Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Field Guide to Arthur Fonzarelli

A lot of people bag on Wikipedia, and I can see why. It's literally rife with errors. However, I do enjoy clicking around it, following story link after link. You know, you search for a random something, you see a highlighted name within that story, click on it, and so on. It was just such a method that led me to this rather sober examination of the man known as The Fonz. I'm only printing part of the entry, but I love the clinical, fact-based approach the writer took. It's like an Encyclopedia Brittanica entry, written as if The Fonz were an actual human being and not a rather broad character on a dopey sitcom (although I love the early episodes, when Fonzie wore a light blue windbreaker and the show was shot on film instead in front of a live audience). Here goes:

"Fonzie is a leather jacketed mechanic who lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin sometime in the late 1950s. Although he is a high school dropout and is seen by the establishment characters in the show as a rebel, he has a number of skills and qualities such as womanizing, strong loyalty, and sexual attractiveness. Despite the low opinion of the authorities, he commands tremendous respect throughout much of Milwaukee for his well-deserved reputation for fighting (in one episode, he outduelled an expert fencer; in another, he literally mangled a gangster's prosthetic iron hand with one fist), his skills as a ladies' man and mechanic, his history of romantic involvement with virtually every attractive woman in Milwaukee, and his imperturbable "cool." Opponents far larger and more dangerous-seeming than himself back down from confrontations with him. Those who do confront him never come out on top, leaving 'The Fonz" without a scrape.

Fonzie usually exhibited a characteristic sangfroid during times of challenge, stress, or annoyance (although as the series progressed he became more susceptible to irritation). Fonzie's "cool" occasionally manifested as the ability to make mechanical objects function with a single touch, implying that he knew so much about how they worked that he could set the works in motion via one "Technical Tap"; he frequently started and stopped the jukebox at Arnold's diner by this process. This knack eventually became almost supernatural in nature when he proved able to achieve similar effects by snapping his fingers."

I must confess, I'm actually pretty impressed that the writer used the word "sangfroid" instead of "cool" at the beginning of the second paragraph. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go see if someone on Wikipedia has plumbed the depths of the complex and troubled Holden Caufield-esque delinquent known as Vinnie Barbarino.

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