04 September 2012

Teddy Bears, Monkeys and Automobiles in Pop Culture

What do badass teddy bears, monkeys and automobiles in popular culture have in common? Having baby-sitted a few kids lately, I had a revelation. Kids adore and love simple things in life such as toys, teddy bears, animals and cars. I have come to realise how different I see these things because of their representation in pop culture. 

Teddy bears, animals and cars are typically adorable, cute and harmless, they are loved by children. But sometimes they can be so badass and symbolic, adults adore and love them for a completely set of reasons. I find it fascinated. Teddy bears, animals (monkeys, to be specific) and automobiles may not be the one thing people talk about after watching a movie or a TV episode, but sometimes they come up in a conversation -- "oh, you mean, like that monkey in Indiana Jones."

Growing up as a child, I was never a big fan of Barbie or anything pink. Just because I am a girl, it doesn't mean I love tea parties and Barbie. My first stuff toy was a Cabbage Patch Kid. It is very old now, but he is still sitting on my shelf, looking happy. Perhaps it is just a smirk on his face? I don't know. I grew up with so little toys, I don't really remember owning anything exciting in my childhood that is worthy to blog about. I don't remember owning a teddy bear once until a few years ago I bought a Paddington Bear and a Knut plush. 



Teddy bears may not be something I love, but I do enjoy watching them in movies and TV. Have you watched Seth MacFarlane's Ted? I did. What a crazy movie, right? It was definitely made for MacFarlane's fans and male audience. But I went to watch it with a couple of girlfriends. It was fun. Ted isn't the typical adorable cuddly teddy bear you see on children programs. He is all swearing, drinking and smoking. 
He is totally inappropriate and totally rude. He is everything you don't want your children to become. He is every man's best friend but every girlfriend's worst nightmare. I love it when the writer shows us a different side of something that is typically adorable. I don't know about you, but I will never look at a Teddy Bear the same again. I'll choose Ted over Yogi Bear any day!



Another teddy bear I love is the Suicidal Teddy Bear in an episode of Supernatural -- Wishing Thinking. Yeah I have to capitalise the word Suicidal because this is what distinguishes him from others. The Suicidal Teddy Bear in Supernatural is the size of a gigantic Jared Padalecki. Teddy, penned by the one and only Ben Edlund, is a talking-smoking-depressing-porn-reading-suicidal teddy bear who doesn't want to be 'alive' and questions about the real purpose of his life -- tea parties. The Suicidal Teddy Bear is so 'Ben Edlund', who always looks at things differently and put his own crazy spin on it. I know Winnie the Pooh is awesome, but the 
Suicidal Teddy Bear is more real and raw!



What about monkeys? Monkeys are one of the smartest creatures on earth, but they are never adorable or cute to me. Children love them at the zoo! But when I go to the zoo, they stare at me like I am nobody, they are probably making jokes about me. They can be badass! Look at Barbossa's pet monkey, Jack, in Pirate of Caribbean and the monkey in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not only they are clever, they are also very cunning! They are used to create obstacles for the main characters, but not to the point you hate the monkeys, you don't! But that's the point, you still love them because they are so badass! Should dogs be written instead of monkeys, the impact would have been different. Dogs in popular culture are 
crime-fighters like Inspector Rex and Lessie. Monkeys, on the other hand, are a completely different breed of intelligent. Trust no monkeys!



When it comes to a fictional automobile, the love of my life is the 67 Chevy Impala, Dean's car in Supernatural. BABY, as Dean calls her, is the most important object in the universe. As narrated by Chuck in Swan Song:

"The Impala, of course, has all the things other cars have... and a few things they don't. But none of that stuff's important. This is the stuff that's important: the army man that Sam crammed in the ashtray -- it's still stuck there. The LEGO that Dean shoved into the vents - to this day, heat comes on and they can hear 'em rattle. These are the things that make the car theirs -- really theirs. Even when Dean rebuilt her from the ground up, he made sure all these little things stayed, 'cause it's the blemishes that make her beautiful." Chuck, 5.22 Swan Song
What I love about BABY is that it is the third child of the Winchester Family (sorry Adam). BABY is the Watch Tower, the Atlantis, the CTU, the KITT, the Batmobile of Supernatural. BABY is what the Winchesters call 'home'. BABY has been there rain and sunshine, good times and bad times. I wish there is an episode in which BABY is the main character -- Are You There God, It's Me the Impala.. or something. Kids can play with their automobiles all they want, but when it comes to using it to create meanings for our heroes in television and movies, cars can be so powerful and symbolic. 

As we grow older our perception changes and we see things differently, whether it is the way we look at stuff toys, animals or cars. For writers, they are the raw materials for creating narratives. As these simple things in life are being written as part of a story, they become something more, they become a symbol. And when they come alive, everything is turned up side down, disrupting our way of life and our ways of seeing things. It's good to be a writer when you have the creative license to use these simple raw materials to tell a story. 

1 comment:

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