Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The most innapropriate christmas cartoons evah (Part 1)

Last week, the hub and I were wrapping Christmas presents and trying to find something to watch on Instant Netflix. We're going through Breaking Bad withdrawal and so we were thumbing through the Netflix menu, tweaking like a couple of crackheads, trying to find anything that would take our minds off the mind-blowing season 3 finale we had just witnessed. Trying to get our minds off of meth and into the spirit of the Holiday, we found some old Christmas cartoons from the 1930s -- the very compilation my brothers and I used to watch when we were kids. What a treat! I thought. What a fun memory! When June is older, we can watch these Christmas classics together. What a great new family tradition. Pleased with myself, I pressed play.

What I then witnessed were some of the most offensive and tasteless cartoons in the history of cinema. And I'm gonna break it down for y'all. 

Let's start with this treasure:



You know it's going to be good when it opens on an orphanage.

The basic premise is this - there's a bunch of little kids (girls, I think, but it's kind of ambiguous) in a dilapidated orphanage and they wake up on Christmas morning. Overjoyed at the promise of presents, the gender-bending orphans leap out of bed and dance around the room, singing jubilantly about Santa Claus. How sweet!

The first disturbing thing about this video is that there is no parental presence at all. Obviously they're orphans, but there's no headmaster or any kind of authority figure whatsoever. The place is clearly run by children, who are just dancing around and tearing their stockings off the walls, and you get a definite Lord of the Flies vibe. There's also a baby running around and tripping over her distressingly long nightgown. One of the kids is probably nursing this baby, for all we know. So the kids grab their stockings and unwrap their presents, and while this is happening you have this ominous feeling that something terrible is about to occur. And it does.

CHILDHOOD. RUINED. 
One by one, each child's sole Christmas gift breaks, falls apart, or is otherwise damaged beyond repair. There is a full thirty-second montage of orphans enjoying their presents and then sobbing miserably when they are destroyed by their own enthusiasm. In the most heartbreaking scene you'll ever see in your life, (fast forward to 2:13 if you want your spirit to be forever wounded) one of the orphans hugs her teddy bear so hard the stuffing falls out and her toy is reduced to a formless lump of skin. She kills her toy. SHE KILLS IT WITH HER LOVE.

As if that weren't bad enough, the director of this piece thought it would be a good idea to pan around the room and show all of the orphans wailing in tandem, clutching their broken presents, their battered Christmas tree drooped over in the background. I can't find a screencap of the image, but it's reminiscent of the scene in Gone with the Wind where the Union invades Atlanta and Scarlett is trying to find Doctor Meade amidst the devastation. The director zooms out and, at once, the fall of the South is apparent.

Merry Christmas, kids! 
I'm not sure what to take away from this initially -- that Santa is a giant, orphan-hating dick? That he purposefully gave them the shittiest presents ever? Or maybe Santa just skips over orphans on Christmas, as punishment for being poor.
Try not to be so poor next year, kid. 
So far, Christmas is a disaster and Santa hates orphans. How can this cartoon possibly redeem itself?

Enter Grampy.



Grampy is an inventor and a professor, as evidenced by the sign on the side of his stagecoach. I'm pretty sure Grampy is a "professor" in the same way that Dr. Mary from Frasier had a doctorate from the School of Hard Knocks. Grampy rides around town in a stagecoach and sings about Christmas, as professors do, and during his ride he overhears the cacophony of wailing orphans. What the eff? thinks Grampy, and he pulls over at the Oprhanage to have a look. He peeks in and sees the kids -- still wailing, except now they are trudging slowly back to bed and pulling the covers over their heads to cry separately. Seriously.

Grampy might be a lunatic, but he's not heartless. He sees the crying orphans and he just can't abide. So he puts on his thinking cap and has a fantastic idea...an idea that involves a B&E.


Hide yo kids, hide yo wife
Most people would knock and enter someone's home through the front door. Not Grampy! Grampy breaks right the fuck in, laughing maniacally the entire time. And it's not creepy at all, because he's whimsical. Again -- where are the parents? Oh right, they're orphans.

Anyway, Grampy breaks in and proceeds to upturn every shelf in the kitchen. He empties all the cupboards and drawers and puts all the silverware and plates and kitchen appliances in the center of the room in a big Hoarders-style pile. Grampy is completely oblivious to the fact that if the children were to walk in the kitchen and find a hysterically-laughing stranger in there, they would probably be rightfully upset. Thankfully, the kids are all crying too hard to even notice Grampy at all.

So Grampy continues to wreck the kitchen and the children are still crying in their beds. Then, systematically, he breaks every single one of their posessions and remakes it into a toy. While it's oddly sweet that Grampy takes the time to make them presents, and as a viewer you're starting to feel relieved that the kids will get some Christmas toys they've so wrongfully been deprived of, I'd like to remind you that these kids are poor as shit. And some psycho just broke in their house and destroyed all the things they need for their livelihood - like their washing board. And their dishes. And their sewing machine. And their clothes.

The hell is that? 
As the pièce de résistance in his spectacular Christmas felony, Grampy impersonates Santa Claus. You know, the man who couldn't be bothered to leave them nice presents to begin with. In a fit of emotion, Grampy even rips off part of their ceiling to make himself boots and forces his hand through a thick blanket to fashion himself a coat. (Orphans don't need blankets, right?) With this gesture, his fraud is complete. Santa's back, kids. And now you have no silverware.  

Blanket, you say? NOT ANYMORE! Santa needs a coat!
Ultimately, the children stumble out of bed, see their new presents, and go absolutely apeshit. They ride around on their new toys and then dance ritualistically around their new makeshift Christmas tree, and the cartoon ends on a joyous note. I bet it'll be totally awkward the next day when they realize that Santa not only is the neighborhood lunatic, but he broke in their house and destroyed everything they own, but that's neither here nor there. For now, Christmas has been saved. The spirit of Santa will live on. Or should I say, the spirit of Grampy.



OR SATAN. 

Creepiest. Christmas. Ever.

7 comments:

  1. This. Thanks for helping me find my long lost favorite. As for it being "The Most Inappropriate"

    B&E... why does that sound like Santa?
    Destroying their kitchen... its a cartoon. They can do the impossible.

    Its a classic film. It starts with devastating drama and ends happily.

    But you're entitled to your opinion. So am I.


    Sue me if you don't like feedback.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'll get no lawsuit from me. :)

      I saw this cartoon as a kid. I did love this cartoon, but I seriously had to look past some of the production flaws that made this creepy to some (which I admit I've had too as has my family). I find myself loving the cartoon (and the underlying message) yet laughing at some of the glaringly absurd, overdone/sappy elements that made this creepy to quite a few. But that's just me. I believe the Fleisher brothers meant very well with this cartoon and I agree.

      I'm actually scouring the blogs on this for a report I'm doing on the biggest questions I've read for this cartoon: 1)"Where were the caretakers?" and 2)"Why were the stocking toys junk?"

      I've watched this cartoon many times for clues. If you watch closely, you'll see a picture just outside the orphans' bedroom of a grouchy old guy and I think the words below it say "Our Headmaster" or "Caretaker". Just before Grampy surprises the orphans, I see the picture up on the wall behind Grampy, but it now has Santa in there.

      I watched other parts of the cartoon and finally realize what happened. Most orphanages get Christmas gifts for the kids through donations, and the caretakers sort out the best ones and get rid of the bad ones. I believe that the Headmaster guy and his other workers (e.g. a woman, given that Grampy's Santa Hat was made from a lady's purse) worked there simply for the job and didn't care much for the orphans beyond just providing food, shelter, and clothing (and barely the latter because all the orphans wore was a single undersized girls' nightgown regardless of their gender). From the clues, I believe the caregivers turned around and sold the expensive toy gifts and left out the worst ones that wouldn't survive a sales inspection. After stuffing those self-destructive toys in the orphan's ratty stockings, they all made off with the money and abandoned the children overnight. So not only did the orphans receive broken toys, they were outright abandoned (no breakfast, no fire in the fireplace/stove, and no comfort)! Of course Grampy brightens the orphan's day with new toys, but does even more than that, given that he shows up be the temporary babysitter.

      Yes, I think the orphans are weird/creepy, have ugly Dutchboy hair, have overdeveloped cutesy helium-squeak voices, are gender-ambiguous, wear undersized girly nightgowns with no pants, and all prance around like little girls (even the boys) but I believe it's probably the caretakers fault for this too. I'd like to think (if they ever made an animated epilogue to this) that Grampy got a key to the city for blessing (and even saving) the orphans and the Grampy-and-Orphan story in the press drew in many adoptive parents for the orphans. Perhaps being in real families would drive out any weirdness that the rest of us viewers are aware of.

      Delete
  2. thank you, thank you, thank you. loved that description. my kids just watched this and I read along to myself while it was unfolding. best. description. ever.

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  3. Creepy. As. Fuck.
    I hated that one as a kid! Gives me the willies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Grampy's Questions:

      Grampy: What's the matter in there I wonder???

      Answer: There's a group of creepy, abandoned orphans (even by their caregivers) that have weird, helium-squeaky voices, wear pantless/super-undersized girly nightgowns regardless if they're a girl or boy, and you can't tell what gender they are especially with those ugly Dutchboy haircuts that could make a parasite in a sewer rat's gut barf, and they're sissified cootie-infested girly dancing in those undersized nighties . THAT'S WHAT'S WRONG, GRAMPY!!! Little wonder why they remained unadopted and their caregivers were creeped out enough to abandon them!

      Grampy: Looks like a pretty gloomy Christmas for those poor kids! What can i do?

      Answer: Get them a haircut (for the love of Heaven!). Then get them a pair of pants and some shoes and socks and burn those pauperish nightgowns (PLEASE!!!). Take them to the doctor to get a proper gender determination (although in this case it will take the full combined might of the Mayo Clinic and St. Jude's Pediatric departments to figure it out). Give them all voice-box surgery to repair their sappy squeaky-voices that could shatter a Navy destroyer's side. Give the boy orphans (when the docs figure it out) some testosterone shots to cure the girly weirdness from them. Finally, get them some good role models to come alongside them and help the girls act like girls and the boys like boys (and a HECK of a lot of the latter . . . I mean those boys with the toy gun and football doing that sissy crying thing? They're among the greatest bully-bait on earth and I'd almost not blame the bullies too).

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  4. I did love this cartoon, but I seriously had to look past some of the flaws that made this creepy to some (which I admit I've had too as has my family). I find myself loving the cartoon yet laughing at some of the glaringly absurd, overdone/sappy elements that made this creepy to quite a few.

    The biggest questions I've read on this cartoon is "Where were the caretakers?" and "Why were the stocking toys junk?"

    I've watched this cartoon many times for clues. If you watch closely, you'll see a picture just outside the orphans' bedroom of a grouchy old guy and I think the words below it say "Our Headmaster" or "Caretaker". Just before Grampy surprises the orphans, I see the picture up on the wall behind Grampy, but it now has Santa in there.

    I watched other parts of the cartoon and finally realize what happened. Most orphanages get Christmas gifts for the kids through donations, and the caretakers sort out the best ones and get rid of the bad ones. I believe that the Headmaster guy and his other workers (e.g. a woman, given that Grampy's Santa Hat was made from a lady's purse) worked there simply for the job and didn't care much for the orphans beyond just providing food, shelter, and clothing (and barely the latter because all the orphans wore was a single undersized girls' nightgown regardless of their gender). From the clues, I believe the caregivers turned around and sold the expensive toy gifts and left out the worst ones that wouldn't survive a sales inspection. After stuffing those self-destructive toys in the orphan's ratty stockings, they all made off with the money and abandoned the children overnight. So not only did the orphans receive broken toys, they were outright abandoned (no breakfast, no fire in the fireplace/stove, and no comfort)! Of course Grampy brightens the orphan's day with new toys, but does even more than that, given that he shows up be the temporary babysitter.

    Yes, I think the orphans are weird/creepy, have ugly Dutchboy hair, have overdeveloped cutesy helium-squeak voices, are gender-ambiguous, and wear undersized girly nightgowns with no pants , but I believe it's probably the caretakers fault for this too. I'd like to think (if they ever made an animated epilogue to this) that Grampy got a key to the city for blessing (and even saving) the orphans and the story in the press drew in many potential adoptive parents for the orphans. Maybe being in real families would drive out any weirdness that the rest of us viewers are aware of.

    ReplyDelete
  5. At first I was creeped out by the orphans when I saw this cartoon when I was a kid (but not now . . . I get the underlying heart of this cartoon). At the time however, besides being creeped out by the orphans appearance, mannerisms, and not knowing if they were girls or boys (as they acted and sounded like both), I've had nightmares about Grampy's toys' critical flaws coming out too: 1) The clock-powered bird toy's fork feet tears the eyeballs from the kids’ heads. 2) That spoon-propeller plane of Grampy's strikes a glass window, launching jagged glass on the floor as the kids are prancing around squealing that annoying, high-pitched “SANTEEE CLAUS!!!” in their bare feet, slashing them to ribbons and needing a desperate ER life-flight. 3) The vacuum-cleaner chair ride wraps it's ceiling-mount electric cord around the kid riding, strangling or hanging them. 4) Due to Grampy spitting nails instead of hammering them, that fat orphan squealing “GETTEE UP HORSEEEY!!!” on the shoe-headed rocking horse gets thrown on his/her neck and breaks it when the tread falls off. 5) The orphan playing with the electric coffee-pot train gets sprayed by boiling hot coffee, falls screaming with 3rd degree burns on the 120VAC electric tracks and dies from Sith-lightning style electrocution. 6) On the cotton-covered stairway, soap flakes get blown by the fan into the eyes of those giggling, sled/skiing kids, causing mortal falls/tumbles shattering their limbs and impaling other kids with their ski/sled skids. 7) Finally, that umbrella Christmas tree spinning on the turntable falls, pinning the kids to the floor in tandem with the popcorn string sewing machine getting knocked over and burning the tinder-box orphanage down on the screaming kids. Any surviving kids might be severely disfigured (but on the bright side, they wouldn't look too much worse than the creepy way they looked earlier in the film when they sang and pranced like sissies over to their garbage-can "gift" stockings. And their ugly Dutchboy haircuts would be gone too).

    ReplyDelete