Sunday, November 12, 2006

In literature, they say intent is 9/10 of the law.

I know a guy who has a tattoo that looks startlingly similar to the old minstrel cartoon characters from the '20s and '30s. When I say "looks startlingly similar to," I mean "is one of." I recently read an article that pointed out that the early Mickey Mouse was essentially a minstrel with mouse-ears. Anyway, this person revealed that his great-granduncle or someother had invented the Merry Melodies or had helped develop it and had created this character he now had tattooed on his arm. My great grandpa had his legs took off by a train, I wonder how I can misguidedly memorialize that. Anyway, I guess it's understandable that this guy would want to memorialize his family's creation, except that it has such clear racist origins. Does the presentation as a tattoo of this cartoon character change its meaning, in spite of where it comes from? What is its legacy - because it was famous, are you supposed to be proud of it? I'm sure if there was some similar pop culture sensation created by someone in my distant-in-the-past family, my family would celebrate it today, but I would hope I and my more sensible relatives would be just as embarrassed as the rest of my family would be proud. Unless we were to receive the royalties.


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