Saturday, September 13, 2008

From the Horror File...Shmoo are you?


In keeping with the "Babylonian" theme of this site, we're introducing "horror file" quotes on heroism, quotes that show the divided approach to heroism and how people have defined (or redefined) who is a hero or what a hero is.


Today's quote makes a good case for sports stars sticking to sports:


(Get it: "Serve...tennis, anyone? Eh, I thought it was funny...)

Anyway, I have no problem with the first part of his quote, about heros not being urged to "surpass" all others. A hero often will, but that is the prime motive, and never at "whatever cost," if that includes violating other people's rights, etc. Ashe is right to reject that idea of heroism. (That would be the heroism of Nazism or racism.) Unfortunately, the alternative Ashe has chosen is the flipside of that coin. Ashe has bought in to the altruist mentality, if this quote is his mindset, asking others to sacrifice themselves, instead of sacrificing others to self. Well, here is the ultimate expression of Ashe's hero:

The Shmoo, of the comic strip L'il Abner by Al Capp. This is how Capp described the Shmoo:
  • They reproduce asexually and are very prolific. They require no sustenance other than air.
  • Naturally gentle, they require minimal care, and are ideal playmates for young children.
  • Shmoos are delicious to eat, and are eager to be eaten. If a human looks at one hungrily, it will happily immolate itself, either by jumping into a frying pan, after which they taste like chicken, or into a roasting pan, after which they taste like steak.

THIS is the creature that Ashe describes, one who lives to serve others at whatever cost.

Capp introduced the Shmoo after WWII at the beginning of the Cold War. Was it a satire against the idea of communism? Oddly enough, it depended on which side of the world you were on.

“After it came out both the left and the right attacked the shmoo. Communists thought he was making fun of socialism and Marxism. The right wing thought he was making fun of capitalism and the American way. Capp caught flak from both sides. For him it was an apolitical morality tale about human nature... I think [the shmoo] was one of those bursts of genius. He was a genius, there’s no question about that.” (Denis Kitchen - 2003)

Al Capp may have been thinking beyond sides: "'shmue' was a taboo Yiddish term for the female organ, the ultimate fertility symbol. [1] It’s one of many Yiddish slang variations that would find their way into Li'l Abner. Capp has written that the shmoo metaphorically represented the limitless bounty of the Earth in all its richness - in essence, Mother Nature herself. In Li'l Abner's words, 'Shmoos hain't make believe. The hull [whole] earth is one!!'"

In any case, what better servant than a blob that takes on any form one desires? Mmm...tastes like chicken...

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