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Existential Angst in Suburbia
on September 12, 2010
In his modern classic "Daddy's Cap is on Backwards", Keane finally answers the question that has plagued his cartoon family for decades. At last we see his vision of what shall become of the post 50s nuclear family when at last it is proven that God has forsaken man to a cold and lonely eternity. And what a horrifying and terrible vision it truly is.
Now a few years past his heart-crushing Nietzscheian trip into the void of his soul, Billy returns to discover his family radically changed. Like broken marionettes, his parents walk about in a grey-faced fog, searching for meaning in their empty lives. In a poignant scene, Billy finds little PJ gazing into a 2am television screen, his eyes filled with tears, crying "please, please come back and talk to me, I'm no one when you're not here!"
But the vacuous ghosts of his progenitors and younger sibling are dwarfed by the rage of Billy's elder sister, Dolly. Filled with hate and loathing for a modern world without meaning and beyond her control, she has embraced a rabid, radical form of socio-religious fascism. With a terrifying cold fury and savage ruthlessness, Dolly's National Fourth Grade Christian Front rises to dominate the nameless suburban wasteland that Keane's cartoon family inhabit. As literature, teachers, neighbors and even Barky the dog are all cast into the bonfires in nightly Gestapo raids, their deaths blamed on the mythical villains "Not Me" and "Ida Know".
In a painful moment that lays bare her Electra complex in a scene of macabre and bitter truth, Dolly commands her father, now reduced to a hollow man, to throw her very mother into the arms of a rampaging angry mob. Over the sound of her dying screams, Dolly reassures her father that the murder of her mother shall free him from his destiny as a captive consumer and wage slave in a prison of his own making. Her lies convince neither of them, but they underline the reversal of their parent/child roles and make father Bill's tears all the more stark as the last remnant of his soul dies with his wife in the madness of the crowd.
Ultimately, alone in a world inhabited only by fear, shame, terror and the vacant-eyed armies of his sister, Billy is forced to choose between embracing Dolly's genocidal Armageddon-like vision and flinging himself into the flames of an all-too-common neighborhood bonfire. And as the flames and banners rise higher and higher, there are few that can disagree with his choice.
Yes Mr. Keane, Daddy's Cap is indeed on Backwards.