Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Blathering Blatherscythe!

Does anyone remember the Disney TV cartoon, Duck Tales? It concerned the updated adventures of the super-rich Scots waterfowl Scrooge McDuck and his three irascible nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie. I of course remember it, having a brain like a pack-rat's particular, I remember one three-part episode involving this sort of nerdy clumsy loser, Fenton Crackshell, who lived in a trailer with his abusive alcoholic whorish mother; he worked for McDuck Industries, as a janitor in the laboratories of the eccentric inventor, Gyro Gearloose.

During the course of his inventing, Gyro comes up with a top-secret security weapon, which was essentially a voice-activated automated offensive personal armor system...and the top-secret keyword that activated the armor was "blathering blatherscythe," which Gyro thought was so silly and obscure that nobody in his or her right mind would say it out loud in the course of casual conversation. Uttering this phrase in proximity of the armor would cause it to assemble itself immediately around the source of the command. There was another phrase that turned it off, but I forget now what it was. If you ask me, these are serious design flaws in an offensive weapon.

Little did Gyro know, however, that this inept janitor used that very same phrase every time he screwed things up...and in the course of accidentally destroying the lab while trying to clean it, this nerdy kid activates the armor with the secret word...and is magically transformed into GizmoDuck, a gigantic RoboCop-like armored cyborg with guns and bombs and rocket-jets coming out of every orifice...and, since this is Disney and all displays of power must be tempered by adorable absurdities, the whole bristling armory teetered on a single tiny wheel at the bottom. This still-inept-but-now-ominously-powerful stooge goes blundering around Duckburg trying to become a superhero by preventing crime and rescuing damsels, but instead just wreaks havoc all over the place and has to be assisted from his difficulties by the three young duckling nephews and the rest of the cast of moralizing avians.

Like all Disney cartoons, there are levels of moral and social lessons encrypted in this colorful nonsense. The first is: never assume that other people think and talk the way you do. Just because "blathering blatherscythe" is the very last phrase you would ever think to blurt out in a top-secret weapons lab doesn't mean that other people don't wander around muttering this very same phrase all the time. The most nonsensical gibberish you can utter will probably be words in one of the thousand-or-so known languages on this planet.

The second lesson is that all weapons, no matter how well-intentioned, are dangerous because they invariably fall into the hands of those who will misuse them...a tool as simple as a hammer can be used as a murder-weapon, so any form of increased power, be it a nail-gun or an atom-bomb, can and will be misused by somebody.

The third is that an idiot with a gun, again no matter how well-intentioned, is a disaster waiting to happen...that not all people are cut out to wield power, and that one should be very, very careful of the people to whom power is given.

Or at least those are the lessons I brought away from the episode. It's funny how much an arbiter of public morals the Disney Corporation has become. But in a media-run world, who else shall deliver the word of the media God but the media itself? Kind of makes you think about where your ideas and beliefs come from.

Or maybe it doesn't? I don't know. All I have left to to say on the subject is this: Blathering Blatherscythe!

Now this is my kind of waterfowl!

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