THE POPEYE BLOGATHON – Da Big Finish

We were awaiting only one final entrant in our blogathon, and they’ve already come through! Therefore, we proudly present

FINAL

Our final ‘thon entrant is Talk About Cinemawho discusses four holiday-themed Popeye cartoons from movies and TV.

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Click here to read all of the blogathon entries that were submitted on Day One. And that concludes our Popeye blogathon! Thanks to our loyal readers and, of course, the bloggers who took the time to participate. Now go watch some great Fleischer Bros. Popeye cartoons!

 

 

 

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Last man talking

FINAL

If you don’t usually read or have never read Vox.com, the in-depth news website, you should — today in particular.

Two stories from the current edition of Vox.com practically jumped out at me. One was about the Tim Allen sitcom “Last Man Standing,” which has returned on the Fox Network after having been canceled by ABC. The story details how the show has transformed from a mild retread of Allen’s previous sitcom hit, “Home Improvement,” into an “All in the Family” for conservatives, wherein Mike Baxter (Allen’s character) is a stand-in for all men (Read: all privileged white men) who feel marginalized by our ever-evolving society.

The second eye-opening article is about the U.S.’ current political football: Will Brett Kavanaugh win sufficient House and Senate votes to become a Supreme Court justice? The article includes a significant quote from one of Kavanaugh’s most vocal supporters, Sen. Lindsey Graham:

“I’m a single white male from South Carolina, and I’m told I should just shut up, but I will not shut up.”

Vox.com declares:

“Graham is elevating the stakes of the Kavanaugh hearing. No longer is this about Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford…[I]t is about showing that white men in power are not going anywhere — that they will not listen, will not budge, and will not give ground to #MeToo or the Black Lives Matter movement…This was always the subtext of the Republican approach to the sexual assault allegations. But now Graham has officially made it the text: Voting ‘yes’ on Kavanaugh is the battle cry of the reactionary man.”

Which leads me to the question that has been rolling around in my mind ever since Donald Trump began to be taken seriously as a Presidential candidate:

What in God’s name are these guys so threatened about?

Let’s talk about the milder case first. Tim Allen has worked with the “Last Man Standing” showrunners to make a case for how the concerns of conservative males are being brushed off. The thing is, when “All in the Family” did this sort of thing, the show made it perfectly clear that Archie Bunker’s bigoted, far-right views were meant to be laughed at.

But Allen wants us to take these concerns at face value, even when the show’s very premise belies him. Mike Baxter is the well-off senior employee at a sporting goods store, and his life’s biggest challenge is having to listen to his wife and daughters point out how silly some of his philosophies are. Black American males who live in fear of getting pulled over and/or killed by cops merely because of their skin color would consider Mike Baxter’s problems a walk in the park.

As for Sen. Graham, he is a stand-in for all of the rich white politicians who simply can’t stand it that women are daring to vocalize their anger about men who sexually and non-consensually thrust themselves upon women. When did anyone decide that women should have a say in their own lives, anyway?

Again I ask, what are these conservative males so threatened about? They have the ultra-ultra-conservative President they voted for; they have a Republican majority in both the House and the Senate; and I boldly (and sadly) predict that they will get Kavanaugh into the Supreme Court.

What more do these guys want? What more do these guys need?

My answer to this question is pretty basic. I knew plenty of guys like this in high school — the macho boys who felt it was their right to bully other males who didn’t have their muscles, good looks, or money and who had to have the girls they wanted, whether the girls wanted them or not. Many of these guys never lost their sense of entitlement. For some of them, that sense followed them right into their political careers.

As an adult, I’m as tired of these kinds of guys in politics as I was in high school. They don’t realize they’d probably be more popular if they would only do what they can’t bring themselves to do: Shut up and let some other people have the floor for a while — maybe even some people who have to struggle just to survive every day. Maybe they might learn something from those other people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE POPEYE BLOGATHON – Day 1 Recap

Popeye the Sailor must have really struck a chord with our bloggers. In just the first day of our blogathon, we received ‘thon entries from all but one of our entrants! So we’re flipping our lids as we present

Banner

Click on the name of each blog title below to read their blogathon entry.

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Caftan Woman starts us off with one of the great Technicolor shorts from Max and Dave Fleischer, Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor.

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Popeye goes 1980’s, as It Came from the Man Cave! reviews an episode of Hanna-Barbera’s Saturday morning TV series “Popeye and Son.”

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Popeye goes CGI in MovieRob‘s review of the 2004 television special “Popeye’s Voyage: The Quest for Pappy.”

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Quiggy at The Midnite Drive-In makes his case for Robert Altman’s not-so-critically-acclaimed Popeye movie starring Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall.

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And finally, yours truly provides a Popeye double feature: A tongue-in-cheek psychological analysis of Popeye and his pals, and a review of the 1935 Popeye cartoon For Better or Worser.

Enjoy all of the great entries listed above, and keep us bookmarked — we still have one blogathon entry to go!

 

 

#MyLifeReboot

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It seems to me that these TV reboots aren’t playing entirely fair with us. “Hey, let’s bring back beloved shows, but first, we take out the parts that killed their ratings!” Thus — Dan Connor is back from the dead! Miles Silverberg and Corky Sherwood never married or divorced!

If you could rewind your life and start it over, what embarrassing subplots would you take out? Me, I’d write out some of my more embarrassing relatives.

#MyLifeReboot

THE POPEYE BLOGATHON is here!

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Ahoy, maties! We’re paying tribute to 85 years of animated Popeye (he made his movie debut in 1933, having becoming a hit in E.C. Segar’s Thimble Theatre comic strip four years before). So bookmark us for the next three days, as bloggers rave about their favorite Popeye moments from movies and TV.

If you are participating in the ‘thon, please leave your blog’s name and the URL of your ‘thon entry in the “Comments” section below, and we will link to it ASAP. Blogathon readers, the list below will be updated regularly, and I will post daily blogathon summaries at the end of each day. So keep checking back for more great ‘thon entries about the one-eyed sailor!

Here’s the line-up:

Movie Movie Blog Blog – the 1935 theatrical cartoon For Better or Worser, and a “psychological examination” of Popeye, Olive Oyl, Wimpy, and Bluto

Caftan Woman – the 1936 theatrical cartoon Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor

Movierob – Fox TV’s 2004 CGI special “Popeye’s Voyage: The Quest for Pappy”

The Midnite Drive-In – Robert Altman’s Popeye movie

Talk About Cinema – Seasin’s Greetinks! (1933), Let’s Celebrake (1938), Mister and Mistletoe (1955), and Spinach Greetings (Popeye TV cartoon)

It Came from the Man Cave! – “There Goes the Neighborhood,” Episode 12 of Hanna-Barbera’s “Popeye and Son” (1987)

 

Popeye’s pop psykolojiky

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The following is my second of two entries in The Popeye Blogathon, being hosted at this blog from Sept. 28-30, 2018. Click on the above banner, and read bloggers’ tributes to the fictional one-eyed sailor!

ABOVE: Bluto as Sigmund Freud??

Sometimes, a character’s psychological quirks are so conspicuous that you can’t help commenting on them, pretentious as it might sound.

After multiple viewings of Popeye cartoons, I’d have to say that the psyches of Popeye & Co. are ripe for picking as well. And so…the doctor is in.

Popeye

Popeye puts on a very elaborate facade to disguise a very damaged psyche. It is assumed that he got his nickname (and his condition) from a very violent brawl. Nevertheless, to have such a moniker as your only given name — he is never referred to in any other way, in the comic strips or the movies — is to have a major loss of identification and individuality.

Further, other than his belligerent father — who, at first, does not even want to be rescued from imprisonment on an island, much less reunited with his son — we know almost nothing about Popeye’s formative years. What of his mother? Was Popeye perhaps born illegitimately, and is that why he looks upon single mother Olive Oyl’s upbringing of baby Swee’Pea with nary a shrug? This man appears to have psychological scars he finds far too painful to be re-opened.

Popeye compensates for his multiple pains in the same way many men do — with his over-abundant machismo. He has built up his upper torso to the point that his muscles look abnormal. He also deludes himself into thinking that downing cans of raw spinach at pivotal moments make him stronger-than-average. While spinach does have well-known nutritional value, there is no evidence that instantly absorbing such spinach will provide abnormal musculature in just a matter of seconds. Therefore, we can conclude only that spinach serves as a placebo for Popeye — a way for him to swallow his internal pain when circumstances become too much for him.

Olive Oyl

Though this is never specifically stated in the cartoons, one surmises that Olive Oyl gave her heart to a man who was the love of her life, only to be deserted by him and left with his baby (Swee’Pea). It was after this heartbreak that Olive decided she would never again leave herself so vulnerable to one man’s machinations. Thus, she has two rivals for her affections (Popeye and Bluto), and she constantly wavers between the two of them in a classic example of passive-aggressiveness.

She also has difficulty maintaining a home and a job. In the early cartoons, she is seen living in a large (if not lavish) house, but later she is reduced to residing in a shabby apartment. In each cartoon that shows Olive at work, she is always at a job different from the previous ones (child caretaker, stenographer, scriptwriter, etc.). This, too, indicates the instability into which she was thrown when her erstwhile lover left her.

Lastly, even the only two men with whom she will associate often physically abuse her — each one pulling her by a separate arm, sometimes knocking her unconscious, getting her head used as a door knocker when Popeye calls on her, etc. Olive’s sweetness and outward cheer belie a case of extremely low self-esteem.

Bluto

Simply and obviously, Bluto is the classic bully. He feels he can get what he wants only through loudness and brusqueness, and he has accomplished so little in life that he derives satisfaction only from tearing down other’s achievements.

Bluto is especially annoyed by Popeye, the one person in the world who stands up to him. Nearly all of Bluto’s encounters with Popeye end in a violent fight, usually lost by Bluto once Popeye downs his spinach. One would think that Bluto would eventually admit defeat and deal with his sense of rage, but he continues to fight Popeye every chance he gets.

This battle — both between Bluto and Popeye, and Bluto and himself — has gone on for so long that, as with Wile E. Coyote and his single-minded pursuit of the Road Runner — it is the fight itself that has become Bluto’s reason to live. In the few instances where Bluto and Popeye try to remain civil, the old pattern emerges and they come to blows all over again.

Most troubling of all is Bluto’s documented abuse of animals — horses, parrots, monkeys, etc. — which is a blatant symptom of psychotic behavior. In a way, it’s almost a relief that Bluto has Popeye to beat up, so that he doesn’t inflict his hostilities on others around him (though Olive receives her share of Bluto’s abuse too, as noted above).

Sadly, Bluto’s rage and lack of self-reflection briefly resulted in his having a split personality, his other persona going by the name of Brutus. Fortunately, this lasted for only a brief period in the 1960’s.

J. Wellington Wimpy

Other than Olive Oyl, Wimpy is the only one of the quartet who is addressed with both a first and last name. However, this might be Wimpy’s only manifestation of psychological completeness.

Like Olive, whenever we see Wimpy working — and we often do not –- he is at a different job every time, and always in a position subordinate to the other three; inevitably, he works as some kind of servant (policeman, emcee at Popeye and Olive’s floor show, etc.).

Of the four, Wimpy’s sublimations are the most obvious; he uses food to cover up his sense of inferiority. Even though it is clearly harmful to his physique, Wimpy downs countless hamburgers every chance he gets, indulging in “comfort food” long before the term came into use. Further, food is the one path by which Wimpy can achieve superiority over the trio, as he frequently fools one or more of them into believing that he really will pay on some unspecified Tuesday for a hamburger today.

Again, food is the most obvious form of psychological denial. Even so, every time we see him, Wimpy either has a hamburger in hand or is preparing to obtain one. By any standards, Wimpy uses food as an emotional substitute to an abnormal degree.

(If you enjoyed this blogathon entry, click here to read my first entry, about the 1935 theatrical Popeye cartoon For Better or Worser. And click here to listen to my Fleischer Bros.-Popeye podcast!)

FOR BETTER OR WORSER (1935) – Joining in holy headlock

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The following is my first of two entries in The Popeye Blogathon, being hosted at this blog from Sept. 28-30, 2018. Click on the above banner, and read bloggers’ tributes to the fictional one-eyed sailor!

(WARNING: Major spoilers abound!)

For Better or Worser is so eye-popping (so to speak) on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin.

The basic premise is simplicity: Popeye is an unhappy bachelor who decides to marry Olive Oyl (who else?), but Bluto almost beats him to it. But the final elaboration of this premise is anything but simple.

Popeye

First off is this cartoon’s idea of marriage as something to be done as quickly, and with as little thought, as picking up a couple of groceries on the way home. Popeye starts the cartoon in a grungy bachelor pad, burning every food he tries to cook. Hastily, he decides, “I gotta get me a wife!” So apparently, if he hadn’t burned his dinner, matrimony wouldn’t have even crossed his mind.

Brothel

Then there’s the matrimonial agency where Popeye goes to obtain his spouse. The agency’s desk clerk blithely tells him, “Take ya pick!” and points to a wall filled with framed pictures of potential brides. The cartoon does everything but come right out and say, “Popeye has just entered a brothel.” As cartoon historian Greg Ford screams on the DVD commentary soundtrack to this cartoon, “It’s all up there on the screen — it’s not the subtext, it’s the text!” (I highly recommend your listening to Ford’s commentary, which is nearly as funny as the cartoon he’s critiquing.)

Olive

Popeye sizes up the women’s images and picks Olive Oyl, who responds by adding a ton of make-up to a face that, as plain as it was to start with, would be far better off without it. But Bluto is another customer in the brothel, er, agency, and he also chooses Olive’s photo. Naturally he and Popeye butt heads (literally) over Olive, each man trying to drag Olive away from the other.

Street

The back-and-forth chase scene is a feast for the eyes, not the least because the trio are running against a 3D-looking background. Max and Dave Fleischer went to the trouble of making an actual, rotating model against which their drawings were placed, making the cartoony Popeye and his peers look as though they’re making their way through the “real” world. Every time I watch this scene, I think of how, as a kid, my sister and I would derisively point out the same stupid backgrounds popping up over and over in Hanna-Barbera cartoons. This is just one more example of how the Fleischers never cut corners with these remarkable shorts.

Justice

Bluto and Olive make it to the office of the justice of the peace (Wimpy, who barely looks up from his hamburger to officiate in the marriage), and Bluto bleats, “We wanna get married in a hurry!” When you stop to think that, in ’30s movies, quickie marriages = “I wanna get laid!”, you realize there’s more subtext, text, and hyper-text in this cartoon than one should be asked to digest.

End

Of course, Popeye gets to the office in time to belt Bluto and claim Olive for himself. But when he gets a look at Olive’s transmogrified kisser, he almost pops out his other eye before declaring, “I do not [take this bride]!” and hightailing it back to his bachelor pad — because after all, a wizened, one-eyed sailor must have standards.

I’d love to know what any women think of this cartoon, because it obviously does them no favors; in terms of its regarding women as sides of meat to be haggled over by near-Neanderthals, it’s probably as offensive to women as some other Popeye cartoons are to minorities. The cartoon’s saving grace is in showing that these matrimonial “rules” were concocted by men who show that they’re not exactly prize packages themselves.

Stars

Though the Fleischers probably didn’t intend it as such, For Better or Worser is a nifty deconstruction of man’s most basic instincts. Plus, it’s an absolute hoot.

On a rating scale of 1 to 4 spinach cans, I give this cartoon: CanCanCanCan

(If you enjoyed this blogathon entry, click here to read my second entry, a “psychological examination” of Popeye & Co. And click here to listen to my Fleischer Bros.-Popeye podcast!