April 30, 2008

Vavoom in Felix the Cat

A correspondent notes the appearance of Vavoom the Eskimo in the old Felix the Cat cartoons:I think Vavoom was in many episodes. If I recall correctly, he was friendly enough, wore his parka all the time, had a face devoid of Inuit stereotype features, and only spoke one word, the "Vavoom" that was a sort of super-hero type power. Not much in the way of stereotype, in my judgment.Comment:  Hmm. Vavoom wore a parka in all weather like a coat of fur. He didn't utter a word except a nonsensical battle cry. How exactly was he different from, say, an animal that also roars? Was he really any better than Little Hiawatha or the Go-Go Gophers?

Note another thing these characters have in common:  they're little. They're smaller than humans and, in Vavoom's case, smaller than a cat. What does that say about Natives? That they're safely presentable only if they've been rendered harmless--i.e., shrunk and neutered.

For more on the subject, see Eskimos:  The Ultimate Aborigines.


dmarks said...

I think the parka one is a good point.

Rob said...

An Eskimo wearing a parka in any weather is like a "brave" going bare-chested in any weather. It may be a mild stereotype, but it's still a stereotype.

dmarks said...

Come to think of it, the Vavoom name is identical to "Nanook" as far as the vowels go, so the name is likely a bit stereotypical also.