Saturday, May 5, 2012

"I Haven't Got a Hat" with Porky Pig (1935)

This 1935 Merrie Melodies cartoon is notable for Joe Dougherty's voiceover of Porky Pig. Joe Dougherty, a real-life stutterer, was Porky's first voice. Later on, Mel Blanc took over doing all of the voices for the Merrie Melodie series of cartoons. The story line is simple; it's the story of a school musical and recital. What makes this cartoon so noteworthy is that it was released in 1935 and delivers a surprising message for the times.

Note the sign at the schoolhouse door. The recital is open to ALL children. And the cartoon delivers on that promise by showcasing the talents which exist in all of us. This was a very controversial message to deliver in the 1930's. The notion that we are all equal was certainly ahead of its time, and is delivered well in advance of the social changes that would be taking place during the next 3 decades. The stereotyping of individuals, including Porky Pig in his cartoon debut as a stutterer, was not done in a mean spirited way. Rather, this cartoon seems to trumpet the idea that we ALL have something to contribute to the world in which we live. What a great message for these troubled times.

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