Great Fictional Presidents

Friday, March 22nd, 2013
And forever in peace may you wave.

The U.S. Stars and Stripes: a grand old flag.

I believe I might be going a bit crazy from all of the snow that has been falling in my area over the past few days.  It looked for a while like the snow was going to melt and spring would be here, but apparently that’s not the case right now.  Somehow, this has driven me to write a post about some great fictional United States presidents, even though Presidents’ Day has passed.  Regardless, I think a little appreciation of these leaders and their accomplishments will make me get over my winter blues, and, hopefully, make you feel good, too.

President Scooby-Doo, Cartoon Network

That’s right, a mystery-solving cartoon canine played the role of a U.S. president, or at least the president of a television network.  Cartoon Network held a mock election in 2000 with all of the network’s characters eligible for candidacy.  There were plenty of candidates on the air at the time who I thought would make for a more suitable leader of the free world (President Bugs Bunny, anyone?), but somehow, Scooby appealed the most to voters.  I can’t seem to recall if the administration of Scoobert Doo made any far-reaching efforts to address the economy, healthcare, or any other big issues, but he definitely moved the crowd during his State of the Union address and his push for a bill giving America new airings of old Scooby movies and specials showed that he believed in a healthy appreciation of the arts.  Unfortunately, when Cartoon Network ran another election in 2004, Scooby wasn’t involved, what I feel is a shame considering he was probably one of the most popular leaders in this country’s recent history.  At least he will always be remembered for being the first cartoon dog to be president, as well as being one of the greatest Great Danes ever.

Unnamed president, Fairly Oddparents, “That Ol’ Black Magic”

This fictional president appears only a few times in one episode of this Nickelodeon show featuring magic, wishes, and the hilarity that ensues, but his appearances left quite an impression on me.  In the episode he appears in, it is Friday the 13th, so even though he is being briefed by a general regarding how he shouldn’t touch the huge red button on his desk, the president accidentally tips over a salt shaker and presses the button anyway, launching a nuclear warhead in the process.  Luckily, the warhead lands in a desert without harm.  When the general asks the president what he is going to do now that he’s almost caused World War III, he replies while dressed in full vacation gear, “I’m going to Escalator Land!”  (Sorry about the low volume in the video; turn up your volume as high as possible if you want to hear what everyone’s saying.)  A short time later, the president is seen vacationing at the escalator-themed amusement park and asking, “When do we get to the ride?”  Timmy Turner’s father replies, “This is the ride!”  The camera pulls back to reveal that the escalator everyone is riding on is indeed the main attraction at the park.  I know that presidents are sometimes criticized with being “out of touch” with the American public, but this fictional president takes that sentiment to a whole new low.  I think he is also largely a product of his time because he slightly resembles George W. Bush who was in power at the time this episode originally aired, thus becoming a reflection of the disgruntled feelings the people had with Bush.  I think this character is an interesting footnote in cartoon history, forever tied to a particular time and set of feelings.  We may never see a fictional president like him again.

President Lancelot R. Gilligrass, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

President Kennedy promised to put a man on the moon, a task which was accomplished six years after his untimely death.  Two years after man landed on the moon in the real world, President Gilligrass promised to launch a hotel in space in the fictional world.  This goal was accomplished during his lifetime, but not before it was invaded by an army of Vermicious Knids.  In one of the darkest hours in the short history of space exploration and tourism, the hotel staff and three brave astronauts as well as a strange party of individuals led by eccentric candymaker Willy Wonka fended off the fiends.  The astronauts and hotel staff stayed on the orbiting hotel to clean up the place and prepare it for the exciting new world of space tourism, while Wonka and his party returned to Earth for a special dinner with President Gilligrass.  This exciting adventure was one of the few high points in Gilligrass’s time in the White House, a period marked with numerous accusations that he was letting Vice President Elvira Tibbs, his former nanny, handle all of the day-to-day operations to cover up his general incompetency.  Given Gilligrass’s tendency to work knock-knock jokes into every conversation and the fact that his secretary of the treasury’s idea of “balancing the budget” was to literally balance stacks of money on a scale, I have reason to believe those accusations might be true.  However, I still believe such faults shouldn’t take away from Gilligrass’s main accomplishment of establishing a space tourism business long before such a thing would even be considered practical in the real world.

I hope you enjoyed this examination of some fictional presidencies.  What did you think of it?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Think Again: I Wish…

Thursday, March 14th, 2013
I wish I may, I wish I might...

Care to wish upon this star?

Think Again is a new format I am experimenting with.  It’s kind of like a Random Top Five.  This first list was inspired by all of the examples of wish fulfillment I have seen in pop culture.  Often, it seems the results of wishes are less than desirable while in other cases the wish itself or, to me, the way it is expressed seems poorly thought out.  I tend to live by the rule, “Be careful what you wish for.”  Here’s a few examples of wishes that I think should have been made more carefully.

“I wish I was an Oscar Mayer wiener.”  (commercial tag line)

Okay, Ralphie, let me get this straight.  You wished you wanted to become delicious sausages for no other reason than that, “…everyone would be in love with me.”  Did it ever occur to you that maybe they would love you because of how you tasted?  Well, look at you now.  Little Johnny’s lying between two hot dog buns and slathered with mustard.  Tony’s tied up in a long string of sausages along with Sally, Susie, and Norm, along with a dozen other kids.  People have been trying to eat your head off for two hours straight.  Now that you know what being a sausage feels like, maybe you’ll now wish you had an Oscar Mayer wiener instead of wanting to become one.

“When You Wish Upon a Star” (Disney anthem)

I have loved this ultimate tribute to wish fulfillment ever since I first heard it on a Pinocchio VHS tape.  I highly appreciate the song’s message that anyone’s dreams can come true.  However, I think it’s about time somebody added a verse to it or changed its lyrics slightly to reflect the fact that often you have to work hard to make your wishes a reality.  There’s too many princesses waiting around in towers waiting for a prince to come along and sweep them off their feet.  There’s too many child heroes waiting for some deus ex machina to come along and free them from lives of endless labor.  They all need to realize that sitting around accomplishes nothing, that action leads to reward (well, at least I think it should!).  The song already says, “Fate is kind; she brings to those who love the sweet fulfillment of their secret longing.”  I say we change that lyric to, “..those who love and work!”

“I wish everything was back to normal!  (Timmy Turner in every single Fairly Oddparents episode ever)

The typical plot line for a Fairly Oddparents episode goes like this: Average kid Timmy Turner makes a wish.  His fairy godparents grant the wish.  The wish often goes horribly and hilariously wrong.  Timmy wishes that everything was back to normal, effectively canceling the wish out.  Lather, rinse, repeat for 126 episodes.  The only thing is, Timmy’s life isn’t really all that normal.  His parents, babysitter, and teacher are all still lunatics.  Villains he’s defeated show up again in later episodes.  Some of the wishes he has made have had such far-reaching effects on his world that his life can never go “back to normal,” such as when he wished that his fairies would have a baby (he’s still on the show, folks, and he’s cute as a button!).  I think Timmy knows well enough by now that his life will probably never be “normal” again, and to his credit, he is starting to wish that “…the (insert bad thing here) was gone,” or that things would go back to “…the way they were.”  He still makes plenty of bad wishes, but at least he’s a bit more realistic when it comes to his expectations of what his normal life is like.

Do you wish to see more of this “Think Again” format?  Are there any wishes you’ve made that you’ve wanted to change?  Let me know in the comments, and may all your wishes come true!