Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Byebye Pitstop

Or rather, byebye Joseph Barbera, who has just died, aged 95. He and his partner William Hanna were responsible for hundreds of cartoons, which were a staple of growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, when all I did pretty much was watch tv.

My favourite ever Hanna-Barbera cartoon was the Perils of Penelope Pitstop, possibly the queerest cartoon ever made. The heroine, Penelope was impossibly blonde, dressed in a tight hot-pink aviation costume and forced to say all her lines in a helpless southern belle voice. She was always falling into dastardly traps set by the uber-camp Hooded Claw, and then having to be rescued by the Ant Hill mob - a gang of incompetent midgets. But in a triumph of feminism, it was usually Penelope who saved herself, by employing a nail file or small mirror in order to cut or burn through the ropes that tied her (as well as the feminist "reading" there was also a lot of BDSM going on in the show.)

But the Hooded Claw was the best of all. Voiced by Paul Lynde (who also played Uncle Arthur in Bewitched - another gay-coded show), he had the most wicked laugh ever and delighted in telling Pitstop exactly what he was going to do with her, while rinky-dink music played in the background.

I was also suspicious about the Bully Brothers - who, in retrospect, resembled two bits of trade whom the Hooded Claw had picked up. They don't make cartoons like Pitstop anymore. And you know what, it's a shame!


jetpack said...

I've seen a (presumably genuine) screengrab from penelope pitstop where she has a knob on her dashboard marked "vibrator" - though I doubt it actually meant some autoerotic device (or did it?)

digital_jay said...

I thought I was the only kid to have noticed the knob mentioned in the above comment... Oh like my Soap Operas, I adored the Hanna-Barbera cartoons, I loved the Perils of Penelope Pitstop, and yes it was a bit on the camp side, though I did love the ant hill mob and their rescues.

I never did manage to figure out how she could never tell that the claws alter-ego was the hooded claw it was so obvious... Well I guess when your that blonde and in hot pink an on switch would be hard to suss out... Still as hapless as she was I did love the way she screamed for Help, I can still do my version of her help and annoy D with it every chance I can get ^_^ (insert hood-claw like laugh)

matty said...

whenever I think of him I think of Liz Montgomery and Ann-Margret who both "appeared" as cartoons on The Flinstones. I always thought that this was odd and interesting. ...kind of cool.