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The Creators
During 1959 to 1961, Jay Ward and Bill
Scott created unlikely American heroes in
the form of a squirrel and a moose in a
cartoon series entitled Rocky and His
The series featured Rocket J. Squirrel and
Bullwinkle J. Moose.
It was based loosely on many American
attitudes toward Communism, the Soviet
Union, and the Cold War.
Rocky and His Friends served as an
allegory for Cold War sentiments in the
United States.
Thesis: “…that in the light of the sociopolitical sentiments of the late 1950s and
early 1960s, the animators of Rocky and
Bullwinkle sought to present not only an
entertaining program that used
stereotypes upon which to draw humor,
but also taught a much deeper lesson
about Soviet-American relations in the
post-McCarthy era.”
Plots of Rocky and His Friends
• “…this series was
based on the serialized
adventures of an
"uncute enough
squirrel" named Rocky
and a "blanket-eared,
wall-eyed, stupidlooking, oafish moose"
named Bullwinkle.”
Rocky and His Friends as
An allegory is "the particular
method of saying one thing in
terms of another in which the two
levels of meaning are sustained
and in which the two levels
correspond in pattern of
relationship among details."
"Shows that on the surface had
nothing to do with foreign or
domestic policy nevertheless
reinforced the faith in 'the
American way of life' that
Communism seemed to threaten"
Further, he suggests, "The
ideological commitment to
consumption that defined
American supremacy over the
Soviet system had found its
perfect expression on television"
Characters in Rocky and His
ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE: These characters represent the two
sides of the American personality.
Rocky, decked in World War I flying ace
goggles and helmet, illustrated the
fighter in most Americans.
This is the side of the American persona
that put up a fight during the times of
possible Communist infiltration.
This citizen would never allow the
United States to become vulnerable to
the Communist threat.
"Rocket" is also an allusion to American
military strength.
Characters in Rocky and His
ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE: These characters represent the two
sides of the American personality.
Bullwinkle J. Moose, a little naive, and all
too trusting.
Bullwinkle represented the American who
was out for the betterment of life with no
ill-will toward others.
Indeed, Bullwinkle was usually the
recipient of good luck.
Further, Bullwinkle usually won any fight
with those "notorious nogoodniks"
without even trying.
Characters in Rocky and His
BORIS AND NATASHA: Rocky and Bullwinkle's arch nemeses were the
notorious “nogoodniks” Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, two KGB-like
spies who spoke with heavy Slavic accents.
• Boris was short and
dark with a spindly,
Stalinistic mustache.
• Natasha was tall and
Characters in Rocky and His
• Both characters worked for Mr. Big
at the Kremlin and his immediate
inferior, Fearless Leader, a scarfaced Nazi type.
• Further, Boris' name had "political
significance as well as sound
• It sounded foreign and had
phonological significance—'bad
• These characters were obviously the
representations of the Soviet Union
and all the associated evils of
Characters in Rocky and His
Each episode of Rocky and
His Friends was narrated by
an omniscient observer.
The narrator played a comical
role in plot development as
he announced what the
audience could not see and
set up each scene.
The narrator was also
important in identifying the
He would make judgments
such as "Innocence triumphs
over evil," when Rocky and
Bullwinkle defeated Boris and
Characters in Rocky and His
The narrator also communicated with all
of the characters.
Thus, the narrator was in complicity
with Boris and Natasha, as well as on
the side of good with Rocky and
Because the narrator knew what was
transpiring, he was always one step
ahead of all the characters.
As such, he was the commentator,
telling the audience how to react to each
In "Banana Formula" the narrator
described the action of Boris and
Natasha as "deception, fraud, and
In this manner, the audience was guided
through their reactions to the cartoon
The Plots in Rocky and His Friends
The basic plot line followed a standard
1. Good material fortune befalls Rocky and
2. Boris and Natasha discover Bullwinkle's good
fortune and attempt to steal the fortune. In so
doing, Boris and Natasha often donned
disguises in an attempt to outwit the moose and
squirrel or the authorities.
3. With intact disguises—Rocky and Bullwinkle
were always slow to discover the villains' true
identities—Boris and Natasha set out to foil the
heroes. The villains often attempted bodily harm
on Rocky and Bullwinkle.
4. The scheme always backfired and Boris and
Natasha ended up on the short end of the stick.
Rocky and Bullwinkle retained the fortune and
lived happily ever-after, or until the next story
Each step in the plot had allegorical
• 1) Rocky and His Friends
clearly related the struggle of
good against evil—the United
States versus the Soviet
• 2) In the post-McCarthy era,
the citizens of the United
States were looking forward
to a time of peaceful
– Rocky and His Friends
served as a warning against
such indulgence.
– Even in such a nonthreatening time, the Soviet
Union was still our most
potent enemy.
Each step in the plot had allegorical
• 3) Due, in part, to the lack of
interest in foreign affairs,
Americans had turned their
attentions to the luxuries of a
prosperous society.
– Americans had directed their focus
on the miracles of modem
technology that only Americans
could create and attain.
– Rocky and His Friends seems to
argue that in light of Soviet
superiority in the space race,
American advances or at least the
preoccupation with advances, are
– As Boris states in one episode we
are now "rolling in vital consumer
goods" after collecting skateboards,
toasters, lipsticks and other
American treasures.
– This is clearly a reference to useless
material excess in the United States.
– Thus, Boris and Natasha were
always after what Rocky and
Bullwinkle had.
Each step in the plot had allegorical
• 4) Even in this period of
peaceful co-existence,
Americans must never forget
that the Soviet Union will
never settle for second best
and will continually try to
outwit Americans.
– To achieve these ends, the
Soviet Union may appear to be
friendly and may even work to
extend a cooperative hand;
this peaceful co-existence was
a mere ruse, much like the
disguises Boris and Natasha
wore to befriend Rocky and
– These disguises illustrate the
potential threat of Communist
infiltration in the daily lives of
Each step in the plot had allegorical
• 5) Given this renewed
possibility of the
Communist threat.
– Rocky and His Friends
responded to the threat by
projecting the best possible
– Rocky and Bullwinkle thwart
the villains despite any
leads the villains may have
sustained in the struggle for
the fortune.
– So, even in the post-Sputnik
era during which the Soviets
had displayed their spacetechnology superiority,
Americans should never
have doubted that the
United States would come
out on top.
The lesson is clear:
• The United States need only
follow its national mission of
right and justice, and good
would always prevail.
• The continual struggles of
Rocky and Bullwinkle against
Boris and Natasha clearly
illustrated that the United
States' struggles against the
Soviet Union and Communism
were constant. Any relaxed
attitude toward the Soviet
threat could lead to disaster.