"Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh" question

This verse:

Why would reading from Ulysses tend to make campers non-sissified? I know about the obscenity trials in the US, but haven’t actually read the book.

I think it’s mere shorthand for “racy literature”, plus it’s easier to rhyme than, say, God’s Little Acre.

However, actually visualizing the counselor reading the rather impenetrable Joyce to the kids makes for a completely different humorous image.

Well, “sissy” is often code for “homosexual,” although I have no idea if Sherman (or whoever composed the song, was it Sherman?) had that meaning in mind when composing the lyric. Is there hetero-explicit content in the book?

Well, at least he didn’t make the kids summerize Proust.

Yes, though I don’t think Sherman had overt homophobic intent–I think the joke is on the type of ox-headed, testosterone-heavy counselor who wants to “macho” the kids up. After all, the rest of the song is a litany of how inept the operations of the camp are–reading Joyce to ten-year olds is in the same vein (I imagine the counselor himself would’ve been equally bewildered trying to find the “sex parts”).

Although I should also add (to declare the obvious) that the song’s just as much a joke on kids’ tendency to whine and exaggerate for dramatic effect…

Yeah, there is quite of bit of sexual content, including a passage where one of the main characters, Leopold Bloom, masturbates.

Plus, the book is the literary equivalent of a Jandek double album… for many (most?) it’s simply incomprehensible and difficult to read.

Sherman wrote the lyrics though the melody is from Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours

Sherman was also the creator/producer of the TV Show I’ve Got a Secret

Did the singer perhaps mean Ulysses from The Odyssey and not the dense Joyce tome?

Which is a hell of a lot easier than winterizing Proust.

It’s certainly not a graphic passage, as noted, and many people read it without being really clear on what’s even happened. (Much like the “climax” of novel, where Molly rubs one off as her mind wanders.)

It certainly wouldn’t titilate kids at camp – everything’s so oblique.

Not a chance. There’s only one “Something called Ulysses,” and at the time it was still the archetypical “obscene” novel, and famous for being notoriously difficult. (Lolita had already been published for some time, but didn’t really get “heaty” until the same year that Camp Grenada was written, when Kubrick’s film came out. It seems doubtful that the song would have gotten a lot of airplay if Lolita was read to the kids, of course – that’s pushing it a bit.)

Ok, well, here’s my take on it. (And I say this as someone who never heard that verse before, for what it’s worth.) I think it is distincly homophobic in content. The ironic statement that the conselors don’t want any sissies. Followed by the idea that said conselors read to them from “dirty books”.

The idea being those sexual ideas put in the kid’s heads aren’t sissy. Not homosexual. Oh no. And of course whatever you do is ok as long as you’re not a sissy.

Goodness. Alan Sharman certainly came from a warped and depraved era. Gald that’s over.

When the song was written a “sissy” did not necessarily mean homosexual. It also (and more commonly) referred to kids who were physically weak or were poor in sports. To call it homophobic is to assume it was written in 2005, not in the 60s.

The idea is that the kids are weak and that a little bit of porn will make a man out of them.

As far as sex was concerned, Sherman was not naive. His book The Rape of the APE* was a pretty frank account of puritanism in America and sexual issues of the 40s and 50s in the US. IIRC, he made no mention of homosexuality in the book and I doubt it was something he was particularly conscious of.

The funny thing is, reading Joyce is exactly the sort of thing to get someone branded as a sissy. Heck, Stephen Dedalus is a perfect model of sensitive sissydom.

And Gerty’s friend Cissy Caffrey stands obliviously by during the exhibitionist/voyeurist encounter that she has with Bloom. :smiley:

Very confused, that coach.

I have to disagree with your last sentence. I have no idea what Sherman’s attitude toward homosexuality was but there is no way he couldn’t have been aware of the sissy/male homosexual connotation. The sissy was the only representation of male homosexuality that someone viewing mainstream entertainment would have seen coming of age in the 30s and 40s as Sherman did. Intentional or not, benign or not on Sherman’s part, the homophobic reading of “sissy” in a lyric written in the early 60s is not at all inappropriate.

Part of me can’t help but wonder here if we aren’t trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill in this thread.

For the record, Sherman was born in 1924 and died in 1973, and while his satire tended more toward the bitter side as he made his way into the 70’s, it strikes me that his period of 1961-1965 was characterized initially by using his Jewish/American upbringing to draw attention to himself as a comedian and his lyrics may have simply reflected his attempt at parody. Sherman was the Weird Al Yankovic of the early to mid 60’s.

Much ado about nothing!