What? you’re thinking. Him? The sweet guy who takes care of beloved Curious George, the world’s favorite primate? Top five, anyway. What could you have against him?
Good question. How about a lifetime of deceit, cruelty, neglect, and sexual predation, all of it sold to our youngest and most impressionable minds under the guise of wholesome family entertainment? This is true, and more. I give you: The Case Against The Man With the Yellow Hat.
Little is known about TMWTYH, but we can piece together an outline from the few scraps of information available to us. First of all, he is a man of means. Not everyone can afford a trip to Africa in order to abduct an innocent monkey, nor to pay the requisite bribes to smuggle him back to America. Additionally, the man is shown in many different neighborhoods, leading us to conclude that he owns several homes—the typical one in the city, one in the country one-percenter lifestyle. And could any of us summon a helicopter in five minutes to prevent a long-overdue monkey escape?
Of course, we never learn the man’s name, which is a key factor in his ongoing depravity. No one can report an unnamed man to the authorities for committing animal cruelty, for instance. And neither George or anyone else can form a complete bond with such a person. Even George’s sometime friends Bill and Betsy have names.
Then there are the man’s sexual proclivities. He uses partners and throws them away with startling ease. Witness his seemingly endless string of meaningless quickies with whatever woman (or man) is nearby and willing. There’s nothing wrong with a healthy sex life, of course. But when your compulsions overcome your ability to protect your exotic pets, that’s where the line is crossed, which happens to TMWTYH all the time. His desires are so base that he often abandons George to have sex with a complete stranger, in the middle of the day, in a public place.
The children’s books about George have sanitized these trysts by leaving out much of the evidence. But did you ever notice that often, after George inevitably gets into trouble, the man returns to George’s side with someone else in tow? Those people are simply the man’s latest conquests in his hunt for more strange.
The fact that pursuing his insatiable sexual appetite has left his monkey alone and unprotected during extremely vulnerable moments does not seem to trouble TMWTYH. In fact, a criminal level of neglect toward George has been his modus operandi from Day One. “Wait here and don’t get in trouble,” the man says before departing for yet another casual encounter; meanwhile, his monkey is left in ever more perilous situations: by himself in a train station, wandering a Sea World-esque aquarium, on a fire truck speeding toward a burning storefront, or even scampering through a zoo.
Yes, the man is so brazen that he took his pet monkey to the zoo, possibly the least safe environment for a “free” primate to be found in. What conclusion could anyone reach, upon seeing a monkey roaming the zoo, except that the monkey is an escapee requiring recapture or killing? Even before Harambe, a zoo employee would be hard-pressed to ignore a monkey running free outside of its designated habitat. Yet the man brings George anyway, exercising no precautions (such as a leash or identifying collar) against a scenario that would almost definitely go south within minutes.
George is never the only one endangered by the man’s recklessness. The whole community has been victimized in one way or another, whether it’s the store owners whose establishments were trashed by a “curious” monkey with a conveniently absent owner, the commuters who missed their trains when George tore up the arrivals board, or the citizens whose law enforcement response was delayed because police or fire services were tied up due to “monkey business” once again. Not to mention the numerous customers of the ice cream store, the chocolate factory, or the pancake breakfast, all of which have served food cooked and packaged by a monkey. I doubt George washed his hands after flinging his feces at the mailman.
The psychological prison constructed by the man is stronger than the steel bars at the jail where George found himself after his arrest in the first book of his ongoing series. (Nice work, Man in the Yellow Hat.) For the man keeps George in a prison of deceit, maintaining the fiction that he is George’s friend, while in truth he is nothing of the sort. In fact, he holds George at bay from the very foundational truth of who he is—continuing to tell him that he is a monkey, when, as many commenters have pointed out , he is clearly a chimp. (Monkeys have tails, George does not; monkeys have legs and arms roughly the same length; George’s arms are far longer than his legs.)
The physical threats the man has subjected George to are many and dire. He gave George a bicycle and walked away. He paid no attention while George wandered into an unattended hot air balloon. He put George in a rocket ship headed into space with zero hours of flight training. But these pale before the man’s psychological torture. From the day he kidnapped George from his family, the man has made George’s life a living hell. The chimp has no idea he is a chimp. The man even subjects George to repeated showings of King Kong, as if to not-so-subtly remind him of the dangers facing primates who attempt to escape captivity.
It is time for the man’s reign of terror to end. As a society, we must stand up to this children’s book character and say, as we said to Babar before him, enough is enough. No more will we purchase your books or watch any of your television shows. No more will we maintain the fiction that helpless victim George is “a good little monkey.” No more will dads be forced to read George’s so-called adventures aloud to our children, over and over and over … and over again. Together, we stand against tyranny.