Respectful Insolence

Betty Boop: Homeopath

While reading through a mailing list I belong to, I came across a link that demonstrates that alternative medicine has been ingrained in popular culture since at least the 1920′s and 1930′s. Indeed, I never realized that that icon of flappers, Betty Boop, practiced homeopathy. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s incontrovertible evidence in the form of a short called Betty Boop, M.D. released in 1932 and perhaps the most bizarre Boop short I’ve ever seen (particularly the last shot, which makes me wonder if acid had actually been invented six years before it was supposedly discovered). Basically, Betty shows up in town as part of a traveling medicine show selling an all-purpose remedy. Look at what the remedy actually turns out to be, and you’ll see that there’s no doubt that Betty Boop was a homeopath!

Of course, if this were 2007, Betty wouldn’t need to travel with all that riff-raff. She could just put up a website and let the marks (I mean customers) come to her. And, of course, the film would probably have been called Betty Boop, N.D., not M.D.

She could keep the cool jazz soundtrack, though.

Comments

  1. #1 Alaya
    June 10, 2007

    Well, there might not have been any acid, but there was definitely plenty of pot– isn’t that a mild hallucinogen in high enough doses? And let’s not even mention opium. I mean, Berlioz and Lewis Carroll had to be on something.

    Which is to say, that was one trippy video.

  2. #2 Adam Cuerden
    June 10, 2007

    …Well…

    …You know what, I don’t think there’s any real ways to comment on this.

  3. #3 Scotty B
    June 10, 2007

    I think the city needs to have their water tested.

  4. #4 sailor
    June 10, 2007

    Great video – I especially like the end where she shows her true colors.

  5. #5 John Marley
    June 10, 2007

    Weird.

    Fitting that the salesman was a clown.

  6. #6 Interrobang
    June 10, 2007

    Orac’s right in seeing a drug reference — the Fleischer cartoons were connected to and used symbols from certain aspects of the drug culture of the period. The most famous Betty Boop short uses Cab Calloway’s version of the St. James Infirmary Blues, which includes the lines

    She used to hang with a bloke named Smokey
    She loved him though he was cokey
    He took her down to Chinatown
    Showed her how to kick the gong around

    which is a reference to a guy who uses cocaine and teaches his girlfriend how to smoke opium. The whole short could be seen as an allegory for an opium dream, as well — a kind of “bad trip narrative,” if you like.

    Coco the clown appears in another short with the same music, and seems to be a figure symbolising the mutability of perception under the influence of drugs. Actually, if I had to guess, I’d say the whole cartoon is a drug allegory, although it’s anybody’s guess which drug they were talking about.

  7. #7 JeffL
    June 11, 2007

    Apparently, Fleischer produced two documentaries, one on Einstein’ Theory of Relativity, and one on Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. I found mention of them released together as “Max Fleischer’s Documentary Features”, but I can’t find anywhere that they are available, on the web or off.

  8. #8 AJS
    June 12, 2007

    Well, there might not have been any acid, but there was definitely plenty of pot– isn’t that a mild hallucinogen in high enough doses?

    No, pot is a powerful hallucinogen. But you can’t normally get enough of it into your system by smoking; you have to eat it (in something slightly greasy, since THC is not water-soluble, though not too greasy — you want it to stay in your body for as long as possible) if you want to experience the full effect.

    The most famous Betty Boop short uses Cab Calloway’s version of the St. James Infirmary Blues, which includes the lines
    She used to hang with a bloke named Smokey
    She loved him though he was cokey
    He took her down to Chinatown
    Showed her how to kick the gong around

    Actually those words are from Minnie the Moocher, though the attribution to Cab Calloway and the supposed meaning are correct.

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