I WATCHED the “Mr Magoo” movie the other day. Leslie Nielsen had the ability to turn turgid scripts into hilarious comedy; give him a mongrel dog and he’d hand back a cartoon poodle clipped into lovingly outrageous absurdity.
Just before the credits the film has a disclaimer along the lines of “People with sight disabilities are valuable members of society and deserve respect and equal blah, blah, blah.”
I was bemused by this disclaimer because I couldn’t imagine that I’d hurtle out of the house and start playing havoc in the lives of short and/or long-sighted neighbours as a result of watching a movie – I already do.
For readers unacquainted with the myopic Mr Magoo because they walk around all day with their eyes glued to their mobile telephone screens, bumping into people, crossing against the lights and failing to notice anything he is... er... a bit like you.
Perhaps “disclaimer” is not the word for it.
“Warning” might be better, as in – “Hey kids! This is just a movie, not real life”; like they did at the end of the Three Stooges film, revealing their fake rubber hammers and stuff, which explains the interesting lumps on my bonce.
But, I wondered, how many other entertainments need some sort of warning or disclaimer to stop us from running rampant in the wrong direction.
Cat Stevens sang “Remember the days in the old school yard/ we used to laugh a lot....”
But should the song have a postscript saying: Yes, we did, but was it because we bullied anyone who was short, fat, tall, thin, red-haired, freckled, too smart, too dumb, poor, bespectacled or just about everyone else for whom we made the old school yard pure hell?
How do they remember the old school yard do you think?
And what about that “Green, green grass of home” schmaltz where a guy on death row has a nice dream about going home only to wake up and realise that it will be in a coffin.
There could be a final voice over at the end asking people what sort of barbarity they expect if they support the death penalty.
P-P-Porky Pig cartoons, under the “warning-rule,” should have disclaimers at the end extolling the virtues of people who stammer; and Daffy Duck people, whose speech habit is indistinguishable from the effect of a garden sprinkler, also need a little love – preferably from a distance.
Naturally, some warning or disclaimer should be appended to Sydney Housewives: Viewer – no woman actually calls herself a housewife these days anyway, but if she did, she would have no resemblance to the egoistic, rich, snide and conniving atrocities who have sold their privacy for a few bucks to appear in this program.
Similarly, a disclaimer would have to be added to the end of Disney’s Pollyanna: “Dear viewer, optimists generally aren’t like the title character here. Most are not sugary, objectionable sociopaths that you’ll want to strangle on sight, and they mean well.”
My aunt Ruth was full of disclaimers for uncle Shlomo: “I’m sorry, he has to be here, the judge said he’s not to be left alone” to “I’m sorry I brought him” to “I’m sorry I ever met him”. Some people need a sticker pasted on their forehead: “Warning – I am atypical!”
Note to reader: newspaper writers are generally fairly sensible and do not all belong to the barking-lunatic brigade, which is something you might wrongly have assumed when reading this column.