|Cerebus #268 (July 2001)|
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from Notes On Latter Days, Cerebus Vol 15: Latter Days, 2003)
...There was no question that Curly was the pacifist character in the trio. It's one of the reasons that The Three Stooges is "guy" humour. Every guy when he's a kid has been a Curly and every guy when he's a kid has been a Moe. It's a pecking order thing. Curly knows that Moe is the leader and he knows that Moe has a short fuse, so he should be working at staying on Moe's "good side" or... "less bad" side, anyway. And he can't do it. He literally can't go ten seconds without pissing Moe off royally, usually by making a joke out of something (nyuck nyuck nyuck) that Moe is taking seriously (Schmeck! Ow!). Curly, Larry and Moe used to promote The Three Stooges shorts - and make some extra money - by touring movie theatres when the film unit was on hiatus, doing their routines live as they had done them with Ted Healy in Vaudeville...
...and Moe used to say that when he hit Curly, the people in the audience would be yelling, "Hit him back, Curly, hit him back." I may be reading too much into it, but I think there was an essential schism in the Judaic racial character being acted out between Moshe and Jerome Horowitz in those watershed moments of the 1930s and 40s. You can (and most did, and do) fault "the Moe character" for being too aggressive, too belligerent and too quick to resort to violence - like, say Ariel Sharon in our own age. But, it is equally true that the fanatical pacifistic nature of the Curly character - when it came to self-defence, being clearly incapable of anything more effective than child-like impatience, fuming in his high-pitched voice and using ineffectual hand gestures - was instrumental in leading most of a generation of European Jewry to concentration camps and to the Nazi gas chambers of World War II with an air of placid acceptance that was nearly universal.
"More Moe, less Curly"seems to me a good motto for 21st century Judaism.
As I say, I may be reading too much into it.