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Cartoon Hell #12 – “Short’nin’ Bread”

January 23, 2009

Cartoon Hell is TheKarpuk’s attempt to review every single installment in an awful $5 collection called “150 Classic Cartoons” purchased at his local Wal-Mart. Your prayers are welcome.

Deeeeeeeelicious!

Deeeeeeeelicious!

Continuing the food theme, today’s film is “Short’nin’ [sic] Bread”, a case in point that if you’re using an apostrophe and it’s neither a possessive or a contraction, you’re probably being an asshole. For the sake of full disclosure before we even go into this, I must admit to being a Caucasian male raised by other caucasians. I also must admit to hating dialect writing in all forms. Whew, okay, I feel better now.

To prepare for the grueling task ahead, I did some research on what this mysterious short’nin’ [sic] bread consists of. It really changed my preconceptions about the classic song. I would have imagined short’nin’ [sic] bread would be a loaf of Crisco shortening baked golden brown, but no, the recipe is best summed up like so:

Flour + Brown Sugar + Butter + Heat = SHORT’NIN’ [sic] BREAD!!!!

I gather it’s essentially what you make when you lack the ingredients for food someone might actually want.

Hey, a jokey sign, like in a strip mall.

Hey, a jokey sign, like in a strip mall.

The exterior of Ye Bake Shoppe has the slogan, “MORE DOUGH FOR YOUR MONEY”, and I automatically know what slippery slope we’re headed down. This is going to be another cartoon about anthropomorphic food acting out stupid puns. I just did one of these, damn it.

They've got some world class carnival geeks!

They've got some world class carnival geeks!

Inside, a little gingerbread boy announces a Cookie Carnival. Hopefully one similar to “Carnivale”, featuring a fried dough freak show and discrete prostitution.

What's happening with the pie on the bottom right?

What's happening with the pie on the bottom right?

All the food jumps to attention, ready for a night on the town. A bakery full of food smiling and staring intently strikes me more as a nightmare than anything whimsical. What’s exceptionally galling about this film is the next several minutes, in which the cookies march to the carnival, and the song explains what we can clearly see with our own eyes.

An attractive lady finger is dressing up and applying cherry to its lips, and guess what, the song sings about her dressing up. Of course the narration adds some issues by suggesting tonight she might lay her lady fingers on a man. Try not to work out the logistics in your head folks, therein lies madness.

That's a freezer to you youngins.

That's a freezer to you youngins.

Any creative writing class will teach you that narration should not be used to explain what can clearly be seen, which is why the chorus regales us with a tale of the icebox cookies skating while we look directly at the ice box cookies skating. I’m not sure I, or anyone under the age of 50 even knows what an ice box cookie is, but the narration didn’t have the time to tell us, because they wasted it all stating the obvious.

Next up, an upside down cake…. on the ceiling. Whoa ho, curveball! And what luck, the chorus explains it for us, since this is apparently a cartoon for the blind. Just to save us some time, assume the song consists of the chorus singing a less mean-spirited version of what I’m telling you.

A taste sensation that will consume all of Europe.

A taste sensation that will consume all of Europe.

A Napoleon cake marches with some French eclairs. I didn’t even know Napoleon cake really existed, but apparently it’s a dessert that fights your stomach on two fronts and has to be banished to the sea before it conquers your bowels.

I ordered my cake clean shaven you buffoons!

I ordered my cake clean shaven you buffoons!

A birthday cake with one candle does what I’m convinced is the Charleston, followed by an elderly birthday cake with a whopping 30 candles on it. This joke probably worked better in the 50’s, when the average life expectancy for a male was 25.

The rum cake stumbles out of the box and I refuse to explain why. The chorus sings, “He’s happy and gay, and it looks as though he’s going to stay that way.” What a bunch of enablers. Who sees someone stumbling drunk out of a bar and says, “Oh man, his night’s just getting started!” This might explain why the last rum cake I purchased choked to death on its own vomit. It’s a disease you know.

A nut cake makes some wacky paper cut outs while marching, or as the chorus in a moment of frivolity calls him, an Off His Nut Cake. Oh man, it’s so true, that guy loves to party, or as he puts it, “to let the nuts hang.”

If someone could make me a blog theme out of this, I would die giddy.

If someone could make me a blog theme out of this, I would die giddy.

The first song ends with the entire bakery stomping through the entrance of The Cookie Carnival. When did the notion of this all occurring in a bakery just fuck right off? At the rate they moved the bakery would be the length of a football field, or roughly half the length of the Flintstones’ living room.

Then there’s the acts. A donut dives into some coffee. Apple turnovers do flips on a seesaw. After such dramatic puns, the ringleader yells, “Lookee lookee at the three cookies!”

A show before dying!

A show before dying!

And indeed, three cookies perform a high wire act. That’s not a pun, it’s not even clever. The rhythm of the bit just gets shot to hell.

Yes, we eat the dead. Of course, we eat the living. We just live to eat, okay!

Yes, we eat the dead. Of course, we eat the living too. We just live to eat!

As revenge for this failing, their performance ends with a fall, the cookies shattering into crumbs on the ground, and get spread over crumb cake. Pretty damn gruesome for food that they’ve personified as people, but I hear real circuses do the same thing with acrobats and lions.

Then we come to the titular misadventures of a dapper piece of short’nin’ [sic] bread. He waltzes on stage, singing the refrain. Before launching into the song, I should point out that “Short’nin’ [sic] Bread” was written in 1900 by this asshole:

Victorian Sex Symbol

James Whitcomb Riley: Victorian Sex Symbol

Yeah, exactly the kinda guy I’d want to hear singing in Ebonics, especially in lyrics like this:

Fotch dat dough fum the kitchin-shed—
Rake de coals out hot an’ red—
Putt on de oven an’ putt on de led,—
Mammy’s gwineter cook som short’nin’ bread.

What I’m getting at here is that this song is a minstrel show by design, a taste of racism sold as a folksy slave song like “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”.

The lyrics pad the running time with simple images placed behind the bouncing ball, suggesting that the company ran out of money halfway through production. If you want an idea of how laughably awkward this rendition is, sing the lyrics to yourself while enunciating every singe syllable as precisely as possible. These singers are not up to the challenge.

My comments are in bold:

Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] short’nin’ [sic]
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] bread
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] short’nin’ [sic]
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] bread
Two little chil-lun lyin’ in bed
One of ’em sick an’ de odder mos’ dead
Call for de doctor and de doc-tor said
“Feed dem chillun on short’-nin bread”

These would be the "chillun".

These would be the "chillun".

The doctor’s line is said in a window rattling deep voice. This is not doctorly advice. This is not even sane advice. He probably treats cancer patients with peach cobbler.

Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] short’nin’ [sic]
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] bread
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] short’nin’ [sic]
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] bread
Goin’ to da kitchen an’ put on da led
Put on da skillet for short’-nin bread
short’nin’ [sic] bread an’ it baked thin
Al-ways makes dem chil-luns grin
At this point my spellchecker had a stroke.

Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] short’nin’ [sic]
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] bread
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] short’nin’ [sic]
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] bread
If I have to listen to it this many times, you have to read it this many times.
Messin’ round da kitchen lak a bus-y bee
Da busi-est mammy you ever did see

The "Mammy". Something seems off here.

The "Mammy". Something seems off here.

I’m skeptical sir, for you see, the relative productivity levels of mammies was my doctoral thesis.

Gotta hurry up wid da short’-nin’ [sic] bread
Gotta git dem chillun right out-ta bed
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] short’nin’ [sic]
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] bread
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] short’nin’ [sic]
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] bread

Rosy cheeked white children speaking their native dialect.

Rosy cheeked white children speaking their native dialect.

The next line is spoken in a creepy fake-child voice.

“How a-bout dat short’nin’ [sic] bread
When I gon-na git dat short’nin’ [sic] bread”
Cried a lit-tle ba-by a-lyin’ in bed
His eyes was shut like he ben dead
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] short’nin’ [sic]
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] bread
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] short’nin’ [sic]
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] bread
De odder little fel-la sick in de bed
When he hear tell of short’nin’ [sic] bread
Popped up well, he dance and sing
He al-most cut da pi-geon wing

The mere mention of short'nin' bread makes him stand and deliver a sonnet.

The mere mention of short'nin' bread makes him stand and deliver a sonnet.

A pigeon wing is when you jump in the air and strike your heels together. I just learned that. For the next section, they forego the bouncing ball and have a startlingly caucasian child in nightwear run over the words.
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] short’nin’ [sic]
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] bread
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] short’nin’ [sic]
Mammy’s little baby loves short’nin’ [sic] bread

A chorus line of short’nin’ [sic] bread comes on stage and sings the line I’ve grown to hate, but only for one last god-forsaken time. As the smallest member ironically sings the lowest note the damn thing ends.

Run child, run from the short'nin' bread!

Run child, run from the short'nin' bread!

UNPC Moment:

Apparently this cartoon’s director believed strongly in the precedent of Plessy v. Ferguson, because not a damn character in this film could be construed as resembling a black person. There’s not even a chocolate cake or a Hostess cupcake in it. It’s the most atrocious during the sing along, because the characters they use look like the sort of white people employed by Austrians in adaptations of Brothers Grimm fairy tales.

Rating: Humorously Bad

The song pushes this one into humorous territory. It suggests a creator who’d only ever seen a dark skinned human being in National Geographic.

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