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The Uncivil Servant: Sexual Repression in Iran

by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Tehran Taboo, a film by Ali Sooznadeh IN ALI Sooznadeh’s Tehran Taboo, a film visually bright yet tragically dark,  we are offered an Iran eaten away with moral and sexual hypocrisy. The film demonstrates that a society and government constructed as an Islamic state cannot control to control the unruly instincts roiling […]

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Disney’s Composer

Alan Menken, composer of scores for Walt Disney animations including The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), and Pocahontas (1995), as well as for films and Broadway musicals that include  Little Shop of Horrors (1982 on Broadway, ’86 on film), Newsies (1992), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Hercules (1997), and Sister Act (2009), […]

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The Sesame Street Animator

Jane Aaron, who created more than 150 animated shorts for Sesame Street that brought to life numbers, letters of the alphabet, words, and concepts, was born in New York on this date in 1948. Aaron’s animation mixed drawn images with live-action footage that she shot all over the country. She “dreamed up many innovative techniques,” […]

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February 5: The Sidewalks of New York — and Betty Boop

The animation studio of Dave and Max Fleischer released on this date in 1929 their second cartoon titled “The Sidewalks of New York” (an earlier version came out in 1925) as part of their new “Screen Songs” series with Paramount Pictures. The cartoon marked the studio’s permanent transition to sound cartoons, with seventeen released in […]

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January 23: Mengele’s Jewish Portraitist

Dina Gottliebova Babbitt, an artist whom Dr. Josef Mengele spared from death at Auschwitz in order to have her draw Roma inmates in service of his racist theorizing, was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia on this date in 1923. Deported to Auschwitz as a 19-year-old art student, she drew a scene from Disney’s “Snow White and […]

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November 29: Is Diss a System??

Cartoonist and silent-film animator Milt Gross, whose Yiddish-inflected comic strips captured America’s heart through syndication, died at 58 on this date in 1953. After serving in World War I, he had his first comic strip success with “Gross Exaggerations,” an illustrated column in the New York World that reworked popular tales in a Yingish dialect […]

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July 19: Max Fleischer

Animation pioneer Max Fleischer, who brought Betty Boop, Popeye the Sailor, Koko the Clown, and Superman to the big screen, was born in Krakow, Poland on this date in 1883. He came to New York at age 4 and eventually married his childhood sweetheart. Trained as an illustrator at Cooper Union, he created the Rotoscope, […]

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July 5: What’s Up, Doc?

Bugs Bunny’s signature phrase, “What’s up, Doc?”, was trademark registered on this date in 1988. Created by Isidor Friz Freleng of Leon Schlesinger Studio (which later merged with Warner Brothers), Bugs had his official debut (with Elmer Fudd) in 1940 and was voiced for nearly half a century by Mel Blanc. Bugs has appeared in more […]

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April 17: Daffy Duck

Daffy Duck made his first appearance on this date in 1937 as a bit player in “Porky’s Duck Hunt,” starring Porky Pig. Mel Blanc provided the voice for Daffy, and would do so for 52 years, a world record. In the hands of various cartoon directors, Daffy proved to be a very elastic character, but […]

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March 28: Homer Simpson, Messiah

Homer Simpson fell under the spell of “Jerusalem Syndrome” and thought himself the messiah while vacationing in the Holy Land with his family during an episode of The Simpsons entitled, “The Greatest Story Ever D’ohed” and aired on this date in 2010. HIghlights of the episode include the Simpson family’s rendezvous with Krusty the (Jewish) […]

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