Saturday, April 30, 2011

Suck On This, Thomas

"Get your fucking hand off me, you pointy-eared bastard."
Kids TV shows today suck total balls.  Back in the 80's you had good shit.  It has nothing to do with the animation styles or the quality of the writing.  It's a fundamental shift in thinking.  Cartoons in the 80's and even 90's were all about taking names and kicking ass.  You had Thundercats, GI Joe, He-ManTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers and then the 90's Batman animated series.  Most of the shows like Thundercats or He-Man were simple: bad guys do something, good guys come in ad kick their asses back to the stone age.  At their core was that age-old message that violence solves problems.  Sometimes, just like Trooper, you've got to raise a little hell.  Batman didn't take any shit off the Joker.  He went in to foil whatever evil plot he was up to, then finished off with a good, old-fashioned fist beating.  For some reason there has been a fundamental shift away from this core of violence, starting with Pokeman and the Pokeman wannabe, Digimon.  The shift is subtle, but apparent if you're looking for it.  Instead of te sentient characters fighting, now violence is relegated to monsters with fantastical, elemental powers.  Apparently it's a lot better for kids to see a mindless rock monster get pulverized a bright red dragon thing than to watch He-Man punch the shit out of Skeletor or giant robots shoot the fuck ou of each other with lasers.  I guess it seemed more natural, like lions hunting gazelles on the African plains or something.  Even Spongebob Squarepants (I show that I fucking love by the way) which I would consider to be the modern day answer to Looney Tunes seems to shy away from violence.  Just think back to all the Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner cartoons and think about all the guns and dynamite that your saw on a regular basis over the course of a hour.  Think of how many times Daffy Duck has been shot in the head or how many times Wile E Coyote has been blown up.  I love watching Spongebob, but I can't help but notice the glaring lack of tools of destruction.  And it makes me a little sad for some reason.    

But now, all the violence is gone and kids shows are just plain boring.  Now there is a complete paradigm shift.  Kid shows no longer have violence but have plots based upon finding objects or completing menial tasks.  Now kids have shows like Dora, where the characters collect shit, or solve stupid riddles from strange, yellow trolls, or open doors by speaking Spanish.  Not only is Dora boring as hell, but it's also teaching kids dangerous lessons like if you tell someone to stop doing something three times, then they will somehow magically stop.  This fox, Swiper, always stops by, and you have to help Dora and Boots by shouting at the screen (for some reason) "Swiper, no swiping!  Swiper no swiping!  Swiper no swiping" and he just gives up and runs away.  Well, if some ninja rapist is assaulting you in a back alley somewhere simply saying "Raper no raping,!" three times is not going to stop him.  Fucking stupid.  And if it's not teaching stupid lessons like this then it's showing Dora completing menial tasks like collecting stuff, the very aspect that made me hate Donkey Kong 64 with a passion.

But the worst one of all is Thomas and Friends.  This is a show predicated on that fact that Thomas and all of his friends are perpetual fuck-ups who cannot complete the simplest task given to them.  Thomas and his friends are all trains on the fictional island of Sodor, and all they have to do is transport various items from one place to another.  But somehow, they always manage to completely fuck it up.  Whether it's transporting bees, or a trophy, or telling everybody about a party, Thomas has never successfully completed a task the first time he is asked to do it by the mayor, Sir Topham Hatt, who in turn always seems to be in a bad mood because he has an entire staff of athropomorphic trains who can't follow the simplest instructions. And when the episodes focus on one of Thomas's friends, the episode revolves around how they fuck up.  They run late because they're embarrassed by their new paint colour or they hold up their friends because they're afraid of their new steam whistle or they competely fuck up the entire working day by taking charge of the railways and not deferring to Topham Hatt's expertise (looking at you, Hiro).  I mean, it's all well and good that these trains do their thing and learn their lessons and whatnot, but their ineptitude must totally mess with Sodor's economy and has doubtless cost countless workers in the industry their jobs.  It's ridiculous.

And I know what some of you might be saying.  Thomas and Friends is not a new show.  It's been on since like the 1960's or something stupid like that.  But that just makes it worse.  That means that all the other awesome shit that could have continued on was cancelled and Thomas and Friends which celebrates failure.  It makes me really worried for the next generation of kids who continue to perpetuate this mentality which is already evident in the workforce today.  Imagine if the 60's Spider-Man cartoon had continued on into the present?  Do you have any idea how awesome that would be?  Do you have any idea how much awesomer our kids would be? 

And I know that you might aso be thinking that I'm some kind of sicko who just wants to show violence to kids to fuck them up.  Well, that's only a half truth.  I don't entiely begrudge shows that try to teach kids, but sometimes you need to be entertained.  And violence has its place in the world.  Violence is vying for power, and social structures are essentially power structures: dominant and submissive.  Shows like Transformers and Thundercats teach kids to be empowered.  They teach them that their are assholes out there who -after all other alternatives are exhausted- need to have their asses kicked.  Or maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe this move away from violence in cartoons is a sign of an enlightened society, casting away its violent history in favour of a peaceful vision for tomorrow where knowledge and understanding trump physical prowess and aggresive ambitions.  Just imagine, though, how much better a show Dora would be if she had a semi-automatic machine gun.  Just sayin'.        


Post a Comment