3/25/08

RVOD019 Are You Popular?

(1947, Educational/Short, b&w)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy

She seems as interested in girls as in boys.

Rating: ***

In a nutshell:

Enclosed: one fool-proof plan for high school popularity.

Summary:

Thumbs out, everyone.  Ready? 'Eeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyy.'A narrator describes the steps one must take in order to ensure one’s popularity at school while the clean-cut teens of 1947 act them out for us. The five steps for surefire popularity are as follows:

1) Be a girl.
2) Be a pretty girl.
3) Be “as interested in girls as in boys”. (Direct quote from the narrator).
4) Go out with as many of both as possible.
5) Do not, under any circumstances, put out to any of them.

Some niceties are involved here. A grim, sober mode of dress is required at all times. Also, it is important to notify your potential partner at least twenty-four hours before the date is scheduled to begin. The ability to discern the difference between scarves and mittens is helpful as well.

Well, that’s all there is to it, I guess. Now get out there and be popular, people!

Thoughts:

The strangest thing about this short is the narrator’s admonition that the seeker of popularity should be “as interested in girls as in boys.” It’s a bit jarring to hear in the middle of an otherwise staid presentation. Of course the phrase has a much different connotation these days, but in the second it took to realize this, it seemed as if educators of the forties were actually encouraging teenage girls to be chastely bisexual.

Giving the phrase back its intended meaning (that it Simply Won’t Do for a young lady to be perceived as man-crazy) reveals that the short’s real message is every bit as laughable. To wit: The key to school popularity lies in behaving exactly the way your parents and educators want you to. I’m not saying this is an inadvisable course of action. In fact, I dearly hope that my kids behave themselves in high school when they get that far. They are not, however, likely to be popular if they do.

Mike, Bill, and Kevin have a lot to say on the subject of popularity as well. When the title pops up at the beginning, for instance, Bill says, “The answer, if you’re watching this film, is ‘no’.” Later, as the unbelievably peppy popular crowd gathers to discuss such hot teen topics as The Big Game and The School Play, Kevin notes, “Life was dull before self-loathing was invented.” As the narrator goes over all the things a girl can do to get ready for a date, Mike replies in the girl’s voice, “Alter my appearance in ways men won’t notice. Got it.” It’s a mostly dull short on a mostly dull subject, but the Rifftrax crew spices it up appropriately, harping in particular on the bisexual exhortation and a quest for a scarf that inexplicably becomes a pair of mittens. It’s worth watching for those two moments alone, and the rest of it is funny too.