Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Waitresses – "It's My Car" (1982)

Driven maybe fifty feet
And we're fighting like dogs and cats

My family didn’t have a dog or a cat when I was growing up, so I didn’t know much about how dogs and cats behaved.

One thing I did know was that dogs and cats fought.  I learned that by watching cartoons, which often featured dogs and cats fighting like . . . well, fighting like dogs and cats.  

Other things I learned from watching cartoons as a kid: pepper causes you to sneeze uncontrollably, you can run off a cliff without falling to the ground as long as you don’t look down, you need to be on the outlook for an anvil falling from a great height and landing on your noggin, and a banana peel is the slipperiest thing on earth:

Cartoon dogs were usually large, loutish creatures who instinctively attacked any cat they saw.  But cartoon cats were always much smarter than cartoon dogs, so they rarely had any trouble evading canine aggression.

Dogs instinctively chase small prey that flee, which likely explains the origin of the fighting-like-cats-and-dogs thing.  But dogs and cats who are raised together usually get along perfectly well.

When you’re talking about cats and mice, of course, it’s a whole different story.  

The most famous cats-and-mice cartoon was Tom and Jerry.  Unlike cats in cats-and-dogs cartoons, cats in cats-and-mice cartoon are stupid – they act more like dogs in cats-and-dogs cartoons.

Tom and Jerry put Hanna-Barbera Productions on the map.  The company produced 114 Tom and Jerry shorts for MGM between 1940 and 1958.  The shorts were originally shown in movie theaters prior to the main attraction.

Hanna-Barbera moved into television cartoons in a big way in the 1950s with Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, Top Cat, Yogi Bear, The Jetsons, and The Flintstones (which was the longest-running animated TV series ever until The Simpsons surpassed it).  

The company converted its Tom and Jerry cartoons into a television series in 1965.  But the cartoons had to be heavily edited to get rid of certain elements that weren’t a problem in 1940 but were most definitely a problem in 1965.

For example, one of the recurring characters in Tom and Jerry was a fat African-American maid who spoke with a stereotypical accent and was named Mammy Two Shoes.

Mammy Two Shoes was mostly seen from the neck down.  “Saturday Evening Puss” is the one Tom and Jerry short that showed Mammy's face:

When Tom and Jerry made it on to the small screen in 1965, animators inserted new footage replacing Mammy Two Shoes with a fat Irish-American maid.  (Isn't that just as bad?)

By the way, the new character was voiced by June Foray, who is best known as the voice of Rocket J. Squirrel, Natasha Fatale, and virtually every other female character on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.)

June Foray
Another thing about Tom and Jerry that bothered some people was the amount of violence it contained:

The cartoons are known for some of the most violent cartoon gags ever devised in theatrical animation such as Tom using everything from axes, hammers, firearms, firecrackers, explosives, traps and poison to kill Jerry.  On the other hand, Jerry's methods of retaliation are far more violent due to their frequent success, including slicing Tom in half, decapitating him, shutting his head or fingers in a window or a door, stuffing Tom's tail in a waffle iron or a mangle, kicking him into a refrigerator, getting him electrocuted, pounding him with a mace, club or mallet, causing trees or electric poles to drive him into the ground, sticking matches into his feet and lighting them, tying him to a firework and setting it off, and so on.  Because of this, Tom and Jerry has often been criticized as excessively violent.  Despite the frequent violence, there is no blood or gore in any scene.

That last sentence certainly isn’t true of the Tom and Jerry-inspired The Itchy & Scratchy Show, which Bart and Lisa enjoy on The Simpsons.  Itchy & Scratchy features copious amounts of blood and gore:

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The Waitresses, who were formed in Akron, Ohio, in 1977, are remembered today for “Christmas Wrapping,” a song that tells the story of a young woman who seems destined to spend a lonely Christmas until she runs into a guy she’s been trying to connect with for months at a convenience store on Christmas Eve.  The two decide to have Christmas dinner together and presumably live happily ever after.  

You’ll hear “Christmas Wrapping” on the radio any day now, and if you’re like me, you’ll immediately change the station.  It is the worst pop Christmas song of all time by a wide margin.

The Waitresses’ other big hit was “I Know What Boys Like.”  The less said about it, the better.

“It’s My Car” was released on the group’s first album, Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful, in 1982 – long before GPS was invented, which brought an end to drivers getting lost on car trips: 

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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