Well.. what can I even eloquently say about this? This recording is from a Victor Vaudeville Comedy 12″. The flip side sketch is “Darktown Campmeetin’ Experiences.” “Darky Specialty.”
I’m sure most readers of my blog are familiar with this unsettling phase in pop-culture.
I like to believe that my 1917 equivalent wouldn’t be interested in such a record as this. But as we all know- on some level, this type of entertainment wasn’t the sole domain of “racists.” Acts similar to this recording took place between the jugglers and opera singers in vaudeville. The inappropriateness of this type of entertainment was hardly acknowledged until decades later. (Although the Irish were able to successfully raise a big stink about the mockery they were facing in vaudeville.)
I think the majority of consumers then as now were mindless sheep, never stopping to think about the perversion of ‘lightheartedly’ ridiculing a people and a culture while simultaneously oppressing it.
I sometimes roll my eyes at the constant pop-culture self-reflection that takes place in our society today (hello VH1). But when you think about it in light of things that slipped by in the past, maybe it’s a good thing to keep our consumption and entertainment under scrutiny. Maybe we can reflect on our questionable judgement within our own lifetime.
Victor Vaudeville Company
Court Scene in Carolina
Victor Talking Machine Co., 1917