Friday, June 22, 2007

Liberty's Kids

I've been wanting to post about Liberty's Kids for awhile. When DJ was a baby, it was on the local PBS station as part of its morning lineup on the weekdays. I didn't pay much attention to it other than as background noise while I changed diapers and did transcription work, but as DJ got older it became apparent that he was keenly interested in American history, specifically the Civil War. There are few videos or cartoons that discuss this part of our history in a fundamental way for children so I decided instead to purchase a DVD with 3 of the Liberty's Kids episodes. DJ watched them over and over which is a good sign that he found it interesting. We don't watch the DVD too much these days, being supplanted with A Pup Named Scooby Doo and episodes of Scooby Doo/Dynomutt Hour, but DJ likes to watch Liberty's Kids on the pass-through digital station when it comes on Thursday and Friday mornings.

I like Liberty's Kids because they gives ME a fundamental look at American History -- I feel like a dumbass sometimes trying to answer DJ's questions about our nation's history, so Liberty's Kids helps me at the same time. And who can resist the smooth, silky voice of Walter Cronkite breathing life into one of America's greatest patriots, Benjamin Franklin. The "kids" of Liberty's Kids, well, I could definitely leave them but they do provide a bridge to explain the events in a relate-able way to children, so if watching an ep has DJ running around the house screaming "give me liberty or give me death!" it's had some positive effect, right? Um, right?

Here's a link to the lyrics from Liberty's Kids from Blackcatter's World of TV Theme Song Lyrics. Not really sure why I'm posting that except because I swiped the pic from them and to point out that they neglected to point out that the song, "Through My Own Eyes," was performed by Aaron Carter (who?) AND Kayla Hinkle as referenced in the Wikipedia entry about Liberty's Kids.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Ultra-Nationalist Patriotism, Cartoon Style

My son has been obsessed with this WWII-era Warner Bros. short, "Scrap Happy Daffy." I had never seen any of these Looney-Tunes cartoons, produced as a strange, ultra-nationalistic propaganda for the US as we entered WWII. This one, featuring Daffy Duck, is not only strange but oddly jingoistic even for a cartoon -- especially one by a beloved animation studio like Warner Bros.
The thing that freaks me out the most is that the boy doesn't want to just watch the whole thing in its entirety 50 times an hour, it's that he only wants to watch one scene over and over -- the old man finally had to go off and do something and taught DJ how to rewind the DVD himself. It's the scene in which Daffy is almost defeated by the Nazi-sympathizing billy goat and he is given a "pep" talk by his American foreducks that "Americans don't give up," and "America is in to win." Daffy then summons the strength to fight and defeat the Axis!
What I found most interesting was that right before the visitation by, among other poultry, a Lincoln-esque Daffy, Daffy says "What I would give for a can of spinach now." The first time I heard that I thought, "is he referencing Popeye?" And that was even more bizarre than Daffy being this ultra patriot.