25 August 2006

Private Snafu

During the Second World War, both Disney and Warner Brothers produced animated films for public entertainment and training.

In addition to cartoons featuring the Warner Brothers stable of characters like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck was a batch of 25 short films centred on a character named Private Snafu. Warner Brothers produced the shorts, but the Snafu character came from the fertile imagination of Theodore Geisel, known to generations of post-war kids as Dr. Seuss. Geisel spent the war working for the Armed Forces Motion Picture Unit under Colonel Frank Capra.

Snafu was a bumbling soldier who taught soldiers the right way of things by being so consistently wrong. He did it with humour and, as with the most famous American propaganda film Why we fight, they were effective. SNAFU is actually a well-known soldiers' acronym for military life. "It is short for "situation normal, all f**ked up." SNAFU is a close kin to FUBAR - "f**ked up beyond all recognition - and TARFU - Things are really f**ked up.

For your enjoyment on a summer Friday is Snafuperman, originally released in 1944:

And Spies, from 1943: