Thursday, June 02, 2005

Smurf Inferno

Smurf Inferno

Smurf Inferno (2001)

From Socio-Political Smurfs:

The Smurfs is a unique programme. It is, first and foremost, a cartoon, and as such it is aimed at children. The discussion could end there, however, unlike many other cartoons, or indeed other television programmes, The Smurfs is about an entire society and its interactions with itself and with outsiders, rather than the adventures of just a few characters. Hence I believe it is, in short, a political fable, in much the same way that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was a fable about Christianity. Rather than Christianity, however, The Smurfs is about Marxism.


Papa Smurf represents Karl Marx. He is not so much the leader of the Smurfs as an equal revered by the others for his age and wisdom. He has a beard, as did Marx, and thus could conceivably be a caricature as well. And lastly, he wears red, which is the traditional colour of socialism. Brainy Smurf could represent Trotsky. He is the only one in the village who comes close to matching Papa's intellect -- he is a thinker. With his round spectacles, he could also be a caricature of Trotsky. He is often isolated, ridiculed or even ejected from the commune of the village for his ideas. And of course, Trotsky was banished from the USSR.


The Smurfs all refer to one another by the same title: Smurf. Eg, Brainy Smurf, Handy Smurf, Jokey Smurf, Lazy Smurf, Papa Smurf. This is highly reminiscent of socialist states' use of the word comrade when referring to others, instead of more elitist titles.

Adding to the idea of complete equality in the Village, most of the Smurfs wear the same kind and colour of clothes. It is a general work uniform, and with the distinctive caps and blue skin, is highly reminiscent of the so-called Mao Suit, common in Maoist China.


Smurfette is definitely the "object" of the male gaze. Since she is the object, the males are the subjects. They are active; she is passive.

Smurfette has no breasts. I believe this is significant when we consider how Smurfette was created. She began life as the almost Frankensteinian creation of Gargomel. As a capitalist, he naturally is treating her as a commodity, something which can be made, used and disposed of, all ultimately to make him money. The idea that a woman can be made by a man denies women's key role in procreation. The fact that she does not possess breasts goes further to this denial of nature, an attempt to control women, to make them conform to the societal norm imposed by the patriarchal order.

The Blue Menace

"Comrades, rise up in solidarity against imperialist greed..."

From City Pages -- "The Killer of Smurfs":

Sometime in the mid-1980s, local artist Garth Danielson decided he'd had enough. Our televised culture of cuteness, he decided, had gone too far. What threw him over the edge, specifically, was a cloying colony of small, blue creatures then inhabiting a show on Saturday mornings and proliferating in figurine form everywhere. We're talking about Smurfs. "They were just kind of icky, and they don't have good grammar," Danielson recollects with something like a leer. At first glance this 45-year-old Minneapolitan might be mistaken for a close relative of Jerry Garcia: the graying beard and shoulder-length hair, the thickening waistline that jiggles when he's amused. Though the Smurfs have long been exiled from television and store shelves -- replaced by generations of Rugrats and Teletubbies -- Danielson had found his foil, and in a sense, his muse. Garth Danielson is the killer of Smurfs.


As Danielson walks from the couch to the dining room table -- passing numerous sci-fi paraphernalia and action figures on the way -- he cannot contain his excitement about "June 1990." Perhaps the work marks him as a true visionary: An ode to the collapse of Smurf fame, it was created several years before NBC mercifully canceled the show. Set in a miniature living room, the piece features a houseguest, Pac Man, sitting on a couch, blood running down the yellow sphere of his face. The coffee table in front of him holds a half-finished game of Chinese checkers and a box of tranquilizers (props that were easily found at a local doll-house supplier). On the floor is the body of a dead Smurf and copies of tiny magazines whose headlines scream: "Pac Who?" and "Smurfette Dies."

"This happened after the Smurf and Pac Man had both fallen out of favor and weren't popular anymore," Danielson explains. "And in a drunken, drugged-out fit, the Smurf put an ax in the Pac Man's head, and then shot himself. It was a murder-suicide pact. They've lost their fame, and the only girl in the village has died. They have nothing left to live for anymore."

Recently, Danielson has been branching out from the merely gory -- the Smurfs in White Castle hamburger buns, for instance, which he sold at a Minneapolis sci-fi convention. (Strangely, no one ever bought the sculpture of a Smurf nailed to a crucifix.) Though his medium -- mass Smurficide -- remains the same, he has started to address more literary themes. In "Mickey's Heart of Darkness," for instance, the mighty rodent, sporting a pith helmet, stands along a riverbank by an overturned canoe. The shores are littered with tiny blue bodies. "Mickey is going upriver and he encounters a bunch of Smurfs," Danielson says, "and he has to kill them. It's like a cathartic event for Mickey." Mickey, like Conrad's Kurtz, has exterminated the brutes.

Smurf poems from

Blue people make us sick
Whatever makes them tick
God damn the Smurfs
We do not wish them well
We hope they burn in Hell
Three cheers for Gargamel
God damn the Smurfs.

--Stephen Sample

Barney got filleted earlier on the blog. Today, the Smurfs get the Dante treatment.

Obviously, the Smurfs' uber-cuteness is bound to boil over and bring out a violent cultural backlash -- like recasting them into Apocalypse Now. But who knew The Union of Smurfs Socialist Republics was a Better Blue Than Dead scenario?

Then again, who's surprised -- especially in a world where wingnuts blather that SpongeBob is an advocate for the gay agenda? And how long before Dobson and his Frankenstein-castle-storming torchbearers out Boo Boo Bear and Bugs Bunny in Carmen Miranda drag?

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