you'll-miss-it gag with the blackfish being drawn in this style.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Some posters for Spike Lee's Bamboozled, which is about an attempt to create a modern Minstrel Show Gone Horribly Right, use art based on the Hendler's ad mentioned in Advertising in a deliberately Retraux style that mimics the Show Within a Show in the film.
  • One of these illustrations is a plot point in Ghost World. Enid borrows a poster from Seymour depicting Cook's Chicken's Old Shame mascot, a monkey-like dark-skinned child with huge red lips and eyes, eating chicken, and presents it as art to one-up her pretentious art teacher. This backfires as the art teacher loves it and features it at an art exhibition. The blatantly racist poster attracts a lot of brouhaha, and all the criticism involved get Seymour fired from his job and Enid forced to fail the art class.
  • The hero of A Million Ways to Die in the West practices his aim with a "runaway slave" shooting gallery game with this trope on full display. During the credits, a black gunslinger does the same thing — with his target being the carny operating the game.

  • In Invisible Man, the narrator's first (black) landlady when he moves to New York City has a Golliwog-style statue of a caricatured black person, with huge red lips and a wide open mouth, which she uses to store coins. The statue isn't commented on directly but likely symbolizes her assimilationist nature and internalized racism.
  • The 1960 German children novel Jim Button features the main character with a clear blackface design on the cover. Even the 1986 TV puppet adaptation follows the design very closely, as it did not hold the same negative connotations in Germany as it did in the United States.
  • The children's book Little Black Sambo did not originally have illustrations- early publications often illustrated the title character with black skin and exaggerated red lips, although it has been reprinted with more realistic illustrations in modern times.
  • In the Raggedy Ann stories, one of the toys is a mammy doll, Beloved Belindy. While her portrayal was mostly positive with some subtler racist elements, her blatant blackface design makes the character ten times more uncomfortable, and modern editions of the books make no attempts to keep in.

    Live-Action TV 
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia does this in-universe with the gang's botched attempt at making a fifth Lethal Weapon film. It doesn't go well for them.
  • Short Circuitz showcased 'Eat that Watermelon' featuring Nick Cannon and Nas, a satirical music video parodying the mindless materialism of mainstream hip-hop, and comparing them to the degrading stereotypes of old minstrel shows.

    Music Videos 
  • In the music video for Jay-Z's 'The Story of OJ', the animation is drawn in a manner resembling the Censored Eleven cartoons, with the Black characters, including Jay-Z himself, drawn in caricatures resembling blackface. However the tone of the animation is somber and melancholy, rather than manic and mocking, signaling that this is a satire of racist cartoons that covered up a much grimmer reality.
  • The music video for Swingin Man by Jazzbit has a rabbit drawn in this style escaping from a pig cop on a train in the style of early 20th century cartoons. How this avoided controversy is anyone's guess.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Pygmies from Warhammer Fantasy's 2nd edition follow this trope and nearly every negative stereotype about native Africans. What makes this particularly egregious is the fact that this was in the 1980s. Small wonder why Games Workshop never talks about them.

  • "Golliwogg" dolls are dolls made in the style of a person in blackface. They can still be purchased in some areas. These were inspired by a very popular children's poem about these fantasy creatures having adventures.
  • A series of figurines sold at Prada stores was pulled because it (seemingly unintentionally) resembled a racist caricature. The statues resembled solid black monkeys with big red lips.

    Video Games 
  • An extremely unfortunate example occurs in Square's Famicom adaptation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, released only in Japan (not to be confused with the Seta/Winkysoft platform game that was released the same year). The caricature used for Jim would almost be cause for Torches and Pitchforks in the U.S.
  • BioShock Infinite has examples of this trope scattered around the imagery of Columbia as a reminder of the city's white supremacist ideology.
  • Subverted in Cuphead. The Devil had all the potential to be a depiction of this. But Studio MDHR were having none of that, and altered his appearance to his final design to avoid this.
  • Doki Doki Panic has an item called "Big Face", a black disembodied head with oversized red lips. When it was remade into Super Mario Bros. 2 for foreign markets, the item was replaced with a Koopa shell.
  • In an earlier version of EarthBound prior to its release, the Tenda were originally depicted with such features (though it's difficult to tell due to the video's quality). The fact that they were found in Deep Darkness would not have helped. Obviously, they were redesigned before the game's actual release which changed them to be green-skinned and non-human looking.
    Chuggaaconroy: That was localization censorship waiting to happen.
  • Wham Bam Rock in Kirby Super Star is a Background Boss that appears as a floating face against a pitch-black background, with his only visible features being his eyes and bulbous orange lips. This was changed in the Ultra remake, where he was redesigned into a Mayincatec stone-face (meanwhile, Wham Bam Jewel, a harder version of Rock exclusive to the remake, looks organic like the original Rock, but has much thinner lips and more bestial traits like fangs and a third eye to look less humanlike).
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and its follow-up Majora's Mask, the Skull Kids originally had blackface-esque facial features. When Majora's Mask was released internationally, the Skull Kid had his appearance altered to have beak-like lips and brown skin with a wooden texture, which carried over to Ocarina of Time 3D. Surprisingly, Skull Kid retains his blackface look in the manga versions, even outside of Japan.
  • Oil Man from Mega Man Powered Up. He was recolored blue and yellow in the English version, but his voice actor still plays him as sounding black-ish and worse yet he's portrayed as being somewhat lecherous, shiftless and not overly bright. The Archie comics got over the issue by just covering his mouth with his scarf.
  • The obscure Dreamcast launch title, Pen Pen Tricelon, has Unga Pogo: a jarringly racist — almost bestial — depiction of an African native.
    Julian: Like, I'm trying to justify it as, like, an innocent mistake, but I think it really just is [racist].
  • Pokémon: Jynx appeared to be uncomfortably close to this aesthetic before its coloring was changed to purple due to complaints. While it got a baby form with its equivalents Magmar and Electabuzz it was notably the only one of the trio that didn't receive an evolution. It is sometimes claimed to have been designed after the "ganguro" style, though it was only just beginning to come to prominence in Japan at the time. A more likely candidate is the Dutch Zwarte Piet holiday character, considering its Ice typing and appearance as Santa's helpers in the anime, or the Yama-uba of Japanese Mythology, a white-haired woman with dark, frostbitten skin who lives in the mountains.
  • The Polish Edutainment Game Królewna Śnieżka i Siedmiu Wspaniałych (localized by Phoenix Games as Snow White and the Seven Clever Boys) gives us Sonny, one of the titular boys and a walking blackface caricature. He's also dressed in an outfit somewhere between Uncle Sam's outfit and a Harlem Globetrotters uniform, and he plays sax during Snow White's song.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • One Betty Boop cartoon depicted black people as having giant eyes and huge, white lips.
  • Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs, one of WB's Censored Eleven shorts, was a parody of Snow White whose entire cast consisted of various black stereotypes. The dwarfs were all blackface caricatures. The Prince wore a Zoot suit and had straightened hair and gold teeth. "So White", was a hypersexual, big-bottomed younger black woman, with perky breasts and revealing clothing. The mother and child at the beginning were a stereotypical Mammy character and a literal pickaninny.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Its very first star, Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid, isn't seen much nowadays because he is visually a blackface caricature. He was generally depicted as the hero of the shorts and an admirable character, and the blackface elements of his design were gradually toned down, but the origin was still obvious.
    • "Any Bonds Today?" features an infamous scene where Bugs Bunny dons blackface while imitating Al Jolson.
    • In "Patient Porky", the elevator operator, who was cut from the syndicated version for obvious reasons, is a caricature of Eddie "Rochester" Anderson.
    • In "Porky's Road Race", the driver of the pedal-powered car seen after the others speed off, and also usually cut from syndicated prints, is a caricature of Stepin Fetchit. Another often-censored Fetchit caricature appears in "Porky The Fireman" when a businessman makes a Leap of Faith into the smoke cloud and emerges in Ash Face.