Thomas Pynchon loves him some Porky Pig. And this is why I have yet another reason to love YouTube.
If you’re like me, you have a giant mental backlog of things you want to remember to look up on YouTube. Now, most people, at least according to Patton Oswalt on Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil the other night, use YouTube as a kind of America’s Funniest Home Videos Gone Wild, where people watch each other’s crappy clips of farting pandas and dudes getting socked in the nuts, as though we’re all little Caligulas demanding our slaves to fetch us more and more tawdry spectacles. For me, though, YouTube is a library for the obscurest of obscure, a flashlight upon the most dimly held television and movie memories, a “gotcha!” quote catcher for politicians and celebrities, and an independent arbiter to help resolve disputes about what celebrity said which thing when where.
But my greatest “eureka!” moments come when I’m waiting in an elevator or something, and I’ll recall something I’d once desperately wanted to see footage of but had no way of acquiring until YouTube came about. It could be a performance of a comedian I’d only read books of, or something from the early early days of cinema, or footage of a personal hero from decades ago–and now, with the power invested in me by YouTube, I can finally see the Porky Pig cartoon where he fights an anarchist, as mentioned in The Crying of Lot 49:
“It was all mixed in with a Porky Pig cartoon.” He waved at the tube. “It comes into your dreams, you know. Filthy machine. Did you ever see the one about Porky Pig and the anarchist?”
She had, as a matter of fact, but she said no. “The anarchist is dressed all in black. In the dark you can only see his eyes. It dates from the 1930’s. Porky Pig is a little boy. The children told me that he has a nephew now, Cicero. Do you remember, during the war, when Porky worked in a defense plant? He and Bugs Bunny. That was a good one too.”
“Dressed all in black,” Oedipa prompted him.
Well, like so many of Pynchon’s source materials, this one is bona-fide real, and now that I’ve built it up way more than it needs, here it is!