Saturday, August 18, 2012

Karen's Take on Nutsack

Why am I bored with this book? Surprisingly, it is not the monotony or lack of direct plot in the book, but rather the lack of originality of concept.  Leyner has been called "post-modern" and "unconventional" by critics, but his style could be heavily influenced by children's psychedelic television programming of the late 1960's and early 1970's.  

In 1970 ( I was five), not much television programming was offered specifically for kids , and such staples as "Sesame Street" had not been created, yet. The exception was Saturday morning where some shows were hip enough to try to embrace the current counter culture.   There probably wasn't much research by the networks about if the kids watching these shows actually liked them, and the shows were not meant to be educational.  The plots were ambiguous, and included slapstick humor with a laugh track of people laughing hysterically.  The shows were either written by people on drugs, or what squares thought would be written if they were on drugs, or keeping in mind the perception of what people on drugs would like. 

One such show was produced by Sid and Marty Krofft in 1969 called "H.R. Puffnstuf."  It's about a boy who gets stranded on a small intensely colored island where everyday things come alive, and where a witch tries to steal the boy's magic flute.  The Vh1 show "I Love the 70's"  says "So, the deal with H.R. Puffnstuf is, Sid and Marty Krofft did a lot of drugs when they were given a TV show..." 
"Puffnstuf" lasted only one season, but was kept in re-runs for three years and influenced a giant ad campaign by McDonalds. 

The words to the Puffnstuf's theme song are "Who's your friend when things get rough? H.R. Puffnstuf.  You can't do a little, can't do enough. "  Like "Nutsack," this show includes feelings of paranoia, the role of fate in people's everyday lives, and allusions if not direct references to drugs.   

The experience of watching these television shows as a child is pretty much the same as my experience of reading "Nutsack."  We are a sober witness to someone else's trip.

See the show:

See a short one minute clips of "H.R. Puffnstuf" here:

And here is another quick clip where the characters breathe funny smoke:

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