Shorts: Teachers Are People (1952)

I hadn’t planned on writing two back-to-back articles about Dippy Dawg, but two things happened. One, I wanted to start writing articles about Disney’s short subject cartoons in addition to the feature films. But also, the recent events in Florida inspired me to look at this…dated cartoon.

For my readers in the future, when I wrote this, eleven days ago (02/14/2018), a 19-year-old in Parkland, Florida used an AR-15 rifle to gun down 17 of his classmates. A school security guard and three other armed deputies stayed outside the school while this happened. This was just another mass shooting in America’s long, deeply disturbing history of shootings, and once again, it’s reduced everyone to arguing gun rights versus gun control. But what made this situation unique was our current president has openly suggested arming our already overwhelmed, underpaid teachers. Naturally, things are getting even more heated in this gun-happy country, but time will tell if anything will come of it, because the past several shootings prompted exactly zero changes. And speaking of which, how is the future, reader? Do we enact some meaningful or effective gun legislation? Did the Dickey amendment get removed? Did Trump get ousted from office via guillotine? And more importantly, what are your lottery numbers?

During the 1950’s, when Goofy was renamed George Geef and was made the average joe in the mid-20th century, he took on a handful of jobs, including a teacher in this short, where the gag spells out the stresses of a teacher that seem…pretty tragic now. The kind you chuckle at first, but soon your chuckles devolve into pained, stressed sobs of unadulterated depression.

In this short, the narrator (provided whimsically by Alan Reed, the original Fred Flintstone) describes an average day in the life of a school teacher, with articulate, almost flowery prose to contrast the visual gags featured. To hear him describe it, it’s a Norman Rockwellian view of classic Americana featuring happy, eager students. But the kids are rowdy, bratty, and incorrigible. It’s the crux of the short’s humor.

Goofy himself is dressed to the nines in a blue suit and red bow tie, and takes every inconvenience and incident by ignoring it or handling it with graceful efficiency. One boy in particular, George, is a constant disruption, playing hooky to go fishing, using a slingshot, making faces, drawing on the chalkboard, dismantling his desk, late from recess, and even extorting answers from a fellow student. There’s a charm here with the crazy, out-of-control students that now is idyllic, and still captures many teachers’ struggles to this day. At least it would if this was all the short did.

Now, back in the fifties, violence in schools was considered profoundly absurd. Weapons were not nearly as commonplace as today. So when Goofy catches George with his slingshot, he demands he empty his pockets into the teacher’s desk. George drops in A PISTOL, A POCKET KNIFE, FIRECRACKERS, DARTS, and A TICKING GRENADE. What does Goofy do? Drop the grenade into a handy bucket of water. Uh, yikes.

One gag I kind of liked was Goofy overhearing a bunch of kids snickering and when he finds out what they’re talking about, he blushes and he rips down…

Oh wow.

During a spelling lesson, Goofy asks George to spell “cat”. George cheats, as I said before, by AIMING A GUN RIGHT IN ANOTHER KID’S FACE. The answer is wrong, and George pulls the trigger. It’s just water! It’s a water pistol! Ha ha ha…that is so very, very uncomfortable.

Now, I mentioned how Goofy has to deal with a bunch of usual issues teachers deal with to this day: students that won’t listen, outdated textbooks, maintaining basic decorum, cheating students, grading papers, keeping things clean, keeping the kids safe at the crosswalk, that kind of stuff. But the least funny one is when parent comes by after school, demands to know “Whatsa mattah wit’ my kid’s grammah?” before bopping Goofy on the head. I don’t know enough teachers, but I’m sure more than enough have had to deal with violent parents or at least parents’ threats when a child’s grades are in trouble.

But the final gag is the worst one of all. Spoiler warning, yeah.

As the camera start to iris out, this happens:

Holy smokes! what just happened?

Oh.

Oh…

Oh dear God…

So…yeah, this cartoon has not aged well. Of course, it’s not like anyone could predict Columbine, Sandy Hook, or Parkland sixty-plus years ago. But it is an interesting time capsule to consider what was considered parody back then.

Much like “No Smoking”, this is one cartoon I probably wouldn’t show to kids anytime soon. The humor is passable where it doesn’t reflect the struggles of today, but there are definitely funnier Goofy cartoons out there. The best parts are the narration and the “birds and the bees” gag. Otherwise, it’s mostly just uncomfortable.

Grade: D

Credit for these screen caps go to The best Kids Cartoon Movies, where you can watch the cartoon in full here.

Author: TAP-G

Writer, former podcaster, entertainment enthusiast. Movies and media have the power to shape our world and vice versa. Let’s take a deeper look at them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: