Saturday, October 6, 2012

Maurice Sendak - Nostalgia

I was reading a blog about banned books (here <--- excellent artwork that you should all check out) when I stumbled across a familiar book title. The book was called 'In the night kitchen' by Maurice Sendak. It turns out that Maurice Sendak is the author of 'Where the Wild Things Are' but  I originally knew about him for a  different reason.

When I was growing up there was a VHS tape with a collection of short, surrealist, cartoons that I watched on repeat until the VHS tape was so warn and damaged I could barely watch it anymore. After some internet detective work I figured out that the VHS was entitled 'Really Rosie' and is based on plotlines from Maurice Sendak's picture books and with vocals sung by Carole King.

The nostalgia hit from rediscovering the video clips on youtube was intense. It was also really illuminating to watch the same clips again as an adult. These video clips aren't anything like anything else I watched as a child, in other words they are completely different to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Street Sharks, and Biker Mice From Mars. These are bizarre video clips - brilliant and creative, yes - but fore-mostly bizarre.

Here's a taste of what I mean:

The original picture book that this clip was based on (entitled 'In the Night Kitchen') was banned because (and here I quote some wikipedia):

Critics object to Mickey's nudity (which depicts not only his buttocks, but also his penis and testicles). Some also interpret sexual innuendo in the events, with the nudity, free-flowing milky fluids, and giant (allegedly phallic) milk bottle.

Interesting. I really don't think that my 5 year old self could recognize any of the sexual innuendo or was particularly bothered by the few short glimpses of Mickey's animated penis. Nonetheless I do wonder what watching sort of psychological influences watching these videos had on my young and impressionable mind.

This one is another classic:

Basically Pierre is an apathetic little brat who says 'I don't care' to everything despite his parents well-meaning attempts to engage with him in caring conversation. The best bit comes when Pierre meets an unusually congenial and rational lion. This section goes like this:

'Now as the night began to fall,
A hungry lion paid a call,
He looked Pierre right in the eye,
And asked him if he'd like to die,
And Pierre said.... "I don't care".

"I can eat you don't you see?"
"I don't care"
"And you will be inside of me"
"I don't care"
"Then you'll never have to bother.."
"I don't care"
"With a mother and a father"
"I don't care"
"Is that all you have to say?
"I don't care"
"then i'll eat you if I may"
So the lion ate Pierre.

Pretty gruesome huh?! Pretty excellent also. It makes me wonder whether my supreme hatred of apathy comes from the subliminal messages ingrained in my brain from repeat viewings of stupid Pierre. Pierre gave me my first taste of existentialism, and I didn't like it. . .actually, I still don't.

So I thought I'd share with you what cartoons I watched as a child. I watched cartoons that are philosophical and surreal. Perhaps unsurprisingly I'm still gripped by the philosophical and surreal now as I was at 5 years old.

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