Whatever happened to all this season’s
Losers of the year
Every time I got to thinking
Where’d they disappear
Category Archives: Animation Analysis
Mad medicine was everywhere in the 80s and 90s. There were toys and playsets endorsed by mad doctors, for use by kids. Every time you watched cartoons, you saw a skinny dude with crazy hair in a white lab coat, maniacally mixing chemicals and potions for some nefarious purpose. Under the influence of this, I created my own mad medicine man; Dr. Kill-Everybody.
Either the trope became shopworn around 2001, or something happened that discouraged children from playing with chemicals. You don’t see mad doctors and scientists like you used to. Maybe this is a good thing; maybe the concept was subconsciously driving impressionable kids away from lucrative STEM-field careers. I don’t know.
What I do know is this. Mad doctors once flourished in our society, even though they were annoying, and generally sucked.
In the 1970s, children’s television was heavily occupied by a presence that’s nearly forgotten today; an artifact from the opening credits of a slapstick detective franchise, called the Pink Panther.
If you were a kid in the 1980s, the sight of that character reminded you of a piece of Henry Mancini’s distinctive score. This is the Pink Panther Problem.
Ahh, the French!
I adore them. Their art, their culture, their contributions to the enlightenment of our world. Hate me all you want, but I never felt prouder of Donald Trump than I did when he refused to shake Angela Merkel’s hand for a photo op. Trump didn’t want to get France’s blood all over his hand, and Merkel’s mitts are positively oozing with the spilt plasma of Europe.
In the 1982 science-fiction fantasy TRON, there comes a moment inside the computer world where the protagonists are imperiled by “gridbugs”.
The danger is underlined by dialogue spoken by Cindy Morgan, as the shapely input/output program Yori:
“This isn’t going to be easy. If those gridbugs get us, we’ve had it.”
The gridbugs in question get a ten-second interlude, complete with a unique and rather corny soundtrack cue, and then go on to never affect anything or even be mentioned in passing again. Continue reading
Every cartoonist has a cabinet full of failures. It’s part of the job. A maxim I live by is one an old writing partner told me:
They can’t all be golden.
Videodrome, my local video store, often features used DVDs at clearance prices. There was a copy of Mike Judge’s Extract for $3. I’m a huge fan of Judge’s film and television, so I Netflixed Extract upon its release, and truthfully, I was underwhelmed. But a friend who also enthuses upon Mike Judge loved it, and $3 was just right to give it another chance.
“I didn’t really get this one,” the clerk said as he rang up my purchase, “and I love his other stuff.” I told him a theory I’d read that Office Space was for the workers, and Extract was for the bosses, reflecting Judge’s ascent in the studio system. I also noted that Idiocracy was an impossible act to follow, and that it wasn’t well-received upon its (delayed) debut. I figured if I remained ambivalent about Extract, I could gift it to my friend.
After watching Extract for the second time, I decided to keep it. Continue reading
The world is tough on young people, especially when there are forces trying to control them, often by coddling them. Every awkward feeling teenagers have is commoditized and acknowledged, no matter how insignificant. Their bad moods are notated with special emoticons. Their hormonal bullshit is all validated as worthy expression.
Coincidentally, almost everything sucks.
I make an effort to be unprejudiced about millennials, I really do. I refuse to become the stereotype of the old man screaming at the kids to get off his proverbial lawn. But you have to understand the frustration. 20 years ago, I had to argue with people my age who claimed Quentin Tarantino was God. Now I’m dealing with the children of those people. Continue reading