Re: Mary Poppins

1

My son saw a brief snippet of MP over Christmas break. He decided he could and should speaking with a British accent based on Van Dyke's accent. That was annoying.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 7:51 AM
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It's a nice touch that at the end Mrs. Banks chooses to sacrifice her suffragette sash to make the kids a kite. Thanks, Walt!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 7:59 AM
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I wonder if anybody has discussed whether or not Walt Disney was sexist?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 8:05 AM
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That seems unduly judgmental. Maybe he just didn't want women to vote.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 8:09 AM
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Mary Poppins was one of the first DVDs we owned. You had to turn it over halfway through ! Got Bug's Life very early too, which was more popular.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 8:12 AM
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Also, holy crap are those songs catchy. I wish the Sherman Brothers had lived fifty years later so they could see their artistic vision fulfilled by Ke$ha.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 8:14 AM
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I really like the new Ke$ha song that's always on the radio. It's the one where she's drunk and chasing a Cuban lumberjack.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 8:16 AM
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Is this some kind of joke?


Posted by: A Wooden Leg Named Smith | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 8:24 AM
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I apparently have to go to a MP sing-along the weekend after next. Fortunately I'm bringing Ke$ha as my date.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 8:24 AM
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Oh Mrs. Banks, those suffragettes are so silly.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 8:31 AM
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11

My daughter does an imitation of of a character from Penguins of Madagascar which is clearly itself an imitation of Walter Cronkite. It's hilarious.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 8:31 AM
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Pics or it didn't happen, Walt.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 8:34 AM
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13

My 6yo does an excellent, "Charlie bit my finger".


Posted by: simulated annealing | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 8:48 AM
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I was trying to remember how I feel about MP, so I watched the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious part on Youtube. Is it always true in Disney movies that the only women who are ever taller than any man are lower-class? For some reason it struck me as a familiar joke, like, that it was supposed to be inherently funny, in a lower-class extras sort of way, for women to be taller than men.

I was just thinking about this as I saw wedding pictures of a friend of mine who is marrying a man considerably shorter than herself. She's extremely tall, and they're really great together. And it turns out I have a lot of tall women friends who are taller than their male partners.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 8:48 AM
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For some reason it struck me as a familiar joke, like, that it was supposed to be inherently funny, in a lower-class extras sort of way, for women to be taller than men.

I think that's a subset of the way that lower-class people are more likely to be depicted as caricatures instead of as beautiful people. Extremely short, extremely tall, extremely fat, big red nose, etc.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 8:51 AM
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They're great pop songs even compared to other musicals and especially compared to other kiddie musicals. We watched this and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in successive weeks a while ago. You would think they are kind of interchangable in their Disneyfied fantasy Edwardian setting, but despite the running length, there is approximately one really good song in CCBB. The rest are book numbers. MP by contrast has barely a B-side.

The Child-Catcher is by far a creepier villain though, must be the Roald Dahl writing.

Also, Benny Hill as a Bavarian toymaker has to be make some sort of all-time damn the torpedos accent-blind casting list. Maybe with Sean Connery / Christopher Lambert in Highlander.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 8:59 AM
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Disney movies that the only women who are ever taller than any man are lower-class

If we're including cartoons, then no -- I just saw something on FB noting that Disney had a tall slim daughter/short fat father thing going on (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, maybe others.) But maybe in the live action movies? I was raised by Disney-haters, so while I've seen bits and pieces, I'm not really familiar with them generally.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:00 AM
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It should be pointed out to younger viewers, at some point, that the "Step In Time" sequence has elements of blackface minstrelsy which are no longer considered appropriate for entertainment purposes by most people of good character.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:06 AM
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I like the "funny" way in which the English hunters pursue the Irish fox in the animated sequence.


Posted by: DonBoy | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:09 AM
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To be annoyingly I-don't-even-own-a-Disney-movie, the books are (or were thirty years ago the last time I read them) really impressively weird and eerie.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:10 AM
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I went to a MP singalong a few months ago. It was surprisingly fun (and I was surprised also at how well it held up).


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:11 AM
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the "Step In Time" sequence has elements of blackface minstrelsy which are no longer considered appropriate for entertainment purposes by most people of good character.

This had actually never occurred to me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:12 AM
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The books are a delight and only somewhat recognizable from the movie. (Most noticeably Banks adults are, as they should be in most children's literature, basically non-entities. Also, Mary Poppins is delightfully mean.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:13 AM
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Has Bedknobs and Broomsticks held up? I was thinking about showing that one to Hawaii as well.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:14 AM
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Disney chose great songs, in general, I think. Across lots of their classic output. There's a reason why a lot of them have ended up almost as standards, and there are all kinds of interesting Disney covers.

E.g. from the 'Stay Awake' album:

Tom Waits, Heigh-ho:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUokR-lXmlc

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stay_Awake:_Various_Interpretations_of_Music_from_Vintage_Disney_Films


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:19 AM
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Kids today don't understand the concept of beds without touchscreens.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:19 AM
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There's a reason why a lot of them have ended up almost as standards, and there are all kinds of interesting Disney covers.

For instance. When I saw the Arkestra last summer they did a Disney song (shamefully, I can't remember which) and it was fantastic, with an especially great piano intro.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:21 AM
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Right. Not so much mean, but force-of-nature-scary. I wonder if anyone's written anything interesting about the MP books as using magic as a metaphor for middle-class children's experience of cross-class relationships with servants and tradespeople: you start out in your familiar middle-class nursery world, but visit a completely different social universe when you leave the house with the servants and interact with their families and friends. Fun, but alien and sometimes frightening.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:24 AM
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I wonder if anyone's written anything interesting about the MP books as using magic as a metaphor for middle-class children's experience of cross-class relationships with servants and tradespeople: you start out in your familiar middle-class nursery world, but visit a completely different social universe when you leave the house with the servants and interact with their families and friends. Fun, but alien and sometimes frightening.

I certainly think exactly that every time I read them.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:26 AM
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30

Not a musical, but a Disney film my kids loved was Thomasina.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:27 AM
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31

Disney film from around that time.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:28 AM
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32

For what it's worth, "Knees Up, Mother Brown" -- a Cockney dance number from the teens that was popular during WWII -- was apparently the inspiration for "Step In Time".


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:30 AM
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33

Am I thinking of "When You Wish Upon a Star"? They certainly did that; maybe they did multiple Disney tunes.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:30 AM
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34

Was making the which books from parents to keep or not decision with the MP books recently. Don't even recall if we (or anyone else) took them. And in doing so I realized don't think I had ever actually read them.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:31 AM
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35

Ok, it was "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:32 AM
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I just saw something on FB noting that Disney had a tall slim daughter/short fat father thing going on

Are you sure that wasn't me right here?

http://www.unfogged.com/archives/comments_13391.html#1647155


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:33 AM
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37

I don't think my kids have read them. I tried to push a lot of late Victorian/Edwardian children's lit, and mostly it didn't take, so I eventually gave up and let them read what they liked. Not that I'm bitter about it or anything.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:34 AM
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38

So not Disney. But it was still good! Hey look, a set list!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:34 AM
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39

Was Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang Disney? I liked that one (not sure how many commas should go in there).


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:34 AM
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36: You're right, that's where I saw it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:34 AM
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I tried to push a lot of late Victorian/Edwardian children's lit, and mostly it didn't take, so I eventually gave up and let them read what they liked. Not that I'm bitter about it or anything.

Jane has recently shown enthusiasm for both MP and Alice, which gives me (odds are, to-be-dashed) hope. I am trying SO HARD to achieve just the right amount of pushing/not pushing on these.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:36 AM
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38: When You Wish Upon a Star (also on set list) is a Disney song.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:36 AM
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43

That they wouldn't sit and let me read them the Just So Stories is one of the great sorrows of my parenting experience. I don't want much from a small child, but the capacity to sit raptly entranced while I tell them about the banks of the turbid Amazon is one thing I did want.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:37 AM
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28: And the governess / nanny is a funny kind of servant, who can the boundaries between classes / worlds, I guess. As she has to be able to educate the children (and hence be educated to a high middle class standard) and boss them around, while being an employee to the parents and a peer to the other staff.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:38 AM
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And I have just realized that I was completely wrong about the publication date of the MP books. I can't remember if they were written as period pieces, or if they were set in the '30s when they were written.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:40 AM
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All the books that I loved as a child that I thought were late Victorian/Edwardian turn out to be from the late '30s through late '40s, which now that I think about it not that surprising since they were probably books my parents liked as kids.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:43 AM
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They do have an Edwardian feel - I always had the feeling they were set (ish) in Travers' own childhood. Compare with the relative modernity of Half-Magic, written in the '50s and set in the '30s.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:43 AM
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43: You could try paying them.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:43 AM
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49

It should be pointed out to younger viewers, at some point, that the "Step In Time" sequence has elements of blackface minstrelsy which are no longer considered appropriate for entertainment purposes by most people of good character.

Speaking of minstrelsy, has anyone seen "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" lately? Or at all? What the hell is up with the guy's Asian wife? What a terrible sour note amid the festival of inclusivity.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:48 AM
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43, "turbid Amazon" s/b "great grey-green, greasy Limpopo"


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:49 AM
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51

All set about with fever trees.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:50 AM
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41 - kid A at 4 loved Alice, from listening to tapes of the books. She knew them so well that if you showed her the Tenniell illustrations, she would start reciting the appropriate bit.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:51 AM
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The most underrated Disney movie songs are the Roger Miller songs in Robin Hood, which was a nice attempt to make the songs 70s-relevant and go outside of the Broadway tradition. But they're not often covered.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:01 AM
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Has Bedknobs and Broomsticks held up? I was thinking about showing that one to Hawaii as well.

I liked it a lot as a kid when it was already old, but it will certainly look archaic to a youngster today. Also I watched a lot of even older films when I was young, so it didn't seem out of place.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:08 AM
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Hawaii, as I noted maybe even yesterday, is fervently in luuuuuuuv with anything prissy and Victorian, especially if it involves rules, mice, and ballet.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:12 AM
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In our house growing up there was a group of "canonical" English children's literature which spanned a half century or so centered around 1900 (in chronological order I think): Alice, Davey and the Goblin*, Peter Pan, Wind in the Willows, The Secret Garden, Pooh, Mary Poppins (for my sisters if not for me). Lear maybe belongs in there. I think we mostly got them via my mother (books not a huge feature in my father's household), and I'm sure they are but a subset of what she had read from that era. In turn, it was only really Alice, the Willows, and Pooh that my kids ever latched onto.

*Among my many obtusenesses as a child was a lack of appreciation that our canonical was not everyone's. I've also probably left something out.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:16 AM
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57

Will no-one speak up for the songs in Condorman?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:16 AM
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I'm not sure how well the book Bedknob and Broomstick holds up, but as a child I thought it was far superior to the movie. I was also insufferable.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:19 AM
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I loved Bedknobs and Broomsticks as a kid, but that might just be because I was such a huge Murder, She Wrote fan.

What? I watched it with my mom.

What?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:21 AM
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Much less American stuff I realize (or it was of slightly later vintage, like Homer Price). Although Rootabagga Stories was one that I assumed must be well-known by all, but not sure if I ever met a peer in real life who was at all familiar with them.

"Three Stories About the Finding of the Zigzag Railroad, the Pigs with Bibs On, the Circus Clown Ovens, the Village of Liver-and-Onions, the Village of Cream Puffs."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:22 AM
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When You Wish Upon a Star (also on set list) is a Disney song.

I know, and I mentioned that they played it, but that isn't the one with the piano intro I was thinking of.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:25 AM
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62

We're having to read Spirit Animals, which is a corporate bastardization of various world legends and childhood wish fulfillment.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:27 AM
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61 go away


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:30 AM
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I love love love the Rootabaga Stories and should probably be reading them to the bigger girls while they still appreciate nonsense.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:31 AM
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32: Right, it's not straight-up minstrelsy, but it gets pretty damn close.

49: Saw it when it came out, don't remember the character in question. Like with Highlander, I suppose that was just one of those parts that seemed more acceptable 20-30 years ago, so it didn't stick out so much. [LHF jinx]


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:35 AM
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66

65.1 is baffling. It gets close... how?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:37 AM
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67

"Sometimes when we touch, the minstrelsy's too much."


Posted by: Opinionated Dan Hill | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:45 AM
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1. They're in quasi-blackface with the soot and all
2. It's the same kind of Tin Pan Alley-masquerading-as-folk-music stuff as a lot of minstrelsy
3. The admiral (or whatever) explicitly mis-identifies the sweeps as "Hottentots"

Also, re: 32, I wouldn't be surprised if there were minstrel origins behind "Knees Up Mother Brown" -- minstrel acts played London to great success for years, and of course there was out-and-out minstrelsy on UK TV until 1978.

It's not as though Disney was somehow unaware of minstrelsy, after all -- it was a major part of the entertainment culture he grew up in, and there were explicit discussions around that legacy w/r/t Song of the South, 18 years before. If he had not intended it to be read as quasi-minstrelsy, there's plenty of things the production team could have done to mitigate it.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:45 AM
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1. They're in quasi-blackface with the soot and all

They are... chimeny sweeps?

2. It's the same kind of Tin Pan Alley-masquerading-as-folk-music stuff as a lot of minstrelsy

Isn't this, like, almost every musical number from a big hollywood musical ever?

3. The admiral (or whatever) explicitly mis-identifies the sweeps as "Hottentots"

That seems pretty darned racist.

But... I dunno, man. That the whole thing was meant as... a minstrel act? evocative of a minstrel act? seems pretty darn tenuous. When Disney wanted to be racist they were just straight-up racist (see Song Of The South, certainly).

Also, re: 32, I wouldn't be surprised if there were minstrel origins behind "Knees Up Mother Brown"

Googling most people argue for an indigenous, morris dancing, pre-victorian folk origin for it, but who knows I suppose.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:53 AM
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70

Way to spell chimney, Sifu.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:53 AM
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71

Step in time, step in time
Step in time, step in time
Never need a reason,
Never need a rhyme
Step in time, you step in time!
[...]
It's the master!
It's the master, step in time
It's the master, step in time

vs.

Turn about and wheel about
And do jes' so:
Ev'ry time I wheel about
And jump Jim Crow!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:54 AM
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68 - It's not Tin Pan Alley; it's a music hall routine. Different contexts altogether! I don't think you're remotely wrong that Disney went to that well frequently -- think the crows in Dumbo -- but I don't see it here.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:57 AM
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I dunno, I mean, perhaps I am reading too much into it, but it seems like a huge stretch to say there is no minstrelsy at all there.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:58 AM
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Way to spell chimney, Sifu.

"chimbley"


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:59 AM
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75

Perhaps this music hall performance can convince you, Natilo!


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 11:01 AM
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My point is that there was a lot of interplay across the Atlantic in terms of music hall/vaudeville routines and popular music.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 11:02 AM
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I feel like it falls into the category of "I would certainly advise you to change some of this if you were planning to make it now" but not into the category of "be sure to tell your children that no good person can enjoy this."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 11:02 AM
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00nq9yt


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 11:03 AM
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75 is the Muppets, Nat.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 11:03 AM
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71: I'm used to people saying that the fight against racism is a subset of the class struggle, not the other way around.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 11:03 AM
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Right, but they're not in blackface, are they? Nor does anyone refer to them as Hottentots.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 11:04 AM
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Sorry working link: http://www.4shared.com/mp3/6-u9yOae/britains_other_music_hall_-_th.html

Haven't listened to it yet.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 11:05 AM
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80: Indeed! A celebration of the lively classist tradition of prancing servants/laborers.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 11:06 AM
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73: Huh. "No minstrelsy at all" seems like exactly the sort of thing you can say about something that's not explicitly a minstrel show from a source, like Disney at the time, that wouldn't have been embarrassed about being explicit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 11:09 AM
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84: Ha! That's exactly what Disney wanted you to think. Their explicit minstrelry was merely a screen to prevent you from noticing their far more expansive implicit use of minstrel tropes.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 11:14 AM
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Oh, man, Lee bought Mara Lady & The Tramp, and so of course the girls are obsessed with the super-racist We Are Siamese song. Ugh.

For kids older than heebie's and mine, there's a Green Knowe movie, From Time to Time, that was really quite well-done, deals well with race (and magical time travel) and has features some fantastic sewing from Maggie Smith that actually replicates author Lucy Boston's quilts, though that may be of interest to no one but me. It was on streaming Netflix when I saw it. The books were favorites of mine when I was little. I had a lot of favorite books.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 11:15 AM
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By the time of Mary Poppins (1964) Disney would certainly have been to embarrassed to produce a straight-up minstrel show. Time marches on!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 11:19 AM
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and so of course the girls are obsessed with the super-racist We Are Siamese song. Ugh.

Oh my god yes, so awful (awful, awful) and so catchy.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 11:19 AM
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88: It's possibly counterbalanced by how adorable it is when they eat from opposite ends of a piece of food to non-romantically reenact that scene, but really not.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 11:21 AM
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86: You should follow it up with The King and I just to make sure they've got a full complement of racist musical numbers involving Siam.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 11:27 AM
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Does this mean I shouldn't sing Mississippi Mud to children, even with "people" a la the Muppet Show?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 11:35 AM
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so awful (awful, awful) and so catchy.

Great, thanks for that earworm.

If you please.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 12:02 PM
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93

Siamese cat song: original biscuit conditional.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 12:15 PM
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My stepdaughter played the Siamese Cat Song at her first and only piano recital. Racism, shmacism, for that purpose, that tune could not be beat.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 12:21 PM
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At one point when I was a little kid I was obsessed with some kind of Disney Halloween special that included the Siamese cat song and a bunch of other stuff plucked from different Disney productions, like the Walpurgisnacht thing from Fantasia. I forget why the cat song was in it. Maybe because of cats being witches' familiars?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 12:47 PM
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rules, mice, and ballet

This is like every Angelina Ballerina story ever, right?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 1:19 PM
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Sitting at a gate in nasty-ass Dulles. Waiting to get on a plane. Listening to Piers Morgan interview Robert Gates.

This is surely hell.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 1:20 PM
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25: That album is infamous in my family because it was unwrapped and given directly to my 6-yo sister as soothing music on a transatlantic flight. "There's a man talking," she said meekly to my mother, after a minute. "What, honey? I don't think there's a man talking on the tape." "Yes. There's a scary man talking." It turned out to be Ken Nordine's cover of "An Actor's Life For Me," with a few growled "Damn it all, damn it all"s that weren't in the film.

My mother yanked my friend and me out of the theater during the Indian song in "Peter Pan," marched us to the manager and demanded a refund. I'm not sure I ever saw the rest of the movie, but maybe? The Siamese cat song was not considered over the line quite like that, and I was even allowed to listen to "Miss Saigon" in middle school, even though there is nothing in the world worse than it.

The thing that most recently made me super uncomfortable to watch was a "Humphrey the Bear" cartoon my sister and I had cackled over as kids (she sent it to me) -- I'm not sure I can even explain to grown-ups, let alone children, why it seems to draw so clearly on racial caricatures, without seeming paranoid and joyless. But I just kept cringing.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 1:28 PM
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Ah, I was wondering whether Angelina Ballerina was internationally-renowned.

JP and Thorn - I grew up on the Rootabaga Stories (my dad travelled a lot and brought home books). Obviously no other children in south London had heard of Please Gimme and Gimme The Ax. We were outcasts.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 2:06 PM
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We did an Angelina-ballerina themed summer day camp two years ago. It was super awesome.

Dulles is proof that good architecture does not suffice to make a good airport, because that place sucks it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 2:22 PM
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By "we" in 100 I mean me. I dressed up as Angelina Ballerina and rocked it like a fucking badass.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 2:25 PM
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I can both fully believe 101 and still hope for photographic proof, right?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 2:30 PM
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This is like every Angelina Ballerina story ever, right?

Yes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 3:09 PM
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Also, 102 is right.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 3:10 PM
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Be the change, ladies. First, you slip him some Ambien.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 3:13 PM
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Nice, this fetish is about to go operational.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 3:27 PM
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Finally a child-show based fetish that isn't from Japan.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 3:40 PM
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I'm forgetting the whole brony thing, aren't I?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 3:47 PM
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97: Listening to Piers Morgan interview Robert Gates.

Can't you tell them to take it over to the First Class Lounge or something?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 4:11 PM
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Princess Tutu is about a duck that becomes a student ballerina with a secret identity as a magical ballerina who fights with ballet (gets a ghost knight to accept his grief and lay down his sword kinda thing).

A fricking masterpiece in every way (8.7/10 rated by women), it is also a grimm dark fairytale and rated age 14+. Also, way too complicated and allusive for Americans of any age. Can you describe the poses of the Petipa Coppelia?

Just kidding. Although it probably needs multiple watches a lot of parents say their daughters have fun researching all the ballets. And probably not as dark as the original Grimms.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 4:13 PM
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Can you describe the poses of the Petipa Coppelia?

Poses done with pumpkin seeds?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 4:20 PM
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Aw hell, who am I kidding. Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky versus "Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho" and "Spoonful of Sugar."

I forgot this was a community of professional intellectuals.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 4:26 PM
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Does anyone remember the Disney special, Simply Mad About The Mouse? We watched it a handful of times in my elementary school's music class--which is also where I first saw "What's Opera, Doc?"--and the highlight for me was LL Cool J's cover of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf."

112.2: damn straight.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 4:54 PM
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Tra la la la la


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 4:59 PM
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Well Coppelia is awesome of course because our heroine's name is Swanhilde. Have sat thru bloody bits of Petipa's version over the years, the Delibes is okay. At least provides relief from the inevitable and highly regrettable Minkus, ugh.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 6:02 PM
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Be the dick you want to see in the world, bob.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 7:45 PM
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I'm also confused by Rimsky Korsakov - not a big ballet composer, no? Tchaikovsky, sure sure sure. But leave it to the ballet world to demonstrate that even Tchaikovsky produced at the farm team level, check out the score cobbled together for Eugene Onegin. Pretty lame stuff they managed to scrape together. Generally, the ballet world has shockingly low standards for music.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:17 PM
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(Wiki)

"Scheherazade, a symphonic suite composed in 1888 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, later used for a ballet by Michel Fokine"

Not a big Romanticism fan myself, more Boccherini and serialism, but this shit famously works for melodrama and soundtracks

Princess Tutu Episode One...if you like


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:35 PM
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Dude, one ballet repurposed from a symphonic suite - he wasn't a ballet composer. Try the dread Minkus or Adam, dudes seriously pumped 'em out. Or rather preserve your sanity and don't unless impelled by love for and solidarity with your beloved offspring.

Three big downsides to having a kid serious about ballet:

- Musical standards are *generally* low

- The buns

- Pointe shoes

We get a free pass on the last two because of the child's gender. Thank heaven.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:43 PM
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How does dancing hurt your buns?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:47 PM
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Well Vaganova training develops very serious buns bien sur. No, the ballet bun that the girls/women put their hair in can be a pain to assemble. Parking lot outside the school is basically carpeted with dropped hairpins. When they send the blast e-mail prior to performances with links to the "approved" youtube videos for concocting a bun I merrily delete away!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:50 PM
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I never did ballet, but I was on swim team. The girls hair was an issue for that also, but they used rubber caps to keep it out of the way. Has ballet tried that?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:51 PM
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I'm fond of Tamara Karsavina's headpiece as the Firebird:

https://www.google.com/search?q=tamara+karsavina+firebird&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=q6DgUryOCZbsoASP9YHoBA&ved=0CCUQsAQ&biw=1130&bih=619

And I always wonder if the professional dancers negotiate a premium for when they have to perform with their hair not up, must be tremendously distracting to have it thwacking away whilst your spinning around at top speed.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 9:58 PM
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Listening to Piers Morgan interview Robert Gates. This is surely hell.

Aw, chin up, VW. About this time last year, it might have been Piers Morgan interviewing Alex Jones.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:02 PM
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Shouldn't Piers Morgan have to go back home and face charges or something for phone hacking?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:10 PM
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The child's texte that I am dictating to him is very loooong, I am so ready for Lancelot to get to the end of the darn quest.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:26 PM
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I thought Mary Poppins was a horror film. I guess I should rewatch it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:33 PM
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oh Lancelot you are so foolish but happily for me we only need to get you this far into the galerie souterraine effroyable and so I get to go to bed.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 01-22-14 10:36 PM
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Vaguely related: a friend has just posted on FB that his small daughter's Peppa Pig days are forever behind her, because he just watched "Top Gun" with her and she loved it, and now he's convinced she's going to grow up to fly fast jets.

So that's the mark to aim for w.r.t. small god-daughter...


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 6:33 AM
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I suggest watching it with her as soon as possible then, before she grows up a little bit more and spend the entire film completely distracted by HOW TOTALLY GAY it is. I thought my big girls were going to die of ecstatic laughter at the volleyball scene.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 6:37 AM
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Was watching the US National figure skating finals last week and was struck by the lack of originality in the music for the long programs/free skates - prominently including story ballets that have been used for decades. Sleeping Beauty, check. Romeo and Juliet, check. Scheherezade, check. One slightly less hackneyed selection was by Mirai Nagasu - music from James Bond - and she notoriously was held off the third spot on the Olympic team even though she won the U.S. bronze in the ladies' (never women's) division.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 6:49 AM
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National figure skating finals: more or less gay than Top Gun? (Also, more or less hilarious?)

It's quite something when "James Bond medley" is the less hackneyed option. There should be mandatory tunes (like the compulsory kata in karate); I'd suggest Sousa's "Liberty Bell", The Pogues' "Kilkenny Cats" and Motorhead "Ace of Spades".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 10:31 AM
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Top Gun is fantastically geopolitically... odd, too.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 10:35 AM
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before she grows up a little bit more and spend the entire film completely distracted by HOW TOTALLY GAY it is. I thought my big girls were going to die of ecstatic laughter at the volleyball scene.

Perhaps the perfect time to get started on Archer!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 10:35 AM
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Top Gun is fantastically geopolitically... odd, too.

Well... you never actually know who the enemy are. I don't think they ever say they're Russians (or whatever); they're just a nameless enemy somewhere near the Indian Ocean. The obvious one would be Iraq or Iran. And this is the mid-80s, the tanker war is under way; not that odd to think that things might get a bit hectic near the Gulf.
(If they were Iranians, they'd really have to be flying the same aircraft as the Americans - the Iranians bought a load of F-14s just before the Shah went - but that would be cinematically confusing.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 10:44 AM
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I thought it was explicitly the Russians in the Indian Ocean.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 10:51 AM
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132 - excellent idea! Suggest a bit of Conlan Nancarrow, some vintage Os Mutantes and for the traditionalists a Godowsky Chopin transcription. All of them nicely distorted and echoey from the horrid systems in those big icy barns...


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 10:52 AM
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"Today, I will be skating to La Monte Young's The Well-Tuned Piano"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 10:55 AM
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But I guess I was wrong. Anyhow I thought at the time the idea was that the US and USSR were getting into these minor skirmishes that were kept secret so as to avoid WWIII. I think this was a common motif of militaristic culture of the 80s -- eg Firefox or Hunt for Red October.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 10:58 AM
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I thought my big girls were going to die of ecstatic laughter at the volleyball scene.

More things that I wonder if anyone's written about: body-image issues for men on film, and how they've changed over time. My sense was that there was a sharp transition sometime in the eighties from a baseline where male actors weren't uniformly all that far from the population norms in terms of muscularity/body fat (with the occasional Charlton Heston beefcake exception, but not all actors) to a state where any man with his shirt off in the movies is going to be weightlifted/body-built muscular to a really unusual degree, and that that transition happened right around Top Gun.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 10:59 AM
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For example, compare 1950's TV Superman with any of the recent ones.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:04 AM
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140 - it coincided pretty much exactly with the rise of bodybuilding and going to the gym as mainstream activities.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:05 AM
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136: apparently (google) the words "Russian" and "Soviet" are never used in "Top Gun". It's always just "enemy".

I suppose they could be flying from the Soviet bases in Aden or Ethiopia.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:06 AM
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It's always just "enemy".
It's touches like that that really make the film timeless.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:08 AM
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I thought at the time the idea was that the US and USSR were getting into these minor skirmishes that were kept secret so as to avoid WWIII

This happened a lot in the fifties. The number of US and UK airmen shot down over the USSR was well into three figures. Not so much in the 1980s, though KAL 007 was quite recent when Top Gun was made.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:09 AM
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a state where any man with his shirt off in the movies is going to be weightlifted/body-built muscular to a really unusual degree, and that that transition happened right around Top Gun.

Or a bit earlier? I can't help feeling that Schwarzenegger might have had a lot to do with it. How bodybuilt were other actors? Yes, LB, this is an excuse for you to look for pictures of 1980s Michael Biehn with his shirt off.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:11 AM
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It's really 100% explained by the rise of body building and gym-going (where Arnold was a pioneer). Before about 1978 it just wasn't that easy to get a totally ripped look -- after that time pretty much any actor with reasonable athleticism and sufficient free time could do so, so many did.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:16 AM
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I don't know what you're insinuating. I just thought he had pretty eyes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:16 AM
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My sense was that there was a sharp transition sometime in the eighties from a baseline where male actors weren't uniformly all that far from the population norms in terms of muscularity/body fat (with the occasional Charlton Heston beefcake exception, but not all actors) to a state where any man with his shirt off in the movies is going to be weightlifted/body-built muscular to a really unusual degree, and that that transition happened right around Top Gun.

At least the guys in Top Gun were supposed to be heartthrobs. Then 15 years later you get Meet The Parents where Ben Stiller, the comedian playing the supposedly nerdy guy who is supposedly mortified by being forced to wear a tiny swimsuit, looks like he works out 90 minutes a day. (albeit with more than 8% body fat)


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:17 AM
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I think it may have been the Ricardo Montalban exception before it was the Charlton Heston exception.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:24 AM
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could be good for figure skating.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:25 AM
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My mother yanked my friend and me out of the theater during the Indian song in "Peter Pan," marched us to the manager and demanded a refund.

I heart your mother.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:25 AM
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Oops. Insert "Steve Reich" at the beginning of that.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:25 AM
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STEVE REICH


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:31 AM
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STEVE REICH %lt;3 YOUR MOTHER


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:32 AM
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STEVE REICH <3 YOUR MOTHER


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:32 AM
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SORRY


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:35 AM
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Goddammit, that stupid Siamese cat song is totally stuck in my head.

I will take this opportunity to inform you that my great-grandmother had two Siamese cats whose names were Buttons and Bows. Furthermore, she emigrated from Norway as a girl, shared her first name with the author of Pippi Longstocking, lived to 95, and would put a sugar cube on her tongue and drink her coffee through it.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:44 AM
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This is a great article on the change in fitness regimes, especially the total explosion of fitness culture in the 70s and 80s..

"Prior to the 1970s, relatively few Americans exercised routinely. In 1960, for example, only 24 percent claimed to exercise regularly. However, something changed over the next two decades. 'A new class has come among us,'intoned New York Magazine in 1978, 'that defines elitism in an entirely different manner. For this is the time of the Physical Elite, a class of American men, women, and children who are . . . exercising--a little, a moderate amount, or in staggering gulps.' By 1987 [Top Gun came out in 1986 -- RH], a Gallup poll trumpeted that 69 percent of Americans said they exercised regularly."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:53 AM
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Goddammit, that stupid Siamese cat song is totally stuck in my head

Tell me about it. During my separation exile, I lived with a friend who had two Siamese cats, and that song would pop into my head every single time I saw them. It didn't help that she would mockingly sing it to them, too.

I used to have a potted gardenia on the back porch which would make "Little Old Lady from Pasadena" come to mind every time I saw it out the back window. Why can't I have better earworms?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:54 AM
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I'd like to see the workout rate alongside the fraction of people with sedentary jobs, before I dismiss the effects economic determinism.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 11:57 AM
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161 -- oh, economic determinism is always the best starting point for thinking about anything.

In fact as the rise in exercising took off you also had an enormous increase in obesity and declining health along several measures. It's interesting how people's physical appearance literally became more unequal as the economy also became more unequal -- the top end of fit Americans was substantially more fit and buff (due to exercise, body building, aerobics, diet, whatever) while the poorest became increasingly obese.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 12:03 PM
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Every now and then you read about how your degree of sedentary-ness is an independent axis from how much you exercise, usually in the course of promoting standing desks and the like.

I'm always super-curious about those studies. How much daily sitting becomes unhealthy? Am I too sedentary? (Probably. But I'd like to know specifics.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 12:05 PM
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163: You're fine as long as you get up every 15 minutes and jump 10 times and scream real loud.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 12:25 PM
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Steve Reich could be good for figure skating.

I've often thought that Reich and Glass must have some decent music for figure skating. It's a judged sport, though, and I assume that the top coaches and choreographers have a good (i.e., cautious) sense of what the judges like. The second place U.S. "ladies" finisher, who is all of 15, skated to themes from Peer Gynt, another chesnut.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 12:34 PM
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Schoenberg or Cecil Taylor could be interesting.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 12:39 PM
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Dubstep. Where are the dubstep/figure-skating YouTube mashups?


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 12:45 PM
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I will take this opportunity to inform you that my great-grandmother had two Siamese cats whose names were Buttons and Bows.

Do many people own pairs of Siamese cats? ms bill says a childhood neigbor had two Siamese cats, Sammy and Missy. Was this cultural fallout from the song?


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 1:58 PM
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I have a friend who used to be a journalist covering ice skating. She made the judges sound like dickheads with sticks up their asses, so the conservative music choices are definitely deliberately designed to appeal to them.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 2:08 PM
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If she can do all that, she should become a Foley artist.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01-23-14 2:11 PM
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