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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Popeye is an animated classic that's a little bit of a mixed bag -- and probably not quite as innocent as you remember. Although the iconic sailor promotes eating your veggies, the good stuff comes accompanied by not-so-healthy portions of violence and stereotyping, with side dishes of mild innuendo and smoking.
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What's the story?
Cartoon icon Popeye the Sailor Man's eponymous show, POPEYE, follows his quest to win the object of his affection, Olive Oyl, while fending off his bullying rival, Bluto. Even though Bluto (voiced Jackson Beck) is twice Popeye's size, Popeye (Jack Mercer) can beef up his strength by popping open a can of spinach, so he's always able to win their battles -- and Olive Oyl's (Mae Questel) heart.
Is it any good?
Popeye and Bluto's fights can get fairly violent, whether they're using their fists or picking up weapons like saws, axes, and explosives. And Bluto and Popeye's affection for Olive Oyl isn't entirely innocent, either -- they often whistle at her, and they sometimes make some mildly suggestive comments as well. Then there's Popeye's pipe, which he smokes proudly (and sometimes puts spinach in -- which could send confusing signals), and several now-dated stereotypes. The earliest Popeye cartoons date from the '30s, after all, when portrayals of women (like the annoyingly helpless Olive) and people of other ethnicities weren't exactly politically correct.
All of that said, Popeye is still lots of fun. And the old sea-dog does promote eating your veggies (sometimes he and Olive Oyl will even make his nephews eat bowls of spinach instead of hot dogs and ice cream!). And, in the end, the show succeeds in sending the message that Popeye triumphs thanks to his good deeds, rather than any bad habits.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Popeye eats so much spinach. Why is it important to eat fruits and vegetables? How do they help make you strong? What are your favorite fruits and veggies? What else goes into a healthy lifestyle?
Families can also discuss Popeye and Bluto's rivalry over Olive Oyl. Would you want anyone fighting over you? Why or why not?
Some of the stereotypes and characters are somewhat dated today. Which parts of the show still stand up today and which ones are outdated?
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