Sometimes google really takes the fun out of life.
For a nerd, anyway. As previously revealed on this blog, yes, I was a member of my high school’s Speech and Debate team. (I believe I’ve already admitted I went to a debate tournament the night of my senior prom.) I’m old enough to remember the world pre-Internet, and even pre-personal computer. I actually enjoy going to the library to do research — not that I do much of that anymore, I’m as lazy as the rest of the world. I google. Sometimes I even use Wikipedia.
Back in the day, it would have taken days or weeks or at least a phone call to answer the question, “Does Dopey have Down syndrome?”
These days, it takes a google search. When I didn’t hear back from the fairy tale scholars I emailed the other day, I had an epiphany: The Dopey thing must have been a Disney creation. One of the smart copy editors I work with confirmed that was the first time the dwarfs had names, so a few minutes ago, I googled “Dopey” and “Disney” and hit the motherlode.
I’d like to think that perhaps this information is false, that someone involved with one of the original fairy tales that eventually became Disney’s Snow White had a relative with Down syndrome or some other exposure to it, or maybe that someone at Disney did, and that the coincidental features on Dopey really aren’t coincidental. But the explanation on the Disney archives makes some sense — though I’ll offer the caveat that it is awfully politically correct.
Anyhow, here it is, from http://disney.go.com/vault/archives/characters/sevendwarfs/sevendwarfs.html:
Dubbed “Dopey” by his brothers, this loose-limbed dwarf has never spoken a word; as Happy explains to Snow White, “He never tried.” But Dopey isn’t really dopey, he’s just childlike. Is it dopey to try and steal a second and third kiss from Snow White on your way to work, or to make yourself tall enough to dance with her by climbing on Sneezy’s shoulders? Not at all. Dopey’s a genius at fun and games (and a whiz at the drums to boot). He just doesn’t mind looking silly along the way. So what if he wiggles his ears and shuffles his feet to his own skippity-skip beat? He’s simply being himself, and that’s pretty smart.
In the early development process on the film, Dopey was the “leftover” dwarf with no particular personality. Then one day animator Ward Kimball discovered vaudevillian actor Eddie Collins at a Los Angeles burlesque house. Kimball invited the baby-faced Mr. Collins to the studio to perform and improvise pantomimes of Dopey’s reactions on film. Thanks much to Collins’ innovative acting, Dopey assumed a very definite personality and soon became one of the animators’ favorite dwarfs. Collins’ pantomime turned out to be one of the first times live-action reference footage was shot for an animated film. The technique proved so successful that it’s still used today. The inspiring Mr. Collins went on to perform live-action reference for Gideon in “Pinocchio” (1940).
So then I googled “Eddie Collins” and “Dopey”, and do you know what I got? A Facebook page for “Eddie Collins Dopey,” complete with an illustration from the Disney cartoon.
That just made me think about how much I hate the Facebook redesign. Really, WTF? Facebook is the one place I can go (well, could go before today) and not have to think. Now I can’t figure anything out.
And I’m still not entirely convinced about Dopey.
Please, web gods, just don’t let them redesign google.