Old Christmas Cartoons are Still Awesome (Except for the Racism)

silly symphonies santas workshop 11 e1356371965825 560x266Long before TBS cornered the market on Christmas specials with an annual 24 hour loop of A Christmas Story, various production houses used to try to outdo each others Christmas specials each year. Of course not every production was a work of art (see Christmas Comes to Pac-land or KISS Saves Santa for proof). But more often than not, directors and animators got it right—especially in the first half of the 20th century.

The hand-drawn characters, art direction, and music of some of these classic cartoons remain unmatched even today. And best of all, these classics are able to tell their stories in less than ten minutes—a lesson in brevity that Peter Jackson could use.

So why don’t we see Santa’s Workshop or Santa’s Surprise among today’s holiday favorites? Well, for starters, the guys drawing delightful little children anxiously awaiting St. Nick, and toys that come to life…were racist as shit.

Santa’s Workshop (1932)

Besides stealing from the public domain to establish his entertainment company, Walt Disney famously detested African-Americans and probably wasn’t a big fan of Jews even if he wasn’t actually a Nazi. Regardless of whether Disney was just a product of his time, one thing’s for certain. No one who’s seen his Silly Symphony series will accuse the man of being a forward thinker.

Which is a shame, because Santa’s Workshop is an amazing feat of animation (especially considering this is 1932 we’re talking about here) and musical composition. In almost every way, this eighty year-old story of St. Nick and his elves preparing for tomorrow’s delivery stands up against even the most recent Christmas specials. It’s bound to fill you with Christmas cheer. Unless you’re part of the 13% of the country that’s black, of course.

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Okay. Christmas Eve at the North Pole, Elves bringing in the letters (a little late, but hey little legs.) Everything looks good here.

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After the elves build the toys, Santa likes to inspect them personally. That’s good quality control, especially when your workforce is a bunch of shiftless, tiny-handed serfs who only work one day a year.

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We had that nice little white dolly. And now we have—oh, shit.

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Even Santa Claus likes the occasional degrading stereotype for a laugh every now and again…

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And now we’ll just load up all the toys…

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…wait a second, what the hell is that! If we could enlarge it further, we’re pretty sure the barrels would read “Hennessy.”

Say what you will about Disney’s, ahem, “caricatures,” but that racist thief sure could pen one hell of a catchy tune.

The Night Before Christmas (1933)

In Disney’s 1933 follow-up to Santa’s Workshop, we get to see Santa deliver all the presents from the first short film to some apparently really, really, poor white kids who sleep eight to a bed.

Again, toys come to life and infectious music ensues…Also, it turns out toy soldiers are fantastic decorators…

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If you never once imagined this exact scene in your basement/attic/living room, then you’re either Jewish or a relative of the Grinch (pre-enlarged heart)

Once the children wake up, the toys go still, Santa jets off and the children search for Santa in the most likely spots.

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Really? There was literally no other way you could have drawn the chimney dust on the boy’s face? So, that’s what we’re going with…

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If you don’t see the problem here, then you’re probably not too familiar with your cinema and/or general racism history…


Ohhhh. Now we see it.

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Would it make you feel better if we told you the catchiest, most tolerable version of “Jingle Bells,” ever, is in The Night Before Christmas?

Santa’s Surprise (1947)

Just so you don’t think we’re singling out Disney, we dug up the Famous Studios classic Santa’s Surprise. And while it can’t compete with Disney’s shorts in the art direction, music (it’s annoying to all but the worst children), or animation departments, Santa’s Surprise demonstrates just how big a step backwards is possible in fifteen years.

On the surface, a story about kids who want to give Santa a present should be the pinnacle of the Christmas Spirit. That’s like turning “The Gift of the Magi” up to eleven. After all, what could be more selfless than giving the ultimate gift-giver himself a present on Christmas day? This anti-greed tale begins with Santa circling the globe delivering presents.

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Don’t worry, it’s about to get racist.

Having successfully delivered presents, Santa, having worked one entire day, settles down for an epic Santa slumber.

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When you live alone, it’s good to label things you only have one of so you know where to put your body at night.

Little does Santa know that children from all around the world followed him to the North Pole with the sole intention of giving him a gift.

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How can we offend everybody?

The children of course think of the most wonderful Christmas gift imaginable—cleaning some shit around his house.

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So, we have “a Russian kid or something scrubbing the floor by doing that weird dance or whatever those people do.”—We’re pretty sure those are the animator’s actual notes.

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“I shine his shoes with a boogie beat *unintelligible* the reason why!” …Seriously.

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By this point, it should be no surprise that the Chinese kid is doing Santa’s laundry.

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Okay, for all it’s faults, the movie has a refreshing message about doing something for others and it being better to give than to receive…


Wait, so that whole song about cleaning Santa’s house and giving him a present was just a long-con to sneak him a reminder to give assholes more presents next year?

You know what? Fuck those kids, and fuck Santa’s Surprise. Is A Christmas Story on yet?