Today’s distraction comes to us from the Prelinger Collection at the Internet Archive, one of my favorite places on the web. I present a short 1951 discussion film entitled “The Outsider”. Susan Jane has what could be delicately referred to as social problems. Mainly she is convinced that all the kids at school hate her. Susan Jane is quiet, soft-spoken, painfully awkward, given to crying jags, and something of a proto-nerd. Her melodrama would be hilarious if it weren’t true that so many adolescent kids still go through the same damn issues.
Actually, it’s still hilarious, if only because this film is so dated. I am fascinated by the different words these kids stress in compound nouns: root beer, ice cream cone. Further, I really want to wear penny loafers with white socks all of sudden.
Susan Jane’s low self esteem leads to an unfortunate misunderstanding, which is ultimately resolved by one of the girls at school specifically going out of her way to make friends with her. Susan Jane then reads “a book on what to do to make people like you,” according to the narrator, and at the end of the film, leaves for the big party, where we can hope nobody dumps pig’s blood on her. Curiously, this short film could be interpreted to be carrying the message that it’s okay to be different, which is pretty unusual for what we expect of the uber-conformist 50s.
Also of interest in this short is incontrovertible proof that fat children existed even sixty years ago. This proof takes shape in the character of Junior, a tubby and cheerful boy who loves food and, interestingly, suffers none of Sarah Jane’s social problems, but is rather fully accepted by his friends.
Enjoy, my loves, and have a delicious weekend.