Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Wonder of Saturday Mornings

Born in the mid-70's and the oldest of five boys.

We lived for Saturday mornings in the 80s and early 90s. Sleeping in. Or not. Sugar blasted cereal when we could get it. Wheat Chex blasted with sugar most of the time. Sitting in front of our black and white model or our grandmother's color (wow) TV. Parked for immovable hours at a time at the feet of Superfriends, Transformers, G. I. Joe, Voltron, Spider-Man and Friends, Pee-Wee's Playhouse, Punky Brewster (with the little ugly alien at her side), Alvin and the Chipmunks, Garfield and Friends, Archie, Josie and the Pussycats, Bugs Bunny and Friends (are you catching a pattern with the names here? And how do we know they were friends? Garfield was not the sociable type. Bugs was always looking out for numero uno. Spider-Man probably didn't do late night poker with Ice Man), The Harlem Globetrotters, The Incredible Hulk ("Hulk Smash!"), Rubik's Cube, Ghostbusters, Gummy Bears, Menudo, Muppet Babies, Fat Albert, Scooby Doo (and Scrappy, too), Saved by the Bell, the Snorks, the Smurfs.

The Smurfs are 50 this week. I liked watching them. But I always figured that they were somewhat effeminate and was a bit ashamed of my fondness for the show (unlike with the superheroes, I never owned Smurf merchandise, though. So I'm ok in that regard). It wasn't until yesterday that I figured out why it might be harder for a parent to have a young girl watch these shows. In fact, although the American version probably wasn't any where near as sexist as the auteur would've preferred.

From the Straight Dope:

The character Smurfette... embodies some unflattering female stereotypes, and does so on purpose. In a recent biography of Peyo, Hugues Dayez relates a story about the cartoonist's negotiations with NBC for the upcoming Smurf animated series. Peyo apparently spoke little or no English. When the discussion turned to Smurfette, Peyo's interpreter explains:

Peyo began by saying that she was "very feminine." They asked him to be more specific, so he went on to say: "She is pretty, blonde, she has all the characteristics of women."

Knowing the feminist spirit in the U.S.A., I diplomatically translated this as "all the qualities." I was banking on the fact that Peyo did not understand what I was saying (in English) and the others did not understand what he was trying to say. So naturally they asked him to expand. So he kept on going with: "She seduces, she uses trickery rather than force to get results. She is incapable of telling a joke without blowing the punch line. She is a blabbermouth but only makes superficial comments. She is constantly creating enormous problems for the Smurfs but always manages to blame it on someone else."

I did my best to minimize the sexist nature of this description, but one of the participants at the meeting asked: "Would she at least be able, when the Smurfs are in danger, to take a decision that can save them?" When I translated this to Peyo, he looked astounded. "Come on now, do they expect me to make her a (female) gym teacher?" I obviously did not translate this remark.

Read more interesting facts here.

h/t to Mark O.

2) One thing I miss about Saturday mornings (and especially this Saturday morning) is being able to go to the cafe and ruminate for several hours. Reading. Writing. Wonderful Letizia's natural muffins. Getting away. Sips from a large, never-ending (but sometimes chilling) cup of international coffee. Shutting off the world or engaging with it. Actually, with the exception of shutting off the world (more on that later) and the muffins, I'm enjoying all of that now. Yeah, life is good.

3) I usually have to rush out of the house just as Joss is waking up. And I usually make it home just as - and increasingly, just after - she goes down for the night. I'm lucky if I get to spend more than three hours of wake time with her during the weekdays. And Jen is an early-morning sleeper. Since she usually has the wee-early morning hours when my spud body is most potato-ish, if my wife can sleep in when she doesn't have to rush for work or church, then that goes a long way.

So Saturday mornings are still wonder-filled. Joss was screaming her little head off as I was putting her down last night, partially because it didn't look like night. This morning, I held Joss for twenty minutes as we lay on the couch observing each other. Yes, life is good.

I do miss Count Chocula though. Not the Wheat Chex.


  1. Ah, the nostalgia. I rarely have Saturdays off anymore (except today, surprisingly), so I feel even more nostalgic.

    I, too, liked the Smurfs, but it was more for the Medieval (supposedly) feel. I was less feminist and maybe less discerning at the time, so I didn't mind Smurfette. My friend John the Item has noted (smirking) some of the above-mentioned details, however.

  2. i think what you smurfed to say was: "My friend John the Item has noticed (smurfing) some of the above-smurfing details, smurfever."

    and please, i'm getting inundated with emails from my boss even now. it's hard work to not work on saturdays.


Be kind. Rewind.