A tribute to Eugene Deitch who made our childhood colourful and filled it with laughter.
I remember asking my mom about dinner, she replied, “Spinach”, and while I was eating rice and spinach in the afternoon, the early memories of having spinach just flooded my thought box.
“Ma, why did I start eating spinach?”
She grinned and retorted, “Well, somebody wanted to look like Popeye and I think you’ve become one.”
“Popeye yes!” I flipped the news channel to cartoon network and was rewatching the classic Tom and Jerry. Life was good.
Until on the 16th of April, Gene Deitch, an Oscar-winning illustrator, and animator, best known for directing popular cartoons like Tom & Jerry and Popeye died at the age of 95, in Prague, and I was heartbroken. The man who gave us a wonderful, happy childhood with fond memories is no more.
As children, we are very impressionable and it is these classic cartoons that actually mould our lives. From Thomas the cat I could learn a lot about failure and that it is beautiful. We have seen so many episodes where Tom fails to catch Jerry in every single one of them, yet he is so determined to catch him someday that we as kids were positive about it.
That show threw light on how sizes don’t matter. Jerry, being a small brown house mouse had great wit and by sheer use of his creative brain was able to escape Tom’s clutches. How wonderful it is, to outwit somebody who is double or triple your size!
And of course, the friendship they shared. Having a sibling, this relationship is totally relatable: Living in the same house, driving each other nuts yet eating dinners together, helping each other out, and enjoying the little moments in life as it passes by.
I’m just so grateful to be a living proof of this cult classic show which will never cease to make me laugh.
Now coming back to our spinach-eating, one-eyed sailor man, he ate healthy, so that’s a good sign of having a healthy diet. He was a strong-looking man but actually, he was a sweet and creamy guy who loved his friends endlessly and accepted them the way they are, like Wimpy who was addicted to hamburgers but could never buy any and Popeye, would always “lend” him money to buy.
Bluto or Brutus, the villain was a bully to Popeye and his friends and kept harassing Olive Oyl (Popeye’s girlfriend) He made me realize what a cruel world we live in, where a woman’s choice is disregarded and she has to follow the patriarchal norms of the society.
This is where Popeye shines, he makes sure he gets rid of Brutus and his atrocities and treats his lady love with respect and care.
‘I AM WHAT I AM’, is a famous quote by Popeye and it has so much of meaning, and as a 5-year-old child, I wanted to be like him; all buffed up, kind, taking the bullies down and eating spinach burgers, but it now that I understand that no, we shouldn’t be like somebody else, instead we should be ourselves. Being true to yourself is about as big a deal as anything else you can think of. That’s the reason I loved Popeye. He wasn’t pretentious. He was who he was.
Mr. Eugene’s genius and creativity are what inspired me to write this blog.
Thank you for Tom & Jerry and Popeye that shaped my young mind.
Thank you for providing us entertainment along with life lessons when we needed the most.
We will miss you
Jackson A. Robin