Literature: Dick and Jane
"See Dick. See Dick run. Run, Dick, run."Dick and Jane were the central characters of a series of books for beginner readers featuring short sentences and much repetition. Originally introduced in the 1930s, the books fell out of favour in the 1960s, partly due to changing ideas about reading education that would favour more challenging fare like the books of Dr. Seuss and partly due to mounting criticism about the idealised world they depicted, but "Dick and Jane" remains a byword for the entire genre.You can have a look at the format here.It should be noted that the Dick and Jane books actually came in several graded levels, of which only the first was written in the classic "Dick and Jane" style. More advanced books had practically normal sentences. But where's the fun in that?The UK equivalent was "Janet and John" and "Peter and Jane", the latter which is still in use as part of the reading curriculum in several commonwealth countries.
Tropes in the Dick and Jane books include:
- Beige Prose: A famous example. Justified, as the vocabulary was intentionally limited for beginning readers.
- Black Best Friend: Mike, Pam, and Penny for Dick, Jane, and Sally.
- Cute Kitten: Puff the kitten (known as Mew in older books).
- Department of Redundancy Department: For educational rather than comedic purposes.
- Have a Gay Old Time / Unfortunate Names: Let's just say we don't meet too many boys by that name anymore...
- No Name Given: The books refer to Dick's and Jane's parents only as "Father" and "Mother".
- Precious Puppy: Spot.
- Trans Atlantic Equivalent: Peter and Jane in the U.K. is pretty much their equivalent of this book series. However, unlike Dick and Jane, those are still widely in use in preschool curriculum in the U.K. and many other commonwealth countries.
References in other works include:
- Fun With Dick And Jane, a 1977 film (remade in 2005) which actually has nothing to do with the books apart from the title.
- Between the Lions parodied the series with "Fun with Chicken Jane", featuring the adventures of Scot and Dot and their pet chicken, Jane, who was smarter than the pair of them put together and inevitably got badly battered while rescuing them from some on-coming calamity that they couldn't evade themselves because they were too busy describing it in short repetitive sentences.
- A Calvin And Hobbes strip has Calvin writing a book report titled "The Dynamics of Interbeing and Monological Imperatives in Dick and Jane: A Study in Psychic Transrelational Gender Modes".
- In the "Strangers Like Me" montage sequence of Disney's Tarzan, Jane shows Tarzan a picture book in which the visible writing says "See Jane. See Jane run."
- Red Dwarf, "Waiting for God": Lister starts learning the written language of the Cat people, and is shown reading an impressive tome — which becomes rather less impressive when he demonstrates his new-found ability to Rimmer by reading it out loud: "See Dick run. Run, Dick, run..."
- See Spot Run, an unrelated screwball comedy movie that references Spot, Dick and Jane's dog.
- See Jane Date, is a made for TV romantic comedy whose title references the style of the books.
- The Far Side had a strip of a wolf reading to her pups. "See the wolves chase Dick and Jane."
- In the online game Phrozenflame, the computer said, "c:\dos c:\dos\run run\dos\run". The same joke appears in an episode of The Simpsons.
- The final stage of Earthworm Jim 2? "See Jim Run. Run, Jim, Run." It involved a lot of running.
- Star Trek:
- It's pretty clear that Lt. Uhura is reading a Dick and Jane while recovering from an alien mindwipe in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Changeling". "See the dog. See the dog run. The dog has a ball. The ball is . . . blooie?"
- Parodied in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with a Ferengi (a Strawman Capitalist species) and his child. "See Grok aquire. Acquire, Grok, acquire."
- See Jane Run, a thriller novel with no connection beyond the title.
- The opening theme of the TV show Raising Hope has sentences in the style of Dick and Jane: "See Grandpa work," "See Sabrina read," etc.
- Dick and Jane and Vampires.
- B.C. had a series of Dick and Jane parodies. "See Dick take the test. See Jane take the test. See Dick copy Jane's test. See the teacher catch Dick. See Dick cleaning the latrine."