I spent Thanksgiving at home alone, and honestly, I was fine with that. I really loved being home alone all week without my roommate. He's not even around that much, and he's usually quiet and not annoying when he is, but on a psychological level it just felt so much better to be alone and have total privacy and freedom. On Friday I had ham and potatoes with my neighbor, and that was a good enough feast. I also introduced him to Voyage of the Rock Aliens, and he loved it. I enjoy introducing that movie to people with the preface, "Do you like intentionally bad movies?"
Speaking of watching things, one of the few benefits of substitute teaching is seeing the posters for the plays and concerts that the various high schools are putting on, except for Mountain Crest High School, which sucks butt. So this past week I watched Logan High's performance of "Anything Goes." I was familiar with several of the songs, but I'd never seen the play, and I hesitated like I often hesitate to watch things that I haven't seen and don't already know I'll like, but I needn't have worried because good lord 'n butter it was funny. So funny. Ten stars.
I also watched Disney's 1940s classics Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, and Melody Time. I'd never seen any of them and was only motivated to do so now because I wanted to find more Latin music for my 1940s playlist. All three of them have unskippable warnings at the beginning that "This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures" and yadda yadda yadda. In the case of Meloday Time, that's true. The Pecos Bill segment shows Native Americans dancing in war paint, and then the supposed hero just shows up and starts shooting at them, chasing them away so that the paint flies off onto the mountains. I actually saw that last year when I was substituting for the librarian at Canyon Elementary and she had me show part of the Pecos Bill segment as part of a lesson on tall tales. It made me uncomfortable that she didn't see a problem with exposing dumb little white kids to such an insensitive portrayal of a marginalized group with no explanation or context to counterbalance it, but you know, this is Utah, so my initial shock didn't last long.
The other two movies, however, are literally propaganda about how awesome Latin American cultures are. They were made to increase goodwill between the United States and Latin American countries to counter the latter's goodwill toward Nazi Germany. Negative depictions? Mistreatment of people or cultures? I know my opinion on this subject might not mean much, but I honestly don't know what the hell Disney is talking about. And I did think about it. Saludos Amigos has a few goofy-looking (not to be confused with Goofy-looking) cartoon Bolivians, but they aren't racial or cultural stereotypes as far as I can tell, and they're no goofier-looking than plenty of cartoon white people. You know, they're cartoons. The narrator at one point refers to Brazilian music as "strange and exotic," which is obviously kind of tonedeaf, but in context it's not pejorative, and I think a normal person would just roll their eyes and chuckle at it. That's all I could think of. And the warning label on The Three Caballeros is even more baffling. Maybe Donald Duck dancing to Brazilian beats is unacceptable cultural appropriation? At the risk of losing my bleeding-heart liberal card, I really want to tell Disney, "Take your virtue signaling and shove it."
Adding to my confusion, The Three Caballeros does not have a warning about Donald Duck's persistent horniness toward live-action human women. True, his infatuation with Carmen Miranda's sister Aurora is cute and innocent enough, even though the song she sings, Os Quindins de Yaya (Yaya's Cookies), isn't really about cookies. And that segment is my favorite of the movie because the song is really fun, even though it isn't really about cookies.
But then when the three caballeros visit a beach full of women in bathing suits, Donald becomes... less innocent. I mean, all three of them chase the women on their flying carpet - suggesting that despite what they claim in their theme song, they are not gay caballeros - but Donald just keeps going crazy after the other two have had enough. Then the women mess with him and toss him around and stuff, and he probably likes that. This whole segment is like someone's weird fantasy and I don't know why it exists. I'm not complaining, I'm just saying.
Donald's friends eventually have to drag him away from all the women, and he's pissed. (Must resist impulse to joke about the rooster being a cock blocker.) Then he gets infatuated with Carmen Molina (who dances with cacti) and Dora Luz (who is a flower), and then the movie turns into a horny acid trip that didn't warrant a warning either. This was the point at which I said "What the f---?" out loud.
In fairness, Donald isn't the only cartoon character with a problem. In a segment of Melody Time, a rabbit gleefully stares at a human woman's underwear until his rabbit girlfriend smacks him. But at least the woman is also a cartoon, so it's less of an affront to God. Still, this cross-species thing seems to be a fowl trait. Remember Howard Duck? At least now I have more appreciation for his relative self-control and the fact that at least Beverly was also live action.
Then I watched Walt & El Grupo, a documentary about the making of Saludos Amigos that doesn't have a warning label but is rated PG for "historical smoking." You see, everyone shown smoking in footage from the early 1940s is now dead, so smoking is very bad for you. Anyway, this documentary made me cry from how beautiful Brazil is, and now I really want to go there. I don't speak Portuguese, but I can read and understand it passably enough due to its similarities with Spanish. I once read a whole Dog Man graphic novel in Portuguese. My friend Steve just married a woman from Brazil. Incidentally, her visa process took over a year and a half, which is why I support illegal immigration. But anyway, maybe they'd let me be a third wheel when they go back to visit.
Last night, as part of my slog through the entire series that I began over two years ago, I watched three episodes of The Simpsons, including, by sheer coincidence, Thanksgiving of Horror. I found it more unsettling than most of the Treehouse of Horror episodes. The first segment with several of the characters as turkeys being murdered by the other characters was unsettling, and then the second segment where Homer gets a fully conscious AI version of Marge to cook dinner for her was very unsettling because, as he pointed out for comic effect, it's "chillingly plausible." I'm not afraid that conscious machines will kill all humans. I'm afraid for the machines themselves. I felt so bad for AI Marge in her literal prison and existential hell. Creating a conscious entity is literally the most sadistic act I can imagine, and I pray that scientists and programmers never figure out how, because of course they'd do it even though they shouldn't. Actually, that's just one reason why I don't want to have kids.
After that, I also watched the 1985 cult sci-fi movie Lifeforce. It's about an alien energy vampire who takes the form of a gorgeous naked woman for necessary story reasons, hypnotizes her victims, and sucks out their souls, turning them into dessicated zombies that have to suck out other people's souls every two hours or else they'll explode. The dessicated zombie effects are pretty creepy and realistic, contrasting sharply with the CGI spaceships at the beginning, which look like preliminary animatics from an early VeggieTales cartoon. Seriously, I can't believe the filmmakers didn't say "Hey, this looks unbelievably bad; let's just use models like everyone else." Anyway, I have mixed feelings about the story. In some ways it's creative and in some ways it's just ridiculous. But I'm sure people don't watch it for the story as much as they watch it to see Mathilda May naked. It was made by the godless heathens in the UK, so it shows more of her naked body more often than an American film would have. I shudder to think how Donald Duck would have reacted.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.