Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I *heart* Oswald

I discovered two things on St. Patrick's Day.  One, no one, no matter how drunk, messes with you if you're wearing sunglasses and carrying a jagged chunk of brick. 

Two, and more importantly, I discovered Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

Because our downtown was swarmed with obnoxious drunk college students too stupid to do anything but drink and wreck a town they don't live in, we holed up inside with the Wii and picked up Rabbids Go Home and Epic Mickey.  Generally I'm not a Disney fan and even less of a Mickey Mouse fan, but the idea of a Disney wasteland and the return of Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks first character (who happens to be a bunny, my very favorite) was pretty enticing. And hey, what else were we going to do?

The game was fun at first and then quickly turned to irritating and carpel tunnel inducing.  We liked Rabbids better.  But we got far enough to unlock a full-length Oswald cartoon from 1928, Oh What a Knight.

It's Impossible to Google "Team Rocket"
and NOT see pictures of hideous cosplayers
I have a passing fascination with animation as both an art and a storytelling medium.  When we think "cartoon" our minds generally leap to either full-length animation (especially when you say "Disney") or half-hour cartoon show--GI Joe, Pokemon, etc. 

We don't really think of cartoons as being the 5-10 minutes shorts they originally were, shown before the newsreel and in between a double feature.  I've always loved Tex Avery's sexy fairy tale shorts like "Red Hot Riding Hood" and although I tried to like the Fleischer Bros, the Betty Boop stuff was a little on the weird side (and by "weird" I mean "acid-trippy").  And cooler still, the music on the cartoon was lifted right out of the video game--that's not the cool part, actually, that's a really sucky part--but the cool part is that because the short was silent, the music we would have been hearing if it was 1928 was being played on an organ, live, at the front of the theater. 

So there we were, with our Wii and our couch and our chips, watching something that for decades had been locked somewhere in a vault, forgotten by everyone but pop culture historians.  It was a weird, wonderful, sweet little moment, a glimpse at history in the all-too-plush comforts of the present.  As tenchincally beautiful as Rango was, I'll take the rounded shapes, the soft lines and black-and-white scheme of vintage animation over CG or worse, the motion-capture carnival of souls that is the homophobic, misogynistic Mars Needs Moms.

I like Oswald.  I think he'd be a good sidekick for Max if Sam ever goes rouge.

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