good point Hank
|Binro the Heretic |
I was never sure how to react to this show. It was clear Hank was a total asshole. He was a control freak who oppressed his wife and emotionally abused his child, but it was also clear we were supposed to be sympathetic towards him and think of him as a good guy.
I also like how every so often, when it looks like Hank's being an unreasonable asshole, the show flips our expectations upside down by the end of the episode.
Case in point: that episode where Bobby wants to become a fashion model. Hank's having none of it, and we as an audience, conditioned as we are to side with Bobby and his struggles against unreasonable parental authority, spend the whole episode clucking our tongue's at Hank and hoping that maybe, by the end, he'll chillax a lil' and let Bobby's freak flag fly. But Hank doesn't let up; he puts his foot down, stomps on Bobby's dreams, and bodily removes him from the fashion show- moments before the other child models are obliterated in a testosterone-fueled, hetero-normative riot. Suddenly, it becomes clear to us that Hank wasn't just being an asshole arbitrarily; he really does care about Bobby, and wanted to protect Bobby from the consequences of making a stupid mistake. There's really two messages woven throughout that episode: that sometimes being a parent isn't about being a friend, it's about being a parent, and that there's a difference between tolerance, and being a big fat faggot.
I'm not saying I always agree with Hank Hill. In fact, I rarely do; but this, to me, is the real strength of KOTH. It forces us to step outside the narratives we're comfortable with and reconsider our most basic assumptions and biases. It's a challenging show, in a very real and profound sense, so God bless Hank and his cheap-beer drinking redneck heart.
Five for Evil Homer's case in point. The show is rich in contradictions and character depth, but this was a very concise example of the kind of challenging narratives the show offers.
Hank Hill is a lot more than an Archie Bunker update. He embodies a lot about the aging baby boomer generation: he's a man who tries to behave in a moral fashion, but he has come to silently accept the contradictions in his moral code that don't interfere with his personal life (e.g. being enthusiastic about propane and his company while Buck Strickland is a philandering wastrel). The fact that he's so much better at ignoring these contradictions than his neighbors (e.g. Dale being a paranoid conspiracy theorist, while failing to notice his wife's flagrant adultery) makes him a natural leader in his baby boomer community, but he strikes us as an odd protagonist upholding an untenable status quo.
Don't get me wrong, fedex. I'm using the phrase "big fat faggot" in it's most technical, scientific sense. Think Perez Hilton, or better yet, JDR.
You don't have to be an "ignorant redneck" to find the prospect of your kid being a flamboyant plus-sized kiddie model unpalatable. In fact, with nothing more than a simple gender swap (Connie as a child pageant model?) I think the battle for our sympathy would be a complete rout in Hank's favor! While I fully support Bobby's theatrical ambitions (and I think the show respects them too, in the same underlying contradiction-laden fashion that Mongo so eloquently addresses), sometimes it helps to have a grounding force like Hank.
Or maybe it doesn't! Either way, it's conflicts like these that make KOTH, and a protagonist like Hank, so darn interesting.
I just read a 794 word diatribe on the nuance of a Beavis and Butthead spinoff character.
I love you poeTV.
Hank was a decent guy trying to do the right thing, even if his way of doing things was sometimes the wrong way. I can get behind that.
What bothered me about the show was the villain of the week, who was usually a college educated man, or a government employee, or a liberal from the big city, or a woman. All of which can be perfectly fine foils in and of themselves, but after a while, you start to realize a theme: the people of Small Town America are beyond reproach, and problems only happen when Carpetbaggers try to push people around. Like "The Song of the South", the problem isn't what is depicted, so much as what ISN'T depicted.
So there is for example the episode with a health inspector who is making Hank's life hell by "finding" cockroaches in his house, because he simply enjoys abusing his power. Or there is the episode where everyone assumes Hank trained Lady Bird to attack black people after she snarled at the furnace guy, because the real problem is people making unfair accusations of racism. Or the episode where the over-educated schoolteachers wanted to do an Alamo play that depicted the heroic defenders as cross-dressing sissies, just because they like to spit on all that is good and decent. (BTW, one of the rights being defended at the Alamo was the right to hold slaves. Wasn't their main issue, but it was on the list. That is real history, though it may not be taught that way in Arlen.)
To be fair, this clip is a counter-example to what I just said: the villain of the week in this episode was an overly-churchy local woman who was trying to ban Halloween. But this was an early episode and it was before the series found its groove of depicting an ideal Arlen under attack from outside. Then again, the villain here was a woman whose uterus was no doubt making her say and do crazy things, so maybe I wasn't so far off.
Binro the Heretic
When Peggy found out she liked the taste of meat grilled with charcoal, Hank used her love for him as a weapon to force her into giving it up.
He frequently humiliates and degrades Bobby as a way of "motivating" him and makes it clear that he would have preferred to have had an athletic son.
I know Hank himself is the product of an abusive father, but just because he doesn't shout or use physical force doesn't make him any less abusive.
And as for the argument that the show "flips your expectations" from time to time, that's part of the problem. No matter how unreasonable Hank is, he's almost always proven right.
Take the episode where Bobby wanted to be a model. Had Hank been in the audience watching his son do something he enjoyed rather than dragging him out of there, he could have prevented the other kids from hurling food at the kids on stage. But he didn't. He even hinted that he KNEW it was going to happen.
That makes him an asshole.
Is that such a bad thing though, Bort? I don't think anyone will argue that KOTH doesn't display a consistent thematic bias towards "small town values" and the various staples of what we might consider to be "Red State culture". However, you can find a million and one television shows, movies, bands, USEnet groups, and webcomics that display a consistent thematic bias the other way around- it's never "the black guy's fault", the college educated federal employee stands up for what's right, the health inspector knows what's best. What's more, most of these cultural works- Blue State AND Red State bias- present their chosen vision in a very simple, predictable, easy to digest fashion. Star Trek TNG, for example, casually presents the viewers with an aggressively San Fransisco style Marxist-progressive vision of the future, complete with psychic commissars and the ever-so-PC synthehol... then acts like we the audience should accept this as the most natural thing in the world. Likewise, flip on Fox News, and I doubt you'll EVER see a story that directly calls into question the validity of Rupert Murdoch's underlying social narrative- you subvert the OTHER guy, always.
Except in Arlen. You never see the values in Arlen put forth as holy writ, and in a lot of instances (such as Dale's ultra-libertarian, fed-hating, Alex Jones and David Ike lifestyle) the negative subtext is very clear. All the same, the characters are never debased, and always nuanced- Dale may be a maniac, but he loves his family, and he loves his friends, too... to a point. We're encouraged to love him, despite, and because of, his "faults". Nor am I convinced that the "Red State" bias in KOTH is much more than a manifestation of Mike Judge's integrity as an artist- after all, this is the guy who's equally at home presenting animal abusing hooligans and work-a-day office stiffs as sympathetic heroes for our generation! Would you have a problem with Beavis & Butthead because of the show's consistent "pro-jackass" slant?
So what if the characters on KOTH are probably going to vote for Santorum? They're good guys, and it's a great show.
Oh, and you ninja'd me there, Binro, but I just have to point out real quick: Hank didn't force Peggy to chose the propane cooked meat. She did that herself.
Peggy loves Hank, and as herself says, that's what matters. Not the juicy taste of charcoal. If you're the sort of person who thinks being right about a burger is more important than supporting something that's so central to your partner's identity as propane is to Hank, well, good luck with that. But to bastardize a quote from Henry IV, "Hank is worth a propane burger."
Wrong episode Bort. This one is where Bobby joins the super hip contemporary Christian youth group. Hank doesn't like it because he doesn't want Jesus to become a phase that Bobby would abandon.
Binro, Hank didn't make Peggy give up charcoal. She gave it up because she knew abandoning propane would destroy Hank. Hank won't admit he's very sensitive.
All this social criticism aside, the show just worked. So what if it sometimes affirmed small town conservative values over your liberal ways. The Hank Hills of this world are right more often then you'd like to admit.
EvilHomer: yes, yes it is a bad thing. Let's take that Alamo episode again: in real life, the problem in Texas is rewriting the school books to match conservative mythology, not liberals trying to distort the truth. Or the black furnace guy thing, where the black man immediately overreacts and assumes racism where there is none, as does everyone else; while I'm sure unfair accusations of racism are leveled at times, this country has no shortage of actual genuine racism, and the Ron Paul State is not exactly known for racial tolerance. But it turns out there are no racists in Arlen ... except for Khan and his Laotian friends, of course.
Binro the Heretic
The choice Hank put before Peggy was "Do you want the charcoal...or me." He used her love for him as a weapon against her.
My biggest problem with Hank is that he is one of those people who feels there is a "right" way to do anything which just happens to be the way HE does things. Meat is to be prepared with propane. Why? Because that's the way Hank prepares it. If you suggest that a different method can taste just as good, you are calling Hank wrong and Hank is not wrong therefore you are wrong.
Letting his own wife enjoy a meal prepared the way she wanted it was less important to Hank than being "right."
When Khan moves in, they ask if he's Chinese or Japanese, and after he says he's Laotian and explains where Laos is, they ask him again if he's Chinese or Japanese.
Rodents of Unusual Size
I always thought the entire show worked really well because in spite of the fact that he's Texan and conservative, he's also been raised that way, and he views all of his values as being best for society.
I liked that aspect of it. It never made the characters into a one line gag, as the Simpsons unfortunately devolved into for the most part, and it sympathized with each character without turning them into a stereotype.
Essentially, you do like Hank, because he's one of the most well meaning characters in animation history. At times he wavers in terms of tact and emotionally reacts to situations in a way that he shouldn't, but rather than play the "dumb dad" routine to death, Hank just comes to the cusp of evolving his personality and experience with every episode, and always retains his dignity. It's not that he changes radically, or "learns his lesson", but he seems to develop a greater understanding of those around him, all while admitting he isn't perfect, and no one else on the show is either. They accept their own flaws and try to deal with them. That's why the writing is so superb. I haven't seen the show nearly enough and will catch up with the seasons I missed after season 4 down the road.
I was never sure how to react to this show until I realized that it was a show intentionally about horrible people who had no idea they were horrible, and who were also the protagonists.
Hank is a control-freak moron with terrible emotional problems, who seems to live to throttle every creative and expressive impulse anyone around him might ever have. Peggy is self-centered, conceited, and incredibly insecure. Bill is a man who has given up on himself and on life, but who hasn't the drive to kill himself through any means besides eating himself to death. Boomhauer is a manslut and womanizer who thinks nothing of double-parking across handicap spaces, and ho would probably be a whole lot less likable were he at all intelligible. Dale is a either a bipolar or a borderline schizo, and has questionable morals; his wife is a manipulative, catty, and enabling woman living a constant lie that will one day blow up her marriage.
(Khan is one of the least horrible, being simply a jerk who can't stand his neighbors -- and could any of us, in such a neighborhood?)
I never got to watch Beavis and Butthead as a kid, so it took me forever to figure out that this is just how Mike Judge works. On everything. The only difference in KOTH is we were supposed to like the characters in between laughing at their horribleness.
The key to understanding Hank is seeing Hank's dad. I used to dislike Hank, but after realizing what his childhood must have been like, I began to respect him a lot more. Hank is more progressive than his father was, and doubtlessly Bobby will be more progressive than Hank. That's how it works, usually. You don't have to love or hate the characters; they're too three-dimensional and well-drawn for that. My own dad is a lot like Hank.
This was a great show.
PoE works because half the posters deserve to be exhibits, and I mean that in the best way :)
Rock music taught me otherwise, old man!
Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Bobby.
Man, wasn't expecting this kind of controversy. I just liked the expression on Bobby's face.
The show does occasionally make fun of libs but it doesn't make Hank a conservative hero. He does what's appropriate for his setting, while occasionally showing a hair more insight and measure than the people around him.
So you can identify with him somewhat, but he's not the voice of the audience or reason. (Unlike South Park where Stan & Kyle are intended to be but their creators are such morons that they never actually pull it off). You're suppose to be laughing at Hank.
Oh don't even go there, almo. You're defining "intolerance" two different ways in the same sentence.
First instance: "unwillingness to accept because it is demonstrably harmful".
Second instance: "unwillingness to accept because it is different".
5 stars for a 10,000 word argument about KOTH.
|Pope Caius |
I like the funny Texans.
I don't know where to begin here.
You're all just so gay when it comes to the South, like it's an alien planet and you're debating Star Trek.
Hate everything about this show except dale gribble and khan.
Oh, and hank's dad.
since this post, the show has grown on me but my rating today would probably be 3 boring stars of fairness instead of one single star of vitriol
I also like hank's dad because his beady little eyes and shriveled face remind me of a rancor.
hell is cool fuck you all
Stay beautiful, Waugh.
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