I find few things band people together like Rufio. Hook's Rufio is a cultural phenomenon that can really only be appreciated by a generation of kids who grew up watching the countless reruns on TBS. Just mutter Rufio anyplace—try the middle of the grocery store and the produce guy will scream, “Ru-fi-oooooooo!” or “Bangarang!” or “Bangarang, Rufio!” Hook might have missed the mark as a film, but Rufio seems to have connected with everyone who has seen it. No one wanted to be a middle aged Peter Pan, or an overly effeminate Captain Hook, or an obese Lost Boy. We wanted to be Rufio because Rufio symbolized revolution.
I've had a ton of people tell me how much they love Rufio/Dante Basco. Hundreds nay thousands nay millions... one billion people have told me that all they ever think about in this world is Rufio (well, maybe, a dozen or so and they probably think about other things, too, but that's still a hell of a lot people who want to talk to me about Rufio). And I don't have any real connection to Basco or Rufio besides the fact that we're both Asian and can still pass for high school students. I also wrote an article about how I love spotting Basco on TV (That oh-snap-that's-Rufio moment), but who doesn't enjoy that? At first, I thought everyone loves Rufio because he represented the elusive “cool” Asian. Rufio defied all Asian movie stereotypes, he was neither good with computers nor a ninja of some sort; one of the few characters to this very day to exist outside those conventions. He was just a dude that loves wind skateboarding and his punk rock hair. But it's more than that.
There's something in the way we bangarang, there's something in the way we shout “Ru-fi-ooooo!” Rufio is a figure of insurrection and these are the screams for revolution, especially to the mind of a child. When Robin Williams asked, “Where are the adults?” Rufio answered that all adults are pirates and they kill pirates. Adults are the plunders, whore seekers, rum drinkers, grog lovers, avasters (avast, matey), walk the plankers, all with their little parakeets on their shoulder. Rufio gave us tools for rebellion, mostly temper tantrums and stabbing.
Like Che Guevara, Rufio has become a counterculture figure. And like Che Guevara, Rufio is a revolutionary figure in only the most pop cultural surface of ways. No one really cares about the Cuban Revolution or Marxism, but only t-shirts and how cool Guevara looks on said t-shirt. The Rufio revolution is also a thing of t-shirts and catch phrases. Let's take a closer look though, and put Hook into the context of American politics. Peter Pan represents the Democrat: lost, well-meaning, and filled with a certain guilt masked behind child-like wonder. Captain Hook, of course, is the Republican: concerned with doubloons and self importance, a certain dignity and honor (only a little though), and fear of crocodiles (all Republicans fear crocodiles, it's a proven fact). Rufio is youthful rebellion against whatever establishment may be at hand. He'll fight Hook, he'll fight Peter, it doesn't matter because he hates The Man. You may recall one of Rufio's famous tantrums, “You man, you stupid, stupid, man.” Which was followed by a thrown coconut, and who hasn't thrown a coconut at their parents, or a shoe at a politician.
Perhaps, Rufio's influence on revolution plays a larger part in America's current political climate, meaning a certain righteous indignation with little to no follow up. We're quick to follow, we're quick to protest—picket signs always at the ready, but we're also very quick to forgot about whatever the latest cause may be. When you think about it Rufio was eager to go to war, he could fight, he could crow, but in the end there was a very little actual bite to his squawk. Eager to fight, raring to get involved, but he is quickly killed and needs to be bailed out by a magical middle-aged white man.
Perhaps, the fatal flaw with Rufio as counterculture figure is this: ultimately Rufio just wanted to be normal. Peter Pan didn't want to grow up and ran away from home as a baby to avoid doing so. All Captain Hook wanted was to kill Peter Pan and he stayed the course. Since he kidnapped Peter's children, he obviously could have returned to the real world whenever he wished, but he chose to stay and he chose to lure Peter back because he wanted to kill not Peter Banning but the Pan. Rufio, however, for all his teen angst, for all his rebellion, simply wanted to return to the status quo. He dreamed to be Peter's son (and to return to being a normal child... period).
The other great revolutionary roll model we see in Hook is Thud Butt. Thud Butt teaches us to roll over our smaller opponents, hide when the going gets real tough, and get promoted by the sheer fact that you like to eat more imaginary sandwiches than the other boys. It's good to be fat.
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