Friday, June 25, 2010

June 25

If you've read the entries earlier this week, you might have noticed the pattern: everyone I wrote about was a birthday girl. I was wondering if I hadn't featured enough females in the blog (considering the planet's about 50/50 gender-wise, why wouldn't a random sampling of undercelebrated celebrities be the same? Discuss...) so I intentionally searched for females to write about. I made it to 6 in a row; why did I stop?
Because I can't let by the birthday of Peyo, Belgian cartoonist and the father of the Smurfs. Smurfs were a major toy phenomenon in the decade of major toy phenomenons, the 80's. But before that, they were a spin-off from a comic strip that Peyo created after World War II, called Johan et Pirlouit (in the 80's cartoon, that's Johan and Peewee[or Peewit?]) About ten years into Johan's comic strip adventures, he meets the Smurfs. They were immediately popular, and received their own newspaper strip. The plastic figurines also started in the 50's, and hasn't stopped production since.

The most fascinating aspect about the Smurfs, to me, is how one of the most popular children's shows in the Reagan administration could look so... communist. I mean, what are Smurfs? A bunch of little blue men barely distinguishable from each other, most of them named by their role in the community(Brainy, Jokey, Hefty, Handy, etc.) Replace "smurf" with "comrade", and see how well it fits.
Also consider: Papa Smurf, the leader dressed in Red, with the Karl Marx beard and the French revolution hat.
Also consider: Gargamel, the wanna-be wizard that keeps trying to capture Smurfs so he can melt them into gold. In the Smurf world, he's a greedy giant, a Capitalist. Think that's a stretch? The producers actually changed his motivation in the last two seasons: apparently, it was more acceptable for the kids to think that he wanted to eat them! There's even umblings that Gargamel's design is consistent with anti-Semetic caricatures(bald, big nose, greedy), which would make the Smurfs Stalinists, I guess...
Anyway, they're about to experience a resurgence; they're a tentpole movie for the 2011 summer season, and that song will be in my head for another decade. But then, I can always turn to that Unicef ad they did a few years ago, to bring attention to the inscription of children in partisan fighting throughout several African nations.

I'm sorry; I can't end this article on such a low; here's a full episode of the Smurfs, which you can find at


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