Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Case Study No. 0682: Unnamed Female Librarian (Destination Earth)

Destination Earth (1956) Part 2
Quite possibly my favorite John Sutherland cartoon! In this golden nugget of a toon, Martian dissidents learn that oil and competition are the two things that make America great. Mars is, of course, the RED planet, a complete totalitarian state, and once they get a taste of the good ol' fashioned American market economy (and cheap oil), they tear it up! Oh that oil! Completely unbiased. Presented by the Oil Industry Information Committee of the American Petroleum Institute.
Tags: cartoon propaganda capitalism consumerism mars martians UFOs america communism anti-communisim oil petroleum
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From: shaggylocks
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[Colonel Cosmic, a Martian sent on a fact-finding mission to the planet Earth, is trying to understand how American society functions ... when he discovers a gas station]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] I found that these vehicles gather at places called "service stations," where they are fed, lubricated - uh, that's how they beat friction - and given the finest care. The source of their nourishment was something called "petroleum."
[cut to Colonel Cosmic walking down the street]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] A power source like that must be a highly prized state secret. I had to find out about it.
[he stops in front of a large building marked "Public Library"]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] Hmm, perhaps the secret lay within this government archives building.
[he recoils at the sight of the two lion statues at the front of the library, so he activates his "invisibility cloak"]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] It was highly guarded, but casting discretion to the winds, I walked boldly inside.
[cut to inside the building, as he walks past a stereotypical elderly female librarian (glasses, white hair in a bun) and up to the card catalog]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] Their code was remarkably easy to break.
[cut to a closeup of the "Pa-Ri" drawer, as it opens and the card "'Petroleum, Source of' See 'Oil Industry'" is pulled up (seemingly by itself)]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] They merely substituted the word "oil" for "petroleum."
[cut to a shelf marked "Oil Industry", as he takes a stack of books and brings them to a table under a "Quiet" sign]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] And I soon got hold of a veritable mine of classified information.
[he turns off his invisibility cloak, and licks his finger before leafing through one of the books]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] I began to assimilate the material ...
[he quickly flips through the pages, as various images of oil productions flash across the screen]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] I soon found out that, though petroleum products are easily found anywhere, petroleum itself is a very elusive substance.
[cut to examples of oil drilling]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] Experts have to search for it constantly in all the most likely ... and unlikely places, with all kinds of scientific devices. When they figure they've found a good spot, they drill a hole in the ground called an "oil well," for almost all oil lies far beneath the surface of the earth. These wells go down thousands of feet and cost a lot of money to drill. But that's no guarantee that they're going to find oil.
[cut to a row of oil wells]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] Matter of fact, in exploratory drilling, only one well in nine finds any oil at all. Only one in forty-four recovers enough oil to pay for itself. And only one in almost a thousand makes a major discovery ... pretty big odds!
[cut to a shot of more oil wells]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] Yet America's crude reserves, the oil supply still underground, have kept increasing steadily. I couldn't imagine how this ever-increasing supply of oil was achieved until I found out that there's not just one, but thousands of oil companies, all competing with each other to discover and develop new sources of oil. For believe it or not, in the USA, anyone who is willing to risk it can drill for oil.
[cut to a shot of more oil wells]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] But oil discovery is only part of the story. Once they get oil out of the ground, it has to be moved ... through pipelines, on ships, or in tank cars to fantastic processing plants called "refineries."
[cut to an oil refinery]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] Crude oil goes in, and ... Great Jupiter! The things that come out!
[cut to a fleet of oil tanker trucks]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] Gasoline, for example, the most efficient mobile power source on Earth.
[cut back to the gas station]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] That was the stuff that powered all those cars and trucks.
[cut to a road being constructed across rolling green hills]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] And asphalt, which makes smooth, durable roads. It seems that oil not only runs cars, it even gives 'em something to run on.
[the camera pans across to show a train emerging from a tunnel in one of the hills]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] Another oil product is the diesel fuel which runs giant trains across the nation.
[cut to a number of homes as snow falls]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] In winter, fuel oil made from petroleum brings warmth and comfort to millions of homes.
[the camera pans up to reveal fighter planes streaking through the sky]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] And still other fuels help defend America's shores and skies.
[cut to several cans of oil]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] From refineries also come the lubricating oils and greases that keep the wheels turning in America. But that still isn't all.
[the oil cans morph into gears spinning, which then morph into molecules as two scientists stand next to them]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] Crude oil, like everything else, is made up of billions of tiny molecules, and using the magic of research, oil companies compete with each other in taking the petroleum molecule apart, and rearranging it into ... well, you name it!
[the scientists stuff the molecules into a pair of oil drums, then (after stirring them) pull out several different types of items]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] Fabrics, toothbrushes, tires, insecticides, cosmetics, weed killers ... A whole galaxy of things to make a better life on Earth!
[cut to several people carrying shopping bags and walking past stores]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] And you know, it isn't just oil companies that try to outdo each other, competing for the customer's dollar. The same story is true of almost every successful business enterprise in America. The result? A higher standard of living in the USA than in any other country on the whole planet!
[cut back to the Martian flipping through the book]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] At last, the secret was mine!
[he shuts the book and activates his invisibility cloak, then cut back to the librarian at the front desk as a stack of books seemingly floats towards the door by themselves]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] And now, to get proof of my discovery, smuggled past the border guards.
[the librarian looks up from her book, and (seeing the stack float by itself) gasps before fainting]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] In spite of my infinite precaution ...
[cut to the librarian on the floor, as the Martian puts the books down on her desk and tries to help her up ... however, he turns off his invisibility cloak while doing so, allowing the librarian to see him]
COLONEL COSMIC: [in voice over] One of them became suspicious, and gave the alarm.
[she loudly screams (as her face comically morphs into a steam whistle), so the Martian picks up the books and quickly runs out of the library]



Destination Earth is a 1956 promotional cartoon created by John Sutherland. The 14 minute short explains the fundamentals of the petroleum industry and how petroleum products enrich everyday life in the United States of America, as well as the benefits of a free market economy.

Destination Earth begins with the emperor Ogg (reminiscent of Stalin) sending a bumbling subordinate Martian on a mission to Earth to find a better power source for his royal limousine. The Martian sets off and lands in the United States. He ventures into a nearby city and becomes awestruck when he sees average citizens with "powerful and reliable automobiles" that make their daily lives easier. The Martian then enters a library and researches the "secrets" the remarkable power source. The Martian triumphantly returns to Mars with stolen library books on the oil industry. After reading from them the population of Mars deserts Ogg and sets up their own oil companies. The short ends with the slogan "destination unlimited" written across the screen.



This animated cartoon follows the adventures of "Colonel Cosmic," a Martian, as he learns that Oil and Competition are the two things that make America great. It is a sci-fi-influenced economic tract on the strengths of Earth-style free enterprise economics, compared to a stagnating Mars under the fist of a certain Mr. Ogg, who centrally controls the Martian economy. In the film, a Martian undercover agent flies from Mars to Earth to learn about the oil industry, and finds that the lack of government regimentation and control is what makes our system flourish.

Destination Earth was produced by the same company as Make Mine Freedom, and both films share a similar graphic style. But it's six years later, and the United States is still in the middle of the flying saucer craze and worried about invaders from the skies. Well, here come the Martians, and guess what? They come from a planet that looks a lot like the Soviet Union. Even though the little cosmo-creature ostensibly flies to Earth to claim territory for the autocratic Martian ruler "Mr. Ogg," he's really on an intelligence mission.

Unlike Mars, fettered by a centrally controlled command economy, Earth is prospering due to private enterprise and cheap oil. The evidence of Earth's prosperity is shown in petro-centric terms, narrated by the space traveler. This is subversive stuff for the Martians, and Mr. Ogg tries to control the spread of this information. But the gospel of free enterprise is sufficient to foment a Martian revolution, and the planet begins to remake itself in a Terrestrial image. Small businesses open and spread throughout Mars, and wildcatters start drilling for oil below the planet's red sands.

This film is decidedly mellower than many of the other films expressing basically the same ideas. It might be argued that the corporations in the U.S. were no longer so worried about losing "what we have," and instead felt that it was now time to think about subverting our adversaries.



Destination Earth (1956)
14 min - Animation | Short | Sci-Fi - 1956 (USA)

Director: Carl Urbano
Writers: Bill Scott (story), Michael Amestoy (story)

The American Petroleum Institute presents "Destination Earth"... The cartoon begins by establishing the planet Mars, ruled by a dictator named Ogg. The Martians are small green guys with big noses and space helmets. The poor guys are herded by soldiers into a space-age coliseum where Ogg forces them to applaud as they hear his criticisms of problems with martian ground transportation - no good fuel and too much friction. A single Martian is sent to Earth to find a solution. The intrepid Martian crashes his saucer into a farm, sets forth into the city, learns about the glorious benefits of petroleum AND capitalist competition, steals a few library books, and heads back to Mars. He excitedly reveals the truths he's learned to the crowd in the coliseum. The crowd is fueled by the spirit of capitalism and the dictatorship breaks down instantly, to be replaced by the Oil Pioneers...

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