"WHY DO ADULTS WATCH CHILDREN'S CARTOONS?" & A COUPLE OF OTHER ITEMS:
Someone in the F*ckin' Otaku forum was wondering
why adults watch children's cartoons, so I tried to answer to the best of my ability and I'm pretty pleased with what I wrote, even if it's a bit disjointed.
Not that I want to get too pretentious, but, for the purposes of answering this question, children's animation, by which I mean cartoons aimed primarily at a target audience younger than around 14, can be divided into two clear categories.
The first category is cartoons aimed at extremely young children, like Kindergarten age or younger. Some examples of these would be Caillou from Canada and Dora the Explorer from the United States and, perhaps, the Sanrio anime (Hello Kitty, Keroppi) from Japan. These cartoons are unambiguously little kids' shows, usually designed with some educational purpose in mind. While a handful of adults will, for whatever reason (perhaps involving drugs), watch these cartoons anyway, there is nothing in them designed to appeal to an adult audience. (Well, generally not; an animator I knew in Montreal who worked on Arthur also worked on this show called Mona the Vampire, and one episode involved the title character somehow ending up in a parallel universe, and he admitted that he wanted to draw the Empire insignia from the Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror" on the uniforms of a couple of the adult characters, though the insignia didn't make the final cut, possibly because of copyright infringement.)
For the most part, merchandising from these shows is only designed for the same very juvenile target audience that watches the cartoon. Sanrio merchandising is an obvious exception here, but they were very successful in establishing Hello Kitty and company as a viable "brand" almost completely independent from the cartoons.
The other category is animation aimed primarily at a target audience of children, but which is also designed to (hopefully) appeal to a wide crossover audience, including adults. Virtually every childrens' cartoon from either side of the Pacific not explicitly aimed at a very juvenile audience pursues a crossover audience to some degree. You can lump a very diverse cross-section of popular animation into this group: Spongebob Squarepants, The Powerpuff Girls, virtually everything animated from Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks, the Ghibli films, Pretty Cure, Garfield and Friends, the very underrated Canadian cartoon Untalkative Bunny, and, yes, Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z. Generally, ten-year olds, while they haven't yet developed a very sophisticated and nuanced worldview, still have a reasonably good idea of the basics of how the adult world works, and, unlike a five-year old, they know when they're being talked down to. As such, I think the cartoons that are the most successful with ten-year olds are the ones that treat the ten-year old audience with some respect to their intelligence, and, if the animators are successful in doing that, there's usually enough of a facsimile of some aspect of the real world that even an adult audience can relate to and appreciate the story.
Or, even in cases when the story takes place in a total fantasy setting with little foundation in the real world (at least on the surface), if the story is told well, even if the target audience is ten-year olds, there should be no upper age limit of enjoyment for open-minded adults.
Of course, the main story isn't always the strong point. I've been a Sailor Moon fan for over a decade now (I was a few weeks shy of my 20th birthday when I first saw it in 1994), but I'll fully admit that the story meanders a lot. In Sailor Moon, there is some intangible, hard to define or pin-point, appealing and endearing quality of the characters that makes the quality of the viewing experience somehow transcend the silliness of the premise, the repetitiveness of the action (yes, most episodes are "filler"), and the cheesiness of the animation. Appealing characters can make the difference where the story is weak. (Plus, Sailor Moon has enough going on in each episode outside of the monster-of-the-week battles to keep the show entertaining, and it's not above self-parody.)
If all else fails, you can always "wink" at the crossover adult audience, putting in all sorts of references that most kids just wouldn't understand. While I wouldn't say that the story and characters in Shrek are poorly-developed, I don't honestly think that the films would have nearly as much of an adult following, even among adults like my parents who otherwise don't care much for animation, if they didn't have so many in-jokes, both in the dialogue and the visuals. coughcoughIstillthinkMonsters,Inc.wasrobbed.
Not that every cartoon aimed primarily at ten-year olds is successful at attracting a crossover audience. Compare and contrast The Real Ghostbusters and Police Academy: The Animated Series, two cartoons from approximately the same era, both based on popular non-children's movies from 1984. Which one is fondly remembered and still has a core audience eagerly anticipating the upcoming DVD release of it? The Real Ghostbusters, because, while there was plenty in the original Ghostbusters film that obviously wouldn't fly on childrens' TV, I think the producers of the Real Ghostbusters cartoon successfully realized the difference between "toning-down" and "dumbing-down" the source material while still keeping it clever, funny, and even (occasionally) a little bit scary (I'm thinking of the episode "Mrs. Rogers' Neighborhood" here), while the Police Academy cartoon was just dumbed-down to the point of pointlessness. Maybe very unsophisticated kids would have found it funny, but I still don't get the point of the cartoon. It's not the sort of franchise that would really sell action figures, and they obviously couldn't keep it true to the spirit of the original R-rated movie, so it's not like the adults who enjoyed the film would watch it.
I wish I could write a clever closing paragraph to tie-in everything I just wrote together.
I think I hit on a few good points, but I'm no John Oppliger (and I mean that both in a complimentary and not-so-complimentary way).
As a bonus, I explained the international popularity of Dragonball Z
in just a few words:
As for Dragonball Z, it's essentially just cartoon professional wrestling with alien super-powers. You can love it or hate it as such, but you can't deny that there's a large audience for that sort of thing.
I know a lot of DBZ fans aren't too thrilled when you compare it to professional wrestling, but I don't mean it in a negative way. It's just that it's a perfect analogy: the posturing's just as important as the action.
Also, I'm afraid that I never made it to the Zellers job fair. It's the middle of ragweed season here in Ottawa and, while I haven't been sneezing too much, it's only because I'm doped up on Benadryl all the time, which saps a lot of my energy. I could use the non-drowsy allergy stuff, but I like allergy medication to actually work, and, on me, only the "big guns" like Benadryl have much effect. I also think I might have a bit of a cold because I've had a sore throat for days, and, on Thursday, I had a bit of a headache and had to lie down for an hour or so in the middle of the fricking afternoon. Friday, I had enough energy to resume working on my drawing of Covent Garden Market. I'll probably still put in a CV at the Hazeldean Zellers, though, if I worked at Zellers, I'd rather work at the one on Merivale since it's much closer.
I don't know if I'll get back to Super Ex this year. It's the last weekend of it, and I'm going to the anime club at University of Ottawa this evening. There's always tomorrow, except, to close off Super Ex, the Rolling Stones will be making a stop at Frank Clair stadium. The local media won't shut up about it
. I'm not really much of a Rolling Stones fan, but I don't begrudge people who are looking forward to the group's first concert in this city since they played at the Ottawa YMCA forty years ago (especially since I suspect that this will be the Rolling Stones' final major international concert tour). What I'm annoyed at is the "second city mentality" inherent in a lot of the local media coverage, as though a single fricking rock concert will finally make this city "important". Stop navel-gazing and get over your inferiority complex; while I miss a few of the big city amenities of Montreal, Ottawa is still a pretty important city with or without the Stones playing here, for reasons that are so obvious that I won't attempt to insult your intelligence by pointing it out. Anyway, while I still want to see the hypnosis show one more time, I'm getting the idea that Lansdowne Park will be so packed with people who would be going to the concert later that evening that I wouldn't even be able to see the stage. Plus, I hate overcrowded buses.
Finally, though I just started it, I created a new sub-gallery in my Fotopic Gallery: Montreal Snapshots
, a place to put photos I've taken over the years in and around Montreal. A lot of these photos will be ones I've already put in my abandoned Photoblog
, but now you can see them in a much larger resolution than at Fotopages, which resizes everything much smaller. (I'm re-scanning them at 300 dpi.) I'll add them as I scan them, but I'll only add a few at a time, since I want to write a paragraph or two for each photo.
Thursday, there's a job fair at the Zellers in Hazeldean Mall in Kanata, where, if I get hired, I would be working at possibly the most famous Zellers store in the Ottawa area.
What's its claim to fame?
Well, I recently re-watched the Tom Green bit entitled "Security Risk", available on the Tom Green Show: Endangered Feces
DVD. That's the one where Tom Green goes from store to store, pressing "page" on the intercom phones, and saying things like "Tasty corn. Tasty, tasty, tastycorn", filming bemused reaction from shoppers and store employees alike. I mentioned in this entry
that the Hazeldean Zellers reminded me of the "Tastycorn" one, but I didn't think it was that likely, since Tom Green lived on the Gloucester side of Ottawa (east of downtown). Well, breaking the Tom Green sketch down bit-by-bit, it's not technically the store where he said "Tastycorn", which doesn't even appear to be a Zellers; it looks more like a sportswear store (perhaps the Sport Chek in the Merivale Mall?). However, the store where Tom tries interviewing a random customer and then the manager comes and tries to take Tom to his office, threatening to charge Tom with "tresspassing", and blocks Tom from leaving the store, so Tom starts pretending that he's walking towards the customer service counter and then makes a run for it, and the manager doesn't seem interested in pursuing him more than a few feet from the store. I noticed that the stores in the mall outside of the Zellers store are in a V-configuration, just like at Hazeldean Mall. And then, as Tom left Zellers, to his right, there was a store called "Jo's Smoke and Gift Shop", so I looked it up on the Internet, and, sure enough, the only store with that name in the world is at Hazeldean Mall.
The manager, whose face was scrambled, seemed to be a fortysomething guy, somewhat stocky, with a mustache and dark hair. He had a not-too-distinct soft accent, possibly east Indian, Pakistani, or maybe Arab, or even Mexican. I don't if he would still be working at that Zellers, since this bit appeared to have been filmed in either 1998 or 1999 (the post-Rogers Cable, pre-MTV era when Tom's show was on the Comedy Network), but, if he's there, I'm just so tempted to forget about taking the job fair interview seriously and ask him if he remembers the guy with his friend videotaping who got on the P.A. system whom he almost charged with trespassing, and, if he does, I'll show him this transcript:
Tom Green (on intercom): So, wha-what's your name? Where are you from? What are you doing in town today? You out doing some shopping, I guess?
Old woman: Yeah.
Tom Green (on intercom): So, how do you know where the... (Tom's voice is cut off when the manager takes the receiver from him and puts it back on the hook. The manager says something inaudible.)
(BRIEF VIDEO EDIT)
Hazeldean Zellers Store Manager: Nobody goes on the P.A. system.
(BRIEF VIDEO EDIT)
Manager: You're not allowed on the P.A. system.
Tom Green: Oh no? Ah, okay. It's just, so I was doing my stand-up comedy routine, and this... I...
Manager: (something garbled) Follow me, please.
Tom Green: There's no stages around here that I can work out at.
Manager: Follow me, please.
(The manager leads Tom towards the front of the store.)
(BRIEF VIDEO EDIT)
Tom Green: There's no stages around here that I'm allowed to work out at, so I just, I thought it would be good just being on that mike there.
(BRIEF VIDEO EDIT)
Tom Green: I'm...
Manager: This way please.
(points towards an area to the left of the check-out counters.)
Tom Green: Ah, okay. (continues walking forward, towards mall entrance) I'll just go out this way.
Manager: Nah, no, come with me, please.
Tom Green: I'll just go out here.
Manager: No, hang on a sec. (starts blocking Tom)
Tom Green: Sor- actually, no, this is the way here. This way.
Tom Green: This is the right way.
Manager: (really blocking Tom now that he's just three metres from the entrance to the mall, trying to walk-push him to the left) Come with me, please, to my office.
(BRIEF VIDEO EDIT)
(Tom tries to turn around to leave the store, but the manager sticks his arm out.)
Manager: (garbled) shoplifter.
Tom Green: What's that?
Manager: Come with me for a moment, please.
Tom Green: What's that?
Manager: (still blocking Tom) Could you please stay in the store?
Tom Green: No, actually, I don't want to stay in the store, though. That's the thing. I want to leave.
Manager: You're not allowed to leave.
Tom Green: Oh, well, I am allowed to leave, 'cause I'm an adult.
Manager: No, because you weren't invited in the store in the first place to get on the P.A. system.
Tom Green: (points to a customer leaving.) Was that person invited in the store? Was that person there invited in the store?
(BRIEF VIDEO EDIT)
Tom Green: Was she invited in the store?
Manager: That has no bearing... You did...
Tom Green: I th... I think it has a bearing.
Manager: You did something... first of all, this is private property.
Tom Green: Okay, well, I'm going to leave it.
Manager: No, I can charge you with trespassing.
Tom Green: Well, no, no, because I'm leaving.
Manager: (trying to push Tom back in the store) No, you can't.
Tom Green: I didn't have a warning.
Manager: Can I see you over here a minute, by the telephone?
Tom Green: Okay, let's go over there.
(Tom and the manager walk towards the counter, with the manager's left arm around Tom's back. Three metres in, Tom turns to the left, gets away, turns around, faces the manager while walking backwards out of the store, and then he faces forward and outpaces the manager.)
Tom Green: I'll just go over here, I'll just...
(Tom crosses the Hazeldean Mall food court and escapes.)
Maybe I'll even have him sign my Endangered Feces
Or maybe I'll just get my mother to take a digital picture of me in front of that Zellers store, so I can send it to Tom Green's website
Next on my Tom Green checklist? Well, I'm not going to sacrifice any of my London drawings (since I hope to sell them someday), but I'm tempted to go into the National Gallery of Canada and hang "Natsumi Tsujimoto vs. 'Mr. Opportunity'"
on the wall and see if the curators think it's a real piece of art. It's at least better than Tom Green's "Tiger Zebra", which did fool them. :P
(Speaking of that drawing, is it just me or does the almost-but-not-quite-anime "style" in the way I drew Natsumi disturbingly resemble the way Aaron McGruder draws the white female characters in The Boondocks
? Maybe it's an unconscious homage, but I swear that wasn't intentional!)
A FOLLOWUP TO AN ARTICLE FROM YESTERDAY...
I wasted too much of the day drawing the following picture of Natsumi Tsujimoto from You're Under Arrest
whacking that annoying "Mr. Opportunity" character from those Honda commercials in the nuts.
I feel so much better now, vicariously causing pain in his testes using Natsumi as my proxy. It's so cathartic.
Notice the Mizuno logo on the baseball bat. Natsumi's Japanese, so that's probably the brand of bat she uses as "Home Run Girl". I strive for authenticity.
And, yes, before anyone points it out, I know it's Miyuki Kobayakawa who actually drives the Honda Today mini-patrol car, not Natsumi. But Miyuki doesn't have a bat, and Natsumi's mini-motorcycle is a Honda, so it's not like she's not also a patron of the Honda corporation.
For the three of you who remember those days, now almost exactly a decade ago, back when I was sending Sailor Moon
fanart to P.J. "Fresh Phil" Guerrero and "Snit" on YTV's The Zone
, Natsumi's probably not as authentic-looking as the Sailor Moon
art I did. That's because I used a pen for the outlining on the Sailor Moon
art, but I don't have any pens like that available currently, so I had to outline in a black Prismacolor. Also, this is my first piece of honest-to-goodness fan-art in several years, so I'm a bit out of practice.
VIRTUAL UNVEILING 2
Eh, I was holding off putting this one online until I could scan it all in one big chunk, but, I went to Mailboxes Etc. and the widest they scan was about 40 cm while this drawing is at least 65 cm by 22 cm, so I had to scan it at home again in "chunks" after all. They lined up a bit better than they did for the Piccadilly Circus drawing, but it's not "perfect".
Anyway, break out the wine and cheese because I'm now going to officially "unveil" my drawing of Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery
(Click the drawing for the medium-sized version, or click the link I gave before the drawing for my Fotopic gallery page with the full-sized version.)
Here's my description and story for the picture:
This is a drawing of Trafalgar Square in Westminster, London, with the National Gallery in the background, based on this Kodak Advantix photo I took in July 2000.
It's a drawing measuring approximately 65 cm by 22 cm that I drew on white card with coloured pencils, mostly Prismacolors. I had to scan this in 4 chunks; in the sky, you can see a slight colour discrepancy at the edges of each chunk.
I drew this one a bit more freehand than the way I drew the Piccadilly Circus drawing. I measured out the truck and I measured out where each section of the museum began and ended, but, the people I drew completely freehand, more or less, trying to get them to line up properly with the corresponding section of the museum behind them, but not quite getting it perfect. I can see the flaws, but I'm still about 95% satisfied with the drawing. Especially the way I drew the water in the fountain.
The statue is of King George IV, and the lion is one of the lions protecting Lord Nelson's Column.
I think the tower behind the National Gallery is part of the Notre Dame de France church near Leicester Square, but I'm not 100% sure.
One unintentional coincidence with the previous drawing I did is that both have the Coca-Cola logo in them, though this one's much smaller, on the ice cream truck, and you can really only make out the "Dynamic Ribbon", not so much the words. I also tried drawing the Reebok logo on one of the kids' backpacks, but it's not too distinct.
Since I forgot to mention him when I dedicated the Piccadilly Circus drawing to a whole list of artists, this drawing is specifically dedicated to Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou
(Yokohama Shopping Log
) creator Hitoshi Ashinano (芦奈野ひとし). It seems like the sort of drawing he might like. Or maybe not. I have no idea. Well, I can tell him that, since I resumed drawing after years out of practice, I feel as creative as Maruko Maruko.
Since I know that I can't scan drawings this big without breaking it up into sections, I can tell you that the next virtual unveiling, for my Covent Garden drawing
, should be in just two weeks or so.PREVIOUS "VIRTUAL UNVEILING": my Piccadilly Circus drawing.
COMMERCIAL SPOKESMEN WHO DESERVE TO BE KICKED IN THE 'NADS....
Gah, I hate, hate, HATE the annual end-of-model-year clearance sale commercials from Honda with the animated spokesman, "Mr. Opportunity".
I have difficulty putting my finger on exactly what it is about Mr. Opportunity I find so grating. His attitude can easily be described as "smarmy". He seems like an asshole jock who's acting nice to you for a while just so you will let your guard down and he can steal your lunch money. In other words, he thinks he's Biff Tannen, and he's going to treat you like you're George McFly, and I mean George McFly before Marty interfered with the timestream.
Come to think of it, Mr. Opportunity looks like the mutant offspring of Biff Tannen and the Sesame Street
Muppet Guy Smiley
Plus, Rob Paulsen
does many fine character voices, but, as "Mr. Opportunity", he just comes across as an extremely low-rent David Spade.
Besides, if Honda wanted an animated spokesperson, why did they need to create Mr. Opportunity? Honda already has two perfect animated spokeswomen they could use:
Natsumi Tsujimoto and Miyuki Kobayakawa, the lovely young traffic officers from Tokyo's (fictional) Bokuto precinct from the Kosuke Fujishima manga and anime series, You're Under Arrest
(which later was adapted into a live-action series
)! So, Mr. Opportunity, are you happy preventing two much-beloved (by me) Japanese cartoon characters from getting well-deserved mainstream exposure in North America? Bastard! I know two "balls" I would love to see "Home Run Girl" knock out of the ballpark!
"I'm Mr. Opportunity, I'm back, and I'm knocking!", eh?
Hi, Mr. Opportunity.
I'm Mr. Brandon, I'm back, and I'm knocking. On your fucking nuts. With my new hammer.