Saturday, November 1, 2014

"The Pygmy Hunt" with The Captain and the Kids - (1938)

Okay- get ready to label me politically incorrect with this posting of the next cartoon in The Captain and the Kids series from MGM studios. I said I was going to post all 15 and I really am going to do that. The Christmas one is special- it's in color. But this one is in black and white; in more ways than one.

The title alone should kind of warn you. I mean "Pygmy Hunt"? Well, the Captain has a safari business and boasts that “He brings ‘em back alive.” He has every species of animal in his menagerie except for a Pygmy. Now there’s a thought; a Pygmy is considered an animal in this cartoon. But let’s see what happens here.

The Captain follows his hound into the jungle trying to pick up the “scent”; on the way the dog is slightly confused and it takes him a while to figure out just what the Captain is looking for. Then, when he finally does encounter a real Pygmy he is completely outwitted mentally and a poor match physically. The Captain is of no real help as he has been relying on his hired help for so long that he is clueless.

Even when their luck changes and the Pygmy is trying make a quiet getaway by “passing” as one of them; they manage to screw that up and wind up with a full scale rebellion on their hands. The cartoon closes out with the Captain and his friends being driven from the land by thousands of angry Pygmies.

Looking at it closely it is easy to see who comes up short here. The white colonialist is portrayed as ignorant and the natives are the ones who win in the end. Kind of like what was happening in real life; or about to; when this cartoon was made. By the time the Second World War was over, colonialism was dead, never to return as it once was. 

You have to wonder about the people who wrote this cartoon; and then wonder again at the people who have only viewed it as politically incorrect for all these years. As with most things, the meaning is subjective not only to the context of both the time and place when the cartoon was made, but also to the interpretation of the historical winds associated with them. It’s just a thought.

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