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Papa Smurf Laden And The Two Towers
Thursday, October 13, 2005   By: Mahone Dunbar

A film by UNICEF


PPI-Mahone Dunbar

Recently, an adults-only cartoon featuring the famous blue Smurfs surfaced in Belgium. In the short feature the Smurf village is shown bombed and annihilated by warplanes. The graphic feature, a product of UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, is set to be broadcast on national television as part of a campaign against war and, presumably, against blowing up cute little blue children.

Sure, we've all wanted to see particular cartoon characters blown up at one time or another (the creepy, preachy characters on Captain Planet would be my first choice, [ed- I'd go for Scooby Doo]); however, the Smurfs seemed harmless enough so why pick on them?

A spokesman for UNICEF Belgium, Philippe Henon, admitted that the film was intended to be shocking, and said that they had decided to use the cute little blue cartoon characters because no one cared about traditional images of suffering in the Third World anymore.

I decided this was a matter that needed further investigation and promptly got on a plane to New York.

After my plane set down at La Guardia, I immediately rented a car and proceeded to the UN. At the UN’s information booth I was directed to the secretary who handled appointments (a cousin of Kofi Annon). After a two hour wait, she informed me that since I didn't have an appointment it would take two weeks before I could meet with someone from UNICEF.  Fortunately, I found it ridiculously easy to bride a member of Secretary General Kofi Annon’s staff (two gift certificates to Outback’s Steak House) and I was quickly directed to the office of Sapho Argulia, UNICEF liaison for Media Promotion of the UN. Before I left, the secretary also sold me a UN diplomatic ID for my car (you hang if from your mirror), which would allow me to park anywhere, anytime, and allow me to violate all traffic laws with impunity. I couldn't resist.

On the way up to Ms. Argulia’s office I stopped by the UN Gift shop and picked up a T-shirt that read: I went to the UN and all I got was a lousy food-for-oil deal.

If the Smurfs were the perfect medium (since, according to UNICEF, people apparently care more about fictional blue children than real brown ones) to depict topical and controversial subjects like the bombing of innocent children, couldn't they also be used as a teaching medium in other controversial and topical subjects related to war and horror, such as Islamic terrorism?

Exactly so, she admitted. There was a Smurf feature on terrorism already in the bag. And this was definitely the trend of the future. In fact, UNICEF had a host of other films featuring cartoon spokespersons for social themes. Other features in the works included "Daffy Duck On The Joy Of Anarchism," (Daffy is jailed as a political prisoner and tortured) "Porky Pig On Western Over Indulgence And Famine," (Porky develops diabetes and heart problems and dies in agony) "Yosemite Sam On Gun Control," (Sam accidentally shoots his two-year-old niece in the head while fooling around with his guns) "Pepe Le Pew On The Prevention Of STDs," (We get to watch the Don Juan of skunks lose his body hair and then wither away from AIDS) and "Wile E. Coyote On The Joys Of Veganism" (Can you imagine and even more emaciated Wile?)

But what about the film about Smurfs and terrorism, I asked. Any chance I could see it? A quick bribe later, I had a bag of popcorn and was watching "Papa-Smurf-Laden And The Two Towers."

In a nutshell, the plot is as follows:

Papa Smurf finds an antiquated religious tome in his library, reads it, and becomes a Smurflamist, which is a follower Smurfalah. To carry out his duty to Smurfalah, Papa Smurf is required to do two things: put on an even stranger headdress than the one he already has, and kill all those who do not want to become followers of Smurfalah - in particular, the Smurficans who live in a village to the west and don't seem to worship a god at all, and the Smurfish people who live in a nearby village and worship an even older god than Smurfalah.

Using his powers of persuasion, Papa Smurf soon has Smurf village filled with Smurflamists eager to carry out the will of Smurfalah. In order to expedite the annihilation of Smurfalah’s enemies, Papa Smurf  (who now calls himself Papa-Smurf-Laden) has Brainy Smurf devise a weapon to attack and kill even more of the Smurfish and Smurficans. Brainy Smurf comes up with the perfect solution: a smurfpack, worn on the back and filled with dynamite. Next, Papa-Smurf-Laden has to find someone willing to sacrifice themselves to the righteous will of Smurfalah. Since he is indispensable as leader of the village, and since Brainy Smurf is his right-hand man, he sends for Gullible Smurf.

Enticed by promises of easy sex with numerous, nubile Smurfettes once he gets to heaven, Gullible Smurf agrees to wear Brainy Smurf's dynamite-laden smurfpack onto a bus that runs to the Smurfish school. The bus blows up, predictably, and a realistic shower of blood and blue body parts, accompanied by smoke, flames, wailing and screaming, fills the screen.

When the screening was over, I was confused, and asked Ms. Argulia what the point was - pro-terrorism? Or anti-terrorism? With Papa-Smurf-Laden praising the slaughter, the other Smurflamists dancing and singing around the bodies, and shots of Gullible Smurf frolicking in heaven with Smurfettes, its condemnation of violence seemed a little ambiguous to me.

"Although in general we condemn violence, when it comes to religion," she replied, "the UN does not take sides."

I thanked her for her time and was about to leave when she mentioned that for an additional small bribe I could have some cels (individual shots from a moving film) from the movie. After this final transaction I was nearly broke, so decided to forgo any sight-seeing in the Big Apple and return home.

Alas, on the way to the airport I decided I wanted some flavor of New York and stopped at a local bar for a quick drink. I parked my car, stuck the UN Diplomat parking sticker in the window, and went into a tavern to have a quick one. When I got outside and reached the curb where I'd left my rent-a-car double-parked, I found that it had been towed away. The lesson here is obvious: don't do business with the UN. Anyway, for those with an interest in what UNICEF is doing, here are a few cels from Papa-Smurf-Laden And The Two Towers.


(c)1968- today j.e. simmons or michael warren