For many first-time visitors to the United States, an understanding of its culture can be hard to come by. Despite the American entertainment industry’s never-flagging efforts to export the nation’s finest bullet- and fart-joke-imbued movies and television programs to far-flung parts of the globe, many foreign tourists have been insufficiently exposed to the local customs and enjoyments, with the result that they find officially sanctioned amusement activities something of a bafflement. Here at the Riff Guide, we aim to provide you with quick, simple reference guides to the world of American popular entertainment to ‘get you up to speed’ so that you never lack for subject on which you can launch a successfully ‘riff’, should you find yourself on an autobus, in a long line at the motor vehicle division, or in the back of a patrol car.
Today we’ll be discussing ‘animation’. Originally intended to distract children from boredom until they learned to read, ‘cartoons’ are now popular with a number of adults, particularly those with replica sword collections. Animated shows are popular because they can express a far greater range of environments, reactions, and situations than a ‘live-action’ program, and because South Korea does not have robust worker protections. American animation often involves talking animals, oafish men who cannot properly provide for their families, and ‘far-out’ space adventures; these qualities distinguish it from Japanese animation, which usually involves romantic interaction between teenaged pop-music stars who operate robotic exoskeletons, and Eastern European animation, which is entire centered on skulls.
Today, the Riff Guide will introduce you to five of America’s most beloved animated characters.
MICKEYMOUSE. Created by beloved anti-Semite Walter Disney, Mickeymouse is an unassuming rodent who often takes a leadership position in areas of cuisine, sorcery, and warm-weather recreational resorts. He debuted in “Steam Boat Bill”, a 1928 cartoon in which he is tasked with subjugating a Negro and preventing a passenger liner from capsizing. Mickeymouse is usually seen in the company of Minniemouse, his common-law wife, who is in actuality a Norwegian wharf rat, and is friends with Donald, a duck with neurological impairment, and Goofy, a canine economist/hobo. Mickeymouse is extremely litigious despite his knack for hip-hop dancing and selling garments emblazoned with his own countenance. Recent evidence suggests that Mickeymouse was involved in Jewish extermination camps, but it is not clear whether it was as a victim or a perpetrator.
Things to know: Mickeymouse’s theme song was written by Toni Basil. Contrary to the predilections of his breed, he has not managed to produce offspring, and wears gloves thanks to his crippling fear of germs. Imitate Mickeymouse by laughing in a shrill falsetto for several minutes when anyone in your vicinity receives a terrible injury.
STAR WARS. Originally based on a children’s fantasy film from 1977 made with live-action actors and small bits of plastic designed to inject potent nostalgia-creating chemicals in the human bloodstream, Star Wars is now the main character in a series of children’s fantasy cartoons aimed at the developmentally mistaken. Wars is a large man with respiratory difficulties in a fetish uniform, who sends a team of men in sculpted hygienic uniforms to interfere with the harvesting of fresh water. Along the way, he wields a weapon made of harmless special effects and does not win major awards. Supporting characters include Death Star, a sporting arena in outer space; Hans Olo, a Swedish-American pilot of low moral character; and Chewbacca, a giant creature whose dialogue is creator George Lucas’ greatest triumph.
Things to know: Newcomers to the Star Wars program may find its adult themes unsettling. These include the appearance of a Jamaican lizard who encourages genocidal thoughts, the sexualization of a drug-addicted slave woman, and the insistence that everything that can possibly be tied into Star Wars must be, and repeatedly.
SCOOBY DOO. Thanks to America’s poor school system and underfunded, dysfunctional criminal justice system, most law enforcement is undertaken by sentient canines who have graduated from psychic colleges Scooby Doo is the story of one such dog. Like all crime-fighting dogs, he patrols the country in a van, accompanied by a gang of reformed drug addicts; together, they respond to complaints stemming from the traveling carnival and amusement park industries. Ever since his debut in 1969, Scooby Doo’s activities have caused a substantial drop of over 675% in crimes committed by small-town functionaries dressed in gaudily painted rubber suits. When Mr. Doo retired in 1996, his position was taken over by his nephew, Jar Jar Binks, who was almost immediately lynched by a gang of marauding white supremacists who mistook him for a Tobagonian.
Things to know: Although Mr. Doo is a fictional character, the United States has a long tradition of law enforcement by dogs. This includes such celebrated crimefighters as Rex, the Dog Who Bums You Out By Sniffing the Weed You Were Going to Take on the Megabus; Fred McGriff, the Crime First Baseman For the Atlanta Braves; and Sparky, the 9/11 Dog Who Really Fell Down on the Job.
BAT MAN. Originally appearing in Sunday comics, a venue designed to support advertising for discount potted meats, the Bat Man was a youthful plutocrat whose parents were murdered after choosing the wrong matinee. Mr. Man responded to this injustice by weeping briefly, then turning himself into a living weapon to inflict vengeance on every criminal who had nothing to do with his being orphaned. The character proved so popular he was turned into an animated program against his will; only partly aware of his predicament, the confused millionaire attempts to break free of his fictional confinement by hurling rodent-shaped metal boomerangs hither and thither. Bat Man’s traditional opponents include the Joker, a laughing clown who murders everyone; the Penguin, an obese fop to whose parties Mr. Man is never invited; and the Two Faced Man, a disfigured attorney who has been disbarred and has no right to serve anyone with a summons, but frustratingly continues to do so.
Things to know: In his civilian identity, Bat Man is Bruce Wayne, a city father who spends all his free time in a subterranean cave that is stocked with gigantic coins instead of pornography. It is not necessary to learn the names of the adolescent boys that Bat Man is forever brainwashing and bending to his will, as they will all either die or turn into homicidal lunatics by year’s end.
HOE MORE SIMPSON. America’s most beloved animated character, dull-witted farmer Hoe More Simpson has been the patriarch of his TV clan of morons since 1962. Before Simpson’s debut, it was considered socially stigmatic to be grossly overweight, incompetent, criminally negligent on the job, and sub-literate, but because of the popularity of this jaundice-stricken dolt, it is now the default personality type for American wage-earners. Hoe More’s son, Barthold, single-handedly raised the occurrence of juvenile delinquency threefold and ushered in the age of Caucasian rap singers; his daughter Liesl was a beacon of intellectual achievement until being arrested for war crimes in 2002. His wife Marjoram was elected Vice-President of the United States in perpetuity six years ago, and it is a standard clause in the entertainment industry that everyone with a Q rating of more than 5.8 must appear on the program at least once.
Things to know: A robust debate has broken out amongst fans of The Simpsons about which season represented the end of the series’ quality episodes. In fact, the entire program, from episode 4 of season 1, has been ‘written’ by a computerized algorithm that simply rearranges dialogue from old episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. For this, it is paid $6.5 billion per year.