What I Learned From Old Yeller

old yeller
I’m not sure what dream they conquered. Because what happens in Old Yeller is definitely not the American Dream.

I shouldn’t make fun of a beloved family film. I really shouldn’t. But I will. Because although Old Yeller is enjoyable and will make you cry buckets, it is also ridiculous.



1. No one writes whimsical folk songs about cats

Why does every coming-of-age story about a teenage boy also involve something morbid? Either their dog is dying or they’re searching for a dead body or they become friends with a sketchy homeless wanderer. At least Old Yeller has a catchy folk song to distract from the tragedy of this story. And why are there never any folk songs about cats? Cats do some pretty great things too, like not face off with a rabid wolf and let you deal with that situation on your own.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWzTs5bxxnw]

2. The Civil War was a buzzkill     

Especially if you sided with the Confederacy. Because after you lose the war, your father has to go off for three months and sell your steer for five dollars. While he’s gone, you find a really awesome dog. But then your dog gets rabies and you have to kill him.

Life sucks, Travis, get used to it.
Life sucks, Travis. Get used to it.

3. Youngest siblings are terrible

Arliss might be the dumbest kid to ever exist in a movie. He asks too many questions and lacks basic common sense. And Old Yeller getting bitten by a rabid wolf only happens because Arliss is really f-ing stupid.

old yeller 2
Here Arliss is attempting to capture a black bear cub. He did not die, thus proving Darwin wrong.

4. Living in the West really sucked.

Old Yeller is definitely not Little House on the Prairie. This is not a storybook version of the American Frontier. Your father has to go away to make money. There are wild boars and black bears. And then there are the rabid wolves who attack your dairy cow. Having to kill your dog because he has rabies is worst than dying from dysentary on the Oregon Trail or your sister going blind.

5. Women kept order

Travis and Arliss would be totally screwed without their mother Katie. Arliss would be dead. Everyone would have rabies. It would be a bad situation.

old yeller 3
Really, the household cannot function without a woman to oversee rampant stupidity.

6. Paternal wisdom only occurs after your beloved dog dies.

Conveniently, Travis’ father is absent for most of the movie and he doesn’t have to witness his son’s big coming-of-age moment. He shows up at the end to give Travis one piece of advice: “The thing to do now is to try and forget it. Go on being on a man.”  Thus ensuring that the audience will also need therapy for the rest of their lives.

old yeller 4
“Son. This one time in Vegas…”

7. You should hope that your beloved dog is especially frisky.

So, Travis, your beloved dog has died and you’re totally devastated. But think positively! At least Old Yeller liked to get busy so you can just replace him with a smaller version… and get his own catchy folk song!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAFxAcVL5Aw]

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