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Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Betty Boop - Red Hot Mamma

Today's blog topic is a request that I have gotten from someone whom I work with. And she suggested a topic for me that I thought was interesting enough to do a blog entry with.

However, at the last possible moment, I thought about it and realized that I could do a better blog topic with an idea that my requester didn't submit but would probably enjoy a lot more than the initial idea that she gave me.

I know. You're probably confused about what I just said right? Bear with me here. I'm going to explain everything.

Okay, so part of the charm of the All-Request Wednesday is hearing ideas from all sorts of people. The vast majority of the requests have been online requests, however I will take requests in person. After all, I definitely want everyone to have a turn choosing what they want to see in this blog.

That's the story behind the request that Jennette W. of Ontario, Canada initially gave me. You see, Jenn and I work together at the same store, and she and her husband are regular readers of this blog. So when I told her that she should come up with a topic idea for me to write about, she gave me one about plastic surgery.

And, well, I thought about it, and thought, and thought some more, and I think that while her initial idea of doing a blog on plastic surgery is a potentially decent one to talk about...I think that it would be more appropriate as a Thursday Diary entry, as I have my own opinions about cosmetic surgery...and I'm warning you ahead of time, they might be not very positive opinions at that for the most part.

Still though, I wanted to do something special for Jenn. After all, she is one of the main reasons why I have kept this blog going as long as I have been. It's because of readers like her and all of you out there that gives me the motivation to keep blogging and writing. The fact that people are logging in and reading all of my random thoughts makes me very happy and fulfilled.

That's when I was reminded of a conversation that I had with Jenn a few months ago while we were working a closing shift together.

You see, a few months ago, I was still working in the dairy/frozen section of the store, and Jenn worked the pantry area. So suffice to say, we got to see each other a lot whenever we worked night shifts (as she often got a lot of them, while I would work at least two a week). I seem to recall that one day we were zoning the seasonal candy section (I think that it must have been like four weeks before Christmas or something like that), and I happened to come across a display of a certain kind of chocolate with a cartoon character on them. Or perhaps it was a clothing display with decals of a cartoon character on them. Whatever the case, we both stumbled upon merchandise with a cartoon character on them, and Jenn's eyes bugged out in delight.

For as long as she could remember, she had always been fascinated with this cartoon character. She has tons of memorabilia that have this saucy vixen plastered all over, and she loved the cartoons, and she just thought this cartoon character was the best thing since sliced bread.

It's just too bad that this cartoon character was also considered one of the most scandalous cartoons that ever aired during the era of the Great Depression. I mean, granted, watching the cartoons some eighty years later, the cartoons aren't nearly as bad as they were back then. But for this scantily clad female who danced and sang in some of the most inopportune times, she took on the scandal in spades, and grew to be one of the most beloved animated sex symbols to grace the world of cartoons.

So, for today's blog entry, we're going to be talking about the one cartoon character that my friend Jenn absolutely loves more than anything, as well as the history and controversy behind her character.

Today's subject? 1930's animated bombshell Betty Boop!

Now, I bet you're wondering how old Betty Boop is. After all, she hasn't really changed her appearance since her flapper days, and she still looks as cute as a button as she did in her first cartoon.

Well, either Betty Boop has found the right diet to keep her skin young and wrinkle-free or she's had some work done herself because she is turning eighty-three years old in just a couple of days!

Her first appearance took place on August 9, 1930 when she appeared in her first cartoon, “Dizzy Dishes”. She was created by animator Max Fleischer with assistance from a team of other animators – most notably Grim Natwick.

Now there's some misconceptions and urban legends surrounding who Betty Boop was modeled after. The general belief was that she was modeled after 1930s starlet Clara Bow, but in actuality, the inspiration for Betty Boop came from this woman below.

Recognize her? It's okay if you don't. I didn't know who she was either. She's singer Helen Kane, the real “Betty Boop”, so to speak.

And here's something that you probably might be surprised to hear. Betty Boop didn't exactly start out as a human character. She was originally drawn as a French poodle! Now that would have been something to see.

It wasn't until a couple of years after Fleischer designed the concept of Betty Boop that he began to add more human-like qualities to Betty Boop.

And, boy did she become human!

Betty Boop quickly became one of cartoon's first sex symbols. She predated Jessica Rabbit, Katy Keene, and even Betty and Veronica! With her short black dresses (or red in the colour cartoons) that left nearly nothing to the imagination, garters and high heels, and her cute baby face, Betty Boop certainly made male heads turn - in both the animated and non-animated form!

And, let's be real honest here. Like Britney Spears in her “Oops, I Did It Again” video, Betty Boop just wasn't that innocent. How else can you explain the fact that one holiday cartoon had her crawling into bed with Santa Claus, while breaking the fourth wall and giving her signature wink to the audience?

I suppose that Betty Boop was a...good girl? Or, maybe she was naughty? You know what, I'm over analyzing this. Forget it.

Truth be told, Betty Boop's sexuality was presented in such a way that kids kind of missed out on the messages, but for adults it was presented loud and clear. And, I think that in order to really illustrate my point, we're going to take a look at a classic Betty Boop cartoon released all the way back in 1934.

So for our feature presentation, we have Betty Boop in “Red Hot Mamma”. So grab yourself a nice bowl of popcorn (or a candy bar, given that the cartoon is just under seven minutes in length), and enjoy the show. We'll have a lot to talk about when it is all over and done with.

Okay, so the first thing you need to know is that it appears to be the middle of winter. Well, either that, or Betty Boop has decided to have a vacation in the Yukon. Either way, Betty proves that she's not exactly the brightest neon light on the side of a Las Vegas casino as she has every single window open in the house on what appears to be the biggest blizzard since Snowpocalypse 2011. So she does what most normal people would do on a cold day. She closes all the windows, and starts a nice fire – which in process of doing that accidentally rotisseries her beloved chickens. Ah well, at least she doesn't have to worry about what to eat for lunch.

So, Betty turns up the heat, and things get more comfortable. But then the temperature gets way too hot. The thermometer sweats, the candles melt, and the igloo in the painting melts into a giant puddle.


Naturally, Betty decides that she wants to visit this new place, and so she takes a stroll down the burning lane, giving a lone flame a spanking for following her too closely.

(Yeah, I'm pretty sure that most people would get second degree burns for touching a flame, but again, in the world of animation everything is possible, so I try to just accept it as reality even though it is a scientific impossibility.)

Anyway, where was I again? Oh yes, Betty Boop in hell.

Now, you'd think that most people would be very upset about having to spend their entire afterlives in a place where the temperature is hotter than the Equator and where fire burns everything into cinders, and where we learn that the devils are manufactured like toys on an assembly line. Not Betty. In fact, she decides to host her very own musical complete with boo-boo-be-doops, and seductive dance poses.

And, then things get really bizarre when Betty Boop's dance moves prove to be too much for the devils who reside in the place that has “Hell's Bells”. They all decide to team up to take care of the seductress once and for all, only to be given the cold shoulder.

Literally, Betty's shoulder materializes a single ice cube that has the power to freeze the devils in their tracks, encasing them in a prison of ice.

Apparently Betty Boop is a distant relative of Batman's Mr. Freeze. Who knew?

Meanwhile, the head devil in charge of Hell is certainly intrigued and a little bit scared at the same time. How can a sultry vixen be so cold? And, how can he get her number now that his competition has been put on ice?

(Okay, I promise I'll cut it out with the cold jokes...actually, no I can't.)

Turns out that Betty Boop is getting a little bit tired of Hell and its children, and she is more than ready to leave. So when the leader of the pack comes around to turn up the heat, she stares him down with a stare so cold he stops dead in his tracks.

In fact, Betty's stare is so cold that she ends up freezing Hell completely over! But, then reality sets in and she wakes up with her home even colder than before. It seems that the ever intelligent Betty Boop left the front door completely wide open. So, nevermind the fact that her home is basically an invitation for all criminals to come in, she now has her entire home filled with snow! What's a girl to do? go to bed with every possible blanket that she purchased from Sears.

But you know something? I think that was part of the charm of Betty Boop. She played innocent even when she wasn't quite representing herself that way. And, you know, there was just something hypnotizing about her. She really could catch anyone's attention.

Even if she did sound like Cyndi Lauper when she sang.

In conclusion of this article, I have one final trivia question for you. Do you know how many voice artists Betty Boop has had over the years?

Well, the answer is fifteen! They were/are, in no particular order, Margie Hines, Ann Rothschild, Mae Questel, Kate Wright, Bonnie Poe, Victoria d'Orazi, Bernadette Peters, Desiree Goyette, Melissa Fahn, Sue Raney, Cheryl Chase, Tress MacNeille, Tara Strong, Sandy Fox, and Cindy Robinson!

That's a lot of Betty Boops! Boo-boo-be-doop!

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