“Hard Drinkin’ Lincoln”

I am making my way through Barry Schwartz’s Abraham Lincoln in the Post-Heroic Era: History and Memory in Late Twentieth-Century America (University of Chicago Press, 2009) and learning quite a bit about the gradual decline of his prestige following WWII.  In chapter 5 I came across a reference to a series of short cartoons titled, “Hard Drinkin Lincoln”, which was done by Icebox.com.  A quick search on YouTube brought up three episodes.  Please don’t watch this if you are easily offended.  Enjoy!

Episode 2: “Super Abe”

Episode 5: “The Rocky Hitler”

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9 thoughts on ““Hard Drinkin’ Lincoln”

  1. Sherree Tannen

    “For its target demographic, ages 15-40, Icebox offers cutting-edge, unfiltered programming that is of superior quality and that is hip and fun, funny and cool, fresh, irreverent and utterly new. ”

    If this clip is supposed to be an example of a burgeoning new art form, it seems that the founders of this company are legends in their own minds. If I am missing something, Kevin, please let me know. I keep thinking of Walt Whitman’s “O Captain My Captain!”, which we were required to read in English class when I was fifteen. Does anyone read Whitman anymore? Or is Whitman just an old dead poet who is not hip, fun, funny, or cool, and who is, thus, like Abraham Lincoln, not worth remembering, according to this standard. Wow. This is not only tasteless and totally devoid of any artistic value; it is over the top, in my opinion.

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  2. Kevin Levin Post author

    Sherree,

    It is “irreverent” and “over the top” which is exactly what Schwartz suggests in his analysis. This is an absolutely fascinating study of Lincoln in popular culture and memory. He argues that while Lincoln continues to make the top 5 lists in most important/popular presidents we have moved beyond a time when our overall attitude was one of reverence. In fact, Schwartz argues that his reputation has been in decline since WWII. No doubt, this is part of a general trend away from a heroic view of the past. The Icebox videos are just one example, but others come to mind such as the drunk history videos and the countless amateur YouTube videos that are currently available.

    Whitman’s Lincoln is clearly not our Lincoln any longer, but I am not convinced that his interpretation is necessarily superior to Icebox’s.

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  3. Sherree Tannen

    OK, Kevin. Thanks for responding. You have given me food for thought. I am definitely on the far side of the generation divide, apparently. This will help me to understand my young relatives better. Thanks, again.

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  4. Sherree Tannen

    Well…..I watched it again. I do see what you mean. Seeing Lincoln portrayed as a caricature of himself and as an anti hero could conceivably lead to a broader discussion about the concept of the heroic and what that means when viewing the past. Also, you put a warning in for your readers. In addition, seeing Whitman as a superior artist is a value judgment on my part, so all in all, I think I will just get off of here and let you guys have some fun! Have a great day, Kevin. (as far as memory goes for me–Lincoln, Whitman, the civil rights movement, and JFK are all linked. I have read that this was an intentional myth created for various reasons. That doesn’t change how we lived those moments as they happened in “real time”, however, so at what point does perception become reality? More food for thought.)

    PS. In reading your blog, I have acquired a taste for “Confederate Cannibals” as well. The times, they are changing’!!

    Reply
    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      Please don’t apologize or qualify your reaction in any way. One of the things that I am most interested is in the way individuals representing various demographics respond to what is posted. You do a better job than most in communicating your perspective as well as trying to better understand others. I value that.

      Yes, in the end we all come around to seeing the artistic merit of “Confederate Cannibals.” :)

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  5. Sherree Tannen

    Thank you, Kevin. I value your perspective as well. Actually, my first reaction was an immediate, unfiltered reaction, which is interesting, I guess, considering the demographics. I was only eight when JFK was assassinated, but in our house, we grieved as if a family member had died, so the memories are vivid still. As I commented above, Lincoln, the civil rights movement, and Kennedy were all connected. (I still have the original Life Magazine memorial edition of the assassination. It cost 50 cents) I added Whitman to that list in later years, so yes, I guess you could say Lincoln is a hero. Living in the post heroic age will take a little getting used to, but I am sure we will all adjust. Who knows? Maybe we will even redefine what it means to be heroic.

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  6. Greg Rowe

    Kevin:

    These are humorous in that irreverent, SNL/MadTV kind of sophomoric strain.

    Heroism, in the post-modern era, is vastly different that when you and I were younger. Look at a fictional character like Edward Cullen from Stephanie Meyers’ _Twilight_ series. Even Christian Bale’s portrayal and Christopher Nolan’s vision of Batman in _Batman Begins_ and _Batman: The Dark Knight_ fall into this category. Each are hugely anti-hero in their nature. If this is what we see in fictional heroes, how then does it affect our perception of actual historical figures? It seems that we then look at them with their faults and say, “Yes, they did some great things, but they might not have been great people.”

    Sure, Icebox is a little over the top in its portrayal of Lincoln, but what will we see in regard to Lincoln’s flaws in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming movie. According to IMDb.com, Doris Kearns Godwin is a consultant on the film with the screenplay written by Tony Kushner, but his comments in Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s _Looking for Lincoln_ indicate he has struggled with this idea throughout the writing process. In Gates’ documentary, even Goodwin stresses a flawed Lincoln might not be so bad in the end.

    Everybody wants to hold presidents and popular people to a higher standard because we need heroes, but they are human beings. That we ever revered Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, or Kennedy is miraculous considering that. Wasn’t it after Jefferson’s death that his appeal diminished to the point that it was hard for admirers to find people who wanted to give funds to save Monticello in the early 20th century? Today, his appeal has surged back, somewhat. Lincoln’s popularity may have lasted a little longer given his assassination, but he, too, could experience a resurgence in the future. Then, there’s George W. Bush! I’ll leave that alone! ;)

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