Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bobby Soxers: Little Red Riding Rabbit

The Movie (or Short Cartoon, whatevs)
   If you're like me and have read a few animation books or are an animation dork, you'll know that a favorite pastime of most rabid, slavering fans of the Rabbit (e.g. me) is to recount cartoons blow-by-blow, crafting descriptions of every single gag and anvil drop with loving detail.  If you are in to this type of thing, one of the best places to find your cartoons recounted with good humor and an insight into animation history is in Joe Adamson's 50 Years and Only One Grey Hare - I have had this book since I was pretty young and still consider it to be the best Bugs reference out there.  Anyway, I will try to avoid this bad and surprisingly common habit, but make no guarantees! 
    Little Red Riding Rabbit (directed by Friz Freleng, 1944) is a trove of war-era references, beginning with the opening scene where Red, who is pretty obviously a soxer, is skipping through the forest singing a song about her father working in the munitions factory.  Bugs Bunny is in her basket, being brought to grandmother 'ta have' for dinner.  After a longish detour set by the Big Bad Wolf, Red finds herself at grandma's door, only to find the note shown above.  The Big Bad has gotten there before them and, after shooing out four other wolves already in the bed wearing granny's other nightgowns, he has the place to himself.  He has only to wait for the knock at the door to get a nice rabbit dinner...

What Is A 'Bobby-Soxer' Anyway?
Oh, Frankie!  "On the opening day of his engagement the crowd waiting for admission early in the morning got out of hand; shop windows were smashed, police and ambulances had to be summoned." - The Guardian. 1.10.1945
   A bobby-soxer was a young girl distinguished by her clothes, interests and, above all, socks.  The term was in general applied to young girls with a characteristic fashion sense: skirts, sweaters, saddle shoes or penny loafers and short socks known as bobby socks (so named because they were shorter versions of the original knee socks).  She was your typical 'teenybopper' of the post-war time period, and the stereotypical female youth sitting in the soda shop wearing a poodle skirt in the 1950s.   The bobby soxer was part of the culture from the early-to-mid forties through the fifties, often portrayed as vapid youth only interested in pursuing inappropriate or unattainable men.  Analogs to bobby soxers in recent pop culture would be fans of the Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block and the Bieb.  A 1945 reference in The Guardian applied the term to early to mid-teen girls who were fans of Frank Sinatra, while a Time magazine from late 1946 also referred to a 20-year-old female Iowan parson as a bobby soxer, so it's clear that the term had some elasticity.    
   Other bobby soxer notes:  The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer was made by RKO in 1947, starring Cary Grant, Myrna Loy and Shirley Temple as Susan the soxer.  Chuck Berry recorded Go Bobby Soxer in 1964, a bit late to really catch the height of the craze.  This song has one of my new favorite song lines (see end of first verse):

Bobby band a-rockin'
And the bobby soxer's doing the twist
It's a bobby soxer beat
And you can rock it any way you wish
Work out, bobby soxer, you can
Wiggle like a whimsical fish

Go, go, bobby soxer  (x 4)
When the weekend comes
You'll be right back rockin' some more, etc.

Links and Sources:
Only my favorite animation book by Joe Adamson:  50 Years and Only One Grey Hare
Frank Sinatra and the 'Bobby Soxers', The Guardian
'Bobby-Soxer', The Word Detective
And for those with a vintage-style aesthetic:  How to be a Bobby-Soxer, Queens of Vintage

1 comment:

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