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Disclaimer#1: All images and characters are copyrighted 1990/1991 Walt Disney Company Inc. and are being used without premission. The webmaster has made sure that no money was made in the creation of this page and all material is used with the upmost affection and respect to the Walt Disney Company and the Tale Spin team.

Disclaimer #2: The following is an editorial about TaleSpin. The views expressed here are of my own and does not mean that you actually agree by it. If you have any comments relating to this editorial or any other editorial created by me; then E-Mail me at:

Reading Between the Lines- Symbolism in the TaleSpin

An editorial by Gregory Weagle

Okay; this is another example of over-analysis; however, it is getting more interesting.....

  Although Alyson has not been around to writing another editorial; I felt that if she was thinking of writing another one; then the next thing that she proably liked about TaleSpin after the setting is the symbolism within the images although I'll have to ask Alyson one day about that issue. Symbolism is the glue that holds the storyline, settings and characters together. It is very diffcult to convince your audience through dialogue alone; small children (and some older people for that matter) has very short attention spans even before watching television (It may not create short attention spans; but it doesn't help the span either.). That when the interaction of the characters can come into play. One part of that interaction is the symbolism of the images that each character brings to the table everytime we see them. It's a lot eaiser and a lot more open-minded to use symbolism then it is to use blow-by-blow details like Batman: The Animated Series which was the reason that I'm not a big fan of that series. A person can tell a characters persona and can give us an open-ended thought about simply by the way they dress; how they react to situations; how they interact with each other. An image is many times more powerful than mere words. Without the symbols; it is very diffcult to convince your viewers that this is the way the characters interact.

TaleSpin is the master of symbolism. In fact; one person may see the symbolism start in the title itself. The way TaleSpin is spelled: T-a-l-e-S-p-i-n. The T and the S is captialized and there is no hard space between the small 'e' and the capital S. It is spelled that way on purpose. On the one hand; the T and the S create the shorthand for the Unofficial Disney Afternoon Signature which I have no idea what that is. The word itself has a surprise meaning in that [A] "To Spin A Tale" or to tell a story. One of TaleSpin's biggest strengths is the clever storytelling and multiple path plots that makes us think in the mists of the flights of fantasy and laughter. [B] TaleSpin can also mean: "Anything that can go wrong proably will go wrong." which makes a lot of sense considering that most episodes in TaleSpin involving something going wrong when the gang doesn't want any part of it. There were very few episodes in which Kit and Baloo were even remotely interested in attacking the Air Pirates; like in Captain Outrageous and even then it was supposed to be a fake adventure which in the end went wrong. Hence the defenition of TaleSpin although it's spelled 'tailspin' instead.

The most symbolized character in TaleSpin is of course Kit Cloudkicker himself; a walking symbol. A 12-year old bearcub who has so much depth that it is very scary. While the following is simply reinforcement of a portion of my profile/editorial on Kit Cloudkicker; I think that its worth repeating.....Kit Cloudkicker's name is based on the usual 'indian' names found in such names as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars as Jymn Magon has stated. However; the last name Cloudkicker seems to somehow symbolize something else. In Plunder and Lightning when Baloo asked him for his name Kit gave it as "Kit.....Kit Cloudkicker." with an odd pause. If Kit knew his name from the start then why bother to give that pause? Maybe it was in the name itself; the name Cloudkicker seems to have two meanings; one which is light and one which reveals the irony to his dark side. The light side; the one Kit doesn't mind giving is related to his cloudsurfing; how he loves to skip the clouds. It was the basis for getting TaleSpin approved in the first place back in 1988. However; it also symbolizes the dark side of Kit: A bearcub who tries so hard to kick away the dark cloud known as his past and yet it always comes back salting the wound even more and ending up hurting anyone around it. Sure not learning from the past means you are condemned to repeat it; however, Kit's learned bahaviour was that if he did remember the past he was condemned to re-hash it. He was always afraid that he would use the powers that he currently had and be corrupted as a result. He is aware of the dangers that he wields and it is a great hazard for affection and care. That's why Higher for Hire is the place for Kit to unlearn his learned behaviour. Baloo, Molly and Rebecca knew that they were loving Kit at a great hazard and they knew that they must be strong in order to take it. There is unconditional love at work here. However; it gets even more complex after that; there is the attire that Kit wears. Jymn Magon and Disney will never admit to this; however I cannot help wonder what the producers were in fact thinking about when Kit ended up the way he ended up. When Kit was first introduced to Disney in 1988; he was wearing a white tank shirt; with green/brown multi-pocketed pants and a blue bandana around his neck. In fact he looked even cutier than he does right now. Today's Kit is much different with his patched up green sweater; backwards red/blue baseball cap and white sailor-like shirt underneath. For example why does he always wear a unique color green sweater in such a warm climate as Cape Suzette (eg: Does he realize that he'll overheat in that sweater)? Ted believes that the sweater is a symbol that he is constantly searching for warmth from within; the yellow patch symbolizing the mending of the holes in his life with the yellow color signaling the amount of caution that Kit took throughout the life he had before meeting Baloo. Also wearing the baseball cap backwards isn't really about navigator lingo at all; it is a symbolic stand that Kit's life is never straightforward and will never be as such. The color of the red/blue cap incidiates Kit's contrast from hot tempered and emotional with the red to cold and cunning with the blue. Kit's white sailor shirt is a symbol of purity and wearing it underneath shows that Kit Cloudkicker's purity is more than skin deep but is constantly under strain from the other forces that affect him. If you want to go further; take the episode "Plunder and Lightning" Part One during Kit's first freefall from the Iron Vulture. Kit threw the red scarf away during the free-fall. To Kit; that red scarf was a symbol of Kit's assocation with the Air Pirates and all that they did to people. Throwing it away sent a message of Kit's distaste for Don Karnage and his band. When Kit betrayed his friends in Part III and Don Karnage replaced the red scarf around his neck; it was basically a final insult to Kit and re-assocation with the Air Pirates. Strangely; the scarf disappeared mysteriously in Part IV. Still; I couldn't help but think that the producers should have kept the multi-pocket pants as a visual symbol of diversity and usefulness; not to mention elimating the critcism of the fact that Kit doesn't wear any pants. On the other hand; Kit's first name seems to give him that spiritual symbolic gesture in and around itself. On an interesting note is the color of Kit's fur which some believe is a Siena brown shade. Siena is a famous town in Italy; prehaps Kit was born in a town in the TaleSpin World similar to the real-world's Siena. Interestly enough; Siena is best known for a type of cake called Pain Forte which means Strong Bread in French and Italian; which would symbolize Kit as a strong person both in body and in mind.

  And it doesn't stop there... the episode names and some of the sences. It would take me forever to mention all of the episodes; however the most symbolic episode in TaleSpin is called Stormy Weather. The episode cards say that Kit was mesmorized by a circus preformer who basically did dangerous stunts to which Baloo objected; causing a rift between Baloo and Kit. The episode was really a symbolic gesture of example of the storms in the Kit/Baloo relationship. The sometimes heart-wrenching dialogue was only part of the enviroment that this episode protrays. There is the debate from underneath the dialogue of telling the difference between safe risk and stupid risk; and Baloo lack of parenting skills. Also; there was the last sence in Stormy Weather showed Kit and Baloo flying the Sea Duck home and while that was happening the skies simply cleared up the moment after Kit and Baloo resumed their friendship together near the end of the episode. Now; you cannot call that unintentional. You could call it a fairly complex issue of intent. There is a kind of irony over the fact that some people like me fail to understand why... TaleSpin uses characters from the Disney version of the Jungle Book (Baloo, Louie and Shere Khan along with the Bagheera clones found in Shere Khan's army) and yet it also use the same style and complacement that was found in the Disney version of Robin Hood. Which explains the relationship between Sir Hiss [Robin Hood] or Kaa [Jungle Book] and Klang [For Whom the Bell Klangs.] if you want to get really picky over it. The irony is that these two films were considered among the biggest failures of the Walt Disney Company's 70 year history in terms of quality.

I think that TaleSpin also took some matters a step further in relation to character bondage prehaps the most important form of symbolism in the series: Bears bond rarely in nature's word; there is profound distrust between male and female; child and adult. It makes sense in the relationships between Rebecca and Baloo where these two human-like bears have constant disagreements with each other symbolizing the profound distrust between these two. The difference here is that Baloo and Rebecca also have a high standard of human being qualities as well; preventing disagreements from turning into full-scale civil war. Think of them as having two seperate souls each; one contains the animal soul and one contains the human soul that work together to create a unique soul. This gives TaleSpin an acute case of power and its family story a case of poigancy. Also notice the distrust between Kit and Baloo as was shown in Stormy Weather, Plunder and Lightning and A Bad Reflection On You; they all stem from the fact that Kit has a hard time trusting people. In the TaleSpin world Kit's distrust is partly-inherted; however like the real world it is mostly learned behaviour demonstrated by Kit's past before he met Baloo. To look at it another way; notice how WildCat and Molly are able to bond so easily; not only is it because they have a high sense of trust among them, but their very innocence cancels out any distrust between the two. It's similar with Baloo and Louie. However; the writers also demostrated the overriding human qualities (or threw a monkey wrench in the simple relation depending on who you talk to) displayed by Kit's relationship with Molly. The display of Molly's innocence combined with Kit's maturity allows for a situation in which one can turely learn from each other. An even more complex relationship between Kit and Rebecca; between a surrogate mother and a surrogate son. The writers even showed that this relationship can become unstable such as the agruement over the babysitting job in "It Came From Beneath the SeaDuck".

In closing, Most Disney shows have an acute degree of diffculty showing these qualities mainly because it involves the relationships between a human being and an anthro-being which would cause trouble; where as TaleSpin shows relationships between two anthro-beings similar to showing two human being in relationships. That in my opinion is what makes TaleSpin different from shows such as Bonkers, Gargoyles, Quack Pack, Rescue Rangers and any other series when it came to relationships. It is the symbolic stance in which was protrayed weither it was by accident or on purpose; the fact is that it happened. And we wouldn't have wanted it any other way..... least if you are a fan. That's my opinion; I welcome yours. See you next time!

Uh-oh! A raindrop's gonna fall on Kit's little head


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