The A Word – My final thoughts

the a word

Tuesday saw the finale of a show called “The A Word”, a live-action drama that was praised by critics for its realistic portrayal of what it’s like to raise an autistic child. This is a major step forward considering how little representation autistic people have on TV, and usually when autism is even mentioned on TV, it’s presented with every stereotype that the film Rain Man invented, and probably more, so to hear that a TV show with autism as the focus of the plot was airing on a major TV channel, I was definitely interested.

In case you haven’t seen or heard of it yet, I’ll fill you in on the details. The A Word revolves around a five-year-old boy named Joe Hughes, who in the beginning of the series is diagnosed with autism. As his parents, Paul and Alison, cope with the revelation, they struggle to try and help him, leading to arguments over who’s idea of helping him is right. Basically, Paul wants to help Joe integrate with the real world, while Alison doesn’t want the rest of the world to label him as “autistic”, and they’re both very stubborn when they think they’re right. We also see a number of other characters who, in some way, are involved with Joe’s life, but the show has a number of side-plots related specifically to them.

Throughout the show, I saw a lot of similarities between Joe and the way I was when I was a kid. Like Joe, I was very much a denizen of my own insular world. In Joe’s case, he feels safer listening to music (mainly 1980’s punk and new wave songs), and so for most of the show you see him wearing headphones. In fact, at the start of every episode, you see him walking along a road wearing his headphones, until he’s eventually picked up by his babysitter Maya (the subject of the show’s fifth episode).

The acting in the show is powerfully convincing, and throughout the show’s run it genuinely felt like there was some serious discussion about autism conducted through the characters. It also portrays the subject of autism with nuanced objectivity, with a number of characters who don’t quite understand autism trying to help in their own way. Alison’s father Maurice (played by the Ninth Doctor), for example, has an old-fashioned approach to parenting, which bothers Joe’s parents, but doesn’t seem to faze Joe himself, and that’s one thing I notice about the show – it tells the story from the point of view of everyone except Joe. We never hear what he thinks of all this. Granted, you could argue that this approach is more realistic, but I still long for a show from the point of view of an autistic kid, teenager, or even an adult.

This leads me to the other thing that bothered me about the show. Even though the show’s premise was chiefly about autism, a lot of the show focuses on the sex lives of its adult characters, and Joe’s teenage sister. I know this is meant for an adult audience, but I think they should have focused less on the sex (though to be fair, it’s not very graphic). For me, this is why I felt the series finale was such a strong ending. It was ultimately a more focused episode.

The episode, which aired on Tuesday, saw Joe’s parents reconciling in time for the opening of their new restaurant, but Joe goes missing, prompting a mass search party to blast music in the dead of night to look for him. It kept me on the edge of my seat, mainly because for the time that Joe’s missing, he is never shown until one of the characters finds him, and later the episode ends on this soaring note of confidence and familial harmony.

Even though I was disappointed with certain aspects of the show, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the show, mainly because the writers did a good job at representing its subject matter in a realistic and engaging way. It didn’t sacrifice any of its artistic integrity, nor did it fall prey to the mentality espoused by the likes of Autism Speaks. In the end, though it was sometimes flawed in terms of narrative and focus, BBC 1’s “The A Word” was good drama, and it’s arguably the nuanced representation of autism that TV badly needed. Let’s hope that other TV producers take some lessons from this.

The wretched dance of the damned

2016

2016 is the year of two very drawn out political events. One of them is the EU referendum, in which Britain will decide whether or not to leave the European Union. The other is the American presidential election, preceded of course by the primaries. The politics displayed this year has been rather peculiar, if very worrying. Neither contest seems to have a favourable outcome, and in both contests, the political establishment has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

First, let’s talk about the EU referendum, since that’s the more immediate talking point. Isn’t it a little suspicious that David Cameron’s government wants Britain to stay in the EU? Shouldn’t it also be suspicious that world leaders are begging for Britain to stay in the EU? The possibility of us leaving the EU represents a genuine challenge to the status quo, and the European Union doesn’t appear to like that one bit. Of course, the “Leave” camp isn’t represented very well (some of the worst lunatics in UK politics are in that camp), but the logic of the “Stay” camp, and the international politicians who dare to poke their nose in our affairs, is frankly baffling.

Even if there are obvious financial benefits to staying in the union, the EU isn’t interested in the voice of its member states. In fact, the European Union has to be the most undemocratic organization in the whole of the developed world. As long we’re a member of the EU, we continue to be subject to its whims. This is an organization that, in 2011, installed an unelected technocrat named Mario Monti as Italy’s Prime Minister, a prime minister who the Italian people loathed. In Greece, when the people voted against austerity measures, the EU blackmailed its prime minister into accepting austerity measures the Greek people voted against. When France and the Netherlands rejected the European Constitution in their respective referendums, the EU responded by renaming it the Lisbon Treaty, and refused to hold any referenda on it. Indeed, when Ireland voted against it, the EU coerced them into holding a vote, this time in favour of it.

All of this shows that democracy isn’t in the EU’s list of priorities. In fact, real democracy is a threat to the EU’s interests. They prefer technocrats who exercise in mindless bureaucracy. World leaders are already putting pressure on the UK. What’s stopping Brussels from trying to blackmail the country into staying in the union after we vote “Leave”? And let’s not stop there. I remember when David Cameron wanted us to leave the EU, and now his government has been issuing pamphlets designed to persuade us into staying in the union. I suspect that Cameron may actually be beholden to EU, and is now trying to influence the public vote towards the status quo under Brussels, while both the Stay and Leave campaigns use fear and misinformation to lure people to their side.

On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, the presidential primaries have been more dramatic than ever, if mainly because each party now has one outsider candidate and one establishment candidate (though the Republicans also have John Kasich, but nobody really cares about him). Most media outlets treat the competition as if it will eventually end in only one way, a showdown between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. One the one hand, it sounds boring because you just know Clinton’s going to win because media wants it so badly. But on the other hand, it could be dangerous because of the possibility that Trump may actually win.

That in itself is not an unreasonable claim. Despite all the warnings about how Trump would be bad for America, and the Republican establishment’s attempts to thwart his momentum, he’s still essentially the party’s frontrunner, with roughly two-thirds of the amount of delegates needed for nomination. If he actually won, only time will time what he would do if he actually became President.

Of course, the Republican Party can tear itself apart limb from limb for all I care. The real issue is the Democrat primaries, because if Trump really is going to be the Republican nominee, then this will determine who is chosen to defeat Trump in the presidential race. The Democrat primaries as we know them come down to either Bernie Sanders, a Vermont senator and formerly independent candidate praised by many for his focus on the issues and promises for reform, or Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state best remembered as the wife of Bill Clinton. By my books, there wouldn’t be so much of an issue were it not for the “superdelegates”, members of the Democrat Party elites who can choose to support any candidate at any time.

The thing about Hillary is that, despite being an authoritarian serial liar whose platform isn’t strong enough to challenge that of Donald Trump, she’s essentially the most mainstream Democrat candidate, to the point that the superdelegates are practically handing the nomination to her (although technically she still has some time left before reaching the required number of delegates). Isn’t it a little suspicious that the Democrat establishment wants Clinton so badly that they’re willing to nominate her with or without the popular vote? Under Clinton, it would essentially be business as usual in the White House. The kind of government you saw during the Bush and Obama administrations would continue without much reform, or if there is reform, it would be painfully slow. Clinton is a technocrat, much like the bulk of the European Union. She thinks she knows what’s best for America just because she knows about how politics works (and could arguably be more knowledgeable than either of the other candidates), but that isolates her from the concerns of ordinary Americans. Hence, a Clinton government will continue the tradition of the US Government being out of touch with the people under its care, and yet the Democrat establishment doesn’t care about that at all, and the media wants this to continue.

I shouldn’t be too surprised, given the state of the left-wing establishment in America. Both the left and the right, as merely factions rather than sets of beliefs one could get behind, have lost faith in the common man, and now look down upon them as gullible rubes. It’s no longer about policy, or ideology, or even social issues. It’s all about convincing the gullible to put their faith in a political candidate. Depressingly, it seems more and more likely that Clinton will get the nomination, and the status quo may continue for a while longer, though I might find some hope in the fact that a lot of people aren’t exactly convinced of Clinton’s suitability for the presidency.

On both sides of the Altantic, the wretched dance of distorted politics may continue, but I believe that more and more people will come to see how twisted and biased the political game really is, and as long as the people have any voice at all, there will always be a resentment towards the status quo, and with it there will be room for dissent.

How Western culture is strangling itself

blind

History can be an ugly and often embarrassing subject, especially when you come across things that your history teacher never taught you. From slavery to religious persecution, from greed to bloodlust, and from colonialism to genocide, the West has had a very colourful history that I’m sure many of us would like to forget, but as the old saying goes: “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Unfortunately, we live in a time where, in the West, historical discussion has been turned into people blaming their ancestors for the worst of atrocities instead of learning from the mistakes they made, and that, I worry, has led to a state where the West lacks confidence in its own values.

Over the course of the 21st century, liberal guilt (sometimes called “white guilt”) has plagued Western culture like cancer, no doubt due to years of indoctrination coming from the media and various left-wing demagogues, and it’s certainly wreaking havoc with the way we deal with history, especially in the context of racial issues. In America, years of white guilt lead many young liberals (particularly agitated students) wag their fingers at white Americans for their alleged “privilege”, and America’s snowflake students have been censoring artworks made by white artists. In one American campus, a student activist group started a fiery protest simply because a truck bearing the Confederate flag drove by, and they felt threatened.

The UK also seems to have no confidence in its values whatsoever, just as well that they’re seen as the domain of what British society has deemed the scummiest group of all. The spread of the Rhodes Must Fall movement to Oxford University should come as a testament to how people now use their feelings to judge history. Don’t get me wrong, Cecil Rhodes was a detestable man of no real worth, but the whole movement has gotten out of hand, and it demonstrates how the West’s attitude towards its history and culture has rendered it vulnerable to the kind of cultural war now playing out in its campuses.

The European Union is perhaps the worst example of institutionalized historical revisionism in our time. Their policy is to assume that Europe itself began after the Second World War, as if nothing else ever happened (and it this point, I’m reminded of that one scene from Family Guy where the German tour guide flips out and screams “nothing bad happened!”). The EU’s educational establishment is convinced that European history before 1946 is hostile territory. Despite all of Europe’s great accomplishments, the European Union seems to focus on Europe’s ugly history, particularly the genocides and xenophobia. Of course, that means nothing when you consider that the EU usurps the currencies and cultures of its member states under the guise of holding the union together.

Of course, this points to what I would consider an easy conclusion – the West seems to loathe itself, and this atmosphere of cultural self-flagellation is ripe for a new culture of illiberalism, revisionism, safe spaces and false pretences of “social justice”. This renders today’s society inept to deal with its issues in a frank and mature way, and it serves as an easy distraction from what’s going on around the world. The political game is being dominated by lunatics, ISIS is still at large, and authoritarian leftists have hijacked the popular language of their ideology, using it to advocate censorship, but as long as we allow ourselves to be distracted by the mistakes of the past, we are doomed to repeat those same mistakes, and that’s exactly what today’s political atmosphere is thriving on.

Can you trust The Guardian?

guardian

“Can you believe this shit?”

In high school, I was apparently very interested in the topic of media bias, but I never addressed my own biases. I was mainly grilling the obviously right-wing news outlets, and while I mentioned the left-wing outlets (thinking MSNBC might be too biased to the left), there was always one news outlet that I apparently trusted, seemingly with blind faith – The Guardian. They seemed like the a rational, reasonable news outlet. I knew they were left-wing, but I didn’t think they were extreme. But something’s been troubling me lately – their latest patronising campaign freedom of speech.

All week long, the Guardian website has been running a series of articles which, they claim are about the growing phenomenon of online harassment. In reality, it’s their excuse to wag their fingers at everyone on the web. One example of such articles is “the dark side of Guardian comments”, which basically comprises of a bunch of privileged London-centric writers reading over some of the “vile and abusive” comments they’ve received, and the article only shows you the point of view of the writers who were offended. It also contains a quiz in which you are given the opportunity to moderate a selection of comments. Whatever you answer, you’ll find that the Guardian is very keen on blocking any comments that they find ideologically unappetising (they will block any comments critical of feminism without question).

While we’re on that subject, The Guardian’s statistics on the matter are very shaky. They claim that “of the 10 most abused writers eight are women, and the two men are black”. To me, that just screams of not just sexism, but also racism and ideological cherrypicking. Of course they would make this up, because that would fit the left-wing narrative that anyone who isn’t a white male is a victim needing our protection. If you ask me, that narrative sounds a bit unsettling, mainly because it now seems like the Guardian is now pushing internet censorship, almost in Orwellian fashion. More worryingly though, their mentality on this reeks of leftist self-flagellation for ancestral sins. For them, all the world’s woes are caused by “privileged” white people, and they never corroborate this notion with any real facts.

For a paper that claims to love democracy, it seems to have completely turned its back on freedom of speech. One article, written by a clearly oversensitive writer named Owen Jones, wrote an article about trolls, but used it to proclaim that freedom of speech could “poison the very bloodstream of democracy”. If anything’s poisoning our democracy, it’s obviously people like him, and all those like him who wish to use fear to turn the public against freedom, and this is not an isolated case. For The Guardian, freedom of speech is “elitist”, and yet they never explain how, as if everyone who reads it is supposed to know. Then again, this is the exact same news outlet that claimed that banning porn on campus gave students more freedom of choice. Not only is it lunacy, but it’s also poorly justified.

Most of The Guardian’s editorials are concerned with the safety of women. Why? Don’t we live in a safe country? If they wanted to worry about women’s safety, what about those poorer countries where young girls are impregnated and forced to marry older men at a young age? I don’t hear their concern about that. Their only concern appears to be privileged middle class women, especially if they happen to be female journalists. They’ve basically become a sounding board for the worst brand of highly processed neofeminism under the guise of journalism. If you don’t believe me, then it’s worth noting that whenever the men’s rights movement ever comes up in one of their articles, they always patronise the idea, as if men are too privileged for their concern. That patronising tone only masks the obvious sexism of the writers. For them, women are always the victims, and when you associate women with a perpetual state of victimhood, then you’re a sexist pretending not to be, and by my books, there’s absolutely no difference.

Worst of all is The Guardian’s insistence that the Internet is a dangerous place. Those privileged, London-centric writers apparently can’t stand the idea of there being a place with no rules. Oh wait, there’s already such a place. It’s called life. All those rules we have, we’ve literally just made them up from paper. Tear all that away, and life here on Earth would be just as lawless as the Internet, but I digress. The Guardian writers insist that the Internet needs more regulation in order to protect women from online harassment, which is fine until they run an article which explicitly states that writers “shouldn’t have to put up with abuse and insults”. To be fair, they don’t. They could just quit, or better yet, stop reading the comment section! If you want my opinion, the possibility of being harassed by virulent trolls is simply a part of having your opinions out in the open. I certainly didn’t care about that when I started this site, and I was 18 years old. Considering that the average Guardian writer must be over 30, I’d say that, even in my early days, I’m definitely more mature than a bunch of writers who complain about harassment.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I don’t condone harassment or rape threats anymore than the next man, but this is not the way to handle it. I was once harassed by a swathe of Welsh nationalists over a post I had written in 2013 (the post was since deleted, which I’ll admit was a bad move on my part). In that post, I tried to make the argument that we shouldn’t be forced to learn the Welsh language, but I accused the Welsh nationalists of fascism (which, again, was a bad move on my part). Even after being bombarded with annoying and ideologically unpalatable comments, I didn’t clamour for increased regulation. I moved on, like I feel we should all be doing, and I’m not alone. Stephen Fry, in an interview with Dave Rubin, expressed worry about the climate of censorious self-pity currently dominating our society, and, perhaps because of how he phrased it more than anything else, most of the media turned on him, especially social media and, surprise surprise, The Guardian, who claimed that nobody would be listening to him if he were poor. Does that sound like the standard bearer of quality journalism, or the wailing throngs of the failed excuse for a journalist, drowning in his own biases, presumably while locked away in his safe space.

They keep screeching about how we have to stop online harassment, but they have no intention of explaining how they think we should do so, and neither have they attempted to reconcile that with the need to preserve free speech. What they fail to realise is that you can’t stop online harassment. You can’t stop any form of expression that goes on in the Internet, at least not without punishing the innocent first, because inevitably the innocent are always prosecuted before the guilty when pandering to mass hysteria. Of course, The Guardian doesn’t care. They’re only interested in stirring up moral panic. Ladies and gentlemen, they’ve become Mary Whitehouse, but this time, the target of their witch hunt seems to be anyone on the Internet who dares disagree with them, because they’ve been lumped into the same group as the genuine abusers, who are the ones that should be punished in the first place.

To me, all this sounds like The Guardian never really got over Gamergate, because the rhetoric of The Guardian is largely indifferent to the rhetoric of the social justice warriors, except for the fact that The Guardian’s writers go through contortions to sound cultured, purely for the purpose of making its readers feel like idiots (or smarter for having read them, which they’re not). At least with “The Web We Want”, the mask has finally crumbled, and we can now see The Guardian for what it really is – an illiberally leftist mouthpiece for those who wish to advance their authoritarian narrative. At this point, you can’t trust them anymore than you can trust such skeezy tabloids as The Sun or The Daily Star. If you see a copy of the paper in your local newspaper, don’t pick it up. Buying their papers only supports their agenda, as the writers and editors carefully count their money,  while presumably locked away in their safe spaces as they write the next post about how we’re apparently evil for using the Internet, ignorant of the fact that most Internet users probably aren’t as bad as they think. Maybe if they took their heads out of their asses for just a minute, they’d probably see that.

The great romantic lie

friendship

Contrary to what every romance film will tell you, they’re probably just close friends.

If there’s one thing I hate about our culture, more than few other things on this planet, it’s the way we see relationships. It seems that, in our society, people think that it’s impossible for to people of the opposite sex to have a platonic friendship, or at least a close friendship, without there being sexual attraction involved – at least that’s what decades of trashy romance films have taught them. Unfortunately, the platonic relationship is something the mainstream media couldn’t care to mention. They’re way too busy trying to push the same old storybook romance down our throats, even though there’s not a chance in Hell that anyone can relate to that anymore.

Western culture is so obsessed with its tired old ideas of romance, specifically the kind of romance that leads to sex, perhaps the only thing Western culture is obsessed with even more. We have misguidedly placed the pursuit of sex at the top of our cultural priorities, and so as a result, we have taught subsequent generations that men and women can’t just be friends on the baseless grounds that men “always” have sex on their minds. Of course, that’s not true at all, but that doesn’t seem to stop the media from brainwashing people into believing that if a man hangs out with a woman, he must have some ulterior motive.

It should be fairly obvious why this is the case. After the sexual revolution, sex was all the mainstream media could think about, and thanks to a wave of propaganda over the past few decades, people came to see sex as the only important part of a heterosexual relationship. Hence, the idea that men can’t be “just friends” with a woman, in spite of how easily you can disprove it in your own life, has become so ingrained in our culture, that the Urban Dictionary entry for “platonic friend” ends with “men do not have platonic friends, just simply women they haven’t fucked yet”.

If that sounds disgusting, keep in mind that Urban Dictionary is essentially written by crass morons who seem to think only about sex, and yet the sentiment on Urban Dictionary seems to be common. In fact, respected publications such as Wired and Huffington Post seem to have fallen prey to the mentality spawned by films like When Harry Met Sally, in spite of the fact that scientific research and everyday experience can prove that platonic relationships between men and women are not only possible, but also enjoyable as well, and of course, people would realize that if they didn’t blindly believe Billy Crystal’s words about sex always getting in the way.

Platonic relationships seriously don’t get enough representation in the media, which is sad because today’s children are growing up in a world that tries to convince them of two grievous lies – the lie that men and women can’t simply be friends without sex getting in the way, and the lie that romantic love is the most important thing in life. Such heteronormative propaganda has warped young minds for far too long, and since popular culture has no interest in changing that narrative, future generations may be influenced by those same poisonous stereotypes that have corrupted the culture of our time.

Why society still doesn’t understand autism

autism

Today is the last day of what has been called World Autism Awareness Week, which for me, brings up the paradigm of how autism is viewed in society. For the past 20 years, I’ve had to live with the fact that my life has revolved around the autistic label, perhaps because it has inexorably separated me from the rest of “normal society”. I never wanted anything to do with autism, but I guess I had to live with it. The past two decades saw me trying to navigate a world with its own logic, where autism is considered a problem to be cured, rather than a difference that should be understood and accepted.

For all we claim to have progressed when it comes to dealing with autism, there’s always something beneath that shining veneer.  Out of all the myriad of autism charities, the most popular of them appears to be Autism Speaks, an organization supporters by celebrities such as Adam Sandler, Céline Dion, Will Arnett, Jonah Hill, along with several others. Don’t let the celebrity backers fool you (in my case, however, that makes things more suspicious. The problem is that Autism Speaks operates under the assumption that autism is a disease to be cured, appealing to the mentality of most parents.

Of course, that’s not the only problem. Autism Speaks literally doesn’t have a single autistic person on their board of directors, which essentially means that none of the decisions they make represent the interests of anyone with autism. While a large chunk of their budget does go towards research, the majority of it goes towards causation and prevention of autism, and the organization has made videos designed to promote their perverted view that autism is a stigma (one video, called I Am Autism, features a menacing voice proclaiming “I work faster than pediatric aids, cancer, and diabetes combined, and if you’re happily married, I will make sure that your marriage fails.”). Nobody who actually speaks for autism would ever try to eliminate the very thing that makes them unique, and I doubt that any organization who actually fights for autistic people would run such a disgusting ad.

That’s not even the worst offence. It turns out that Autism Speaks is known to have or have had ties with the Judge Rotenburg Centre, an organization famous for using electroshock therapy as treatment for the disabled, as well as the autistic (that they view autism as a disability should immediately be suspicious). They have been known to shock autistic children for minor infractions, believing that it will “cure autism”. People used to think they could “cure” homosexuality with electroshock therapy, but it never worked. They just wanted to torture people for being different, and I can only assume that the JRC still does this today. If that’s true, then it should be even more alarming that Autism Speaks recommends the JRC to parents as a potential resource. At this point, Autism Speaks are either complicit in sending autistic kids to be tortured, or they have no idea of that happening (or pretending not to know), and at some point, there is absolutely no difference.

Of course, all this happens because Autism Speaks knows how to prey on the worries of parents, specifically those who are most concerned with integrating their autistic children into “normal society”, that’s where all this madness really stems from. For all our talk of freedom and self-expression, mainstream society still expects everyone to think and act virtually the same, and because autistic people see things differently to normal people, society treats it as a disease just because conformity isn’t in our nature.

They’re missing the point anyway. There is no cure for autism, and even if there were, the vast majority of autistic people do not want a cure. I know I don’t. If we could develop a cure for autism, then as long as we’re trying to help people “be normal”, why not a cure for scepticism, or creativity, or perhaps even passion? That would be just as ridiculous as trying to find a cure for autism. I can understand why some parents would think their autistic children might be suffering, but trust me, the biggest cause of suffering for an autistic child will be living in a society that isn’t friendly to the autistic, or anything that differs from what they consider normal.

I wish people would stop acting like they’re trying to save us. We are not victims of anything, and we are certainly not diseased. I think there’s a better way to describe the autistic mind – always unique, totally interesting, and sometimes mysterious. That certainly describes me very well. I may not want to be treated differently because I have autism, but I accept that it will always be a part of my life, and nowadays, that’s something I’m not completely ashamed of.

Craig McCracken and the fall of Cartoon Network

foster's

Picture this: it’s the year 2004, which in my mind was one of the golden years of Cartoon Network. We British kids enjoyed all our favourite cartoons (or at least ones that were great for their time), including Ed, Edd ‘n’ EddyDexter’s LaboratoryBilly and MandyCourage the Cowardly DogGrim & EvilCow and ChickenJohnny Bravo, and of course, The Powerpuff Girls (the reboot of which launches today in America), created by a man who is kind of central to the topic of this post – Craig McCracken. While the original Powerpuff Girls series was still running, he went on to create another show called Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, the subject of a recent conversation on this very blog that brought back a few memories.

Foster’s was pretty much the last show produced during what could be called the “classic era” of Cartoon Network’s history. After that, pretty much nothing good came out of it until Adventure Time showed up (more on that later). As for the show itself, I remember watching it for about two-and-a-half years. At that point, I used to like it, but then hated it by the time I reached puberty. Within a year or so after the show’s UK premier, I noticed that they had started introducing characters who are solely obnoxious (Cheese, for example, has got to be the worst character that ever featured on Cartoon Network), and then they made nearly every character obnoxious, especially Bloo. By 2007, Cartoon Network was already going down the crapper anyway, so I abandoned it I started turning into a teenager. It no longer airs on the channel, being replaced by several other new cartoons.

It wasn’t until a decade after I stopped watching the show that I found out that Foster’s had turned into a show that was almost as spiteful in its tone and character writing as Family Guy. Over a week ago, an eagle-eyed viewer alerted me to what had been going on in the show’s writing, and I began fitting the pieces together. The main character, Mac, was presented as a shy little boy who has trouble making friends, and is obsessed with order, but also very intelligent and creative for his age (much like me, except there’s no evidence to show that Mac might have autism). Over time, he became a character obsessed with trying to save face, easily exploited by nearly everyone, especially his imaginary friend Bloo, who ropes him into his meaningless schemes. After a certain point, none of the episodes were worth watching.

That show had gone off the deep end, and in researching for this topic, I came up with a theory as to why. Apparently Craig McCracken, the creator, writer and director of the show, was getting pissed off about the fact that Cartoon Network was killing off their original shows in favour of a new wave of mindless live-action teen shows, as well as firing some of its staff in the process. Craig perhaps felt slighted by the idea that Cartoon Network, under its new management, no longer needed him or his creative input, and he must have been channelling is own frustrations into the writing. Of course, he shouldn’t have done that. Seth McFarlane did that with his hatred of conservative Christians, and then Family Guy became a gross, hypocritical left-wing cartoon that treats all of its characters horribly. I think a similar transformation happened in Fosters’, but to a lesser extreme considering it was meant for a young audience. Mr. McCracken definitely turned it into a more mean-spirited cartoon in terms of writing, but I don’t believe that the mean-spirited approach even works anymore. All three of the mainstream long-running “adult animated sitcoms” (The SimpsonsSouth Park, and Family Guy respectively) have fallen into that pattern, and now they’re garbage.

For me, the transformation of Foster’s could be taken as the thing that signalled the death of “classic Cartoon Network”. When it started, many of the older shows already ended, but still ran on the network. As Foster’s continued, the other shows were dying, but this time they were being replaced by worse shows like Johnny Test (which was later reviled as one of the worst cartoons ever made), My Gym Partner’s a Monkey (which died a year before Foster’s did), Camp Lazlo (to which I’m fairly indifferent because I forgot about it), and Ben 10 (which is now a big merchandising machine). They also threw in a plethora of shows from other studios, and these were often taken off the air within a year at a time, probably because they were terrible (especially Loonatics Unleashed, which I hated within only a few months).

By the time Fosters’ ended, all the classic shows and some of the newer shows had been terminated. In fact, Foster’s died in the same year as Ed, Edd n Eddy (both in 2009, within six months of each other). At that point, it was pretty much over until Adventure Time arrived. If you ask me, the fall of Foster’s illustrated the decay of the classic era. Before 2010, the network was resting on its laurels, and newer episodes any older shows that survived were filled to the brim with bad jokes and nonsensical plots. Craig McCracken seemed to have fallen victim to this, resorting the laziest form of comedy writing, trolling his fans in the process (and one wonders why he isn’t involved in the Powerpuff Girls reboot).

Needless to say, the old Cartoon Network is dead, and now Craig McCracken works with Disney. Since then, many new shows have arrived on the network’s lineup, but so far, only three of them are worthwhile. The show may be gone, the damage has been done. McCracken ended both of his shows rather disappointingly. He ended the original Powerpuff Girls on a whimper, and he practically destroyed the characterization in Foster’s before he ended the show. Meanwhile, Johnny Test got to continue until 2014, long after it became irrelevant. Meanwhile, McCracken himself did act as an executive producer for Regular Show’s pilot episode, and trust me, that show’s doing fine without him. In fact, I’m pretty sure the network itself is doing fine without him.

He may no longer be in Cartoon Network, but the legacy of the two shows he made for it will live on, manifesting itself in the form of the anguish of fans who will no doubt be sending him hate mail for the Powerpuff Girls reboot, to which he gave complete approval. Only time will tell what will come of that show, but the fact that his work is still being discussed (on this site no less) shows that the cartoonist leaves an indelible mark on the viewer.