Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Fritz the Cat, his own personal 60s

Last night I watched Ralph Bakshi's Fritz the Cat for the first time in... a long time.

Fritz was Bakshi's first feature film, and the most commercially successful. The fate of Bakshi's subsequent works seems to have been to flop at the box office, or achieve only moderate success insufficient to cover costs of production, and re-emerge as cult classics. The character is the creation of cartoonist R. Crumb - who hated the movie.

Fritz was released in 1972 and set in the 1960's. Since Fritz is shown to be a drop-out college student, I figure that has to make him mid to late-sixties now.

Historically Fritz the Cat has minor significance as the first feature-length animated film to be given an 'X' rating, which is why I had to wait until the kids were asleep to watch it.

I wanted to watch it again because I only vaguely recollected the details. (A common occurrance, most people saw it back then while psychopharmacologically enchanted.) Given its place in pop culture, I thought it might provide some insight into the cultural milieu of that time, and the consequences thereof.

Boy did it ever.

I recommend that you try watching this sometime. But most definitely, not with young children.

Bakshi captures that time perfectly, and it's pretty ugly. I'm referring to the sheer pretentious phoniness of it all, and the viciousness that was beginning to emerge from it. Every cultural pathology and all the PC idiocy we're experiencing right now, can be seen at its beginnings then.

Fritz isn't a bad cat, basically he just wants to get laid. In pursuit of that end, he adopts all the hollow intellectual garbage that impresses the chicks (his handicap being that he's not an oppressed-but-cool Crow) and ultimately winds up with some truly vicious "revolutionary" junkies.

Fritz passes through this all, blithely unaware of the damage he's doing until the very last, when it's pretty much too late. But he does survive, though injured, and continues his quest though this time he really does have some of the experience he'd only pretended to have.

I'm still digesting this, but some questions that occur to me are, us hippy types loved this movie back then, did we just not get it? Did we see the phoniness and viciousness in others but not ourselves? Or hopefully, was this the beginning of maturity for some of us?

If you're unfamiliar with Bakshi's work, head over here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Bakshi

There are lots of surprises such as, Bakshi was born in Haifa (then Palestine) and is of Krymchak descent. (They'll tell you what that is.)

Peter Jackson loved Bakshi's attempt at Lord of the Rings and was inspired by it to read Tolkien and ultimately make his movie series.

And what about Fritz? Well, he reappeared in a sequel The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat which I may try and get ahold of sometime. I remember almost nothing about it, so it can't have made much of an impression.

R. Crumb disliked the movie so much that he killed Fritz off. Me, I like to think that Fritz grew up and is living quietly somewhere, a bit embarrassed by his callow youth, but thinking with a smile from time to time about some of the chicks he consorted with.


  • At 10:16 AM, Blogger gun-totin-wacko said…

    Interesting. I'm a bit young for the 60s- I was there, but only a kid. I concluded years ago that the whole...concept... of "The 60s"- the Age of Aquarius, etc. was a load of organic fertilizer. The kids today (or more appropriately, back in the 90s) that worshipped the whole Hippie Ideal were all from well-to-do families, which I always found to be an interesting coincidence. They always did whatever, but knew Mom and Dad were there for them.

    At any rate, I saw a show on VH1 some years back, which I guess was about "The 60s". The two parts that stick in my mind were Pete Townshend commenting about all the icons of the age that had died- Hendrix, Lennon, Moon, etc, and saying "they were your heroes, but they were my fucking friends." And then David Crosby making one of the more profound statements about the whole thing: "We were right that peace is better than war. We were right that love is better than hate. And we were wrong about drugs."

    I wonder sometimes if in retrospect the good of the 60s really outweighs the bad.

  • At 3:27 PM, Blogger Galt-In-Da-Box said…

    The truly bad thing about the '60s was not the music, the peace ("piece?") movement or the dope, but that most of those spoiled brat hippies donned three-piece suits and went into politics, education and the media!
    Enlightenment is hard to pass from one generation to the next, whiles stupid ideas seem to spread like a mid-summer New Mexico wildfire.

  • At 8:22 AM, Blogger Gilmoure said…

    Here's a biography that gives an interesting view of the 60's music scene;

    Dallas Taylor Prisoner of Woodstock (he was drummer in CSN)

    At least we got some good music from back then. If they'd just stop playing it for awhile.

  • At 8:35 PM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    You know I've wondered about that. The music of the 60s (which actually extended through the mid-70s) is what really lasted. Subsequent music hasn't had the staying power.

    For example, the Beatles actually had their best year(s) for record sales years after they broke up.

    What gives? Did they exhaust the possibilities of the musical innovations they pioneered and we can expect nothing until entirely new genres are discovered?

  • At 10:47 AM, Blogger bmac said…

    In relation to the music of the 60's/70's, everything was new territory. It's all been done 10 times over now, degrading each time. Rock is dead, as far as the "art" of it. There is no new ground to break, nothing can be shocking or radical at this point. Which I guess is the beauty of Rock and Roll, it's fleeting.


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