RVOD134 Safe Living at School

(1948, Educational/Short, color)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

The timpani drum head they installed in that kid is really paying off.

Rating: ***1/2

In a Nutshell:

Watch where you’re going or booong!


An unholy amalgamation of Macaulay Culkin and Emo Phillips.Accidents happen at school every day. It’s not the school’s fault. Handrails, wide halls, rounded corners—everything about a school is designed not to hurt you. If you hurt yourself anyway (with a comical orchestra drum sound effect) it’s your own fault. So watch where you’re going. Walk, don’t run. Keep all four chair legs on the floor. Don’t trip people. And tie your shoes, you careless, clumsy little cretins.


It’s interesting to see where the safety shorts of yesteryear like to place the blame. On the accident victims, of course. We—the builders, government officials, school administrators, corporate overlords, what have you—have done our best. Anything that happens to you in our sphere of responsibility is your own fault. American culture has gotten beyond that mindset these days, but the switch from “Blame the victim for everything” to “Blame The Man for everything” can’t exactly be called progress, not when there’s still no question of situation and nuance. We’re nothing if not a culture of extremes.

The short's tone of cheerful derision is rather odd, and the commentary spends most of its time exploiting this. When we meet one of our object lesson children, Mike calls him a "cute little Darwin Award." As the narrator lays continuous blame on the accident victims, Bill says, "His open contempt for children serves him well with the ladies." When use of a handrail prevents a spill on the stairs, Kevin says, "The narrator's bloodlust goes unquenched." It's a one-note short and a one-note riff, but those notes are funny and work well together.