In the Backyard
Malcolm Sebastian stars as Big Boy in this very rare comedy which tried to copy Hal Roach's Our Gang series. Funny sight gags and adorable children make this film enjoyable for all ages. This film features actors performing in blackface. Fandor does not condone racist stereotyping, but blackface is nonetheless a significant aspect of American history in general and film history specifically. Early cinema was deeply rooted in vaudeville, where blackface was a popular staple. As film critic Ty Burr wrote in a recent assessment of Al Jolson’s THE JAZZ SINGER, “Minstrelsy was the then-accepted cultural mechanism by which the governing white culture could appropriate and tame various representations of black people.” The history of blackface is complex—even African American performers donned burnt cork to appear onstage in the early 1900s—and its legacy is far from being resolved. While blackface iconography appears offensive today, it remains deeply telling of the culture from which it emerged.