Help Woodsy spread the word, don't you be a dirty bird! In the city or in the wood, help keep America looking good! Give a HOOT! Don't Pollute!
Ok, how many of you sang along in your heads? Be honest....
I'd be willing to bet I;m not the only one who remembers that song from the 70's.
For all you young pups, that is Woodsy Owl. In the late 60's and 70's, there was a concentrated effort in the US to stop pollution. Not just the industrial kind, but all of it. If you went to a national park in the 70's, you know why. People were incapable of using garbage cans. They just dropped trash where ever they were.
Granted, there weren't as many public trash cans around, but that's not really an excuse. It was pure laziness on peoples parts that led to a messy America. I actually remember one of my friends dads teaching us how to fill an empty soda can with small rocks so it would sink when we threw it into the lake. He said it bothered him to have empty cans in the boat.
It was an era when people got serious about cleaning things up. Lead was banned from gas, throwing trash from a car became punishable by large fines, Woodsy started flooding Saturday morning cartoons.
But some wondered, why an owl? Well, mostly because owls are thought to be wise. And if a wise owl tells you to pick up your trash, you'd better do it. Because he's smart.
Woodsy was also the friend of another animal we all know: Smokey the Bear. As a kid I used to draw cartoons of those two, except I'd use parts of each in the drawing, making them mutants. I called them Smokey the Owl, (Give a Hoot, don't prevent forest fires!), and Woodsy the Bear, (Only you can pollute). My teacher didn't think it was funny either in third grade when they were my poster project.....
But the anti-pollution commercials weren't just targeted at kids. Adults used to get their share. And I'm sure you all remember them as well.
Another thing you all remember is that today is Made Up Monday! I try to trick you! I try to make you think the truth is false and the false is true!
The anti-pollution commercials aimed at adults featured an indian brave.....sorry, native American with a headband with a feather in it, who would stand there and look out at a lake, or watch a car drive by and toss out trash, and the camera would zoom into his face, and a single tear would fall.
That native American was named Iron Eyes Cody. And he starred in several of those commercials. Cody said he was of Cherokee/Cree heritage, and the people who came up with the 'Keep America Beautiful' campaign thought he was perfect for the job.
If you look up some of the ads on youtube, you'll see that they were actually fairly effective at putting Americans into a guilt trip. Well, the ones who didn't litter, at least. People who littered didn't care about that guy crying. They kept on littering. People still litter.
The difference Iron Eyes Cody and the KAB campaign made was, it brought littering to peoples awareness. It became something to be frowned upon. People started commenting to strangers when they littered instead of just ignoring it. The police became more likely to write someone a ticket.
The commercials Cody starred in weren't his only roles. He had roles in several movies and TV shows in a career that lasted from the 1930's to the 80's.
So, what's so made up about this? What fact do you have to determine the veracity of?
Well, I'll tell you:
Iron Eyes Cody was a big fat liar. He was Italian. His real name? Espera Oscar de Corti. While he was born in America, both his parents were Italian immigrants, and Cody/Corti was 100% not a native American. Not even part of one.
So my minions, Was the indian who cried while America was trashed an indian or an Italian?
Stay tuned for the exciting answer tomorrow!