A dated Quest (DOG EAR)

A dated Quest (DOG EAR)

omeone loaned me the first (and really, only) season of Jonny Quest. It was fun to watch, and it involves the titular character (a young boy) whose father, one of those all-fields scientists of yore, takes him on all sorts of adventures. Included in their posse is body guard/builder Race Bannon and a young Hindu boy, Hadji, who the good doctor adapted after the plucky lad saved his life (hey, besides the thirty-two gallons of blood I’ve donated, I can think of two specific lives I’ve saved. Nobody’s adapted me). Oh, and Bandit, the dog who growls at scorpions that seem to always infest their hotel rooms, as well as being the team’s butt monkey.

What I didn’t realize was how much the world has changed. When I was a child, I’d paged through an atlas, looking at all the exotic lands. Having been to many of those lands now, I know they aren’t like that anymore.

But the big take-away was the cultural changes we’ve gone through. I never noticed this at all but once I rewatched it, I was amazed at some of the tin-ear depictions (as well as just strange stuff) I saw. Such as…

  • A science couple living in the South American jungle, studying either plants and/or natives. However, the woman refers to the natives as “Savages” and “Devils” – of course, the husband has been captured and is facing a gruesome fate. Maybe the couple needs to interview for a new job?
  • Dr. Quest, when faced with a Central American native, tries to communicate by speaking slow, loud English. Even though the attempt fails, he continues to try through the episode. Is the native stupid? Or is Dr. Quest just another American?
  • Dr. Quest sees the actual “mummy of Anubis” staggering about and killing the person who stole his dog-headed mask. Quest does not seem phased by a confirmation of magic.
  • And then there is his adapted son, Hadji, who possesses strange mystical powers. He can actually lift Jonny fifteen feet into the air on an open beach with no prep-work – and yet Dr. Quest isn’t curious? He accepts it with no questions?
  • The Arab (representing the UAR, openly) steals the mask of Anubis to frame Dr. Quest and Race Bannon with the theft, to flame the Arabs into unification because of the theft of their culture. Of course,  the Arabs’ sweeping conquest took place in 600 BC, so why would they give a shit about Egyptian culture from the 1000 BCs? It isn’t their culture.
  • Indian henchmen from a plot to kill the Quests in India refer to Allah frequently. Yes, there are Indian Muslims and yes, it is the second-largest religion practiced in India, but it only makes up 14%. Seems a bit “well, he’s a bad wog so he’s got to be Muslim” sort of throwback thing.
  • Race Bannon, their combat expert and bodyguard, always wears a bright red shirt. And how many times has he been ambushed?
  • Perhaps I’m a little testy about guns in this AR-15 world we live in, but really, how many times do Jonny and Hadji stumble on smugglers or spies and suddenly they are under fire by automatic weapons? Wildly shooting at pre-teen boys seems a little… excessive? “Kill them! KILL THEM!”

Look, I watch a lot of old western and am used to the streaming services positing warnings about “Outdated cultural depictions”. But if you are watching a black and white western, you should pretty much accept it. And so I’m not bashing Quest (not too much, anyway). It was just interesting how much things have changed, as well as how much the world has grown (yet become more overly-sensitive).