Betty Boop and Hentai Studies

This episode on Betty Boop is our final episode of the season, and one of my favorites because I get to talk about hentai, one of my favorite subjects to study. I have a complicated relationship with hentai. On the one hand, I really don’t care what a person’s kinks are. On the other hand, I worry about animating women and submitting them to such sexualization, because the cartoons have no agency to say “no, I don’t want to do that.”

At least with Betty Boop, she seemed more in control of her sexuality in her cartoons than other figures found in classic Tijuana bibles or contemporary hentai and digital sex games (which also aligns hentai studies with gendering robots study).

In this episode, we discuss early animation at the beginning of cinema, and how Betty Boop fit into this wilder time frame, before the Hayes Code and the moralizing of movies. We also examine the history of the character, and the controversies about her origin. For the analysis, the discussion focuses on issues of objectification, the male gaze, and how Betty Boop fits into Tijuana bibles and modern hentai.

Primary editing on the episode was done by Jean-Michel Berthiaume, and end song comes from Betty Boop.

As always, you are encouraged to become a part of this conversation by visiting any of the podcast’s social media sites. You can also talk with Christopher Olson on Twitter (@chrstphrolson) and at his academic blog seemsobvioustome.wordpress.com. And you can talk to me here and on Twitter (@mediaoracle).

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