Betty Boop was one of the most popular and well-loved pop icons of the 1960s, and in the 1960s, she was also a symbol of unabashed sexuality. As a parody of a well-known pop singer, Betty’s performances often reflected a subversive side of society. In this article, we’ll take a look at her background and the symbolism behind her name and image.
a symbol of unabashed sexuality
A famous cartoon character, Betty Boop is a symbol of racy unrestrained sexuality. Originally appearing in the Talkartoon series, she went on to have her own series in 1932. In her first cartoon, “Stopping the Show,” Betty Boop is unabashedly sexy in revealing shorts, high heels and strapless dresses. Although her official age was 16, her racy appeal aimed primarily at adults. Her appearance in children’s programming did not begin until the invention of television.
The original character was an anthropomorphic French poodle, and was originally named Baby Esther. Her appearance in cartoons changed her sex identity into the first unabashed sex symbol. The character evolved from a poodle to a human in 1932. She wore a red dress, with a black button on her nose. She became one of the most popular icons of unabashed sexuality in animation.
While many female cartoons aimed to be sexy and masculine, Betty Boop defied these societal norms. She wore short dresses, high heels, a garter, and a low contoured bodice. In her two 1932 shorts, she fought off several grotesque male characters with only a few words of sex. This insensitivity toward women and sexual harassment made the cartoons one of the first to show the prevalence of such behavior.
A tattoo of Betty Boop is an expression of unabashed sexuality and can mean different things. Most commonly, it represents a woman in control of her sexuality. She can be sexy without being unfeminine, yet she can be reserved and conservative if the occasion calls for it. The Betty Boop tattoo is popular among both men and women, and it has even made its way onto a tattoo.
The cartoon has a symbol of unabashed sexuality, and Betty Boop’s Big Boss explores the problem of workplace sexual harassment. This 1934 film features phallic architecture and depicts a boss who selects Betty based on her appearance. He then asks for a kiss while typing. He follows her after she says no. Throughout the story, the building seems to channel lust. And the boss then locks Betty in his office with his aggressor.
a parody of a popular singer
One of the most famous cartoon characters from the 1930s was Betty Boop. She was created by legendary animator Grim Natwick, who was also responsible for Disney’s Snow White princess. Natwick was noted for having strong art background and was able to animate human figures with a realism that other animators found difficult to match. In addition to the comic strip, she also voiced other popular characters such as Little Audrey and Olive Oyl. Most recently, she appeared in Woody Allen’s NEW YORK STORIES (1989).
When she first appeared on television, fans were able to relate to the original character because of her wit and clever satire. Despite her zany personality, Betty was still very entertaining in her original form. In 1974, IVY Films released a feature film, THE BETTY BOOP SCANDALS OF 1974, which contained the Betty cartoons and live-action comedy shorts from the same period, as well as the first chapter of BUCK ROGERS serial. Although the movie was moderately successful in theatres, it was a big hit with college audiences.
Fleischer Studios designed Betty Boop as a parody of two famous women, Clara Bow and Helen Kane. Both women were popular during the Roaring ’20s and their unique voices made them both instantly recognizable. Helen Kane, the original singer, was a sex icon and was very popular, so her voice would be a perfect fit for Betty Boop.
PBS executives should have taken pause after publishing an article promoting its Black History Month programming claiming that Betty Boop is based on a Black jazz age performer. This article was widely reported and PBS has since been tagged as the source of the updated version of the Betty Boop origin story. The PBS article was posted online, but the article itself did not get deleted or corrected. It became an online sensation, often misinterpreted as confirmation of the white appropriation of a Black persona.
In the Talkartoon series, Betty Boop had a love interest. Bimbo is the sixth Talkartoon character. Betty’s love interest, Bimbo, entertains Betty and her audience as the Devil tries to stop her from becoming president. Although Bimbo’s love interest is not explicitly explained in the cartoon, the dog singer was very similar to Betty, having her famous spit curls and a tight black dress. It even has a black spot in the middle of her face.
a symbol of the Jazz Age
A cartoon flapper who portrayed the moody, glitzy world of the Jazz Age, Betty Boop has been a popular cultural icon for nearly eight decades. Born in 1930, she had a ten-year film career and became a symbol of the Jazz Age. Her image has spanned the entire generation, inspiring everyone from James Dean to Marilyn Monroe to create their own versions. The symbolism of Betty Boop is so widespread that she has even been immortalized on perfume bottles and prepaid debit cards. In addition to her iconic status, the character is also a cultural icon, having inspired perfume designer Jean Paul Gaultier to design a fragrance for her.
While Betty Boop is known in black and white, the African-American artistry behind her creation is just as significant. Indeed, without the contributions of African Americans to the jazz movement, Betty Boop would not exist. The jazz tradition developed partly from classical music and was shaped by African-American artists. As jazz scholar Robert G. O’Meally pointed out, “No one can make an accurate and meaningful depiction of the Jazz Age without Black people.”
As the first animated female character to be drawn as a lady, Betty Boop was a caricature of a jazz singer from Harlem named Baby Esther. Her short skirts and self-confident bust were a perfect image of the Jazz Age. However, the Hays Code in the mid-1930s led to a slight tone-down of the character’s characteristics. The result was a cartoon icon that is beloved by audiences around the world.
Despite her unique character, Betty Boop has evolved over time. While the original character was a canine, Max Fleischer adapted the poodle’s head and body to resemble a human. In the 1929 cartoon Dizzy Dishes, Betty Boop’s poodle ears became hoop earrings and her black poodle nose was changed to match her new human-like appearance.
a symbol of subversion
It is no secret that cartoon character Betty Boop is a symbol of anti-establishment sentiment. While Walt Disney is the king of American animation, Fleischer was a prolific innovator, creating the rotoscope and the Talkartoon film series. The Boop films were released by Paramount Pictures and were produced by Fleischer Studios. Between 1930 and 1939, there were over 90 theatrical cartoons starring Betty Boop. She has also appeared in comic strips, mass merchandising and in films.
In 1932, the first cartoon heroine to speak out against sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, Betty Boop slapped a crooked producer. The show’s story resonates today. The documentary Betty Boop Forever, directed by Claire Duguet, includes testimonies by Chantal Thomas, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, and Jeni Mahoney.
The cartoon character’s anthropomorphic roots have been challenged by scholars of race, gender, and sex. It is not surprising that Betty Boop has a racial history. Although originally a French poodle, the character was adapted from an actress named Clara Bow. Kane, who became famous after the film, was unhappy with the resemblance between her and Betty Boop, and filed a lawsuit against Fleischer Studios for copyright. However, the plaintiffs failed in their case, as their lawyers pointed out that Betty Boop had appropriated the voice of another African-American singer, Gertrude Saunders.
The character Betty Boop began as a parody of the female role. She was a pioneering woman. She was independent and sexy, and she became a famous pilot and even ran for president when women won the right to vote. Her trademark red lipstick and hoop earrings made her a symbol of subversion. In the 1960s, she was even depicted in a television show.