Niagara Gazette

March 20, 2013

BRADBERRY: Cartoon bullies, movie lessons learned

By Bill Bradberry
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Back in the day, Mom would let me and my sisters sit, “not too close to the screen, it’ll ruin your eyes” with a bowl of formerly crispy cereal, usually our local pride and joy, Shredded Wheat as we sprawled on and under a pile of blankets promising to behave all morning while she went about the business of washing, folding, ironing and hanging clothes, and cooking and cleaning up after her houseful of rambunctious little people.

Fifty years later, recovering from a relatively minor, but immobilizing medical procedure, buried under another pile of blankets, propped up on stacks of pillows, I’ve been forced to watch more television than I’ve seen since my early days before I was 10 years old when my Saturday mornings were filled with Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters like Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, and of course, my favorite “real people” the Little Rascals.

I’m not certain, but I’d venture to argue that some of those Saturday morning television shows, with characters like Bozo the Clown, Buffalo Bob Smith, and Captain Kangaroo, together with our parents, teachers, and our preachers had to have had at least some impact on some of us.

For the most part, as far as I can recall, many of the shows were not particularly educational, they diversionary, entertaining and amazingly violent; Tom & Jerry, like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and even Porky Pig could be ridiculously self-destructive.

But compared to what is available to mostly unsupervised children today from the vast array of cable television channels that I had the occasion to surf through recently, Bugs Bunny, Betty Boop, Casper the Ghost and most of my other early childhood cartoon buddies were milk toast.

As rough and tumble as some were, the shows, for the most part seemed to deliver some sort of moral message, basic stuff like, don’t steal, lie, cheat; be fair, be nice, be good.

Am I remembering this right?

Though they did a terrible job by mischaracterizing, stereotyping and maligning Indians vs. cowboys, didn’t the black hat, mean spirited, evil villains and bad guys always get caught and summarily punished?

Anyway, one day after reading until my tired eyes could not follow the pages anymore, having gone through all of the dozens of channels, concluding that there was absolutely nothing on television worth watching, exhausted by the banter of hours of alleged “fair and balanced” so-called “news”, I landed on a movie, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” a movie that I might not otherwise have been inclined to watch.

It was the amazing photography, the stunning images that initially aroused my curiosity, but it was the dialogue, the writing that captured my imagination, causing me to release the button and drop the remote.

Most of the movie, according to what I could find about it online, was filmed in the Indian state of Rajasthan, including the cities of Jaipur and Udaipur which, according to the film’s director, John Madden, was chosen as “the place to film because the terrain felt right, most particularly the colors felt right. It’s just an incredibly rich color palette you find in that part of India. It felt right to us as the setting for the story,” he said.

Certainly the splendid scenery made it a beautiful film to watch, but the story, filled with lessons we may have missed on Saturday mornings and along the way kept my attention especially one line which seems to capture the whole point of the film, the profound words of actress Judi Dench’s character’s blog “The only, real failure is the failure to try, and the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment, as we must.”

Though it did not make the Academy Awards, the film was bestowed with the Best International Film award for showcasing Indian filming locations, and the film and cast including Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, Tena Desae, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, and Ronald Pickup earned five nominations from the British Independent Film Awards last year.

Besides the beautiful scenery of India, the captivating storyline about how a group of retired elderly retirees deal with change and loss, and how the whole scenario is portrayed by the extraordinary cast, The Marigold Hotel offers a number of parallels that some of us in a city such as Niagara Falls might find entertaining, if not instructive:

• It’s never too late to look for what you’re looking for, you might just find it

• Something new and exciting can be just around the corner

• We can all learn from each other

• Everything will be alright in the end, so if it’s not alright, it is not yet the end

And we might likewise be reminded by the lessons the cartoons probably tried to teach us; among other things, don’t steal, lie, or cheat; be fair, be nice, be good; bad guys, especially bullies always get caught in the end.

Contact Bill Bradberry at bill.bradberry@yahoo.com