Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dick Dastardly: great human


Is it possible for a bad human to be great? Historians certainly seem to think so given the amount of attention they pay the likes of Genghis Khan and Ivan the Terrible. The path to greatness involves influencing large numbers of people, which can be achieved in many different ways – killing them is one method, terrorising them is another, and getting them to follow your example is a third.

Dick Dastardly was that rare example of a bad man who influenced people through the force of his example. Let’s start with that faux English accent of his. It’s clearly the voice of a weedy boy who got bullied at school and is now looking for revenge on a world that betrayed him. His manner of speaking was so evocative that it’s been copied by villain after villain in subsequent Hollywood movies. To this day, if you want to know who the baddie is in an American film or TV show, just look for the man whose speech patterns most closely resemble Dick Dastardly.

Dastardly’s accomplices also set the standard for what the villain’s henchmen are supposed to be like – the guiding principle is that they should be even more weird than the villain himself. His main side-kick is the impertinent dog Muttley, who evidently has nothing but contempt for his master, forever sniggering at his misfortunes and sometimes cursing him under his doggy breath. He’s clearly much smarter than the pea-brained Dastardly, so why does he stay with him? The answer, bizarrely, is that the dog has a peculiar fetish about getting medals pinned to his hairy chest. Dastardly’s other henchmen in his doomed flying escapades are simply too weird to be described adequately with words.

Dastardly has one lone virtue that’s essential for the bad guy in any TV show which runs over multiple episodes – he never gives up. He wakes up every morning believing that today is the day that the annoying pigeon will be plucked and served in a tasty pie. Wile E Coyote was doubtless inspired by Dastardly’s optimism in his own quest for the Roadrunner’s gizzard. This is an important lesson for the youth of today – however dumb and ineffective the bad guys appear to be, they may one day achieve their nefarious aims through sheer persistence. Thus, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance and an unconquerable will to outlast the bastards until they give up.

Here’s the
song from Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines.

Comments:
I was so impressed with this posting, GB, that I am giving serious consideration to shaving my beard, extending the hair on my upper lip and changing my name to El Moustacho.
 
That may be going too far, Beardy, but you're right to identify with Dastardly rather than that bloody pigeon, which I always longed to see get squashed. I had the same feelings about the Roadrunner as well.

The problem with that show is that Dastardly had a one-track mind. If he'd been trying to get into Penelope Pitstop's pants as well as catching the pigeon it would have been more interesting.
 
I grew up hoping that Jerry would get eaten by Tom, the pigeon would get cooked, and the road runner get...whatever the hell Wile E. had going on at the time. Possibly turned into a burnt piece of toast.

Hey, on another note, I once dicked dastardly, and it was quite fun. I think I'll do it again one day.
 
Hrmpf. Quite quiet.
 
I don't agree about Tom and Jerry , SafeT. Altough Tom always loses, he often catches Jerry and humiliates him in various way. And he's not totally obsessed with the mouse in every episode. Often he has bigger fish to fry, like the female cat. Remember the one where Tom is fishing and uses Jerry as bait?
 
Yes, and he makes friends with the worm or some such.

I must say that T&J are not my favorite vintage 'toons in any case. I like the Fleischer(sp) stuff best, and Warner Bros second. T&J were MGM.
 
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