Monday, November 22, 2010

Mr. Magoo's Heresy


Recently, I stumbled upon a vintage television commercial on YouTube. It was for a beer called Stag, which I never had the pleasure of sampling. From the early 1960s or thereabouts, its pitchman was none other than Mr. Magoo, a legally blind, beloved cartoon character. The ad’s a bona fide classic featuring the always-frenetic Magoo bumbling about in search of his preferred brew and singing its praises the entire time.

The individual who placed this fifty-year-old commercial on YouTube obviously didn't approve of its underlying message. In fact, he dubbed it “sleazy," and at once indicted and convicted the animated Magoo for “cracking open a few frosties in front of impressionable young minds.” Now, considering that a half-century has passed since the advertisement first aired, pardon me for finding it a bit strange that so many contemporary men and women (see the YouTube comments) get exorcised over TV programming from long before they were born. Come on, when Mr. Magoo salivated over a cold glass of Stag, John F. Kennedy was the president.

And no, I wouldn't condone old Magoo hawking a brand of beer today or, for that matter, Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble puffing away on Winston cigarettes and promoting this lethal and filthy habit. But really, while they weren’t exactly on par with Family Guy or South Park, both cartoons from yesteryear were sold to predominantly adult audiences, and, I suspect, the aforementioned ads weren’t aired during Saturday morning cartoon times, either.

Not too long ago, somebody uploaded a video on YouTube who disabled the comment option with these words: “I don’t care in the least what the idiotocracy has to say about my video. If you want to watch it—watch it. If you don’t—don’t.” Indeed, it seems that the virtual woods are chock full of folks with agendas these days, not to mention a never-ending parade of crass imbeciles champing at the bit to have their vulgar say on matters great and small.

Again, while I wouldn’t sanction a cartoon colossus like Mr. Magoo promoting a beer in the here and now, pardon me for being skeptical of the notion that we’ve come such a long way vis-à-vis uplifting impressionable minds. I wonder how many innocent youths reached for a Stag brew because the hyper-Magoo liked his few? My friends and I played with toy guns and plastic soldiers as boys, but it never occurred us to bring the genuine articles into school and mow down our classmates. That said, I’m truly glad today's youngsters aren’t exposed to anything like Mr. Magoo on a beer-fueled high. It's at least something to be grateful for.

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