A Month of Bakshi: Part Two (feat. Coonskin)

For the uninitiated, Bakshi is a phenomenal American director whose credits include such cult classics as the animated version of Robert Crumb's Fritz the Cat (1972), Wizards (1977), The Lord of the Rings (1978), and the reality-bending Cool World (1992). In addition to his animated films, he also produced a Mighty Mouse tv series. Suffice it to say Bakshi's work record is both diverse and provocative. To celebrate both his impact and influence on animation, Strange Kids Club is hosting a month Bakshi all throughout January.

The next in our series of films is called Coonskin. First released in 1975, the film is a progressively stylized riff on the Uncle Remus/Song of the South type of story. Since its release, however, Cookskin that has long since suffered from accusations of racism and blaxploitation when in fact it utilizes these devices in order to satirize them and the culture in which they are reinforced.

It can be assumed that Bakshi intended to expose these elements in American culture by presenting them as they were. Like any great caricaturist Bakshi masterfully turns these stigmas on their head, crafting a world in which all characters are created equally corrupt and imperfect. There exists no inherit hero or villain in this story, at least not in the traditional sense. To his credit (and unlike other studios of the time), Bakshi not only hired African American actors, but animators as well.

A product of its time, Cookskin remains (aside from lingering criticism) a subversive spotlight on American culture that is both bleak and surprisingly poignant. A definite recommendation for any film student or fans of Richard Pryor's style of comedy.


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