Not much to rebut this time around, but I shall give it a go!
It’s the same drill as always to start us off. To have a clearer picture of what I’m responding to make sure to go and read Edgar’s review of Fritz The Cat at his site, Between The Seats.
I shall begin an exciting round of agreeing with you by agreeing with your take on non-mainstream animation. The facts are, sadly, that animation has been for years now thought of as kids fare. This is more prevalent in the Western hemisphere, and because of that ninety-nine percent of the animated movies that gain popularity are mainstream. There was a time when experimental animation was able to be in the mainstream, the Looney Tunes works of Robert Clampett or the Betty Boop shorts of Dave Fleischer are great examples. Those days are long gone, and that’s why it’s a big deal when animated films like WALL·E or Rango try for something a bit off the beaten path. For the most part if a company, a writer, or a director tries for something experimental in modern day Western animation it will be relegated to obscurity.
I think in regards to the stereotypical depictions found in Fritz The Cat it is important to take into account the reason for said depictions. You are correct that the film is very blunt, and even arch, in its depictions of races, ethnicities, and groups of people like the police. That did not bother me per se, my issues with the way Ralph Bakshi and company took a stereotypical stance was that it did not jive with the message of the film about the inherent fallacy of defining people by what they look like or what they do. You somewhat touched on this in your following paragraph. I agree with the basic sentiment of what you are saying. At the same time I don’t feel the movie pulls off its cultural statement as deftly as you posited that it did. Fritz The Cat does have something to say, but its message is mired in the stereotypes it defines its characters with.
On your remaining points we are, again, in agreement. Fritz The Cat is an interesting film, an experiment in free flowing ideas in animated form. I’m not sure if it is good, but like you I do not believe the film is concerned with being good or impressing those who take the time to watch it. Mr. Bakshi and the writer, Robert Crumb, had a clear idea of the film they wanted to make and they made such a film. I won’t fault them for that, even if like you I’m not sure if that leaves Fritz The Cat as anything more than an interesting cultural oddity.
Go and read Edgar’s rebuttal at Between The Seats.