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Cartoon Hell #3 – “The Friendly Ghost”

January 8, 2008

Cartoon Hell is TheKarpuk’s attempt to review every single installment in an awful $5 collection called “150 Classic Cartoons” purchased at his local Wal-Mart. Your prayers are welcome.

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Unlike the previous two entries in this series, today’s cartoon is a change of pace, which surprised me considering the wasteland the “150 Classic Cartoons” appeared to be on the outset. I knew a few famous Paramount and Fleischer characters would appear sooner or later, but they’ve actually included the first appearance of Casper the Friendly Ghost, appropriately titled, “The Friendly Ghost”.

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This short opens with a set of credits that I found to be genuinely creepy. A few of the pictures would actually make cool posters if properly cleaned up and enlarged. Considering this is effectively a children’s series, I’m actually kind of impressed.

A friendly and folksy narrator says something approximately like the following as we zoom in on a spooky house: “If you believe in ghosts, this is the story for you. If you don’t believe in ghosts, well I suppose you can just fuck right off.” I’m probably paraphrasing.

In the interests of full disclosure, I must point out that I’m thoroughly unconvinced that ghosts exist. In my estimation, they fall somewhere between “wishful thinking” and “bullshit”.

I mean really, let’s do some math here. Let’s suppose that only .01 percent of all people who die become a ghost. An average of 150,000 people die worldwide every day, so that would mean 15 ghosts a day, 105 ghosts a week, and 5460 ghosts a year. People seem to believe that ghosts haunt an area as long as need be, so we can basically assume that this trend goes back to the dawn of man. Even going with such a slim percentage, we’d have been up to our assholes in ghosts years ago. If ghosts were that common, ghostbusting wouldn’t be cool, it would be just another form of pest control. You’d be able to buy ghost traps at the local Wal-Mart.

“Booooooo-SNAP!”

“Oh, honey, could you deal with that. I hate throwing out the dead ghosts.”

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So to digress from that spirited rant, the story starts out with a shot of Casper reclining on a piece of spooky furniture reading a book on how to make friends. In terms of a pity level, people reading books on how to make friends is only a notch below a child with an extreme case of Downs Syndrome trying to remain standing on freshly waxed kitchen floor.

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According to the mythos of this cartoon, ghosts pretend to be various furniture coverings and clothing during the day. It raises all kinds of questions, like: Do the ghosts of perverts pretend to be seductive clothes? Do ghosts ever let people wear them out on important events so they can disappear at the most embarrassing moments? I’d hate to be at a job interview when suddenly my clothing vanishes into a cloud of ghosts laughing at my naked ass. Dicks.

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Once the witching hour is reached, the ghosts fly off into the the sky as a big spooky mass, all except Casper, who has little interests in their haunting ways. He’s then harassed by a ghost rowing an invisible boat, who advises him that he should be out haunting. To me that ghost is like the drunken guy at every bad concert who asks me if I’m having a good time. If that ghost had stuck around, soon he’d be yelling, “Come on Casper, let’s get crunk on boo juice and find some ghost bitches who like to party! Whoo!” Wisely, Casper ignores him.

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And what do ghosts do when they need a wild night on the town? Why, they do a tactical bomb raid style spooking on an entire village while keeping in perfect formation. So in other words, every single house in this entire town is haunted nightly. Why are there people living in this fucking town? Is it a cottage tourist industry for ghost hunters?

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Realizing that he has no place among the cushion covering ghosts, Casper packs his things into a handkerchief and sets out as a ghostly bindle-stiff. On his way out, Casper pets the resident dead cat. A ghost boy petting his ghost cat is almost painfully cute, I feel far too vulnerable to discuss this section further.

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Most of this cartoon is a series of attempts by Casper to make friends, as are most cartoons he would do in the future. His first attempt at buddying up is with a rooster whose busily crowing to announce the arrival of morning. And what a morning it is, as indicated by the picture, either Casper is on some sort of ghostly hallucinogens or it’s the first sunrise of nuclear winter.

Casper attempts to talk to a rooster, who responds by panicking and making noises like a car backfiring and then flees in terror.

He then tries to make friends with some sort of weird mole/weasel hybrid, which puts on its glasses and finds him terrifying. God’s little burrowing mistake then proceeds to fuck up the entire neighborhood’s landscaping in his retreat.

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A cat chasing mouse sees Casper next and makes a face that will haunt me until the day I die. It’s an expression too vivid and unpleasant too really evoke laughter, it’s just damn displeasing. The mouse enters the cats mouth and physically drags the cat away, because for some reason it finds the cat’s death grimace less disturbing that an entity that looks roughly like the ghost of Big Boy.

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Next on his quest to bring polite terror to the masses Casper interrupts knitting hens, lest we forget our gender stereotypes. This struck me as double strange since the rooster didn’t need anything to identify it as male, it’s not like it was repairing a car or lifting weights when Casper startled him. The chickens fly away with the entire coop, dumping a horde of eggs on our protagonist, creating what I personally consider a situation that would be disgusting to deal with beyond all reason. Why the eggs don’t just go through him I’m unsure about, apparently he has some sort of weird vegan rules about what can pass through.

As charming as Casper is, it’s a bit hard to suspend disbelief with these kinds of reactions. People aren’t scared of ghosts just because they’re ghosts, it’s all the creepy shit ghosts supposedly do to people. Last time I checked, friendly greetings and polite conversation weren’t giving people nightmares. No animal I’ve ever known was frightened by the site of anything that resembled the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

 

Casper the friendly ghost then tries to commit suicide by lying on railroad tracks, which has about the results you might expect seeing as I’ve never heard of a sad little ghost derailing an Amtrack. What occurred to me at that moment is that a kid ghost is basically doomed to being stupid for all eternity. In 100 years he’ll be telling people they’re “the bees knees” when they enter a house he’s haunting and will still be wondering why he can’t lick his own elbow.

As Casper cries, two normal Rockwellian looking kids say hello to him without the slightest suggestion of fear or malice. His head turns a pleasant shade of red. I think if I embarrassed a ghost I’d be bragging about it until they day I died, it’s such a uniquely awesome accomplishment. If I ever see a ghost, I’m going to do my best to humiliate it.

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The wholesome children offer to let Casper play with them, and they then enjoy classic children’s games like “throw the ball” and “jump the rope”. Proper children in those days didn’t need your fancy video games or above-the-poverty-line accoutrements!

As any polite child would do, they take Casper home to their hovel, and their mother’s immediate reaction is to shriek and hide her children with her under the bed. I think the message to kids in the audience would be, “Don’t die, or your mother won’t love you anymore.”

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The Evil Mortgage Holder arrives, his mustache loaded with the milk of human villainy, and demands his money as mustachioed men are prone to doing. Upon seeing Casper’s hideous visage, he tears up the mortgage, runs across a bridge so quickly it ignites, and is never seen again. Legend has it that he hung himself in a rented room Tijuana, haunted by the image of a cherubic ghost looking up at him with mild curiosity.

So of course, the mother now wants the little ghost to stay. Considering the ghost just obliterated her rent payments, yeah, I can understand wanting the adorable little marshmallow around. I’m now jealous, wishing I had a friendly ghost of my own who would laugh at my jokes and scare off my apartment management when they try to evict me.

UNPC Moment:

The sexism through out is pretty amusing, because it’s all the sort that indicates that females are inherently domestic. Nothing exciting, but it’s pretty blatant.

Rating: Genuinely Good

Though the inherent set up is ridiculous, the presentation is sharp and the animation is impressive. Some of the detail on the painted backgrounds is amazing, and the main character is oddly charming, stupid though he may be.

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4 comments

  1. I have always been strangely charmed by the “Casper” storylines. This is one old cartoon I would be interested in seeing. What strange cultural norm made mustaches synonymous with evil?


  2. Make there be more!


  3. Sexism and stereotypes are just agreed upon forms of communication. Its like this awesome guy told me once. There is no absolute truth, people weigh information and come to the conclusion of what is a truth. (I’m paraphrasing, he was more eloquent than I)

    I want to see more blogs about cartoons. The nostaglia factor is great. I sit here in my work surroundings and find limited ways to escape my cubicle hell. The Internets is heavily guarded by “them” so this helps me find a way out. I could use my imagination but its been so damaged by TV that it ceases to function. Help me O great Karpuk. Free me of this.

    Keep up the writing. I enjoy. Intensely, Immensely and on a pony


  4. XD I agree.Casper is poorly made… i dont get scarred about teh cat D: face o.o



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