Legendary Animator Chuck Jones Creates an Oscar-Winning Animation About the Virtues of Universal Health Care (1949)

While our country looks like it might be coming apart at the seams, it’s good to revisit, every once in a while, moments when it did work. And that’s not so that we can feel nostalgic about a lost time, but so that we can remind ourselves how, given the right conditions, things could work well once again.

One example from history (and recently rediscovered by a number of blogs during the AHCA debacle in Congress) is this government propaganda film from 1949—the Harry S. Truman era—that promotes the idea of cradle-to-grave health care, and all for three cents a week. This money went to school nurses, nutritionists, family doctors, and neighborhood health departments.




Directed by Chuck Jones, better known for animating Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, and the Road Runner, "So Much for So Little" follows our main character from infancy—where doctors help immunize babies against whooping cough, diphtheria, rheumatic fever, and smallpox—through school to dating, marriage, becoming parents, and settling into a nice, healthy retirement. Along the way, the government has made sure that health care is nothing to worry about.

The film won an Academy Award in 1950 for Documentary Short Subject—not best sci-fi, despite how radical this all sounds.

So what happened? John Maher at the blog Dot and Line puts it this way:

Partisanship and capitalism and racist zoning policies shattered its idealistic dream that Americans might actually pay communally for their health as well as that of their neighbors and fellow citizens.

Three cents per American per week wouldn’t cut it now in terms of universal health coverage. But according to Maher, quoting a 2009 Kingsepp study on the original Affordable Care Act, taxpayers would have to pay $3.61 a week.

So folks, don’t get despondent, get idealistic. The Greatest Generation came back from WWII with a grand idealism. Maybe this current generation just needs to fight and defeat Nazis all over again…

Related Content:

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

36 Abstract Covers of Vintage Psychology, Philosophy & Science Books Come to Life in a Mesmerizing Animation

Animated ebook covers are the wave of the future.

Graphic and motion designer Henning M. Lederer surfs that wave on the most unexpected of boards—a collection of abstract mid-century covers drawn from the Instagram feed of artist Julian Montague, who shares his enthusiasm for vintage minimalism.

Lederer first came to our attention in 2015, when we covered the first installment of what seems destined to become an ongoing project.




His latest effort, above, continues his explorations in the subjects which most frequently traded in these sorts of geometric covers—science, psychotherapy, philosophy and sociology.

No word on what inspired him to toss in the first cover, which features a cheerful, Playmobil-esque mushroom gatherer. It's endearing, but—to quote Sesame Street—is not like the others. Those of us who can’t decipher Cyrillic script get the fun of imagining what sort of text this is—a mycology manual? A children’s tale? A psychological examination—and ultimately rejection—of midcentury publishers’ fascination for spirals, diagonal bars, and other non-narrative graphics?

Whether or not you’d be inclined to pick up any of these titles, you may find yourself wanting to dance to them, compliments of musician Jörg Stierle’s trippy electronics.

Or take your cue from yet another cover  contained therein: I. P. Pavlov’s Essays in Psychology and Psychiatry with a Special Section on Sleep and Hypnosis.

Here’s the one that started it all:

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Miyazaki Meets Warhol in Campbell’s Soup Cans Reimagined by Designer Hyo Taek Kim

M'm! M'm! Good! M'm! M'm! Good!,

That's what Warhol Campbell’s Soup Cans reconceived as Miyazaki films are,

M'm! M'm! Good! 

Brazilian-Korean designer Hyo Taek Kim has found a continuing font of inspiration in his childhood love of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated films.

He has deconstructed them into a series of Pantone of color palettes and captured several favorite moments through the lens of VHS tape glitches.




Miyazaki–Special Soup Series, his latest exploratory journey into the enchanted world of the revered master animator and director–finds him reducing each film to a couple of essential flavors.

One can imagine Mom calling the kids in from an afternoon of sledding for a warm, Cream of Tomato-ish bowl of Totoro.

Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle are slightly more sophisticated flavors, that may involve leafy greens.

Princess Mononoke and Porco Rosso are Grandpa’s favorites–real stick to your ribs fare.

The subtle iconography brings added dimension to the stark product design Warhol duplicated to such acclaim.

As Kim told the Creators Project:

Simple design that works is always so much harder to create than you might expect. It’s just very fun to marry two ideas, artists and/or concepts into one big image. Andy Warhol changed the world of physical arts. Hayao Miyazaki changed the world of animated arts.

This is not Kim’s first go at Campbell’s. His earlier Supersoup Series reduced superheroes to consommé and cream ofs. Don’t forget the oyster crackers.

Posters and t-shirts of Hyo Taek Kim’s Miyazaki Special Soup and Soupersoup Series can be purchased here.

View more of Kim's soup cans online at the Creators Project.

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Watch Moebius and Miyazaki, Two of the Most Imaginative Artists, in Conversation (2004)

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Watch A Single Life: An Oscar-Nominated Short About How Vinyl Records Can Take Us Magically Through Time

In 2015, the Dutch animation studio Job, Joris & Marieke, got an Oscar nomination for this delightful animated short, "A Single Life." It's a two minute tale about how music--particularly vinyl records--can transport us to magical places. And we mean really magical places.

Seeing that we don't believe in spoilers, we're not going to say anything more--other than "A Single Life" has been screened at more than 200 festivals and received more than 40 awards. And, what's more, it will be added to our collection of Animated Films, a subset of our collection 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

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Syd Barrett’s “Effervescing Elephant” Comes to Life in a New Retro-Style Animation

The story is well known. Syd Barrett, spiralling into depression, "hallucinations, disorganized speech, memory lapses, intense mood swings, and periods of catatonia," left Pink Floyd in April, 1968, before recording two solo albums (The Madcap Laughs and Barrett) and then fading into obscurity. Above you can watch a delightful, new animation of "Effervescing Elephant," a song Barrett first wrote during his teenage years and recorded in 1970. The new "retro-style" animation comes from Yoann Hervo. Below, find another animated take on "Effervescing Elephant," this one from Steve Bobinksi.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

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An Animated Introduction to the Life & Work of Marie Curie, the First Female Nobel Laureate

Looking for an introduction or reintroduction to the life and work of scientist Marie Curie?

You could have a peek at her original manuscripts, after first signing a waiver and garbing yourself in protective gear, so as to avoid the radioactivity permeating her possessions...

Or you could turn to song. Army of Lovers, the Crypts!, and the Deedle Deedle Dees have all written songs in celebration of this brilliant woman, the first female Nobel Laureate and only person in history to have been awarded Nobel prizes in two different sciences.

(Her lead-lined coffin, forbidden studies, and romance with fellow physicist and husband Pierre are the stuff from which golden lyrics are spun…)




Or you could watch the TED-Ed animation above, written and narrated by Dr. Shohini Ghose, Physics Professor and Director of Wilfrid Laurier University’s Centre for Women in Science.

Ghose counterbalances the tantalizing biographical tidbits of the world’s most famous female scientist with her actual contributions to the fields of oncology, technology, medicine, and nuclear physics.

Ghose’s full TED-Ed lesson includes a review quiz and further resources.

To get an even more in-depth introduction to the Curies, listen to the episode of In Our Time, below.

And do remember to put down the sparklers and potato salad for a moment in silent recognition that this July 4th marks the 83rd anniversary of Mme. Curie’s death from aplastic anemia, the result of prolonged exposure to radiation.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Why Cartoon Characters Wear Gloves: A Curious Trip Through the History of Animation

It’s rare for Disney to overlook a marketing opportunity. For years, Mouse Ears were the film studio’s theme park souvenir of choice, but recently the gift shops have started stocking white four-fingered gloves too.

Perhaps not the most sensible choice for dipping into a bucket of jalapeño poppers or a $6 Mickey Pretzel with Cheese Sauce, but the gloves have undeniable reach when it comes to cartoon history. Bugs Bunny wears them. So does Woody Woodpecker, Tom (though not Jerry), and Betty Boop's anthropomorphic doggie pal, Bimbo.

As Vox’s Estelle Caswell points out above, the choice to glove Mickey and his early 20th-century cartoon brethren was born of practicality. The limited palette of black and white animation meant that most animal characters had black bodies—their arms disappeared against every inky expanse.




It also provided artists with a bit of relief, back when animation meant endless hours of labor over hand drawn cells. Puffy gloves aren’t just a comical capper to bendy rubber hose limbs. They’re also way easier to draw than realistic phalanges.

As Walt Disney himself explained:

We didn't want him to have mouse hands, because he was supposed to be more human. So we gave him gloves. Five Fingers looked like too much on such a little figure, so we took one away. That was just one less finger to animate.

Caswell digs deeper than that, unearthing a surprising cultural comparison. White gloves were a standard part of blackface performers’ minstrel show costumes. Audiences who packed theaters for touring minstrel shows were the same people lining up for Steamboat Willie.

Comic animation has evolved both visually and in terms of content over its near hundred year history, but animators have a tendency to revere the history of their profession.

Thusly do South Park's animators bestow spotless white gloves upon Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo.

"America's favorite cat and mouse team," the Simpsons'  Itchy and Scratchy, mete out their horrifically violent punishment in pristine white gloves.

Clearly some things are worth preserving…

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine, appearing onstage in New York City through June 26 in Paul David Young’s Faust 3. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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