5 Times Ben Franklin Made Me Want to Punch Him

Ben Franklin is an unrepentant theme park windbag and he deserves to have his butt kicked.

I’m not going to focus on the petty stuff, because that is beneath me. If you want to wear your stringy dishwater hair like a half-bald Michael Bolton, more power to you.

Nor will I pick on his frilly-suit/white-socks ensemble. Wear whatever feels comfortable. Even if it makes you look like a blue turd suiting up to play for the ’75 Lakers.

Instead, here are 5 very specific episodes from Ben Franklin’s theme park repertoire that make me want to wipe that smug, jowly grin right off his polished wooden teeth with one good punch.

Surely I’m not alone in this.

#1 – Ben Franklin is a Credit Hog

Ben Franklin gets credit for inventing everything from Electricity to Democracy. I’m pretty sure God invented the former, the Jedi invented the latter, and the only thing Ben Franklin actually invented is the pen-name Silence Dogood, as a way of writing anonymous snarky commentaries about famous people.

What a tool.

Ben Franklin’s gift for glomming onto every little success and claiming it as his own extends even to theme parks. For years, EPCOT Center boasted about how Ben Franklin was the first Audio-Animatronic figure to walk, when he climbs a flight of stairs to visit Thomas Jefferson in The American Adventure.

Ben Franklin Climbs the Steps

This is all fine and good, except that Ben is clearly attached to the wall like the world’s most ridiculous stair chair, with maybe one mechanical peg leg to keep him balanced.

This is like me claiming to be the first Animatronic to cook stir-fry by holding an empty wok and making sizzling sounds.

Sorry, Ben. You lose to a freaking dinosaur.
Sorry, Ben. You lose to a freaking dinosaur.

And does Ben show any shame at this mockery of technological achievement? No, instead he berates Thomas Jefferson for being tired. This after acknowledging that he slept through the entire afternoon session of Congress.

Oh, sure, Ben did eventually walk in a theme park. But only because they hired an actual human to do it for him.

#2 – Ben Franklin Shakes Hands Like a SeaWorld Otter

As we know, Mark Twain is a man’s man. Mark Twain worked on steamboats for a living. Mark Twain grew a burly mustache. When Mark Twain needed a pen name, he didn’t invent some middle-aged widow named Silence Dogood as his alter ego.

Mark Twain smoked cigars and let his work speak for itself. Mark Twain wore all white, like a good cowboy or John Travolta. If Mark Twain was a hugger, he’d give you a bro hug.

Ben Franklin is not a hugger. Ben Franklin is a limp noodle.

When the two shake hands at the end of The American Adventure, Ben can’t even touch him. He just sort of flops his hand around like a dying river trout. It’s like one of those movies where the silly aliens don’t know you are trying to give them a fist bump. Mark Twain just lets him flail around, cocking one eyebrow and blowing smoke in Franklin’s face as a test of manliness.

Franklin fails miserably.

Ben Franklin and Mark Twain Shake Hands
On the bright side, maybe Ben is now the first Animatronic to turn purple and cough delicately like a middle-aged widow.

Just grab the man’s hand and give it a firm shake, Ben. It’s not hard to grasp (no pun intended). Especially for a mental giant who had the brilliant foresight to fly a metal kite in a thunderstorm.

Maybe he could learn a thing or two from his own insignia for the Philadelphia Contributionship over in Liberty Square (fire insurance – another thing he “invented.”)

#3 – Ben Franklin Hawks All Over His Lines

Why Ben Franklin gets any screen time in something called The Hall of Presidents is beyond me. The only thing Ben Franklin was ever president of was The Ben Franklin Fan Club.

But for some reason, past incarnations of the attraction found Ben Franklin “inspiring” his feeble-minded countrymen (also known as “Future Actual Presidents”) with phlegmatic speeches about the importance of what they’re doing.

And here I’m using phlegmatic in its “disgusting mucus throat coating” meaning, not “self-possessed and calm,” which the dictionary seems to think is correct.

Franklin’s speech can be heard at 2:18 in the following video.

When he says “infallibility,” it sounds to me like he should be shaking his jowls like Boss Nass.

Boss Nass
Yousa no tinkin yousa greatest inventor of all time?

Fortunately, this version of the show is no longer around. But the line reading has stuck with me, because nothing is so attractive as saying the word “infallibility” like you are about to blow snot all over 43 leaders of the free world.

Maybe he can invite them all over to the Ben Franklin Room at the Liberty Tree Tavern and regale them with more appetizing lung loogies over a nice turkey dinner. Don’t doubt the infallibility of this gravy, Washington, my good man.

I could go on about how he refers to the Declaration of Independence as an “instrument” instead of a “document,” but I suspect Ben Franklin is only trying to take credit for inventing marching bands.

#4 – Ben Franklin Brings Out the Worst Cosplayers

Warning to you internet-savvy readers. Do not google for “hot Ben Franklin.” There is no good to be found down that path. It will only lead to darkness.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped cosplayers from trotting out the turd-suit/Laker-socks uniform. They even do it in the parks.

The worst offender is Grandpa, at the Carousel of Progress.

Grandpa in Carousel of Progress

The sight of this poor old man — just a few stringy hair extensions away from mastering the art of the floppy handshake — is enough to break anyone’s heart.

#5 – I Hate Ben Franklin’s Stupid Self-Congratulating Jokes

Word to the wise. If you happen to find yourself in an austere patriotic theme park presentation, opposite one of the most gifted wits in literature, who is not only smoking a cigar on stage without lighting his mustache on fire, but also has provided enough one-liners to fill an entire Riverboat narration track — don’t fire off an ill-conceived joke about one of your tacky inventions.

Mark Twain says:

“We now face the danger, which in the past has been the most destructive to the humans. Success. Plenty, comfort and ever-increasing leisure. No dynamic people has ever survived these dangers.”

Ben Franklin, master of clever witticisms like pretending to be a middle-aged widow, fires back:

“I may have invented these bifocals I’m wearing, but I can assure they are not rose-colored!”

Wha…? I mean, huh? You invented… okay, you invented bifocals, I guess. And that’s important for us to know because–well, I guess because everything is about you, Ben.

I get it now. So clever.

I may not have invented the idea of silly food metaphors, but I can assure you that you are about to enjoy a tasty knuckle sandwich.

Man, I just hate that guy.

Comments (12)

  1. Ha ha, I never noticed Franklin’s attitude– the song “Golden Dreams” can smooth anything over. Here in Philadelphia there is a statue of Franklin you can pay homage to, which is made of white marble and 20 feet high! I feel like dressing like Mark Twain and going to glare at it. http://www.phlvisitorcenter.com/attraction/ben-franklin-national-memorial

  2. Oh my sidessss. Eff you, Ben Franklin!!


    • He just looks so smug!!

  3. It’s a common misconception that Ben Franklin invented electricity when what he actually did was discover a way to contain electricity. Don’t go hatin’ on a playa just because of our crappy educational system.

    Things he actually invented are:
    Heaters (aka the Franklin Stove)
    Bifocals (but you mentioned that, didn’t you)
    Public Libraries
    Organized fire department
    Fire insurance
    Armonica (look it up)

    Otherwise, I enjoyed the article. 🙂

    • And did Ben Franklin try to correct anybody? No! He just let everyone think he invented it! Because Ben Franklin is all about Ben Franklin.

  4. How about,

    #6. Ben Franklin talks about the easy American stuff like religious Freedom and Democracy.

    Franklin makes Mark Twain discuss all the difficult issues like Slavery (Frederick Douglas), women’s Suffrage (1876 Exhibition scene), and Indian removal. (Chief Joseph scene).

    If you remember, Chief Joseph even cuts off Franklin’s waxing poetic about American’s overcoming the Civil War with “ENOUGH!!!” The wisdom of Chief Joseph, indeed.

    • Ha! I had never noticed Chief Joseph cutting him off! Good for him. Franklin is such a pompous windbag.

  5. That’s good stuff. I’ll never be able to watch that show again without thinking of this article. When Ben is going up the steps, I’ve always thought that it looked like he’s riding up an escalator and having a little difficulty stepping off. Ben was old at that time. If they really wanted to make it realistic, they would have him fart while going up the steps and just keep talking like nothing happened, or something like that.

    • Next time you are there, you can add your own fart sounds from the audience. It will seem totally natural, don’t worry.

  6. Is this why they used to make the Ben Franklin face character pull the flower cart when Lucky was down for repairs? “Look, folks, it’s our only walking animatronic! Doesn’t he look real?” Always reminded me of the old “bring out your dead” cart in Monty Python & the Holy Grail.

    Seriously, though, when I saw the headline of this post I knew I had to drop everything and read it immediately. Well done.

    • Ben Franklin was a founding member of Monty Python. Remember all their clever jokes about bifocals? That’s all him.

      And thanks! I wondered if that headline might suck some people in to a strange essay against one of the fathers of our country!

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