"IF YOU'RE WATCHING THIS, YOU ARE NO LONGER AN F-NIGHT VIRGIN!"
(However, if, on a Friday evening, you're at home, watching cartoons in your parents' basement, there's a pretty good chance you're the other kind of virgin.)
(Eh, I couldn't think of a good headline for another boring job search entry, and the promos for Teletoon's The Detour's "F-Night" have been bothering me for a while, so, eh, I thought combining my weak joke with an entry the joke really has nothing to do with was "perfect" synergy.)
It's a negatory on hearing anything back from the stores to which I applied at a job fair in Orleans the other week
, so, today, my mother took me to a job fair at the Bell SensPlex in Kanata (more like Stittsville, actually) to apply for the new Kanata Costco.
Costco, the giant American membership warehouse club chain, is a rather unglamorous place, from the two or three times I've ever visited there, and a workplace that is most certainly not on the list of retailers that have the coveted "Ran Kotobuki seal of approval", but the only international chains within walking distance of me that have shown up in Gals!
are HMV, which I did apply to a couple of months back with no luch, and McDonald's, which, as much as I unabashedly love the taste their food, I'm not about to apply to (especially considering that McDonald's mainly seems to hire either people over a decade younger than me or people much, much older than me).
Plus, Costco has actually shown up, by name, as a minor plot device in another
one of my favourite cartoon shows. The Arlen, Texas Costco is where the character "Lucky", the hillbilly character who sounds high all of the time (voiced by singer Tom Petty) who used to work at a corn chip factory and who is now trying to date Luanne Platter, had the accident
for which he received a sizable settlement.
KAHN: Why they call you Lucky?
LUCKY: True story: I was at Costco one day when the nature called. Yelled is more like it. So I hightail it into the john, and there's some sensitive guy there changin' his little boy's diaper on one of them baby ironing boards. And don't you know, I slipped on pee-pee and broke two vertebrae which had to be fused together. I'm in constant pain, but I got me a $53,000 settlement.
ELVIN: This sumbitch is never gonna have to work another day in his life.
LUCKY: That's why they call me Lucky.
My father came along with us on the trip because, since my mother doesn't care that much for taking the Queensway, usually, to get to Kanata from Bell's Corners and Nepean, we take Robertson road, and it goes through a wooded area with a lot of deer, and there are signs there that say "High Deer Traffic Area", and my father gets a mild chuckle out of the "High Deer" part and wanted to snap a picture of the sign. (Well, it's not really any more lame a joke than how I still
find it amusing that one of the most prevalent convenience store chains in the Ottawa area is called "Quickie", as in "euphenism for fellatio". "Quickie: Please enjoy our special service, and come out of our store with a smile on your face.")
My mother wanted to get to the Bell SensPlex
, a public sporting/ice hockey rink complex, by going up Castlefrank to get to Maple Grove, but there's no direct link to Maple Grove from Castlefrank, so she ended up taking a bridge across the Queensway to the back of the Kanata Centrum, which was a very advantageous mistake for me because I actually also wanted to drop off a CV to the Chapters bookstore at the Kanata Centrum, but I think the Centrum was just a little bit out of the way for it to have been reasonable to ask. So, I dropped off a CV and had to fill out a form saying when I'd be available and what books I've recently enjoyed (Manga: Gals!
, and Cowboy Bebop
; Non-Fiction: Peace Kills
by P.J. O'Rourke, and Plane Insanity by Elliot Hester
Then, taking Terry Fox Drive back south, we finally found Maple Grove and the SensPlex. Actually, when I arrived there, it was pretty anticlimatic. It was around 2 p.m., and, even though the job fair was supposed to go to 3 p.m., they had already met the quote of people that they were going to interview that day (there were dozens of people seated in the main room they were using for interviews), so we were invited to just fill out an application form and hand it in with our C.V. which I did, though, the annoying thing was that I had a blue Uniball Vision pen with me that I found when I was rummaging through some bags in my bedroom closet yesterday, looking for old photos to scan, and I found out why I hardly used that particular pen; because the ink was overly runny compared to most Uniball Vision pens, and I smudged several items on the application form, including the phone number, so I had to spell out the numbers phoenetically. Honestly, I'd rather just drop off a C.V. than have a preliminary mini-interview, because, when I'm directly competing with hundreds of other potential candidates in the same room, it feels too much like Pop Idol
, and I'd be the equivalent of, no, not William Hung, but one of those people they film during the auditions that are so terrible that they aren't even called back to the studio itself for the first round.
On the way back, we stopped off at this one store called the Scottish and Irish Store
, selling items imported directly from Scotland and Ireland (and England). Shades of "All Things Scottish", the old Saturday Night Live
sketch wherein Mike Myers is the proprietor of a similar store (though without the Irish component) whose motto was "If it's not Scottish, it's crap!" (I think this was actually the first filmed appearance of the accent he'd later use for Austin Powers
's "Fat Bastard" and Shrek.) A store that sells imported Scottish, Irish, and British food items seems like the perfect venue to sell Carlsberg Special Brew, which isn't otherwise, to the best of my knowledge, sold in Canada, but that would be impossible in Ontario because the provincial government is such a pussy when it comes to alcohol sales and won't allow any beer sales in retail venues outside of the government-run Beer Stores (and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario stores). I did get a bar of Fry's Orange Cream chocolate (dark chocolate with an orange fondant centre). It's a bit too rich for me to really compare it to the milk chocolate Aero Orange, my all-time favourite chocolate bar, but it was still pretty good. We also stopped off at a Farm Boy and a Loeb's supermarket. I got a box of Jelly Belly gourmet jellybeans. Damn, the pear flavour tastes almost identical to biting into a real pear. It's uncanny.
We had originally planned to stop off at Mark's Work Wearhouse, so I could exchange the $75 gift card which I had received for my birthday for clothing (probably a couple of sweaters; two of my jumpers/"hoodies" are getting very tatty), but I had left it in a bag with most of the other stuff I received for my birthday, so we'll have to go another time. (Which reminds me, I never did a birthday report... maybe I'll write one on Sunday, though my mother signed me up to go to their church's "Pot Luck Supper", which starts at, and I have trouble believing this, 5 p.m., while I'm someone who prefers eating supper much, much later in the evening, like around 8 or 9 p.m., and post-10 p.m. suppers are not uncommon for me if I'm eating by myself. I guess they don't know about my little rule of thumb that people who eat dinner before about 6:30 p.m. are psychopaths.)
MORE PICCADILLY CIRCUS PICTURES...
I'm very much satisfied with using Fotopic
to host my main online gallery for my photos and drawings
. I'm very much considering switching to their Premium service, so I can actually make money if people want to put my pictures on posters, mugs, T-shirts, and the like.
But the one problem I'm having with Fotopic is that virtually nothing I put in the gallery apart from thumbnails on the main page is showing up on Google Image Search
, a major disadvantage for promoting myself as an artist and photographer. Google Image Search is a great method of passive advertising, enabling me to promote myself for free without actually doing much of anything except for having posted a picture somewhere on the Internet at some point in the past.
Google Image Search did a major re-index at the end of September, archiving images1
postted on the Internet up through about September 10th
, when I posted my drawing of Covent Garden in London
Since the reindex, one of the most popular "new" features on this page, in terms of Google hits, seems to be the entry from last May where I a selection of black-and-white photographs I took in downtown Montreal, at Concordia University, and at Dorval Airport in 2003
. While I put the complete album at Fotopic
, the images that I hotlinked directly to behind text were hosted at Ourmedia.org
, "The Global Home for Grassroots Media", and, since I'm such a whore for search engine hits, I'll replicate what I did then, this time with a few other images of Piccadilly Circus in the late 1990s which I've never before posted on the Internet (not counting the one I just posted above). I'm repeating some words here for Google Image Search spider purposes.A picture of Piccadilly Circus in Westminster, London, in either 1997 or 1998 (before the next two were taken). You can see the Eros statue and fountain, and there are a lot of people posing, and a cheeky little boy squatting. This is the only photo of Piccadilly Circus I have with a red strip saying "Enjoy More" between Coca-Cola and McDonald's.The typical tourist shot of Piccadilly Circus in Westminster, London, taken on Canada Day (July 1st) in 1998, with the giant advertising signs on the corner of Glasshouse Street and Shaftesbury Avenue. Call me old-fashioned, but I actually prefer the way Piccadilly Circus looked then, with the static advertising signs, for Foster's, TDK, Sanyo, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Samsung, and Carlsberg, compared to the flat-panel video screen signage they have today. Also, I think this was shortly before Burger King changed its logo. I thought the Gap store opened in 1999, but it seems it was there at least a year or two earlier.
And, finally,A self-pic of me, Steve Brandon, at Piccadilly Circus in Westminster, London, on July 1st, 1998. My glasses are crooked because that's real glass in the frames, and that made them damn heavy, to the point where the "arms" cut behind my ears constantly, so I usually didn't put them all of the way on. I forgot there was a Body Shop across the street from the Gap.
They're all interesting pictures, even the last one in kind of a "train-wreck" kind of way, but they don't compare to my photo of Piccadilly Circus in July 2000
, upon which I based my Piccadilly Circus drawing
, but they're interesting alternate angles on a familiar scene.1 This re-index added many photos, but, and I rarely see this mentioned as a problem with Google Image Search, Google Image Search also also has a tendency to "forget" some pictures that were in its index previously, like Homestar Runner's Bubs as the Thnikkaman, this picture of the lovely Keiko Kitagawa, this drawing of a Volkswagen Beetle I did as a 10-year old boy, the original time I posted the postcard for YTV's The Zone with P.J. Phil Guerrero and Snit, a picture of the offbeat anime, Windy Tales, Dancing Mink from Dragon Half, the BBC Star Trek with the cast of The Office, the anime-meets-Kim Possible-esque cover of Marvel's revivied Power Pack, this animated gif I made of Ran Kotobuki from Super Gals! falling from the sky, Atsuko Natsumi from All-Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku, "Marlboro-tan", my Pepsi can radio, me visiting the Cutty Sark ship in London as a 9 year old boy, this picture of Kyosuke, Madoka, and Hikaru from Kimagure Orange Road, J.J. from the Sega Master System game Zillion, a picture of the late Christopher Reeve as Superman standing in front of an American flag backdrop, and many others.
Hmm, I ought to do that again sometime. That was fun. :)
Google Image Search is also very hit-and-miss. They missed a lot of recent photos, like this picture of Jonathan Brandstetter as "Johnny Turbo" from the old Turbografx/Turbo Duo ads, Ami Mizuno a.k.a. Sailor Mercury in a bathtub reading the book Warriors of Legend, all my Canada Day photos including this one with "zombies" at the gates of Parliament, and me, Steve Brandon, eating a McDonald's French Fry, the Nathan Fillion/Malcolm Reynolds cover for the Serenity comic book, following up after Firefly, the Cheat spinning a Laserdisc for Strong Bad, KFC's Colonel Sanders attacking Tatsukichi Kuroi a.k.a. Machida Black from Mihona Fujii's Gals! manga, another anime-style Scooby Doo picture, me, Steve Brandon, holding a can of Heinz Sailor Moon spaghetti, the Asian girl photographing a classic Austin-Healey automobile in Montreal, the Kosuke Fujishima drawing of Natsumi Tsujimoto and Miyuki Kobayakawa getting out of their Honda Today mini-patrol car from the cover of the Laserdisc of the You're Under Arrest anime and my drawing of Natsumi Tsujimoto from the anime You're Under Arrest whacking Honda's Mr. Opportunity in the nuts with a baseball bat, and the completed version of my drawing of Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery in London.
Hopefully, some of those pictures will now show up in Google Image Search's next re-index. I can't guess when that would be. They seemed to be doing one every other month in the winter and early spring, with the last major re-index of the spring being in the middle of May, including pictures up through early April. Then several months went by without a re-index, until, at the end of August, there was a smaller re-index, including images through to the final week of April. The next re-index was the one I mentioned at the beginning of the article, at the end of September.
I don't know what they're getting at with the Apollo chocolate bars (or "Apollo candy bars", as Americans would probably say), whether it's just a "we don't want to do product placement" name for Mars "energy" bars, or whether they're implying that it's some sort of alternate universe where Mars bars don't exist.
But there actually is chocolate candy in the world called "Apollo"
, manufactured by the Meiji (Seika Kaisha) confectionary company
(which also has a small English site
, and there's a Singapore subsidiary with an English-language site
). This foreign-snackfood site
calls the Apollo chocolate candy "strawberry drops"
. They also seem to come in "Apollo Jumbo" rolls
As healthy an appetite as Hurley has, though, I don't know if he'd be caught dead eating a chocolate as "fruity"-looking as those Apollo strawberry drops. (I'd eat them...)
GALLY VS. TERMINATOR?
Here's a big "See, I Told You So"!
In February, I wrote the following
"Even with James Cameron's live-action/CGI-hybrid Battle Angel (GUNMN) film, while I think that particular project's a lot more likely to actually get made than anything I mentioned in the previous paragraph, a recent article by Bryan Curtis in Slate seems to give some actual journalistic credence to my suspicion that the Battle Angel film is just another one of those things James Cameron talks about for a while before he starts talking about something else he wants to do. Cameron has been talking about Battle Angel on-and-off for at least half-a-decade now, yet has it reached any substantial level of preproduction? Not yet. The modern version of James Cameron seems to suffer from the movie director version of Attention Deficit Disorder, being excited about one idea until he's distracted by another one, unable to commit to any one project long enough for it to get into production, other than a few underwater documentaries. (And I do wish the "James Cameron as Steve Zissou" analogy had occurred to me before it occurred to Bryan Curtis; it's so obvious and so perfect, I don't know why I never made the connection.)"
Once again, anime and manga fans, don't hold your breath that the Kapuskasing, Ontario
-born James Cameron's long-proposed big screen adaptation of Yukito Kishiro
's GUNMN/Battle Angel (Alita)
manga will come to fruition anytime soon (or, possibly, ever). According to a news item at the Internet Movie Database, James Cameron has been negotiating with a few famous actors (or former-actors-turned-governors) for a pair of upcoming films, neither of which is set in Scrap Iron City
"Hollywood action man Arnold Schwarzenegger may be set to juggle his role as California Governor with a return to the big screen - he has reportedly agreed to star in two big money sequels. The actor-turned-politician has agreed to re-team with Oscar-winning director James Cameron in a fourth Terminator installment in addition to a sequel to True Lies, according to website Moviehole.net. Eliza Dushku, who is excited about reprising her role as Schwarzenegger's daughter in True Lies 2, says, "We all caught up. Me, Jamie Lee Curtis, Arnold, and Jim (James Cameron), to talk about True Lies 2, about a month ago in California. We're doing it. Definitely doing it. I'm revved." And John Rosengrant, who is a special effects expert at Stan Winston Studios, confirms work on Terminator 4 is at a very early stage: "It's too early to figure out what a new Terminator would look like, or anything like that. You see the script and what spark comes from that, (talk) with the director and see what the vision is. It does no good to dream it up unless you write a treatment and try to get out there and sell it yourself.""
Yeah, I knew this would happen. James Cameron has a million "great ideas" buzzing around his head, each of which he gets excited about from time to time, but usually never long enough to get anything substantial done. Certainly, though, Terminator 4
and True Lies 2
, both sequels to huge hits, would be much safer bets at the box office than GUNMN
, which is a property virtually unknown outside of the anime fandom niche (and, even within the niche, it's mainly a property only those of us who have been into the "scene" since long before Inu Yasha
was first shown on Cartoon Network/Adult Swim and YTV). While it's always possible that things are happening behind the scenes that we don't know about yet, it has been around 9 months since that spate of articles that seemed to indicate that James Cameron was finally beginning to start work on Battle Angel
in earnest, and there's still zilch evidence that it's really all that much further along in pre-production than it was at the beginning of the year. He's talked since, but it was really just vague "gee-whiz" statements about how he'd be filming it all in 3D, nothing specific or substantial about where, when, how, and with whom it will be made. Generally-speaking, a lot more proposed movies go into pre-production and end up in limbo than they do actually get made, and, the longer you go without hearing substantial news about a project, the more reasonable it is to assume that the project is either mired in development hell or is completely dead in the water (like how Fox seems to have completely lost interest in ever getting live-action Dragonball Z
, which was originally touted as a fast-track project to hit screens in the summer of 2004, made). I think James Cameron's live-action Battle Angel
still has a greater chance of being made than live-action Evangelion
, which doesn't even have studio backing, but I'd now say that the odds are 3-to-1 against (vs. about 30:1 against for live-action Eva
I'd like to believe otherwise, but, so far, in regards to live-action Battle Angel
, James Cameron has been all talk and no action.
As for the films he'll probably make:
I'm neutral on a sequel to True Lies
, which was a fun-enough diversion in the summer of 1994, but I always found it a bit schizophrenic, not quite being sure whether it wanted to be a comedy or a serious action flick. And, I'm really not sure that True Lies
is "franchise" material; is there much more that really needs to be told? And Arnold's pushing 60, so he'd be straining credibility as an undercover CIA agent. And... uh... can he act while he's still the governor of California? I know his poll numbers are a bit saggy girly-arm numbers
, but I think it's certainly within a reasonable range of possibility that he can be re-elected (especially once the State Republican re-election machine gets in full gear). I thought he couldn't star in movies and be governor simultaneously, though.
I'm a bit more positive on the idea of a new, James Cameron-directed Terminator
sequel, with or without Arnold. To be clear, I though the ending of Terminator 2: Judgment Day
(one of my all-time top eight films) was fine as it was, but, since the Jason Mostow-directed Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
just went and FUCKED everything up, re-introducing fate into the equation and undoing the great "There is no fate but that which we make for ourselves" message from the second film, now I just want there to be another Terminator
film so that the franchise can end somewhat of a high note, even if it's in a post-Judgment Day world. And, if they set it early in the Future War, they don't even really need Arnold, since, if you remember the first film, it actually took a while for the T-800 exoskeleton units to get cloned flesh-and-blood envelopes (and there was that other Terminator unit in the future flashback sequence in the first film that wasn't even played by Arnold, so, in the event that Governor Schwarzenegger couldn't do it, having other actors play T-800 units with Flesh-and-Blood envelopes not based on Sergeant Candy would not be unprecedented). While some people want a movie that's like a two hour version of the first five minutes of Terminator 2
, I'm kind of hoping they set it directly after Judgment Day, when the machines are slowly beginning to leave the military factories and are just beginning to creep over the nation, and they don't have the more advanced Terminator unites (well, all that was shown in T3
that didn't come from the future was the early prototype Hunter/Killer units). Hopefully, they'll show areas of the country outside of nuclear-annihilated Los Angeles, since, once you get 30 miles or so away from the downtown cores, things should still look relatively "normal", and a Terminator attack on an unsuspecting small town is something that needs to be filmed. Just my fanboyish wish list.
In haiku format:Dear Academy,
Best Animated Feature.
I saw Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit
yesterday evening (my family did the Thanksgiving dinner thing on Sunday
night), and, while I wouldn't say it's absolutely as once-in-a-decade über-excellent as The Incredibles
was, it's still head and shoulders above any other animated film I've seen this year, including Howl's Moving Castle
. I'm sure Chicken Little
will be a fun time, but Wallace and Gromit
is near-brilliant with nary an ironic pop-culture reference anywhere to be found (other than the whole affair being a very, very loose parody of old Universal monster movies). There are lots of small visual details to savour; for example, in the scene in the church early in the film, keep a close eye on the background behind Reverend Clement Hedges for a stained-glass window featuring a slightly blasphemous nativity scene. Yes, you can see the thumbprints on their chins and cheeks sometimes, but the small imperfections add charm to stop-motion animation. The Corpse Bride
, which used characters largely made out of metal, had animation so smooth that it was sterile. I'm not going to write a review, at least initially, because I think it deserves to be seen twice (since my parents want to see it too, I'll try and mooch a second viewing by seeing it with them). I give it a preliminary rating of ****½/*****
, which, while not quite my highest rating, still means it's the best movie I've seen so far all year.
Unfortunately, it was a bittersweet weekend for Nick Park and Aardman Animation, as a fire destroyed a warehouse that contained most artifacts from past Aardman films
(of those not currently on display elsewhere or in private collections).
From the BBC:
Animation archive up in smokePolice in Bristol are investigating the possibility that it was arson.
"A fire at Aardman's Bristol warehouse has destroyed artwork, sets and archives relating to some of British animation's most iconic characters.
Aardman, best-known for Wallace and Gromit, Creature Comforts and Morph, has a distinguished track record stretching back almost 30 years.
But in several hours on Monday morning, most original drawings, wooden sets, paperwork, awards and other memorabilia went up in smoke.
"It's very sad that a lot of historic material has gone up in flames," says Aardman co-founder Dave Sproxton.
The firm stored most of its past works in the warehouse and the biggest loss was the original Wallace and Gromit storyboards by creator Nick Park, Mr Sproxton says.
"They're lovely things and they came from the master himself."
But all is not lost.
"I'm pleased to say Nick Park's original A Grand Day out rocket, that he built by hand, is safe and sound," Mr Sproxton says. "It's very close to him."
Park's three Oscars for Wallace and Gromit and Creature Comforts were also elsewhere.
The clay characters themselves are not kept after filming because they disintegrate, and the Aardman film studio is in a different part of the city and so is unscathed.
The original film and negatives are stored in a humidity-controlled vault at a different location and the sets from the current Wallace and Gromit feature film, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, were also elsewhere."
Hmm... I wonder if Hayao Miyazaki has made any unannouced trips to western England over the past couple of days, to enact preemptive revenge since he probably won't be getting a second Oscar, at least not this time around?
Incidentally, the last two times I went to the movies (this time and seeing Serenity
the other weekend), I've noticed that both of the main first-run cinemas in central Ottawa, the Rideau Centre cinema, formerly run by Famous Players, and the World Exchange Plaza cinema, formerly run by Cineplex-Odeon, have been taken over by New Glasgow, Nova Scotia-based Empire Theatres
. I know that, really, all that's changing is the logo on the uniforms and the bunting, but it always feels slightly sinister when some company that you've hardly ever heard of just comes along and changes the banner over the retail locations and entertainment venues you're familiar with. Especially sinister is the cryptic announcements just before the commercials and trailers start playing, telling us to properly dispose of our "refuse" ('re-"fyüs) before leaving the theatre. Maybe it's just an Atlantic Canadian thing (like with the whole "soda" vs. "pop" (vs. "soft drink")
regional divide), but, as far as I'm concerned, if you say "refuse" when you mean "garbage", you damn well better have a British accent. Hearing it being said with a Canadian accent just sounds... pretentious.
DAMN LAZY AMERICANS!
It's not Columbus Day today!
Columbus Day is the 12th
You just wanted to take Canadian Thanksgiving off work, but, since you already have a holiday called "Thanksgiving" at the end of November, you decided to move the "observance" of Columbus Day to Monday to give yourselves another long weekend, didn't you? DIDN'T YOU?!
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, and Happy Columbus Day (and sad, solemn "Anti-Columbus Day" to you fringe "anti-colonialism" wackos, who, for some mysterious reason, still have not moved back to Europe).
THE REAL SUBTEXT OF THE UNICEF SMURFS AD...
I mentioned it in passing last night, but, despite what the official copy says, the animated Unicef public service announcement showing a Smurf village being bombed indiscriminately by jets is NOT about child soldiers.
Child soldiers do not generally participate in the sorts of conflicts between countries which are civilized enough and advanced enough to possess air forces. Child soldiers are mainly used in really, really, really brutal and ugly conflicts between technologically-backwards tribes that literally hate each other to the utmost extent, with the mutual hatred rooted in events that may or may not have happened in the distant unrecorded past, rather than between sovereign states that have differences in opinion over borders or over the way things should be run.
If the ad were actually about child soldiers, showing the way things truly are, they'd portray something really "cheerful" like three child soldier Smurfs holding a child soldier Smurf from the opposing Smurf tribe down on the ground while they slowly hack off his limbs with a machete and then let him bleed to death. But that sort of nightmarish imagery is not exactly something that even fans of the bloodiest Japanese anime would care to see in a cartoon. A cartoon truly showing what life and death is like for real child soldiers would make even a brutal historically-based Japanese cartoon like Grave of the Fireflies
or the gory, violent, and psychologically-disturbing Narutaru
seem like Pokémon
So, what's the point of the ad, really
Let's look at the visuals, shall we? In an idyllic forest village, the Smurfs are minding their own business and innocently partaking in the sorts of joyful activities that they are known for doing, like holding hands in a circle and singing, and then some unnamed powerful nation with an air force comes along and bombs the smithereens out of them for no apparent reason.
Doesn't that sound kinda familiar? Like maybe it reminds you of a certain scene in a certain fairly recent (alleged) "documentary", showing Baghdadi children happily living in the paradise that was Iraq under the reign of the mischevous-scoundrel-but-ultimately-fairly-benevolent
just so long as you're not a Kurd or a Shi'ite
Saddam Hussein, flying kites and sailing toy boats in the Tigris, and then Fox News "lied" about Saddam and the evil "Bushitler" sent in planes to just bomb Baghdad indiscriminately, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians
Yup, it's essentially a Smurf-ified version of that one especially naïve scene from Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11
Not that I think it's just thinly-veiled criticism of the American War on Terror. Let us not forget the other bugbear of European intellectuals, that "shitty little country, Israel"
(as former French ambassador to the European Union, Daniel Bernard, put it). The spot fits the intellectual's mental template of the ongoing (well, it's cooled down a bit as of late) intifada in the Holy Lands to a T: the Smurfs are the pure-as-driven-snow Palestinians, whose leaders only want their own state and live in peace and harmony with all their neighbours, none of whom they really want to drive into the sea, while the unseen air force is the evil, bloodthirsty, "Zionazi" Israeli Defence Force, using their planes and helicopters to randomly bomb Palestinian civilians in markets and ambulances for no apparent reason whatsoever
. Okay, there are those
"suicide bombers", but they are simply taking brave "defensive measures" against Israeli citizens who are doing threatening things like riding buses, celebrating Passover, eating pizza, shopping at a supermarket, or attending a university.
Look, I know that war, unfortunately, kills some children. That is a "well, duh" level statement. But dictators, tinpot despots, tyrants, terrorists, "Islamofascists", and societies ruled by mobs with revolutionary agendas also kill children, and there the child-killing is on an ongoing basis. War, when waged by one of the international "good guys", is a temporary measure to stop the "bad guys" from being able to do more bad things to innocent people. The ad appeals to the basic human urge to sympathize with the (perceived) underdog. In many things in life, the decent thing to do is to support the underdog. In international politics, things are rarely so simple. Since the demise of the Soviet empire, in virtually every conflict, the side with the air force (or the superior air force) are the good guys and and use their superior technology to strike at as many of the bad guys, and as few of the innocent civilians which the bad guys seek to control, as is technologically possible, with surgical precision unavailable in the earlier days of air power when the good guys often had to level entire cities in order to ensure that the bad guys were gone. That's not to say that superior air forces never make unfortunate mistakes, like with the 2002 Princess Patricia light infantry unit "friendly fire" incident
, but they certainly don't just go around carpet-bombing peaceful villages at random. That's also not to say that I think the good guy countries in these conflicts, like the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Israel, are perfect or above criticism, but they're still the best forces for positive change in the world whenever military muscle is required, and I have no problem identifying them as good guys and the rogue nations or insurgents they target as the bad guys. So, should I side with the side with superior air power who targets only the people who should be killed over the "insurgents" who target anyone they can get near enough to blow up, even if it's a technologically uneven battle? Fuck, yeah!
Nice try, UNICEF, but, next time you do a PSA puported to be against the use of child soldiers, please leave out the "read between the lines" America and Israel-bashing.EDIT: Jesse Betteridge
, from Zannen, Canada
, tells me that the hypothetical scene of what actual child soldiers do to each other that I described above would not be completely out-of-place in the anime Now and Then, Here and There
, which I'm afraid I haven't seen.
WHAT THE SMURF? DON'T SMURF AROUND WITH MY PRECIOUS SMURFHOOD MEMORIES!
Noooooooo! As if putting their TACMARS secret code directional markers on the back of highway signs
and setting up detention facilities in the fenced-in so-called "garden centers" of neighbourhood Wal-Mart stores
to hold patriotic Americans while they wait for the silent black helicopters of the New World Order to whisk them all away to the giant concentration camp built under Denver International Airport
wasn't bad enough, now the evil United Nations is intent on bombing the Smurfs!
Seriously, I saw the following picture, which I've scanned, on the front cover of the Ottawa Citizen
, and I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that it is seriously one of the most fucked-up things I've seen in a long, long time.
Seriously, dude, what the fuck?
Well, David Rennie of the Daily Telegraph
tries to explain:
"The people of Belgium have been left reeling by the first adult-only episode of the Smurfs, in which the blue-skinned cartoon characters' village is annihilated by warplanes.
The short but chilling film is the work of Unicef, the United Nations Children's Fund, and is to be broadcast on national television next week as a campaign advertisement.
The animation was approved by the family of the Smurfs' late creator, "Peyo".
Belgian television viewers were given a preview of the 25-second film earlier this week, when it was shown on the main evening news. The reactions ranged from approval to shock and, in the case of small children who saw the episode by accident, wailing terror.
Unicef and the family company, IMPS, which controls all rights to the Smurfs, have stipulated that it is not to be broadcast before the 9pm watershed.
The short film pulls no punches. It opens with the Smurfs dancing, hand-in-hand, around a campfire and singing the Smurf song. Bluebirds flutter past and rabbits gambol around their familiar village of mushroom-shaped houses until, without warning, bombs begin to rain from the sky.
Tiny Smurfs scatter and run in vain from the whistling bombs, before being felled by blast waves and fiery explosions. The final scene shows a scorched and tattered Baby Smurf sobbing inconsolably, surrounded by prone Smurfs.
The final frame bears the message: "Don't let war affect the lives of children.""
Now, see, this is done with good intentions, I know. It's done to raise awareness of the barbaric use of child soldiers in bloodthirsty tribal conflicts in Africa. According to the article, they're also hoping to raise £70,000 ($140,000 U.S.) to rehabilitate former child soldiers in Burundi.
But, I'm sorry, while I was kidding about the New World Order conspiracy theory crap I put in the first paragraph, and I hate sounding conspiratorial at all, using childhood icons beloved by my own generation (and the generation before in Belgium and France) in Peyo-estate-authorized scenes of violent carnage and mayhem, just reeks of the sort of brainwashing as seen in Clockwork Orange
, done to shock you until your mind is dulled and you become compliant to whatever agenda they're trying to push.
And the video, excepts of which can be seen in a video in this guy's blog
, doesn't even really say anything about child soldiers per se
; it just shows random Smurfs getting bombed by an air force probably not affiliated with Gargamel. Little context is actually provided.
I really don't care what Pierre Culliford/Peyo
's own personal politics were and I'm sure he was a decent human being who would have agreed that the use of child soldiers is a bad
thing, but this whole campaign reeks of "cheap shocks for the sake of shocking", and, if Peyo wanted his creations to be abused this way, he would have done something like that himself while he was alive. I mean, I've seen Smurfs abused in various ways, both violent and carnal, before, but those were just unauthorized parody images. While the violence was toned down from what Publicis account director Julie Lamoureux had originally intended, still, I feel that the use of the Smurfs in such a way defames Peyo's work in a way that not even Hanna-Barbera could in the crappy final couple of seasons of the cartoon series1
Plus, if UNICEF really needed to show cartoon characters in a war setting, they already have those PSAs featuring characters from Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles
(an upcoming movie animated in Japan that is a spin-off of the 1980s cartoon series Robotech
, the American-dubbed and watered-down-and-padded-up-with-two-other-unrelated-Japanese-animated-mecha-series version of the Japanese anime series Superdimensional Fortress MACROSS
. (You know, the cartoon about the people who lived in a town in a bubble that turned into a giant robot that Pierre Bernard loved
>)1 Of course some animation fans, like Alex Weitzman, hate everything about The Smurfs, but, as someone old enough to remember when the Smurfs first became popular in North America, around 1981, I'm a little kinder to them. Much of the Hanna-Barbera Smurfs cartoons was just filler crap designed to introduce new Smurfs and sell their merchandising, but the episodes based directly on Peyo's own original Les Schtroumpfs stories were much, much better than the newer Hanna-Barbera written-by-comittee stories. Like the one with the purple zombie Smurfs based on Peyo's Le Schtroumpf Noir, "The Black Smurf".