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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cartoon A-Holes: Part 2 - The Biggest A-holes in Cartoon History Revealed

If you are the father of a two-year-old girl with a penchant for fancy dresses, magic wands and twirling, then you know that when she finds something she really likes, she wants as much of that thing as possible, no matter how sick of that thing her daddy might be.  It goes for books (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read about Elmo’s visit to the Sesame Street police station, not only because I haven’t kept count, but because the story itself has eaten away the part of my brain that involved in the act of counting and doing thought things and such.), music (I could sing the Frozen soundtrack to you from memory in the character’s voices if I wanted to, I just don’t want to right now), movies (I share my daughter’s love of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, but there are other movies in existence, you know), and TV (Luckily, her latest obsession, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, is pretty great, but I can see that Prince Tuesday pushing me over the proverbial edge eventually). 
My daughter, Q, isn’t allowed unlimited access to TV and movies, because 1) she’s two-years-old and there are better ways for her to spend her time and 2) me and her mother are probably, like, the best parents in the world or whatever.  We do have movie night a couple of times a month, and once in a while me and Q will indulge in a little cartoon mini-marathons.  It was during one of these cartoon marathons, I was reintroduced to some friends I lost touch with, and by friends, I obviously mean the two biggest assholes in the history of animation.  Yup, you guessed it, the cartoon world’s two most gigantic a-hole jerks are FIFER AND FIDDLER PIG!
My daughter is obsessed with the story of the Three Little Pigs, so much so, that she is always on the lookout for a Big Bad Wolf (or “Bad Bad Wolf” as she calls him) attack.  One night after we’d completed our nightly routine—which, quite frankly, grows crazier and longer each week—Q called my name before I could secure her door.
“The Bad Bad Wolf is outside,” she said, matter-of-factly.
“He’s not.  I promise.  Good-night.”
“He is outside.  He huff and puff and blow our house down.”
“There’s no way he’ll get this house down.  In fact, I hope he tries.”  I really did.  I couldn’t wait to laugh in the face of an embarrassed, winded wolf.
Oddly, last night, during bath time, Q began scrubbing the bathtub with her wash cloth.  I didn't think much of it because kids do all kinds of weird stuff all the time.  But when she announced what it was she was doing, I was a bit perplexed.
“I’ve got to wash this chimley so the Bad Bad Wolf can come down,” she chirped as she scrubbed.
“Wait, you want the Big Bad Wolf to come down the chimney?” I asked.
“Yeah!”  Kids, right?
So, Q loves the Three Little Pigs, mainly for the wolf, but it’s a story she’s heard many different versions of, many different times.  You can probably imagine her excitement when I shared with her the first of what I call the Three Little Pigs Trilogy, even though there are technically four installments, three of which are available on Netflix.  I’m talking about Walt Disney’s Three Little Pigs cartoons, the first of which, simply titled Three Little Pigs, won an Academy Award in 1934.  And for good reason.  The animation is great, the song is infectious and the extreme pig-on-wolf violence is top-notch.  I was a big fan of the cartoon when I was a kid, and I’m glad my daughter enjoys it so much.  I also kind of understand why the Big Bad Wolf is her favorite character.  He’s the only character who isn’t a total anti-fun nag or a raging giggly asshole.
We get it, man.  You know everything!  Give it a rest already.

The nag of course would be Practical Pig, the swine brother who built his house out of brick, and according to one of the Three Little Pigs books Q has, slathered it with a hefty coat of anti-wolf paint.  While he is a nag, Practical is also, well, practical.  He understands that we live in a world in which we are under constant threat of wolf attack, and so he constructs his house accordingly.  You can’t blame him for extolling the virtues of hard work and mindfulness of danger.  Sure, he’s no fun at parties, but at least a wolf isn’t going to blow his house down and eat him raw.
Fifer and Fiddler, named thus because of the instruments they play while ignoring the fact that their crummy houses, made of hay and sticks respectively, offer no protection from the wily ways of the Big Bad Wolf, are total a-holes for a list of reasons, a list that grows longer as you move through the trilogy.
Original recipe Three Little Pigs hews pretty close to the version of the story in which the pigs who built their houses out of twigs and straw aren’t messily devoured by Big Bad after their houses are unceremoniously blown down.  We’re all familiar with the story of the Three Little Pigs, so I’m not going to insult you with a retelling.  What I’d like to point out though is that even in the popular bedtime story, Twigs and Straw—which is also, ironically, the throwback buddy cop movie I’m currently writing for Paramount—are kinda total assholes.  Disney’s version amps that asshole-ish behavior to a healthy eleven.  Fifer and Fiddler not only construct crappy domiciles in a matter of minutes, but they taunt their brother, Practical/Bricks, for being so, well, practical, and choosing a stronger substance for his home sweet home.  Not only that, but they taunt fate by performing the snotty earworm “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?,” a refrain which is repeated throughout the trilogy.  And, of course, when shit goes down, who do Fiddler and Fifer run to for protection? Practical, the brother they treated like a pile of hot dumb garbage when he suggested that their collective laziness would lead to wolfy hijinks.  And Practical, being the stand-up swine that he is, takes his brothers in and defeats the wolf entirely by himself, while Fiddler and Fifer quiver like a couple of sissies beneath his bed.

Just a couple of assholes

In The Big Bad Wolf, the second chapter in the trilogy, Fiddler and Fifer amp up there asshole behavior by putting a dewy-eyed innocent, Little Red Riding Hood, into danger by leading her through the deep dark woods and then abandoning her the moment the Big Bad Wolf shows his ugly mug.  Why Fids and Fifes even offer to trek through the forest with Little Red is beyond me.  I mean it boggles the mind!  Sure, they sing their usually song, which is nothing more than a boast of unearned bravery set to music, but that does nothing to shore up their courage. These two assholes don’t have an ounce of courage in their bacon-producing bodies.  Predictably, they end up back underneath Practical Pig’s bed—oh, it is suggested that they live with Practical now, as when we first see him, he is building an addition to his house o’ bricks—and Practical has to load up a sack with wolf fightin’ equipment—which includes popcorn for reasons I still can’t figure out after roughly 9,000 viewings—and dash off to Grandma’s house to rescue Hood and her grandmother from certain death.  But don’t worry, Fiddler and Fifer show up at Grandma’s just in time to watch BB-Dubs run screaming into the forest with piping hot popcorn shooting out of his britches.  They even lead a chorus of “Who’s Afraid” while Practical works the pump on Grandma’s organ so Hood can accompany them.  DID YOU READ THAT?!?  PRACTICAL SAVES THE LIVES OF COUNTLESS FORESTER DWELLERS BY ONCE AGAIN SINGLE-HANDEDLY DEFEATING THE BIG BAD WOLF, AND HE’S RELIGATED TO WORKING THE PUMP ON GRANDMA’S ORGAN WHILE EVERYONE ELSE DANCES AROUND AND SINGS ABOUT WHAT A PUSSY THE WOLF IS!!!  WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING???
Fiddler and Fifer reach a crescendo of assholery in the The Three Little Wolves however.  Holy shit!  As the cartoon opens, we see Practical working on a brand-new weapon to battle the Big Bad Wolf, a Rube Goldberg device known ominously as the Wolf Pacifier.  We also learn that Practical Pig has installed a Wolf Warning horn in a nearby tree.  So, of course, Fiddler and Fifer blow it like a couple of dickheads, and Practical leaps into action.  Angry and embarrassed after he learns it was merely a prank, Practical returns to his inventing, and Fids and Fifes wander off into the fields to play their instruments and, I don’t know, dream up new ways to treat Practical like stupid lump of dumb. Unbeknownst to our “heroes,” the Big Bad Wolf, who for some reason, and only in this scene, is a sinister Nazi scientist, is teaching his three sons the finer points of hog butchery.  It’s a weird, dark scene, but we’re here to talk about what assholes Fiddler and Fifer are, so let’s move forward.
Predictably, the Big Bad Wolf and his sons trick Fiddler and Fifer into coming back to the their place to be made into dinner and consumed readily.  Fiddler and Fifer blow the Wolf Warning horn, but to no avail.  Practical is finally finished with their shit, and, personally, I was glad.  There was a moment, a split second, during Three Little Wolves in which I thought, “This might be it.  This might be the last moments of Fiddler and Fifer Pig.  Sure, it’s a little more Hostel-y than I’d like my 2-year-old daughter to see, but, hey, it’s important she know where her sausage patties come from.” But, no, Fiddler and Fifer survive yet another round with the Big Bad Wolf, and Practical shows up with his fully functional Wolf Pacifier and disposes of the Wolf in a way both humiliating and needlessly violent.  Trust me, the comparison to Hostel is really apropos.   

So, there you have it.  Fiddler Pig and Fifer Pig are the biggest assholes in the history of animated film, not only because of their unearned cocksure attitude when it comes to dealing with wolves or their continuous shabby treatment of their brother, but because they never once get their comeuppance.  Sure, Big Bad's progeny are nearly successful in turning them into chopped pork barbecue plates, but in the end they fail like their old man, and Fiddler and Fifer live to be assholes for another day.  And thanks to home video and internet streaming technology, they can keep on being assholes until the end of time.

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