Friday, February 17, 2006

One Got Fat

My friends Pam and Rich currently reside in Tanzania where they are teaching at an International School. They have been gone since late July and will likely be frightening the locals with their pasty-white legs and Midwestern accents for at least another year. Incidentally, it was after their going away party that Kristin was involved in the second of two car accidents precipitating the need for brain surgery and leaving her with this. But that is a story for another time.

I got to thinking about them recently and as my mind is want to do it drifted to food. What do Pam, Rich and food have in common, you say? Monkeys. Or more accurately, monkeys on bikes. It was Rich who first introduced me to the film One Got Fat and I haven't been the same since. Here is the story as Rich tells it:

A number of years ago, I stole a 16mm film called One Got Fat out
of the Mounds View High School media center. Along with about 150 other films.
I'm pretty sure they had switched over to more current media. Quickly I realized
that I had no way to watch a 16mm film at home, so I stole a film projector
also. Pam and I threw a party in our attic-space apartment and threaded the film
through the projector. The story that played itself out on our wall is hard to
describe, much less categorize as educational. One Got Fat turns out to be a
bicycle safety film. A bunch of young children dressed as monkeys bike from
their neighborhood cul-de-sac to the park nearby for a picnic lunch. But lo and
behold, the monkey children get picked off one by one as they fail to adhere to
the rules of bicycle safety. One monkey doesn't keep his bike in good repair,
and his brakes go out just as he crosses the path of a giant semi-truck. Another
monkey child rides up on the sidewalk and can't prevent herself from hopping the
curb into the path of a giant steamroller. One monkey child with clear Communist
tendencies tries to give another monkey child a buck on the handlebars. Buck, I
said. For some reason or another they also die a bloody, gruesome death. All the
monkey children die one-by-one until the only goody-goody-two-shoes of the bunch who follows all of the rules arrives safely at the park. Because all his friends
have died, he gets their picnic lunches -- and he is joyfully happy. He eats all
their food; hence, One Got Fat. Pam remembers watching this film when she was
just a little monkey in school. Clearly the moral of the story is: if you step
off the curb you will die.

Although I doubt they brought this film all the way to Africa with them they also didn't leave it with me. Thus it has been years since I've seen it. Thanks to Google, the greatest junk discovery tool since the Radio Shack metal detector, I located a copy here. Plus since it is part of the public domain you can download a copy for free. Of course this has led to a steady search for old educational and propaganda films such Narcotics: Pit of Despair, Are You Polite, Duck and Cover, and Dining Together. I even found a copy of the much heralded Reefer Madness. Suffice it to say I have started a small collections will soon be opening a museum devoted to the viewing of these relics.

Thank God (or AL Gore) for the internet.


The Boy said...

I am just finishing a book called Shockwave: Countdown to Hiroshima. It and you both reminded me of a documentary film called The Atomic Cafe (Maybe "The" isn't in the title.) Have you seen it, and does it meet your collectible criteria?

Sven said...

I haven't seen it bit from the plot summary on the IMDB it sounds great.

"Disturbing collection of 1960s United States government issued propaganda films designed to reassure Americans that the atomic bomb was not a threat to their safety."

Here is the link.

The Boy said...

Sven: We (a reader and I) need your help over at my blog on a piece called "Honeymoon in Minnesota." We are somewhat confused about your home state.

OneEar said...

To the degree that I am the public, you have provided a true public service by rediscovering the monkey children.