Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hurray, hurrah: welcome to hell!

It wasn't good, my childhood. Few and far between were the real joys, and this wasn't one of them. But we sort of watched the show anyway. I must have kept watching it right up until high school, because I distinctly remember my seatmate Patty sending up the "hurray, hurrah" theme song with "c'mon and take a hm-hm" (meaning, presumably, a dump).

This whole genre is creepy and sick, a big man controlling a little man of childlike proportions, making him say things, making him DO things he would not normally say or do because he is nothing but a chunk of molded particle-board adorned with bits of plastic.

I couldn't escape Edgar Bergen altogether (and for those who are too young to remember - in other words, everybody - he was Candice Bergen's Dad and an old vaudeville entertainer, a ventriloquist who performed on the Ed Sullivan Show in his dotage). He appeared mostly on the radio with his dummy Charlie McCarthy, a smart-ass hunk of particle board famous for parrying with W. C. Fields. But think of it: a ventriloquist on the radio? Isn't that sort of like tap-dancing on the radio, or doing card tricks? What the fuck was THAT all about?

When he showed up on Ed Sullivan, it was plain he wasn't even trying to avoid moving his lips. He didn't even talk out of the side of his mouth, and no one cared. None of this business of drinking a glass of water while Charlie sang Vesti la Guibba.

I might have posted some of these photos before, who knows. They are hideous. The things that children had to endure in the name of entertainment is awful to contemplate, but the thing is, this stuff used to be really popular! A form of it still exists in weirder circles, like on TLC's My Strange Obsession.

Such an extreme form of the black arts lends itself to movie treatments and episodes of the Twilight Zone. The dummy talks all by himself, blows up the theatre, etc. or cuts his master's throat. For some reason Gary Oldman did a whole buncha gifs pretending he was a ventriloquist's dummy, so I thought, why not, even if he doesn't really look like one.



My question is: if Gary Oldman really is playing a ventriloquist's dummy here, where is the ventriloquist? Who has his hand shoved up his back, who is yanking his string? Who throws him into the trunk at the end of the day and locks it? Who takes home all the earnings, not even sparing his dummy a few crumbs of sawdust?

The dummy exceeds even the doll in spiritual significance/menace, because he says things (lots of things, not like Chatty Cathy), carries on conversations, and seems to have a will of his own. This must go back to something very ancient, like the Very Ancient Creepy Ventriloquist's Dummy Ritual That Scared Everybody Shitless. But people came anyway, and paid good money.


This is my personal favorite: the Dying Dummy, his nurse at the ready with a horse syringe. The grin on his face reveals his delirium, if not his masochism. How can a dummy die if he isn't even alive in the first place? Doesn't this smack of zombie ritual and voodoo? THIS is children's entertainment?

Hurray?. . . Hurrah? I think we're in hell.