The song “Gee, Officer Krupke” was my first and foremost favorite song from the soundtrack of the “West-Side Story” film. This retelling of Romeo and Juliet is not only profound and beautiful but addresses discrimination based on ethnicity, rather than Shakespeare’s original “family feud” scenario. This song in particular was a favorite for its comic relief aspect and how it addresses the youth perspective of each new “social disease” that comes along, which has been maybe even more prevalent in the past decade.
“Dear kindly Sergeant Krupke,/ You gotta understand,/ It’s just our bringin’ up-ke/ That gets us out of hand./Our mothers all are junkies,/ Our fathers all are drunks./ Golly Moses, natur’ly we’re punks!”
The exaggerated rhyming scheme is added for its comedic effect and makes the song that much more fun to sing along to, whether it’s in the car or in the movie. Honestly, the choreography in the film is pretty hilarious as well: I highly recommend watching it, if you haven’t seen it before.
“Gee, Officer Krupke, we’re very upset;/We never had the love that ev’ry child oughta get./ We ain’t no delinquents,/ We’re misunderstood. /Deep down inside us there is good!/ There is good!/ There is good, there is good,/ There is untapped good!/ Like inside, the worst of us is good!”
The song uses comic relief to show the perhaps sometimes conflicting or over-used psychological analysis of juvenile delinquents, now often considered to be teens in their “rebellious phase.” It also shows that children from bad homes aren’t always the ones that become juvenile delinquents or form gangs, and that those who do often make up a sob story to avoid consequences. Although the social criticism is fascinating, I’m more interested in the song because it makes me laugh. The funny voices the characters who sing it make add to the ridiculous quality of the song.
“Dear kindly Judge, your Honor, /My parents treat me rough./ With all their marijuana, /They won’t give me a puff. /They didn’t wanna have me, /But somehow I was had. /Leapin’ lizards! That’s why I’m so bad!/Right!:/ Officer Krupke, you’re really a square;/ This boy don’t need a judge, he needs an analyst’s care!/ It’s just his neurosis that oughta be curbed./He’s psychologic’ly disturbed!/ In the opinion on this court, this child is depraved on account he ain’t had a normal home./ Hey, I’m depraved on account I’m deprived!”
In the end, the song concludes that although juvenile delinquents are passed from one institution or organization to another to “cure” them of their bad habits, they don’t necessarily need it and it doesn’t necessarily help. That is, these young adults don’t want to change their habits, so they don’t, no matter where they are sent. They might tend to consider these attempts to change their behavior a waste of time, both for the adults and for themselves, as demonstrated by the ending lines of the song.
“Dear kindly social worker,/ They say go get a job./ Like be a soda jerker,/ Which means like be a slob./ It’s not I’m anti-social,/ I’m only anti-work./Gloryosky! That’s why I’m a jerk!/ Eek! /Officer Krupke, you’ve done it again./ This boy don’t need a job, he needs a year in the pen. /It ain’t just a question of misunderstood; /Deep down inside him, he’s no good! /I’m no good! /We’re no good, we’re no good!/ We’re no earthly good, / Like the best of us is no damn good! /The trouble is he’s crazy./ The trouble is he drinks./ The trouble is he’s lazy./ The trouble is he stinks. /The trouble is he’s growing. /The trouble is he’s grown./ Krupke, we got troubles of our own! /Gee, Officer Krupke,/ We’re down on our knees,/ ‘Cause no one wants a fellow with a social disease. /Gee, Officer Krupke, /What are we to do?/ Gee, Officer Krupke, /Krup you!”
A hilarious song from a very powerful film, this is not something you should miss out on! The social criticism is interesting to note, as well, and is reflected as a theme throughout the movie. Enjoy!