There’s a Gumby cartoon that has stuck with me over the decades. It’s called “The Small Planets.”
Gumby decides that he’s sick of being bossed around, told to do this chore and that chore, so he hops into a book about planets, dons a spacesuit, and speeds off in a flying saucer to the asteroid belt in search of a new home. His pony pal Pokey accompanies him. While Gumby extols their new freedoms, Pokey sounds notes of caution and hesitancy. He likes the Earth, he explains, and feared loneliness. No! Gumby insists. We’ll be free!
They hop around from asteroid to asteroid, but find each of them already inhabited by another child. The first kid has a ridable toy train set, with tracks covering the entire small world. He tells Gumby that he left home so that he wouldn’t have to share his train set and to get away from “people like you!” He then fires a rocket at Gumby’s spaceship as it flies off.
The second asteroid they land on has lots of craters. Pokey finds, to his horror, that each is filled with a dinosaur-looking monster. He and Gumby flee back to the spaceship and take off. The “monster” turns out to be a little girl with a fondness for frightening people. She laments, however, that no one stays to play with her.
They fare no better on the third and final asteroid. At first, Gumby and Pokey think they have the place to themselves. But then they hear music. They walk around and find a boy playing the piano. It’s an outer worldly piece. Gustav Holst meets Bernard Herrmann. Then Pokey sneezes and the young maestro Loses It. “Who sneezed in my arpeggio? My beautiful arpeggio ruined!” After Gumby apologizes for the intrusion, the kid goes lycanthropic on their asses, sprouting fangs and pointed ears, and tells the intruders “I never want to see you again! BEAT IT!”
Humbled by his travels, Gumby heads back to Earth, much to Pokey’s relief. He admits that he’s looking forward to returning home and even doing the chores he once dubbed as “slavery.”
Like most Gumby cartoons, the message, though cleverly delivered, is hardly subtle. To be a good kid, one must (a) share, (b) not act anti-social, and (c) not behave like a freak. To be sure, I can think of at least one noted musician who is notorious for going off during performances when someone sneezes (or coughs) in their arpeggios, but that’s neither here nor there.
For me, the cartoon epitomizes the idea that no person is an island: we’re all in this together. So this Gumby short always comes to mind whenever faced by behavior antithetical to that simple notion. This would include Indiana’s descent into insanity. Governor Mike Pence insists that the law he just signed protects “religious freedom” and that it does not target the LGBT community. That known homophobes stood around him while he signed it and that he also has a long history of opposing LGBT civil rights, like repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, supposedly mean nothing. Or so he would like us to think.
Governor Pence, and the wackos in the Indiana state legislature who voted for this outrageous law, need to put down their turgid Ayn Rand novels and go watch “The Small Planets.” Watch it again and again if necessary, until the message sinks in. And if that doesn’t work, then go find yourselves a spaceship and take off. Find an nice, lonely asteroid where you all can reside, away from all those pesky people whose mere existence causes you such sturm and drang. And then the rest of us can stay here on Earth, together and in peace.
(But watch out for lycanthropic pianists.)
© 2015, gar. All rights reserved.
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