Not that I want to fool you into thinking I ever have a good day at work, but yesterday was a particularly bad one. I won’t bore you with too many details, so let’s just say someone interrupted my after-lunch naptime. You’d think that, by now, people would know not to come to my desk when I’m sleeping; but as my supervisor explained, that doesn’t keep with the policies outlined in the employee handbook (like I didn’t hear it the last time she said it). So I did what any reasonable, hardworking American would do and started to throw a temper tantrum.
Apparently the human resources department frowns on this kind of conduct. I guess holding your breath until you turn blue is not covered under their liability insurance or something so I had to cut it short and get back to work. But dammit I was really looking forward to a Category Five Temper Tantrum, you know? Sometimes you just have to let the steam out.
That, I think, is the most important thing I learned from The Smurfs. I remember that Gargamel wasn’t much good for anything except that he knew how to throw an epic tantrum at the end of every episode when he realized that his carefully laid plans of capturing the Smurfs and doing God-knows-what with them had been foiled once more. It’s got to hurt when the one thing you want most in life is always out of your reach because you can’t seem to outsmart a bunch of blue-skinned talking rodents; I think we can all relate to that.
To be honest, I was never fully clear on what his problem with the Smurfs was; all I really knew is that he was willing to go through a lot of shit to make sure he got them in that standard-issue black cauldron he kept in his kitchen. I remember something about using them to make gold out of lead, but why the hell he would come to that conclusion is a mystery to me (but then, I don’t have the kind of free time he enjoyed). Other times I think he wanted to eat them because what else are you going to do with pastel-colored midgets, right? Of course, with the kind of monumental effort he was putting in, you’d think he’d have to have eaten a Smurf or two already to know that they were really worth the trouble.
I think Garagamel’s real problem was some kind of misplaced rage. It wasn’t the Smurfs he was angry with; it was his general lot in life. The Smurfs just happened to be a bunch of hippy-commune-living know-it-alls that had to throw their mindless utopian happiness in his face. The poor guy had nothing, if you really think about it. Just take a look at him, with his male-patterned baldness and fucked up teeth: he wasn’t exactly living the dream. And the fact that he wore a tattered black robe suggests to me he didn’t even have enough money to buy pants like a grown man ought to; and I don’t even want to consider the question of whether or not he was wearing anything underneath. Of course he’s going to lash out: his life sucks and no one seems to give a shit.
As you might imagine, his problems run deeper than that. If he’d grown up in the kind of shit-sty we see in the cartoon, he’d have learned to come to terms with it eventually and maybe taken a pair of garden sheers to that uni-brow he’s been sporting for the past fifty years. I can’t help but think that he’s the product of a slow decent from wealth into abject poverty and the weight of it has driven him into a monomaniacal obsession – you know, kind of like Moby Dick but with more tangibly anti-Semitic undertones (and don’t pretend you don’t see them too).
Just take a look at his home. It’s got kind of a French château look to it, and that kind of property didn’t come cheap no matter what time period you’re talking about. So we can tell that at one point his family had money. But to look at it now, it’s all falling apart, isolated in some untamed forest and forgotten by the rest of society. Imagine what it must be like for him to live there, reminded every day of this unmitigated fall from grace, wandering the halls of a home he shares with his cat and memories of a more prosperous time. Each sun swept room echoes with ghosts of revelries that have long since passed into obscurity, leaving behind only the growing sense loss that permeates the brick and mortar casings. Every cracked mirror reflects the growing madness of a world gone wrong, dragging him into a cocoon of depression and despair. The sadness in the air is so thick he could boil it into a stew and thrive on his own self-pity just to survive another cold winter night, alone with his memories. Perhaps there was once a woman’s love that evaporated like the spring mists, leaving him the last remaining heir of a family fallen into disgrace.
His closest ally is Azrael, a common housecat with an uncommon amount of loyalty. Perhaps he keeps this poor creature as evidence of the last remaining baggage of his own humanity. He sees himself in his pet – the hope, the fear and the sorrow all written in the patterns of fur – and he hates himself for it. He abuses and denigrates his only friend, hating the fact of his codependence and raging against it violently while secretly needing the connection to another living thing. What has happened here is a tragedy against all of mankind, the passion play of the human condition: The hopelessness of his lot in life has turned him into this monster.
Or maybe he’s a just a dick. I don’t really know.
That’s the thing about it: no one ever investigates what the hell happened to this guy to turn him into a twisted doppelganger of what might have been a man at one time – least of all the Smurfs. They just go about their day, living out the proletariat’s wet dream in their secret little village in the forest. They spend all day whistling happy little tunes, getting high on Smurfberries and making sure that their comfy slice of perfection is always out of reach.
Of course Gargamel’s going to want to do them harm. Hell, I kind of want to do them harm. I certainly wouldn’t try to eat them (that strikes me as being a messed up thing to do) but I don’t trust them. Quite frankly, they creep me out. Are they mammals or something? They can talk, organize into society and even develop some kind of hierarchy (based on hat color, apparently) but where did they come from? There’s only like thirty of these guys wandering around so you’ve got to wonder how recently they evolved into existence. And if they’re recently evolved, then how the hell did they develop the technology to turn mushrooms into houses? And why the hell would you need a Carpenter Smurf if you’re going to live in large fungal outcroppings?
Come to think of it, why would you live in a mushroom? That just seems like the kind of bad idea born out of either an absurd bureaucracy or an hallucinogenic mind-trip. I don’t think these things are in any way trustworthy and I wouldn’t protest them from being dissected for further study.
Not to mention, there’s only like one female for every twenty males. I’m just saying.
I have to say I’m completely on Gargamel’s side here. Someone’s got to cut the poor bastard a break. I don’t blame him for throwing his little tirades and screaming about getting those Smurfs if it’s the last thing he’s going to do – it’s just what anyone would if they were in his shoes. Unfortunately you can try and explain this to the director of human resources all you want, but if you kick over a laser-jet printer, it still comes out of your next three paychecks.