January 28, 2010

Lippy and Hardy in Injun Trouble

Lippy the Lion & Hardy Har HarLippy the Lion & Hardy Har Har are a pair of anthropomorphic Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters, a lion in a tattered top hat and vest and a hyena in a hat and bow tie, respectively. The latter's name is ironic, as it's an onomatopoeia for laughter, and Hardy is an eternal pessimist; indeed, one short implies that expression of joy or happiness actually puts Hardy in pain.

Lippy and Hardy (voiced by Daws Butler and Mel Blanc respectively) first appeared in The Hanna-Barbera New Cartoon Series in 1962, along with Wally Gator and Touché Turtle and Dum Dum.

Their cartoons revolved around ever-hopeful Lippy's attempts to get rich quick, with reluctant Hardy serving as a foil. Whatever the consequences were to Lippy's schemes, Hardy would end up getting the worst of it—a fact he always seemed to realize ahead of time, with his moans of, "Oh me, oh my, oh dear." Although the intro shows them in a jungle setting proper for such beasts, most of the cartoons' stories took place in an urban setting.

Comment:  Injun Trouble begins at the 4:38 mark.

As with Wagon Heels, the stereotypes in this cartoon are obvious. Only a few points are worth mentioning:

  • The name Injun Trouble combines the unfriendly nickname "Injun" and the word "trouble" to imply Indians are the miscreants in this cartoon.

  • When the chief isn't throwing a tomahawk at Lippy and Hardy or chasing them, his demeanor is angry and aggressive. Everything about him suggests the Indian's violent and savage nature.

  • The medicine men is short, wears a devilish mask, and tries to sabotage Lippy and Hardy's efforts. This implies that Indian medicine (i.e., religion) is disreputable or downright evil.

  • The cartoon combines the teepees of the Northern Plains with the mesas and cacti of the Southwest. The implication is that Indians chose to live in the most barren and inhospitable places in the country.

    That's the reason they're so strange and exotic to us. Not because they lived throughout the country until we killed them and forced them onto reservations. Rather, because their primitive way of life in the remote desert put them out of sight and out of mind.

  • The final sequence with the Indian maiden is both racist and sexist. The Chief has kidnapped Lippy and Hardy to make her attractive to men. The Indian "braves" reject her because she's too fat: Hollywood's idea of what makes a woman unappealing.

    Lippy tightens her figure with belts and suddenly she's a sexy Indian princess. The men go ga-ga over her--not because she represents their ideal, but because she matches the classic Hollywood stereotype.

    Finally the medicine man loosens the belts, but the plump-again maiden decides Hardy is the one she wants. She chases after him, implying she's desperate for a man and will settle for a loser like Hardy.

  • There's not much you can say about a cartoon like Injun Trouble. It's less stereotypical than Wagon Heels, but that's about it.

    For more on the subject, see Native Videos and Cartoons.

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