From there it morphed into a song called "Turkey in de Straw" before becoming "Do Your Ears Hang Low." The music was used in Steamboat Willie, the 1928 animated cartoon that made Mickey Mouse famous, as well.
The use of "Zip Coon"'s melody in a 2006 song written and performed by a black teenager is as fascinating as it is confusing, but won't draw nearly the attention than had the melody been appropriated by, say, Justin Timberlake or Eminem. In fact, the art of minstrelsy is filled with defenders on both sides of the racial divide. The form was practiced by both white and black men (the latter of whom blackened their skin darker and accentuated their mannerisms to appear more "Negro" onstage) and is considered by many scholars to be the first integrated American art form.
"As for the grotesquerie of minstrelsy," Nick Tosches writes in Where Dead Voices Gather, his remarkable 2001 book on blackface performer Emmett Miller and the minstrelsy tradition, "there were many, both black and white, who found it no more offensive than the comedy built upon any exaggerated ethnic stereotyping.
"Nothing in this country is real," Tosches goes on, "everyone an actor. From long-tail blue to dashiki, from the organ-grinder to the godfather, it is all a masquerade. If the halcyon lark of antebellum plantation life invented by minstrelsy was a sham, it was at least a sham that few took for reality." -Randall Roberts
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