Norman Normal

“♪ He looks a lot like you. ♪”

Directed by Alex Lovy. Story and voice Characterization by N. Paul Stookey and Dave Dixon; Animation by Ted Bonnicksen, LaVerne Harding, Volus Jones, and Ed Solomon; Layouts by John Freeman; Backgrounds by Bob Abrams and Ralph Penn; Film Editor: Hal Geer; Musical Direction by William Lava; Produced by William L. Hendricks and N. Paul Stookey. A Cartoon Special released on February 3, 1968.

Yep. This short isn’t technically a Looney Tune or a Merrie Melody, but it was produced by Warner Bros. so it is one of their cartoons. It’s an interesting one. More of a satire on social behavior than anything else. It was also a collaboration with folk singer, Paul Stookey. With a musical origin, it’s no surprise that our short opens with a song. The main character, Norman, shuts the band in a room, promising us we’ll hear them again at the end. (I hope so. That was catchy)

Norman seems to exist in world of doors. Entering one, he comes to his boss’s office. Seems that the ball-bearing company Norman works for is having a hard time getting a potential client interested in their product. Said client has a weakness: alcohol. It will be Norman’s job to take the man and get him drunk so they can get a signature out of him. Understandably, Norman is a bit uncomfortable doing this.

As the boss argues with him, they both get younger. Reflecting how immature this whole thing is while the argument shifts to Norman having to do something to be part of the boss’s gang. (He doesn’t have a name. Unless Boss is his name.) Seeing as Norman is a child now, the boss reverts to his original age and plays the reverse psychology card. Norman is clearly not mature enough to handle such a responsibility. This ploy works and Norman agrees to it while growing back to normal Norman. The boss sends him on his way.

Back in the dimension of doors, Norman once more resolves to not do it. It’s not right, but who is to say what is right? In such puzzling situations, turning to a parent is a good way to at least think things out. Luckily, Norman senior can also be found in a door here, so Norman enters and asks for advice. His dad chooses to instead waste time telling stories from his youth. It’s too bad he’s not being more helpful. Norman is having some serious thoughts about what is right and what is wrong, and how others have differing opinions on it. His dad ultimately disperses some half decent advice: that being to not make waves and fit it. (Translation: Conform. Society is never wrong.) Norman exits.

Rather than exiting back into the door area, Norman finds himself at a party. (Where some guy repeatedly says “Approval?” over and over like some kind of Pokemon. Since he has a lampshade on his head, we can assume this is purely alcohol based behavior.) Seems that this party is taking place later, as one person congratulates him on the sell. (We don’t get to find out if Norman did the morally sound option or not) The man also tries to tell a joke, but we miss most of it because Norman has to ask if it’s a joke about minorities to make them all fell superior. From the punchline, I’m guessing it was a pretty crappy joke, but everyone seems to find some humor in it. Even Norman.

The bartender tries to give Norman a drink. Norman doesn’t want one, saying he’s had enough. (Not sure if he really had any or not.) The bartender gets hostile and begans accusing Norman of not liking himself when drunk. The true him, that doesn’t have to abide by society’s rules and isn’t ruled by his common sense. Angry, Norman storms out.

Back in the familiar door land, Norman apologizes for getting us mixed up in his problems, and as promised, lets us hear the band once more. Before the short ends, we see the whole thing has been taking place in Norman’s mind. How existential. Stookey wanted to have Norman appear in more cartoons, but the studios closure the following year prevented this from happening.

Apologies to anyone who might have wondered where this post was last week. The website was down, and so was I. So down in fact, that I didn’t feel like updating for the rest of the week. While nothing has changed, I don’t feel you should suffer for my personal problems. (Then again, with all the comments I get, nobody probably even noticed my absence.)