Blue Meanies (Yellow Submarine)

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The Blue Meanies are a fictional army of fierce, if buffoonish, music-hating beings in the surreal 1968 Beatles cartoon film Yellow Submarine. They allegorically represent all the bad people in the world.[1] Their visual appearance was mostly designed by Heinz Edelmann.[2] Producer Al Brodax said that the chief blue meanie resembled production coordinator Abe Goodman.[1]

Description[edit]

The Blue Meanies are set on the occupation (and silencing) of Pepperland, a colorful, musical utopia that lies beneath the sea. The Meanies have blue skin, yellow teeth, claw-like hands and wear black masks around their eyes and hats that resemble Mickey Mouse ears on their heads. They are humanoid in appearance - albeit with blue faces and very long noses.[2]

History[edit]

The Blue Meanies arrive in Pepperland and do everything they can to oppress the place. This prompts one of Pepperland's sailors, the former Commander now newly appointed Lord Admiral "Old Fred" (or "Young Fred" according to the even older Lord Mayor) to escape in the Yellow Submarine of the title to find help. Old Fred journeys to Liverpool where he meets the Beatles, whom he enlists for help, because, as musicians, they would be able to restore harmony (and indeed melody) to Pepperland. The Meanies, in his absence, cause the lovely and colourful Pepperland to turn into a very grey, dull and oppressive place, wrought with thorns and thistles.[3]

Later in the story, a Meanie abducts the Beatles' companion, Jeremy Hilary Boob, the so-called "Nowhere Man", and we see, when the Beatles arrive in Pepperland, how the Meanies have laid waste to the former paradise and petrified the natives. The Beatles find Pepperland's confiscated musical instruments and their own look-alikes, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and bring music back to Pepperland. This restores color to the hills and plants and life into the Pepperlanders (who had been petrified by various weapons in the Meanies' possession). With their spell thus broken, the Meanies cease to have a hold on Pepperland: even their guns start shooting flowers instead of missiles. Those that do not flee are invited by the Beatles to stay and "mingle" and they make peace with their former enemies.[4]

Blue Meanies and their weapons[edit]

Chief Blue Meanie[edit]

Chief Blue Meanie
First appearanceYellow Submarine
Last appearance"Imaginationland Episode III" (South Park)
Created byHeinz Edelman
Portrayed byPaul Angelis
Information
Nickname(s)N/A
Aliases"His Blueness"
SpeciesBlue Meanie
GenderMale
OccupationChief of the Blue Meanies
TitleChief
FamilyAssistant/Sidekick Max, Cousin: The Blue Bird of Happiness.
RelativesCousin: The Blue Bird of Happiness.

The Chief Blue Meanie, a.k.a. "His Blueness", is a fictional character and the main antagonist from the 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine. A flamboyant character, with a high pitched voice, he is set on conquering Pepperland and ruling with fear and oppression; a supreme despot given to psychotic tantrums and violent mood swings. His most heinous of crimes from The Beatles' point of view, however, is his hatred of music. He is voiced by Paul Angelis, who also provided the voice of Ringo Starr.

The Chief Blue Meanie arrives in Pepperland accompanied by Max, his assistant, and his large army of Meanies. He begins his campaign of terrorizing Pepperland by firing a massive glass ball at the Beatles' doubles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts' Club Band, who play music in this peaceful and colorful world, where all the natives generally behave in a friendly manner towards one another. As the Chief comments, "it can't last". The soundproof glass sphere covers the band, making their music inaudible, and in their panic to run away, the natives are fired at by the Blue Meanies' guns, whose missiles both drain their victims' colour on contact and seem to petrify them. The Chief bombards the natives with various weapons and other evil species that vary in their ferocity and eccentricy (as demonstrated when the Beatles' arrival to Pepperland, when a sharp-toothed "snapping turtle-Turk", consumes a young girl's paper windmill) that will reduce Pepperland's colourful hills and plants to bare thorns and grey wasteland, with the only green existing in the form of giant apples that the "Apple Bonkers" pluck from trees to "bonk" on peoples' heads.

Later in the film, the Meanies kidnap the Beatles' friend and comrade, Jeremy Hillary Boob, a.k.a. the "Nowhere Man". After the Beatles finally arrive in Pepperland, the Chief Blue Meanie is incensed when he sees the hills and trees returning to their proper colours at the sound of their music; he sends his fiercest weapon, "The Dreadful Flying Glove" after the heroes. The Glove is thwarted by the Beatles song "All You Need Is Love", and the Meanies flee, knocking over the chief in the process.

In a final, petty attempt at retribution, the Chief threatens to tear the newly freed Nowhere Man into little pieces. However, he is thwarted by Jeremy's poetry and magic, sprouting roses from his nose and body. He flees with the rest of his army, but later concedes defeat and decides to "mix" with the Beatles and Pepperlanders; however, at the very end, when the Beatles appear in the flesh to the audience, John says that "Newer and Bluer Meanies have been sighted within the vicinity of this theatre".

Personal characteristics[edit]

Like the other Blue Meanies, the Chief is masked, has yellowed teeth with a navy blue woolen suit and massive, paw-like hands with six claws on each. He is taller than most of the other Meanies and whereas the "common" Blue Meanies wear a hat reminiscent of Mickey Mouse ears, his hat looks more like Oswald the Lucky Rabbit's. Also, whereas the "common" Blue Meanies wear orange and yellow striped stockings with mary jane shoes, he (and his assistant, Max) wears jackboots, complete with spurs: a pale blue boot on the right foot, a navy blue boot on the left. He has an unpredictable, if not split, personality, which sends him from apparently effeminate, quiet and friendly to loud, raging and malicious - though no less buffoonish in either. Max is often the victim of his abuse, being punched, shot or stomped on by a "Butterfly Stomper". He also has another Meanie carry around a stool so that he can sit down whenever he likes; presumably, were he to fall on the ground it would be at the stool-carrier's peril. He also states (until the very end, when he starts warming to the Beatles) that "we Meanies only take 'no' for an answer", and gets extremely angry at the sound of the word "yes", even when being answered in the affirmative. Sometimes his own aggression gets the better of him and he needs to be revived with "nasty medicine", which makes him even more eccentric than he already is. He encourages his army of Meanies to be as unpleasant as possible, but after admitting defeat, he later confesses that his cousin is "the bluebird of happiness".

Others[edit]

  • Max: The hapless assistant/sidekick/majordomo to the Chief Blue Meanie, he wears a large bright red "M" insignia on his chest. Like the Chief Blue Meanie, he wears a hat with long rabbit-like "ears", (though his "ears" are colored blue instead of black) rather than the mouse-type worn by the other meanies. He frequently incurs the wrath of the Chief Blue Meanie by making well-intentioned, but unhelpful suggestions or comments at inopportune moments. He speaks with a burlesque, non-specific foreign accent, and his name may have been derived from the 1966 film The Blue Max, about a World War I German squadron pilot.
  • The Storm Bloopers: Aka "Blue Menials" (The Boob refers to his guard/captor as a "Blue Menial"), the most numerous of the Blue Meanies. Like the Chief Blue Meanie, they have navy blue wooly suits and domino masks, but wear Mickey Mouse-ear-like hats (instead of the type worn by the Chief and Max, whose hats look more like Goofy's ears). They have six claws on each hand, and wear yellow-and-orange striped tights and Mary Jane shoes (again, the Chief and Max are the exceptions here, as they both wear jackboots with spurs: light blue boot on the right foot, navy blue on the left). They also seem to be able to make their eyes glow so that they can see in the dark, which makes the head resemble a sort of movie projector. These particular Meanies carry guns that fire pale-blue jagged arrows which, on contact, drain the victim's colour and petrify him or her – although it seems to varying degrees or only temporarily, because several victims in the film are seen to cry, smile, or look up, and several natives of Pepperland are seen to back off at the sight of the Flying Glove (see below).[5]
  • The Apple Bonkers: These are 15-foot tall, thin men who can walk from hill to hill at a stride, who wear purple tail-coats (with lapels), bow ties and top hats (with feathers in them). Their weapons of choice are giant green Baldwin apples, which they drop on people's heads and which have the same effect of the jagged arrows. If one can reach high enough, they, too, can be knocked out by such weapons, as the Beatles later discover, as singing is the only way to reverse the effect of being "bonked". They bear a slight resemblance to Victorian undertakers. Up close, their faces are more distinguishable, where one Apple Bonker sports Mutton chops, another sports a handlebar moustache and curved goatee on his chin and another sports just a moustache.
  • The Butterfly Stompers: These are wide, bullying creatures with cat-like faces. They each carry a number on their chest, and for whatever reason they find it entertaining to try to trample butterflies. One of them also stomps upon Max's head at the Chief's behest (or possibly mistaking it for a butterfly too.) The trailer specifically names one of them as Robin.
  • The Countdown Clowns: These are tall, fat clowns whose heads can spin round and round, and who shriek very loudly when ready to attack, or when they feel the need to alert the Meanies. If their noses are pressed, wherever they look there will appear an explosion. They have no hands or arms themselves, however, and so a Blue Meanie has to press their noses for them, often needing to prop a ladder up against them, or sit up on their shoulders when doing so, because they are very tall. When the Meanies' spell is broken, they end up simply producing positive words such as "Yes" and "OK" in block capitals when they try to cause an explosion.
  • The Hidden-Persuaders: These are large, fat, bald, humanoids. They each smoke big cigars and carry a martini glass which appears to contain a floating eyeball instead of an olive. They have an extra hand inside their oversized wingtip shoes, which typically wields a pistol and shoots whenever the toe of the shoe is raised. If the shoe is closed at the right time, however, they can be made, quite literally, to shoot themselves in the foot. They are seen only briely in the film. When the Meanies' spell is broken, we see them clinking their glasses together and using their third hands to shake.
  • The Snapping-Turtle Turks: Possibly the most pettily cruel creatures in the film, are dressed like stereotypical Turkish men, sporting handlebar moustaches and curved goatees on their chins (they even sport curved Arabic shoes and fezzes). They are short and fat, and their stomachs are in fact oversized, predatory faces whose reptilian sharp-toothed mouths consume objects. We see one of them eating a little girl's paper windmill on purpose to make her cry. In their first screenshot (the only time they are referred to by name), the word 'turtle' is not included, which is appropriate, as their stomachs, actually resemble crocodile or alligator faces.
  • The Jack-the-Nippers: They have moustaches, half bald heads, green tail-coats and sunglasses, and have reptilian heads for hands. Much like the Snapping-Turtle Turks' stomachs, these hands are used for fierce biting (their hands resemble the Snapping Turks' stomachs, thus giving them the nickname 'Gator-Handed Men', which they are also known as) but if startled can bite their own tongues, causing extreme pain. They too are rarely seen, much like the Hidden Persuaders, and are never referred to by name – either 'Jack the Nippers' or 'Gator Handed Men'. The name is a play on Jack the Ripper.
  • The Four-Headed Bulldog: There is possibly just one of these, but that hardly matters. Similar to Cerberus, the three-headed hound of Hades of Greek mythology, it has four heads, each with very sharp teeth. It is extremely strong, and its handler is no match for it if it wishes to walk in a particular direction. It is ultimately defeated when the Beatles and the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, sing "Hey Bulldog" and subject it to much taunting and trickery which confuses and antagonizes it.
  • The Flying Glove: Probably the Chief's fiercest and strongest weapon. Though there is only one glove, it is a force to be reckoned with: crushing, squashing, or "o-blue-terating" whoever or whatever its master directs it to attack. It varies from being a right-handed glove to a left-handed one, depending on the situation, has a stylised face, with the thumbnail acting as the eye and the index finger as the nose, the middle finger and ring finger serving as its mouth (grinning teeth are clearly visible between these fingers). As it clenches itself into a fist, it covers up its eye, temporarily blinding it. The glove also has an evil, sinister sounding laugh in a low register. It is ultimately defeated when John sings "All You Need is Love" and entangles it in the letters of all the words that spring from his mouth as he sings.
  • The Anti-Music Missile: This is seen used at the start of the film to initiate the attack on Pepperland. The missile is simply a large blue-tinged bubble, which is launched from a silo hidden in the Blue Meanies' mountain. It is used to trap Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and silence their music. The citizens of Pepperland scream and run in panic when they see the Missile used, suggesting that it may have been used by the Meanies in a previous attack to silence the biggest source of music. The missile/bubble is destroyed by Ringo, using the hole in his pocket, which he took from the Sea of Holes. He utilizes the hole to free the band trapped inside.

Other media[edit]

Chief Blue Meanie in other media[edit]

  • A boss enemy in Pathways into Darkness is called Big Blue Meanie.
  • Mark Hamill has stated that the Chief Blue Meanie was an inspiration for The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, with his light yellow teeth, and high pitched, piercing voice.
  • The character's looks and personality was seemingly a major influence on the producers of The Powerpuff Girls, in which one of the villains, an androgynous devil known as "Him", appears as a constant source of pain and annoyance to the girls, and shares several of the Meanie-Chief's mannerisms. Coincidentally, one episode of the show involves 'Rainbow the Clown', a clown character who ends up transforming into 'Mr. Mime', a mime who drains Townsville of color and turns petrifies everyone (eventually Blossom and Buttercup) until the Girls end up performing a musical number that undos all of the chaos created by Mr. Mime.

Other uses and cultural influence[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Robert Hieronimus (11 September 1999), "The Hidden Stories Behind 'Yellow Submarine'", Billboard
  2. ^ a b Al Brodax (2004). Up Periscope Yellow: The Making of the Beatles' Yellow Submarine. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 239–244. ISBN 0-87910-992-0.
  3. ^ R. Serge Denisoff, William D. Romanowski (1991). Risky business: rock in film. Transaction Publishers. p. 147. ISBN 0-88738-843-4.
  4. ^ David Edward Dayton (2002). Sing and Change the World. Author's Choice Publishing. p. 7. ISBN 0-944031-92-7.
  5. ^ Gary Moeller, "Is It Art?", The truth of Buffy: essays on fiction illuminating reality
  6. ^ Cameron Forbes (2007). Under the Volcano: The Story of Bali. Black Inc. pp. 127, 128. ISBN 1-86395-409-0.
  7. ^ Harry Hamlin (2010). Full Frontal Nudity: The Making of an Accidental Actor. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 1-4391-6999-3.
  8. ^ Jesse P. Ritter, Jr. (15 August 1969). "Nightmare for the innocent in a California jail". Life. 67 (7): 54. ISSN 0024-3019.
  9. ^ McCracken, Craig (2018-01-29). "Him was inspired by the head Blue Meanie from Yellow Submarine". @crackmccraigen. Retrieved 2018-03-17.