Today on Trailers from Hell, Larry Karaszewski tackles Ralph Bakshi’s controversial 1975 “Coonskin,” an animated satire on race relations.
Ralph Bakshi’s nervy satire on race relations courted controversy from all sides, beginning with its in-your-face title (which Bakshi himself objected to) and its incendiary use of African-American stereotypes to score its satirical points. The 1975 film, a mix of live action and animation, referenced a wide range of black-cultural hot buttons including “Song of the South” and blaxploitation fare. The production of the movie was fractious enough (Bakshi was locked out of the studio at one point) but the actual release of the film was when the fireworks, including picketing and a few smoke bombs in select theater lobbies, really started. In the decades since, cooler heads have prevailed and Coonskin counts artists as disparate as Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino among its fans.