For those of us who grew up with The Smurfs, it once held a special place in our inner-children's nostalgic little hearts.
Based on a Belgian comic, the diminutive blue Smurfs became part of Hanna-Barbera's animated media juggernaut in the early '80s. The peace-loving Smurfs, led by Papa Smurf, were always one step away from destruction at the hands of the sourpuss alchemist Gargamel and his cat Azrael, but they always managed to solve their problems through cooperation and kindness.
In retrospect, the stories told over the course of its nearly ten-year run were rife with the “I love you, you love me” positivism that is probably partially responsible for some of our meta-ironic post-post-modern cynicism.
Now that they've been thrown on the big screen this week in what is likely another attempt to cash-in on nostalgia, our generation is likely brimming with too much backlash cynicism to care. It's not that hard to admit that the Smurfs were ruined for us long ago and there are at least five reasons for this:
5) Smurf Halloween Costumes
Why is it that almost every attempt at Smurf costumes ends up looking like an outdated vaudeville act? Or, as pictured, something far worse? For whatever reason, no one will ever get this right. Ever.
4) That Stoner Philosophy Dude in College
We get it Smart Guy, the Smurfs are all communists and Gargamel is a vaguely Semitic capitalist that wants to turn them all into gold. We were just in the middle of learning positive community values and that everyone can live peacefully on a single-commodity commune and you had to go screw it up with your realist philosophy and whatnot. Thanks.
Just do a Google image search of “sexy smurf” or merely “Smurfette” and you'll find a number of deeply disturbing images showing Smurfette in all manner of undress and provocation. For Smurf's sake, it's a cartoon! Can't she just be Gargamel's mistake and a positive feminine touch to an otherwise homogenous Commie sausage-fest? Which brings us to, number two.
2) Gender Studies
How does a whole Smurf village survive with just one female? The Smurfette Principle has the answer to that one: “For any series not aimed solely at females, odds are high that only one female will be in the regular cast.” Oh man, there's that fancy book-learning poking its ugly head into our nostalgia again. Weren't we better off not asking that question? No? Ok, fine, but our inner children can't handle that kind of reality.
1) The United Nations.
In 2005, the UN decided to use the Smurfs as part of a UNICEF campaign in Belgium to supposedly highlight the dangers of child soldiers. The thirty-second spots (see below) aired late at night with the blessings of the creator's family. Frankly, there's no better way to teach children about the ravages of war than providing them zero context and by doing it with cartoons. Right? Kids can totally understand what's going on here: Smurfs get bombed and bombs are bad.
It's hard not to understand where Gargamel is coming from at this point — we also kinda hate those Smurfs. After three decades of half-assed cosplay, misplaced adolescent lust, drug addled pseudo-philosophy, well-reasoned feminist scholarship and UN intervention, there's little sacredness left of our little blue friends for Hollywood to destroy. Bring it, Neil Patrick Harris et. al. Do your worst…we've been prepping for disappointment for decades.
Follow @LAWeeklyArts on Twitter.