2010 February 16

     Here's an American lesson in a four-part cartoon show from 1966, a cartoon called Underdog (voiced by Wally Cox).

     From Wikipedia, “The Cloud Men are a race of ghost-like creatures. They live on the Planet Cumulus and are led by King Cumulus Regulus (voiced by Allen Swift). When people ‘interfere with them,’ in other words, when people attack them, they lightning jolt them. They steal all the silver on Earth, including Underdog's ring, because all clouds need a silver lining. When Underdog and Sweet Polly head for a conveyor belt, Underdog finds his ring and takes the Underdog energy vitamin pill. Underdog defeats the Cloudmen, and in the end, the Cloud men trade gold for silver with the Earth.”

     In 2010, the happy ending is that the business people in Avatar not only learn a painful lesson and get completely shut out of any gain. (They're the ones who paid for the very-expensive mission that made human contact possible with the beautiful and caring Na'vi people. Don't they deserve something for their effort?) “Avatar” was a really terrific movie, I liked it a whole lot, I wrote a positive review, but wouldn't it would have been so much more uplifting if the ending reflected the values that made America so strong in 1966? After the idiot military goons get the boot good and hard, I'm thinking the scientists find a way the company and the Na'vi can both get something they want living together on Pandora. (It also means there is more human-Na'vi interaction to make sequels from.)

     The message in 1966 was very different. Even bad guys can become good trade partners and everybody can win. That's what America in 1966 thought was a happy ending, at least in my childhood-television version of it. When the evil cloud men plead all they have is a bunch of useless gold lying around and they have to have silver for their silver linings, Sweet Polly Purebread says, “Instead of stealing it, why don't you trade gold for it?” Good for her, she was right, she makes me proud to be an American!

     I found the entire four-episode cartoon drama on YouTube:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

     While this is just a single, anecdotal example of two stories, I believe this difference is representative of two eras in my country. If you wonder why America lived so much better in 1966 than it does in 2010, then take a lesson from the lessons being taught in our entertainment media in 1966 and in 2010.



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