By Robin Garrison Leach
Our world has become a Popeye cartoon. Shades of our poop deck pals haunt today’s culture, melding the lines between fantasy and reality with eerie accuracy.
This cartoon crossover started way back in the 60s. Olive Oyl, the original Twiggy, displayed all the litheness of a limp licorice whip. Her pencil-thin shape and loping gait inspired the clamorous ardor of every available man in her world.
Shrill whines and size 14AAAA feed didn’t detract from her feminine appeal.
Little girls watched Olive boomerang from Popeye’s anchored arm to Bluto’s ample embrace with giggle and helpless gasps. We tossed our curvy Barbie aspirations aside for the flat, shapeless silhouette that made Olive irresistible.
To this day, women aspire to cast a thin shadow, bubble with sparkly animation, and keep the same hair color for every episode of life. Our feet have gotten bigger with each generation. And stripes have never gone out of style.
I’m convinced Olive Oyl started it all.
Popeye had an impact on the psyche of a later generation. In the 70s and 80s, we found altruism too taxing and moral discipline way too tiring. We began following the Sailor Man’s example; our pipes tooted out a new life-slogan:
“I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam!” The Me generation emerged, demanding unquestioning acceptance of its personal agendas and lazy habits.
Olive couldn’t wrap Popeye around her slender finger anymore; he stopped slicking down his single hair and donning un-seaworthy duds for her approval.
We followed his bowlegged lead, letting our lives hang limply and narcissistically over our straining belts. Take us or leave us. We were what we were.
Then, in a tender twist of timely social consciousness, Popeye became a surrogate father for Swee’Pea, the unwanted/unexplained child of relatives. A gentler, more nurturing Popeye emerged. He chased his little charge across construction beams, along hazardous dockside boards, and through Sea-Hag-inhabited waters.
Mr. Mom was born; men accepted the role reversal of our culture with minimal mutters and only occasional lapses of Bluto-ish resistance.
For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard