athelind: (Default)
Your Obedient Serpent has no idea what he's gonna do to relax in the near future, because all the things he's frittered away his spare-and-not-so-spare time on over the years actively piss him off right now.

This is, in part, because he's frittered away so much of his life on them, and in part because, well, Busman's Holiday. One of his sources of stress is his low-paying retail job, selling all those time-consuming distractions.

athelind: (Default)
From a conversation on FurryMUCK, with someone grumbling about the new movie "mixing up the characters":

I can't really take "G.I. Joe Canon" seriously.

I mean... where are the facial scars? In
my day, all the Joes had identical facial scars. It was like a gang sign or something.

athelind: (Default)
You know, in my last post, I linked to last year's tirade about Alvin and the Chipmunks. I should have gone ahead and quoted the best insight from the comments on that older post, courtesy of [ profile] circuit_four, since it really gets to the heart of the matter:

"A lot of this pop-culture purism is just people clinging to their own generation's nostalgia -- and I'm not really comfortable, myself, with how much of that nostalgia was hand-chosen for us by commercial interests."


Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to order my tickets for Star Trek.
athelind: (Default)
There's a G.I. Joe movie coming out this summer.

Most of the buzz from the trailers has been positive, so far, but we're inevitably going to get a lot of bitching from the crowd who grew up on the '80s cartoon.

Considering that I had -- and still have -- a 1966-vintage Mercury Astronaut G.I. Joe, and was nearly 20 wheh your precious cartoon assaulted my fond childhood memories, there's not a whole lot I can say that is essentially different than what I said a year and a half ago when people were bitching about Alvin & The Chipmunks.

Come to think of it, I'm not really interested in your positive reactions, either.
athelind: (Default)

Dreamworks is Really Tyrell Corporation: Kung Fu Panda More China Than China

Chinese animated films tend to be more educational in nature and heavy with significance, but short on entertaining detail, "Kung Fu Panda" viewers say. Local directors would not have had the imagination to make Po's father a duck. Nor would they dare to portray a panda -- a cultural icon in China -- as lazy and fat as Po when "Kung Fu Panda" begins.

Foreigners who make cultural missteps are often accused of hurting the feelings of the Chinese people.

"If you asked a Chinese to make this movie, the panda needs to be lovable but in a perfect sense," said Sun Lijun, a professor of animation at the Beijing Movie Institute, in the July 10 issue of Oriental Outlook magazine. "In the end, he would be so perfect he would be unlovable."

This intritgues me. I was wondering how the movie would play in China -- if it would be dismissed as just a big ball of stereotypes. The best-case response I foresaw was amused tolerance.

I did not expect waves of enthusiasm combined with a shocked awareness that barbarian outsiders had made a better movie about China than China could.

This is, incidentally, one of those movies that could only work because it's furry. Yes, the Cute Talking Animals genre has been overplayed in CGI -- but that doesn't mean it's anywhere near tapped.

athelind: (Default)
Whilst looking for an old post, I found one from about three years ago that might do with revisiting:

When they make an animated movie of FurryMUCK / Second Life / The Internet / Your Favorite Tabletop RPG, who should voice your character?

Think of this as one of those "Writer's Block" questions they put up on the LJ Home Page.

I may make it part of the character creation process in my future tabletop games.

I'm still sticking with Kelsey Grammer for Athelind.

athelind: (Default)
Of the previews currently showing in the theaters, the one that fills me with the most looming dread is the one for Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Oh, I don't dread the movie itself. It looks kinda cute.

I dread the inevitable parade of bitching and moaning from twenty- and thirty-somethings who grew up with the 1980s Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoon. People grouse about how the Baby Boomers think the entire 20th Century was All About Us, but my little stars and garters, it's Gen X and Gen Y who treat their childhood mass-market pop-culture as sacred writ.

I most especially dread yet another screeching chorus of "Hollywood is Raping My Childhood!" Let's, just for a moment, set aside how obscenely inappropriate it is to trivialize the verb "rape" for something as puerile as a remake of mediocre cartoon. Instead, let's look at just why specifically inappropriate in this instance.

  1. That '80s cartoon you all remember so fondly? That was the inferior copy, compromised and sold out to better push sugar cereal and crappy toys to the kids of the day. And yeah, that's you, Mister and Ms. Rape-My-Childhood. It was clear to all of us baby boomers who cared to tune in that the '80s version was a schmaltzy, dumbed-down version of the anarchic brilliance of the original 1962 Alvin Show. They turned one of the great trickster characters into the insipid centerpiece of yet another Get Along Gang, just like every other '80s cartoon that wasn't explicitly action-adventure.*

    We were, of course, full of crap. The '60s show wasn't that great, and the '80s show wasn't that bad.

    So shut up.

  2. The new movie is being produced by Ross Bagdasarian, Jr., who is also providing the voices of Alvin and Simon -- just as he has in every recording of the characters since 1972, when his father, the creator of The Chipmunks, died. Ross, Jr. is responsible for the late '70s revival of the characters -- and for that late '80s cartoon that brought them to the attention of Generation Rape-My-Childhood.

    This guy literally grew up with these characters: "The Chipmunk Song" was recorded when he was 9. Personally, I think the reason they continue to be a steady presence in the market is because, in addition to his marketing savvy, he has a genuine and sincere affection for them, and it shows. Unlike the heirs of, say, Jim Henson, Badgasarian has a keen insight into the essence of his father's creations, and what made them successful in the first place -- in this case, a clever recording gimmick and a knack for making a buck with it.

    In other words, these characters aren't your childhood. They're his.  

    So shut up.

  3. Yes, there's scatological humor in the trailer. It's brief, perfectly in character, and surprisingly tasteful. See my note about "anarchic brilliance", above; if the cultural climate had allowed the senior Mr. Bagdasarian to include poop jokes, I suspect he might have succumbed to the temptation.

    So shut up.

  4. (Addendum, 13:52) Most importantly: you're not the target audience.

    So shut up, and let the kids enjoy their movie.

Now, I'm hardly the Chipmunks' biggest fan. Hearing the original Chipmunk Christmas Song once a year is about as much of their music as I can endure. The highest praise I can dole on either version of the cartoon is that they don't immediately force me to scream and leap for the remote if I happen to encounter them on one of the 500-odd channels the cable pumps into my living room. I almost certainly won't see this movie on the big screen, and if if I watch it on DVD, it'll be because my stepdaughter rented it for the grandspawn.

While I do respect Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. for his handling of his father's creations, and for keeping them from becoming yet another lost property of some faceless entertainment megacorp, I am not, in short, defending The Chipmunks, the upcoming movie, or Hollywood in general.

I'm just telling you Rape-My-Childhood assholes to Shut. Up.

*'80s cartoons that were explicitly action-adventure were never as good as Jonny Quest, because nobody ever got shot or threw a barrel.
athelind: (Default)
Charlotte Weaver (a.k.a. [ profile] silkspider) noted in her last entry that Julia Roberts was going to voice her namesake in the upcoming live action/CGI remake of Charlotte's Web. Strangely, I can see -- or hear -- Ms. Roberts providing the voice of FurryMUCK's Charlotte even more than I can the literary Charlotte.

Which brings to mind Ms. Weaver's favorite question from her days of playing "Truth or Dare" on the MUCK:

When they make FurryMUCK: The Motion Picture, who should provide the voice for your character? )

(For those of you who don't frequent FurryMUCK, please substitute your alter-ego's preferred habitat.)

LJ on JL

Oct. 11th, 2002 10:49 pm
athelind: (Default)
I like the Justice League cartoon -- most of the time. Some of the episodes fall flat, but others just make me sit back and say "Wow." Even the best of the best, though, don't quite hit every note perfectly.

The latest episode, "Metamorpho", provides a splendid example. I loved it, over all. The central characters, Rex Mason and Simon Stagg, looked exactly like Ramona Fradon's artwork in those original '60s adventures. (More about Metamorpho!)

(Sapphire Stagg, Our Hero's love interest, wound up looking like Generic Bruce Timm Female #2 (Blonde), but that's another rant entirely.)

The complete change in the character's origin wasn't unexpected, and made for a very solid piece of storytelling.

They handled Rex's powers wonderfully. He took full advantage of his abilities, used them in an elegant combination of his classic bits and new, interesting and unexpected applications. Silver-Age characters like Metamorpho thrived on coming up with creative new ways of using their powers.

(I found it a bit annoying that they never quite explained the powers -- the ability to turn himself into any element or compound found in the human body. An old Silver Age fan like Your Obedient Serpent always liked the exposition about the nature of Metamorpho's abilities and what element he used to create what effect, and why. I suspect that those comic-book factoids influenced my lifelong ambition to go into the sciences... but I digress. As usual.)

In short, they treated Rex as a fully-capable, highly-adaptable, competent individual capable of making full use of flexible, adaptable abilities.

Exactly how they fail to treat the regular cast.

JL's version of J'onn J'onnz, for instance, seems to be the love child of Worf and Deanna Troi. On Star Trek: The Next Generation, Worf spent a lot of time getting beaten up any time the writers wanted to show how tough the Alien Of The Week was. In fact, he spent more time getting beaten up than he did beating other people up. On Justice League, J'onn only gets to show off his telepathy when the writers want to show what utterly impressive mental abilities the Guest Villain of the Week has. The erstwhile Martian Manhunter spends much of his time dropping to his knees clutching his temples, much like Commander Troi.

This week, we finally see J'onn do some real shapeshifting. Until now, he's just assumed other humanoid shapes. Of course, he only manages to get his ass handed to him again just to show that This Week's Guest Star Is Tougher.

J'onn isn't the only one who forgets his powers except in situations where they'd be worse than useless. Big Blue himself gets short shrift most of the time -- and this from people who wrote an entire show around him, and have shown a keen understanding of just how to use Powers And Abilities Far Beyond Those Of Mortal Men. Hey, Supes! While you're standing there just staring at Giant Monster Of The Week marching down the streets of Metropolis, maybe you could stare at it with some of that heat vision?

Meanwhile, this incarnation of John Stewart has to be the least-imaginative person ever to sling a ring. Fly, Zap, Bubble. Fly, Zap, Bubble. Fly, Zap, Bubble. I never thought anything could make me miss Happy Hal and his silly green boxing gloves. Look! Sapphire's plummeting to her doom! I could just make a glowing green grabber or a glowing green net or a glowing green Carmine Infantino hand, but nooooo, I'll fly down and grab her!

And what about teamwork? You know, those barely-pubescent versions of the X-Men over on Evolution could probably whip this JL, simply because they make a token effort at coordinating their powers.

"Hey, GL! Maybe your Wonder Ring can help your non-flying buddy get up to where the action is?" "Nah, I'll just stand here on the roof looking grim."

"Hey! Maybe we could, like, try to hit the thing all at once, or one of us could distract it while the others hit it at different angles!" "Nah, let's just hit it one at a time, like the throw-away thugs in a bad Hong Kong kick flick, so we can get tossed aside just as handily."

I hear the writers are afraid of the sheer power of the characters becomind Deus Ex Machinas. Well, you know, if you've established the ground rules and the powers from the start, they aren't a Deus Ex Machina. If you don't make use of the powers that have been established, the viewer feels cheated and wonders why the character didn't use his or her full abilities. Even the best episodes of Justice League leave the impression that Our Heroes are a bunch of barely-competent dilletantes who can't even keep track of their own abilities, much less work effectively in a group.

The thing that really underscored the candy-ass treatment of Our Heroes this time was that they wrote Rex so well. He made masterful use of his powers, fresh out of the test tube. Hell, he came very close to kicking all their asses soundly from Gotham to Metropolis and back by way of Central City.

I signed on for the World's Greatest Superheros, not for the Inferior Five Plus Two.

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