Unless you have a penchant for animated movies, you probably haven't seen "Mr. Peabody and Sherman," recently released by DreamWorks. The film is based on the cartoon segments "Peabody's Improbable History," which was part of "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show" back in the late '50s and early '60s.(The animated TV show was called "Rocky & His Friends" for the first two seasons and "The Bullwinkle Show" for the remaining seasons.)
In the original cartoon series, Mr. Peabody was, in his own words, "a genius." There was almost nothing he couldn't do. Sherman, in his own words, was "a boy, Mr. Peabody's boy." In the episodes, Peabody and Sherman traveled back in time and interacted with various historical and fairytale characters, often impacting history in the process.
In the newly released movie, Sherman describes his "dad" as "totally famous," "has a lot of degrees," "solves world problems," "quite the inventor," and "genius, dancer, mixologist, musician, inventor, swordsman, pilot chef, scientist, and a comedian."
But among his many degrees is one you might not expect: Doctor of Chiropractic.
At one point in the film, Peabody displays incredibly versatility as a musician. When Paul (a older male "father" character) suddenly experiences severe back pain, Peabody comes running to his aid. To which Paul remarks "Stay away from me, Peabody, just get back, I need traction."1
But Peabody is not put off by Paul's reluctance to accept his help. Peabody quickly replies, "You can trust me, Paul, I'm a licensed chiropractor." At this point, Peabody puts Paul through several comical manipulative moves, with Paul groaning most of the way.
Then, as Peabody finishes his "adjustments," Paul's groan of pain turns positive in tone as he remarks, "Peabody, I feel great." Turning to his wife, Paul reiterates with even greater enthusiasm: "I really feel great." To which Paul's wife exclaims, "Peabody, you're a miracle worker."
While this segment of the movie may not seem all that important to you (especially coming from a cartoon dog), it takes on greater significance when we think about the influential aspects of the film and how it reflects the thinking of many in our society.
What the typically younger audience hears from the actions of "the world's most extraordinary dog" are lessons about chiropractic (lessons our profession has yet to impart on this segment of the U.S. population):
- Doctors of chiropractic are licensed.
- They can be trusted.
- They are very willing to help people, even when they don't want to be helped.
- Chiropractic care is strange (not what most are accustomed to), but it is very effective.
- DCs are "miracle workers."
It is hard to imagine a better branding campaign for our profession among the 5-14-year-old demographic. Of course, since this group can't drive, moms and dads will also get the same message when they watch this family movie with their children.
While a small segment of an animated movie hardly represents a national paradigm shift, it is one of the most accurate film presentation of chiropractic that I am aware of (except that the DC is a dog, of course).
There have been other films in which a character has portrayed a chiropractor. In the earliest example I can recall, Danny Aiello played a courageous and caring DC in the 1990 psychological thriller, "Jacob's Ladder."2 Aiello plays one of the three main characters and was seen often with his patient Jacob, a Vietnam War veteran.
There is a dramatic segment in that movie that also reflected real life. Aiello rushes into the hospital where Jacob is being taken on a nightmarish journey to the operating room. He grabs his tormented patient from his sick-bed and rescues him from his hospital nightmare. Aiello then carries Jacob back to his office to care for him.
Now fast-forward to 2014 and "Mr. Peabody and Sherman." This film gives you an opportunity for conversations with your younger patients. You can easily reiterate the points made about chiropractic to both children and their parents. With a little effort, you may even equip your young patients with enough information to refer their friends who have suffered sports, school-backpack or playground injuries.
While there may be some debate over which chiropractic college Peabody graduated from, there should be little argument about what a great opportunity he has provided us to share the good news about chiropractic to youngsters.
- Mr. Peabody & Sherman - "The Talented Mr. Peabody." DreamWorks Animation UK.
- "Chiropractic's Emerging Image." Dynamic Chiropractic, Dec. 19, 1990.
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