Do you guys remember the WB catoon “Histeria?” It was an Animaniacs-esque show that sought to entertain children while teaching them about world history. Now, to a history freak like me, this show is just what the doctor ordered. The Animaniacs is one, if not, my favorite cartoon series ever, and history is just freaking awesome, so the combination of the two really works for me. But to the average 8-14 year old kid? There aren’t many ways to make history cool, fun, or exciting. Unless you sing and joke about it. Which is what they did.
The problem with this… much of history is grim, bloody, and violent, and this show didn’t gloss over things like war, racism, and genocide. They just.. did cartoony things with it, which, in retrospect, gave some often uncomfortable results. Here, in kind of no particular order, are 5 of the most uncomfortable Histeria moments on youtube.
5. 143 Communuts! This catchy little ditty explains Communism, sung by the Histeria kids, accompanied by none other than Karl Marx himself. What’s interesting about this clip is what’s not said–they actually portray Communism as a pretty cool thing, which, depending on your own personal beliefs, you may or may not agree with. But regardless, the fact that they’d serve Communism up to a bunch of young impressionable American kids without making it look goofy and throwing in a bunch of fart noises is pretty amazing, I’d say.
4. The Invasion Song. Just the other day I was thinking to myself, “Self, I’d really like to learn about and memorize who has invaded who in world history, but the legacy of violence and war crimes among warring nations is just too lengthy. Plus war isn’t very fun. How can we spice this up?” Answer: sing about it! Duh!
3. Convert or Die. So. How do you explain the Spanish Inquisition to a bunch of kids in cartoon form? If you answered “turn it into a game show,” you are correct and are of questionable standing in my mind! The show is accurate right down to the forms of torture used. First question: “Are you a Catholic, or a filthy heretic?” <– Not making that up.
2. Rosa Parks. Racism and segregation and “separate but equal” and all that jazz are bad. This clip does establish that, at least. The questionable moment comes when it’s implied that the reason Ms. Parks refused to move to the back of the bus was because it was full of rowdy, loudmouthed kids, and not because she was morally against the idea of being treated like a second class citizen due to her race (or, more accurately, because she was doing her part in a planned demonstration). If Rosa Parks had just liked kids, we may all still be separate but unequal today. (Bonus: check out the “they all look alike moment” at 1:17).
1. My Buddy Stalin. Okay, I’ve definitely saved the best for last. I’ll sum it up with a direct line from this clip: “In history, Stalin was a despot, a murderer, a Communist dictator–but on the WB, he’s the star of his own sitcom!”
Yeah! Because genocide TOTES needs a situational comedy!
I have to say, though, as uncomfortable as this is, this is how I learned what the word “despot” means.