From Toy to Foil : Tex Avery’s Female Characters
Abstract: Tex Avery’s distinctive style in storytelling and humor, with its relation to freak shows and burlesque cinema, played with the notions of Disney aesthetics and Hollywood conformism. This is seen in his representation of female characters (and femininity itself). The Saloon Girl in the fairy-tale wartime cartoons, is the only anthropomorphic character in these freak shows, and as such stands as a cornerstone in Avery’s comic language and discourse. However, she can be already traced back in his early cartoons; and she can be “unveiled” under the disguise of tamer female characters in his post-war films.
Avery matches the evolution of American society, and adapts to the changing parameters of censorship. As it is, such representation of femininity may be perceived as one view of America’s coping with gender and taboos in the years 1935-1955.
Biographical Statement: Pierre Floquet teaches English and is associate professor at ENSEIRB, Bordeaux University. He wrote his PhD thesis in 1996 on linguistics applied to cinema, focusing on Tex Avery’s comic language. Since then, he has organized several Avery retrospectives and conferences at the Annecy Festival, France (1998), in Italy (1998, 1999), Norway (2001), Morocco, Trinidad, and the Netherlands (2008). He has been a juror at festivals in France and abroad. He has also widened his interests to live-action cinema, participating in books and journals in Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain and the United States. He edited a book called CinémAnimationS (March 2007).