Betty Boop - Under The Production Code

Under The Production Code

Betty Boop's best appearances are considered to be in her first three years due to her "Jazz Baby" character and innocent sexuality, which was aimed at adults. However, the content of her films was affected by the National Legion of Decency and the Production Code of 1934. The Production Code of 1934 imposed guidelines on the Motion Picture Industry and placed specific restrictions on the content films could reference with sexual innuendos. This greatly affected the Betty Boop cartoons.

No longer a carefree flapper, from the date the code went into effect on July 1, 1934, Betty became a husbandless housewife or a career girl, who wore a fuller dress or skirt. Additionally, as time progressed, the curls in her hair gradually decreased, she eventually stopped wearing her gold bracelets and hoop earrings, and she became more mature and wiser in personality, compared to her earlier years. Right from the start, Joseph Breen, the new head film censor, had numerous complaints. The Breen Office ordered the removal of the suggestive introduction, which had started the cartoons because Betty Boop's winks and shaking hips were deemed "suggestive of immorality." For a few entries, Betty was given a boyfriend, Freddie, who was introduced in She Wronged Him Right (1934). Next, Betty was teamed with a puppy named Pudgy, beginning with Betty Boop's Little Pal (1934). The following year saw the addition of the eccentric inventor Grampy, who debuted in Betty Boop and Grampy (1935).

While these cartoons were tame compared to her earlier appearances, their self-conscious wholesomeness was aimed at a more juvenile audience, which contributed to the decline of the series. Much of the decline was due to the lessening of Betty's role in the cartoons in favor of her co-stars. This was a similar problem experienced during the same period with Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse, who was becoming eclipsed by the popularity of his co-stars Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto, not to mention Fleischer's biggest success, Popeye.

Being largely a musical novelty character, the animators attempted to keep Betty's cartoons interesting by pairing her with popular comic strip characters such as Henry, The Little King and Little Jimmy hoping to create an additional spin-off series with her pairing with Popeye in 1933. However, none of these films generated a new series. While the period that Betty represented had been replaced by the big bands of the swing era, Fleischer Studios made an attempt to develop a replacement character in this style, in the 1938 Betty Boop cartoon Betty Boop and Sally Swing, but it was not a success.

The last Betty Boop cartoons were released in 1939, and a few made attempts to bring Betty into the swing era. In her last appearance, Rhythm on the Reservation, (1939). Betty drives an open convertible labeled, "Betty Boop's Swing Band," through a Native American reservation, where she introduces the people to swing music and creates a "Swinging Sioux Band." The Betty Boop cartoon series officially ended with one more 1939 entry, Yip Yip Yippy, which was actually a Boop-less one shot cartoon.

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