Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Wickersham Brothers

My son is currently completely obsessed with the Chuck Jones' animated TV version of "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas." "Horton Hear's a Who" has been tacked on as a bonus feature. I had vague memories of this being on TV when I was a kid (yes, I'm THAT old), but I'd completely forgotten about the song the blue gorrillas (the Wickersham Brothers -- and yes, if you don't remember they're in the book, and named) sing.

It's completely political.

Here are some sample lyrics:

We're the Wickersham Brothers.
We're vigilant spotters.
Hot shot spotters of rotters and plotters.
And we're going to save our sons and our daughters from you.
You're a dastardly, ghastardly, shnasterdly, schnook,
Trying to brainwash our brains,
With this gobbledy gook.
We know what you're up to pal.
You're trying to shatter our morale.
You're trying to stir up discontent.
And seize the reigns of government.
You're trying to throw sand in our eyes.
You're trying to kill free enterprise.
And raise the cost of figs and dates,
And wreck our compound interest rates.
And shut our schools,
And steal our jewels,
And even change our football rules.
Take away our garden tools,
And lock us up in vestibules.

When I made Shawn listen to this she said, in a horror stricken voice, "They're Republicans."

I don't know about that, but it does make me wonder what Dr. Seuss would write about if he were alive today.


rowan said...

You're a dastardly, ghastardly, shnasterdly, schnook

And darned proud of it!

tate said...

Yeah, me too! (as the little kangaroo in her pouch would say.)

jpj said...

Dr. Suess wrote some very political editoral cartoons in his time. I often show one in my talks of Mississippi Senator Theodore Bilbo (yes, Bilbo) who was an arch-segregationist. I could send a copy to you if you want.

'course, you'd have to write to me first!

As for the song, sounds a lot like the good Dr. taking on Tailgunner Joe Mccarthy.

Naomi said...

Dr. Seuss was really political. Really political. Off the top of my head:

1. The Sneetches is about racism and discrimination. One of the things that blows my mind about that book is that it was published in 1960 and apparently attracted no controversy whatsoever. (That entire collection is kind of fascinating. What Was I Scared Of? is also about prejudice. The Zax, I think, is an allegory for the U.S. Senate.

2. The Lorax is about environmental destruction, and actually started attracting some grumbles from the right wing.

3. The Butter Battle Book is about the Cold War, and was genuinely controversial when it was published.

I have a copy of Dr. Seuss Goes to War, in which his politics at the time (pro-labor, progressive with regards to discrimination against blacks, absolutely appalling with regards to discrimination against American-born Japanese) are very much on display. It's fascinating.

If you want to fly your political banner under the radar, write SF. If you want to fly your political banner so far under the radar you're walking into conservative homes and playing ring-around-the-rosie with their kids, write children's lit.

todd said...

I think Dr. Suess was a middle of the road guy. While a lot of his ideas seem liberal, what about "a person is a person no matter how small"? That sounds like a pro-life slogan.

One thing that hits me is that it seems Republican and Democrats both want to legislate their ideas of morals. He was commenting on what can happen if either side (Rep. or Dem.) were to totally have their way: Every opposing person would be "boiled."