Popeye is a character that every red blooded American relates to in one way or another and even though I am an Army guy myself I have to admit that he did make the Navy (or Coast Guard depending on your particular depiction of the character) loo pretty cool. I mean this guy has it all. Popeye is Patriotic, strong, intelligent in a way that can’t be measured by books or tests and possesses the iron will that most Americans would love to say is inside each and every one of us.
From the male perspective this goes even further. Popeye is an extremely strong character who has strong morals and will do anything for the woman that he loves. Olive Oyl on the other hand just seems to be that woman who likes to make Popeye’s life difficult even though he can’t help but fall for her even more in every strip or cartoon that you see. But by far the greatest appeal of Popeye to males is the fact that he is a simple, tattooed, sailor who remains polite until you push him over the edge.
Once things get to this point you can expect 2 things. Firstly Popeye is going to spout his favorite phrase, “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more”, and then you expect him to down a can of spinach and kick the snot out of everything and anything that stands in his way or somehow offends him to the point that he feels it needs to be corrected.
All of this just wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t have his arch nemesis Bluto to antagonize our beloved hero. He can represent a lot of things to a lot of people. That bully that wouldn’t leave people alone, the guy who always seemed to get the girl and didn’t deserve it, or depending on the period of time that you followed the comic it could be looked at in a much larger context.
If Popeye represents everything that it is to be an American than in the Cold War era it would be easy to see how Bluto could represent everything that is or was the former Soviet Union. In this much larger context (which has never been officially supported by the creators of the Popeye character) you could see how the United States tries to be as tolerant as possible until we are pushed to the edge. Once this happens “That’s all we can stands, we can’t stands no more” and we move into action as a country fighting the evils of communism. Our spinach is ingenuity, and our strength is the United States military. The greatest fighting force ever assembled on this Earth (outside of the Avengers of course). We kicked doors down, and corrected all of the things we saw that were wrong with a given situation, or at least as much as politics would allow us too anyway.
So on this Popeye’s birthday, remember the character with fondness and get yourself a can of spinach handy for the next challenge that faces our nation. You can also get your official Popeye challenge coin at: