Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday morning toons: Special "Cold War revisited" edition.

[Updated: See "Have a nice day, okay then!" below.]

Today is the 46th anniversary of the assassination of JFK. Tomorrow will be the 46th anniversary of the broadcast of "An Unearthly Child," the first episode of "Doctor Who." (It was four episodes long, the story was about cavemen, and it was excruciatingly dull. The second story, happily for the franchise, was the first Dalek story.)

And fifty years ago last Thursday, the world (well, some of us more than others) celebrated the first broadcast episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle.

If you learned about the world from JFK, you learned about citizenship and sacrifice, and the importance of rhythm and structure in public address. If you learned about the world from Doctor Who, you learned that some objects can be larger on the inside than on the outside, and the importance of meddling (the Doctor didn't show up on American television until about a decade later, so whatever Cold War lessons he had to teach were lost in the miasma of d├ętente).

If you learned about the world from Rocky and Bullwinkle here's what you learned:

Economics: The basis of the global economy is the value of cereal boxtops.

Climate change: If the North Pole accumulates too much snow, the earth will tip sideways and the new North Pole will be located somewhere in the Pacific.

Media: If television were to go away, most people could watch clothes spinning at the laundromat without noticing the difference.

American history: The League of Confederate Correctors is dedicated to replacing all reference to "the Civil War" with "the War Between the States."

Geopolitics: The Cold War is based on the battle to control strategic minerals, including Upsidasium.

European history: The nation of Applesauce-Lorraine is protected by the stench-producing Limburger Lilies planted at its borders.

Art: The art world is incapable of distinguishing an Old Master from a white-washed wall in a chicken coop.

Unconventional warfare: Our enemies have access to such unconventional weapons as goof gas, the Kerwood Derby, the Pottsylvania creeper, and Hushaboom, the silent explosive.

Education reform: Fire the English Department faculty; hire more coaches.

And that's just what we learned from Rocky and Bullwinkle--there's also world history and quantum engineering (Peabody's Improbable History), folk literature (Fractured Fairy Tales) and philosophy and ethics (Aesop and Son).

Let's put it bluntly: Anyone who grew up on Rocky and Bullwinkle (and that's not an oxymoron) learned to distrust authority--which means they learned as much about the world as any child in a Texas public school classroom being taught that Adam and Eve rode to church every Sunday on a dinosaur.

Seriously now: Is someone who believes that, say, Mooselvania is the fifty-first state any less informed than someone believes they know foreign policy because they can see Russia from their kitchen window? Is someone who believes that moon men should be deported back to the Moon if they flunk their US Citizenship test any more empty-headed than Lou Dobbs? Is someone who thinks that The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is the jewel-encrusted model ship at the bottom of Veronica Lake any more clueless than someone who believes that Barack Obama is a Kenyan-born Chicagoan from Hawaii who is secretly a Socialist Fascist?

And don't even get me started on the people who bought Sarah Palin's book, the people who think we can "win" in Afghanistan by sending more troops there, the people who think that a revival on Wall Street solves the problem of the unemployed, or the people who think that trying 9-11 planners in New York City makes us weaker rather than stronger.

Actually, there's no need to get me started, since those all got a whumpin' from the artists in Daryl Cagle's toon round-up, so let's start our weekly review there.

p3 Picks of the Week: Mike Luckovich, Daryl Cagle, Pat Bagley, R. J. Matson, Mike Keefe, Larry Wright, Bob Englehart, John Darkow, , and Monte Wolverton,

p3 World Toon Review: Stephane Peray (Thailand), Peresh Nath (India), Petar Pismestrovic (Austria), and Cameron Cardow (Canada).

Ann Telnaes offers a prediction.

Ruben Bolling explains the Tao of the Dow.

In Doonesbury, Zipper Harris learns the high price of a clear conscience.

Have a nice day, okay then! Illustrator Barry Blitt is a p3 favorite, and his NYTimes piece accompanying (topping, really) Frank Rich this morning is priceless.

Portland homeboy Jack Ohman asks, "Hey, Sarah--what's for dinner?

You will be surrounded soon by friends and cranberries. This odd little Daffy Duck story (directed by Arthur Davis in 1951) tells how Daffy saved Thanksgiving . . . for himself. Wacky complications ensue. The "you gotta hide me!" gimmick is recycled from several earlier turkey-themed Merrie Melodies. And in the montage of calendar days as Thanksgiving approaches and Tom the Turkey becomes more and more fit, the Carl Stalling musical score quotes a few bars of "Freddie the Freshman."

p3 Bonus Toon: In the Edward R. Murrow tradition, Jesse Springer uses the arrival of Thanksgiving to point out the unpleasant truth: Oregon ranks second only to Mississippi in the rate of its population that went hungry in the past year.

And remember to bookmark Slate's political cartoon for the day.

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