Why fire anyone? Screw the FCC!

I’ve always hated Federal Communications Commission, not just as an institution but the mere idea of it. How is it that the US constitution enshrines your right to say whatever you want, but somehow that right is not extended to TV? As someone who values free expression the FCC appals me, and it should appal all supporters of free speech whether you’re left-wing or right-wing. So it bothered me when the whole #FireColbert fracas showed up. Apparently the failing agitprop artist Stephen Colbert made a lame quip about Donald Trump’s mouth being fit only for being “Putin’s cock holster”, which is about the edgiest thing he’s said in years.

With #FireColbert, I think it was both the left and the right willing to piggyback on this, and I wouldn’t feel the need to bring it up at all were it not for the emergence of a second FCC-related hashtag campaign, this time targeting someone who I cannot believe I am forced to defend here. This week, John Oliver did a segment where he again campaigns for net neutrality (which is actually one of the few things I agree with him on), in light of the Trump administration’s plans to roll back Obama-era net neutrality laws.

He launched a campaign called “Go FCC Yourself”, in which he urged viewers to send complaints to FCC chairman Ajit Pai, in the hope that he might reconsider his plans axe regulations put in place under the Obama administration. However, the campaign seems to have been marked by DDOS attacks against the FCC, which appear to have happened soon after the campaign. FCC executive Matthew Berry also took to Twitter to denounce the many racist messages and death threats that people have submitted seemingly through Oliver’s campaign.

Many people have lashed out against John Oliver on Twitter, including Rebel Media reporter Jack Posobiec, who accuses John Oliver of deliberately inciting “racist fans” to attack the FCC, as if the FCC did nothing wrong. Oh but it gets better. Now Posobiec wants you to think John Oliver is some sort of “racist hatemonger”. What the hell is he thinking? He’s literally playing the race card in the same way the SJW’s always done, and his followers are eating it up. In fact, various other right-wingers, in their zeal to get him fired, are now starting to sound exactly like the authoritarian leftists they despise. It’s not just on Twitter. On Milo Yiannopoulos’ post sharing an article I found, several commenters seem more interested in the fact that John Oliver is a leftist, than the dilemma posed by the FCC getting involved. They don’t care because John Oliver is a political opponent of theirs.

They don’t seem to be getting that this is the exact same problem, but because the FCC is targeting leftist comedians for “obscenity”, somehow it’s okay. I can guarantee however that if the FCC-compliant Steven Crowder did the exact same kind of campaign that John Oliver did, and people sent racist messages through it, he would likely come under fire from the authorities too, but everyone on the right would defend him. In fact, I suspect that most of these right-wingers don’t care about the FCC now that Donald Trump is the president, but if Hillary Clinton had gotten elected, then they would be the first to oppose the very existence of the FCC.

I really dislike having to defend John Oliver, but this time, he is actually innocent, or at least I think he had good intentions with his campaign, but he grossly underestimated what could happen with online campaigns. The problem here is that the campaign was a golden opportunity for people who wanted to screw with him. Think about it. The campaign was filled with bot accounts, and was apparently a conduit for DDOS attackers. This tells me that his campaign might have been intercepted by malevolent individuals who probably hate John Oliver to the point that they wanted to make him look bad, so they hijack his online campaign by sending DDOS attacks to the FCC, and flooding the comment section with racist bot comments in order to make it look like John Oliver was leading an army of racists, hackers and trolls against the FCC. That’s my theory at least.

Of course, nobody seems to be interested in the more important question – why does the FCC even exist? All it does is impose stifling regulations on TV and radio, and thanks to them, American cable television is so heavily regulated that nearly all of it is boring, offensively bland, and so formulaic that it it’s incapable of edgy, boundary-pushing content. Just about all the TV imported to Britain is forced to comply with these regulations, so for me, it’s no different to watching heavily regulated British television.

I think a lot of the controversy, particularly with regards to Stephen Colbert, could be resolved if President Trump did the noble thing, and simply axed the FCC. If he did that, not only would he save money by eliminating a pointless regulatory body, but he would also attract more supporters, especially from libertarians such as myself. Again, I don’t like defending people like John Oliver. I’ve gone on record denouncing him as a liar, and I consider him to be a hypocrite (which I’ll talk about in a later post), but I also believe that it’s wrong to try and get him fired because of something that offended you, which is what the left has been doing for the past few years. With Trump in power, am I going to have to sit here and watch the right turn into the left? I should hope not, but as the Trump years drag on, I worry that this may be an inevitable reality.

Bill Nye the pseudo-science guy

bill nye

“Remember, either I’m right or you go to jail.”

Recently America dealt with yet another social justice haemorrhoid in the form of the “March for Science”, in which far-left ideologues try to convince ordinary people that if you like science, you must be anti-Trump, and of course they failed miserably because no sane person wants anything to do with social justice anymore. The face of that endeavour was Bill Nye, the so-called “science guy” who most people only remember for a PBS children’s show back in the 1990’s, but the March for Science isn’t why I’m talking about him.

On Saturday, Netflix put out a TV show entitled “Bill Nye Saves the World”, a late night talk show in which he talks about how sciences supposedly “intersects with politics, pop culture and society”. In other words, it’s Nye’s own entry in an overcrowded market dominated by the likes of fellow propagandists like John Oliver and Trevor Noah. One of the episodes (which were all released at the same time) focused on promoting myth of “sexuality is a spectrum” as hard science, and he even summoned a barely known actress Rachel Bloom to do one of the worst musical numbers of all time (don’t believe me? click here if you dare).

Picture this for a moment. Bill Nye, a man who the establishment media in America has proclaimed to be the one of the go-to scientific experts, is on the “sexuality is a spectrum” bandwagon, even though the only “evidence” for it is on Tumblr, a site with as much scientific credibility as a crazy cat lady. He’s also the same person who apparently is such a fervent apostle of the cult of global warming that he believes climate skeptics should be jailed for their heresy, a sentiment also shared by Bernie Sanders and, of all people, Eric Idle.

Of course, the thing you need remember is that the so-called “science guy” isn’t even an actual scientist. His bachelor degree is in mechanical engineering, though his main trade seems to be a science educator, and before his TV show was even conceived, he was a comedian. Of course, the only reason people treat him as a scientist is because his mere presence fuels people’s nostalgia for his PBS series, which I presume works well for the editors of Buzzfeed, a fake news site that practically runs on a constant 90’s boner.

The reason why he’s so keen on promoting Tumblrisms as credible science is obvious – it’s in vogue. You see, Bill Nye is pretty much a shyster. He appeals to the left’s proclaimed love of science (except when it goes against their narrative of course) by branding himself as “the science guy” and presenting himself as a cheerleader of scientific inquiry. That’s how he managed to become a celebrity, and appealing to the left-wing establishment has gotten him rich. It’s a sham, and all around the world leftists will for it because they’ve bought into the idea that all conservatives are just science hating nutjobs who suck the cock of the oil industry all the time. People like Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson know that.

The problem, however, is that Bill Nye believes that science is political, and he practically confesses this in a CNN panel discussion on climate change, wherein his facade is broken by William Happer, an actual scientist whose findings contradict Nye’s agenda-driven fearmongering. It’s generally not hard to pick apart Bill Nye’s positions. In fact, the only debate that I’m sure he won was the debate he had with Ken Ham, the famous peddler of Young Earth Creationism. Of course he would win, though doesn’t it sound rather odd that he decided to take on Ken Ham in 2014, long after creationists already lost the culture war? On the other hand it’s not surprising. After all, creationists are ridiculously easy targets for people who would just as easily be ripped apart anyone whose actually done even so much as cursory research on climate science.

Personally, I think the rise of Bill Nye can be attributed to the left’s years of elevating the prestige of the scientist, which they only did in order to make themselves look like the smart ones when compared to the religious right, who in the olden days were busy demanding that creationism should be taught as fact in schools. As a result, the scientist became sort of a priestly class within the left, someone no leftist is allowed to question, particularly if they’re talking about “global warming. When scientists are treated as people who are beyond criticism, you inevitably get flashy conmen who come to take advantage of people’s good faith. In that regard, people like Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson (whose proposed government I explored in a previous post here) are no different to the likes of Ching Hai or Al Gore, and yet they garner more respect because they have the correct political views.

That Nye enjoys this prestige is dangerous because he uses this to peddle pseudo-science, and whenever he argues with an opponent who actually calls him out for his nonsense, he reveals his true nature as a shill for the green lobby. This is a guy who wants people to believe that man-made global warming is settled science, even though any idiot can point out that the ice caps haven’t completely melted, and that the Antarctic ice sheets are actually growing (though that’s not the only thing they got wrong). The alarmists have time and time again been proven wrong, and yet people like Bill Nye, with his clear leftist agenda, want us to ignore the skeptics and submit to big government climate regulations that will do far more harm to society than could ever help the planet.

Fortunately there may be a silver lining. Eventually frauds like him are eventually exposed for the liars they are, and that shouldn’t be too far away in this case because more and more people are being skeptical of him. It also helps that most people aren’t even buying the global warming scam anymore, especially in America, where most Americans don’t even trust the “consensus of scientists” that believe in man made global warming. The green gravy train is grinding to halt, and people like Bill Nye hate that, and tasteless, degenerate stunts like what we saw on Netflix won’t change people’s attitudes towards him. If anything, it’ll only make it worse.

My beef with TV licensing (and the BBC)

tv licensing

So I heard that the BBC are rolling out new changes to the TV licensing laws, which effectively mean that, starting from September 1st, you will have to get a TV license in order to download or even watch BBC programs via iPlayer. What it means it that, if you want to watch TV shows on BBC iPlayer on any broadcasting device at all (including tablets by the way), you have to pay the extortionate TV licensing fee (which as of 2010 is frozen at £145.50 per year).

For starters, it means that I have to basically stop watching anything from the BBC (which I can totally do because I don’t even like the BBC, for reasons we’re about to get into) because that rule extends to university students like myself. However, the main thing about this new law is that it shows how desperate the BBC has gotten. When I first heard of this, I thought it was basically an obvious attempt to target university students (as if we don’t have enough expenses to pay as it is) just to keep the god-awful BBC Three alive.

To clear things up, BBC Three died a natural death. Viewership began declining as young people moved towards tablets and online on-demand content, and so the BBC couldn’t afford to keep the channel anymore, as would inevitably happen over a period of time. They kept it running as an online channel, but while its rating aren’t catastrophically bad, I don’t see a lot of people clamouring to watch it. I personally don’t feel that people living in halls should have to pay an arm and a leg every year just to keep a dreggy, ancillary channel alive in a era where it is no longer relevant, and clearly can’t survive in a free market.

In fact, I’ve always despised the TV licensing fees. For those of my readers who live outside Britain, the TV licensing fee is an annual fee that we in Britain are forced to pay if we have a TV, and because the BBC is owned, operated and controlled by the government, that fee is basically how the BBC is funded (this is why BBC channels and radio stations don’t need ad revenue, and therefore have no ads). To me, this sounds like a blatantly socialist concept, as it is counter to the idea that a TV station should survive or collapse on its own in the free market. I also find it very bizarre that the majority of Brits actually defend the institution that forces you to pay extortionate amounts of money just to stay alive, so here are a few reasons why I think we should abolish the TV licensing fee.

1. The concept of a public TV station is outdated

As I mentioned earlier, the BBC has slowly become an irrelevant institution. In the old days, people were basically stuck to the live channels as they were the only source of TV programs, sport and news updates, and whatever they had what was you got. Flash forward to 2016 – now people can get their news from an array of online sources, including social media websites, and thanks to the invention of tablets and streaming services like Netflix, you can stream any TV programme you want without the need of a TV.

In today’s world, the TV is becoming a relic of the 20th century, and by consequence, so is the BBC, and they know that. Why else would you have thousands of British households cancelling their TV licensees? In a world where you can catch up on BBC’s programmes through the iPlayer service, why even would you bother paying the license for something you don’t need? With that in mind, we come to the only reason the new law is being rolled out – the BBC is losing money.

The BBC has apparently lost £238 million because people have decided that, with tablets, there’s no need to pay an expensive TV license fee. Of course, the regressive government institution that it is, they want to close that loophole because they’re afraid of becoming irrelevant, and thus unprofitable. The new law is simply a way for the BBC to try and make money by forcing people to pay for iPlayer, a service that, by all rights, should be available for free. All the new law will end up doing is driving people over to the alternative streaming services, which are significantly cheaper if not available for free, further crippling the BBC.

2. Why should I pay for bad TV?

I know this is an unpopular opinion, but most of the shows on BBC’s channels are mediocre at best. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule (such as “The A Word”, which is due for a new season), but most of the BBC’s programming consists of much of the same kind of claptrap you find on its competitors (Channel 4, ITV, Channel 5), all of which can exist without the licensing fee.

The only good thing I can say is that BBC’s shows have better production values than their competitors (the nature documentaries look and sound fantastic), and I have no doubt that BBC programmes might have been much better in the past, but I don’t feel it to be the case now. I’m aware that there are quite a few popular and highly-regarded shows on the BBC, like Doctor Who and Sherlock, but I feel that if people really like them enough, then they will survive without the need of a licensing fee. I don’t really care what people watch. If they like it, it’s their prerogative, but I shouldn’t have to pay for them. I don’t see why people should be prosecuted just because they don’t want to have to pay to keep Flog It on the air.

I’m also aware of the fact that the licensing fee also funds BBC Radio. To me that means it sustains one of my most hated institutions – BBC Radio 1. If I were to pay the licensing fee, I’d be paying to sustain the vapid cesspool of decadence and garbage that I always thought of Radio 1 as back in high school. The other radio stations, however, I have a mixed opinion of.

3. Why should I pay for propaganda?

In the old days, most people got their news from the BBC, and when I was young, it was generally assumed that BBC News is completely unbiased, but that’s complete balderdash. Because the BBC is essentially owned by the government, BBC News is the state news network, meaning that it will invariably be promoting some sort of agenda.

Many right-wing newspapers accuse the BBC of having a blatant left-wing bias, and they’re absolutely right. I noticed this during the Brexit vote, and the BBC showed an obvious bias in favour of the Remain camp (but then, most of the establishment media was in the same boat). They’ve also been known to spin anything involving Donald Trump (I don’t support him, but I dislike the intellectual dishonesty displayed by the media right now). Recently, Donald Trump said that supporters of the Second Amendment could hinder Hillary Clinton’s campaign. He said this while making a point about how gun rights may be endangered if Hillary got to appoint her own judges of the Supreme Court (which, if she’s president, she will). However, the mainstream media, including the BBC, reported it as if Trump was calling for Hillary’s assassination.

The BBC is also very much entrenched in the ideology of political correctness, which makes sense coming from a pro-government channel. The BBC have made various documentaries that serve to promote an ideological agenda, and the best example I could think of is on BBC Three, who made a documentary entitled Porn: What’s the Harm. What was it? It was basically a piece that promotes the lie that porn causes sexual violence, child abuse, and rampant underage sexual activity, with no proof at all. This came in around the time when David Cameron’s government came under fire for attempting to implement a controversial porn filter (which was also going to block a number of non-pornographic sites), and since the BBC does the bidding of the government, the BBC, through it’s teen-oriented channel, was focused on trying to convince young people that porn is evil. They even brought in a former child actor to promote the lie. They also love to tout the merits of cultural diversity, while simultaneously chiding American Christians because they believe in angels (as they did in at least one BBC Three documentary).

4. If the BBC can’t survive on its own, what’s the point of keeping it alive?

Being a filthy capitalist libertarian pig dog, I believe in the virtues of the free market. Hence, I’m diametrically opposed to the idea of the citizenry being forced to pay for something against their will. That is why I oppose state-funded media and arts, because it comes at the expense of the taxpayer.

As I mentioned earlier, the BBC is clearly struggling to survive in an era where we can live without it. If it weren’t for the fact that we’re forced to pay the license fee, the BBC would probably be dead, or at least it wouldn’t have the money to keep producing so much content, or it might have shrunk to just a few TV channels and possibly one radio station.

Besides, I remember watching the BBC often because nothing else. Whenever I could choose something better, I would never watch the BBC. Of course, what bothers me even more is the concept of a TV license enforcement division, with officers that can search your home if they have a warrant. I haven’t heard of any other country in the world that has them around. And of course, the enemy of the BBC, which controls 70% of news output on TV and radio, is competition. If it was freed from government control, it would be forced to succeed or fail by its own merits, like all the other channels, but apparently the government doesn’t want that.

 

5. What are the arguments in favour of it?

Since the BBC is entrenched into the fabric of British society, it generally goes unquestioned despite the horrendous extortion Brits have to put up with. Naturally, a number of arguments in favour of the licensing fee (and the BBC) have come up, so I’d like to address the main arguments before I tune out.

  • The BBC does wonderful work and we must protect it – From what? The BBC is a corporation. It doesn’t or shouldn’t need government protection. And further more, what wonderful work? If you mean TV programming, then that’s completely subjective. For instance, I can’t stand Strictly Come Dancing. I find it a vapid exercise in brain-melting distraction. That’s why I’ve stayed away from it ever since I was 14. If you mean the news, then, as I’ve already said earlier, the BBC’s news service is essentially politically correct propaganda that omits any details that are inconvenient to their narrative.
  • The BBC does not have to sell advertising – I agree that ads are extremely annoying, with their universally crappy jingles and barely passable actors, but I don’t think that the licensing fee is the best solution. Besides, you can now streaming videos online with minimal ads, and on Netflix, you can stream TV programmes with no ads at all, which means the point about having no ads is a moot one.
  • The BBC delivers a variety of content – So does the Internet, which provides the greatest possible amount of variety known to man, catering to every niche you can imagine, and the best part is that you can pick and choose what you want to watch or listen to online, and it usually doesn’t you a dime (even the internet bill in my house isn’t as expensive as the TV licensing fee).
  • The BBC charter defines quality content – Again, that’s entirely subjective. Of course, the BBC can boast higher production values than their competitors, but remember, that money comes from leeching the public dry. Also, you can find great content that the BBC doesn’t have online, for free. You don’t have to go to the BBC at all for high quality content. Hell, if you were rich, you could afford access to content that is even better than the BBC if you knew where to look.
  • The BBC is an essential public service – Let me be clear on this final argument. Television is not an essential public service, and neither is the BBC. To those who say the BBC’s remit is to inform and educate as well as entertain, education should be the responsibility of either schools or your parents, not a state-owned propaganda outlet such as the BBC. As for entertainment, you can literally get entertainment anywhere other than the BBC, and for information in relation to news, you can get your news anywhere else online. Barely anyone watches broadcast news anymore since you can get it all online now. BBC News even has its own website, and with iPlayer around (which they’re going to charge you for through the license fee), you don’t even have to watch the channels proper.

Through all of this, I my principal argument is that the TV licensing fee should be abolished. All it does in the long run is preserve an outdated institution at the expensive of the taxpayer, which I find to be a frivolous excess. As for the BBC, I think it should be privatised, which of course would force it to compete in a free market, freeing the citizenry of an arbitrary expense. Yes, this will probably mean ads, but if I were watching TV, I would rather sit through terrible ads than be forced to pay for a channel I don’t want to use. Besides, I’m very certain that privatising the BBC will have no effect on the quality of the BBC’s programming. I’m sure the BBC can still capably produce programming to its viewers’ liking without forcing the rest of us to pay for it.

The Simpsons writers show their bias (in the ugliest way possible)

the simpsons 3am

It seems as if the producers of The Simpsons can’t accept that the show is now an irrelevant relic of a bygone age, so before the new season even started, they released a short clip that at first appears to skewer both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, which makes sense due to the fact that they are now the definite nominees of the two main parties. It’s basically an unfunny parody of an old campaign ad from Hillary’s 2008 campaign, and it also predictably revolves around Marge and Homer, who are apparently unable to have maritals until they decide who to vote (an immediate signal that they’re in fact the dumbest couple in America right now).

Given that The Simpsons are well known for their left-wing bent, I kind of thought that it would basically be a propaganda piece in favour of Hillary Clinton, and sure enough, that becomes clear after they “skewer” both candidates. When Marge and Homer are about to have sex, they stop after Homer whispers his preference for Trump, and Marge says that “if that’s your vote, I question whether I can ever be with you again”, with Homer concluding “and that’s how I became a Democrat”. Ladies and gentlemen, Matt Groening and the other Simpsons writers have finally sunk to the depths of their own leftist echo chamber, to the point that they’re perfectly fine with making outright partisan propaganda (despite criticising such propaganda from Republicans in numerous episodes in earlier seasons).

The message of the whole clip is simple – “vote Democrat or your wife will dump you”. I can’t think of anything more soulless that they have ever written, but then again, they’re such die-hard leftists that nothing is above them. They characterise Donald Trump very poorly, as if they don’t even care about his actual policies (“Put my name on the Lincoln memorial, disband Nato…and make me some scrambled eggs on gold plates.”). That in itself is unsurprising, considering that at this point, the two major candidates are so incredibly repugnant that all the Simpsons writers can do is appeal to party loyalty, if only because the two major parties are all they know. They may as well be slaves to the two-party narrative, because they didn’t even consider the third-party candidates that are rising in popularity. The Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson and The Green Party’s Jill Stein both make far superior candidates compared to the ones propped up by the mainstream media, and in fact, I would have thought that Matt Groening would have preferred Jill Stein, a candidate who sounds almost exactly like Lisa Simpson. But no, Groening and the other leftists in Hollywood would rather prop up Hillary, a candidate who is unpopular even with many Democrats.

I’ve already made my stance on Hillary quite clear over the past month, and as you can tell, I hate Hillary Clinton. I think she represents everything that is wrong with America’s political system, including the corruption and corporate collusion, and the identarian partisan politics that I’ve come to expect. Given how anti-establishment The Simpsons used to be, I find it even more infuriating that Groening will now endorse someone as painfully pro-establishment as Hillary Clinton, but that’s the least of my worries. I do hope Mr. Groening can sleep at night because by endorsing Hillary, he’s giving a free pass to corruption, and what’s worse if that he’s wrapping it up in warm, bitter, mean-spirited, and terribly unfunny “family-friendly comedy”.

With other episodes, the Simpsons writers merely ridiculed the Republicans simply because they Republicans, or in earlier episodes, because they saw them as representing the horrid establishment of their day, but with the “3am” short, I think the Simpsons writers are showing that they are really scared of the possibility of Donald Trump getting elected, and that’s totally apt because they have become part of the establishment. Why else would their blatant propaganda be praised by the likes of Salon.com, Huffington Post, or Rolling Stone? Like the rest of the cultural and political establishment, they’re scared because Donald Trump is the candidate that people actually want, and they now that a Trump victory is almost certain. Nothing frightens the left more than a party they don’t personally like being democratically voted into power, especially if it turns out that Donald Trump, unlike Hillary, is giving air to the concerns of the working class.

Again, I have to point out that I am not a Trump supporter. I am not a fan of Trump, but there are things about him I like, and things I don’t like. I think he’s a buffoon who’s more talk than policy, but as much as I’m against the Republicans, I hate the Democrats even worse, and I despise the blatant propaganda coming out of the mainstream media, and the way The Simpsons had done it in their short clip is so far the worst example of it. Done without care or subtlety (it’s extremely obvious that they’re pro-Clinton), it’s perhaps the most infuriating symptom of just how far they’ve fallen in pursuit of popularity, reverence, and continued adulation, and that frustrates me to no end. I used to love The Simpsons, but in just two minutes, whatever little respect I had for the show or their writers (and I’m surprised I still had any) has vanished as I see that they have become little more than a whelping Clinton Pravda. If you think I’m exaggerating here, the clip is below, but trust me, if you don’t like Hillary Clinton or the later Simpsons episodes, you will probably not like what you see one bit.

Why animation is better than live action

wizards

A scene from Ralph Bakshi’s classic animated film “Wizards”.

I’ve always felt that animation was a superior art form compared to live action, and that’s not just because I was raised on it as a kid. I’ve become very intimately familiar with the medium, carefully observing all kinds of animation from both East and West, and both old and new, and even though I don’t want to be an animator (those poor tormented sadists), I’ve always been inspired by animation. Hell, all those cartoons are what inspired me to be a writer and artist in the first place.

Of course, not a lot of the population feels this way. In fact, there has been considerable debate about which is the better art form – animation or live action. On the one hand, animation can let filmmakers, TV producers and even advertisers do more than could be possible in the real world with just the power drawing (digital or otherwise), while live action simulates the real world more effectively. I’m here to make the case that animation really is better than live action filming, and while I’m aware that this might be a biased article, I’m sure that I’m right in this case.

Let’s start with the technique itself. Animation involves simulating movement with a sequence of drawings, while live action films and TV shows involve staging a set and shooting scenes with a camera. Since live action involves capturing scenes in a real life setting, the look of the film depends on the camera, and even then, depending on the genre, many live action films will look almost the same, even if mainly because of the production techniques involved. In animation, the look of the finished product will depend on the artist who made the drawings, and thus the best animations are drawn by talented artists. This is why I feel that animation requires greater technique than live action, and why the technique of animation allows for a freer and more powerful avenue of storytelling than live action.

Speaking of storytelling, people often assume that animation is a genre, with a set of precepts much like in any other genre, but as anyone who knows about animation will know, that simply isn’t true. Animation is essentially a storytelling technique, and animated films and TV shows have encompassed just as many genres as live action films, and has sometimes created even more subgenres (especially in Japan). Because of the lack of physical limitations that would be present in live action, you could write an animation about whatever you want, and that can lead to more entertaining and gripping stories than most live action TV shows can claim to offer. One needs only to look to shows such as Steven Universe in order to figure out why.

Some would say that animated shows are mindless fare. And reality TV shows aren’t? Let’s face it, reality TV shows are the most mindless form of entertainment ever conceived, and guess what they count as. Unless you count Drawn Together as an “animated reality TV show”, they’re all live action shows, and they’re way more harmful to the mind than all the cartoons and comic books in the world. In movies, animation is generally considered to be children’s fare, but that simply isn’t true. There have been adult-oriented animated productions for many years now, and I would contend that many of the more brainless films in the market are live action films. I’ve seen many films in my time, and all the live action romantic comedies, superhero films, horror films, and slapstick comedies I’ve seen are much more mindless than some people claim animation to be.

For me, the main reason why animation is better than live action is the amount of freedom that it offers. While live action is bound by laws of physics that require cheesy computer generated effects to bypass, animation is bound only by the limits of imagination and budget, and thus I argue that there are greater artistic possibilities to be taken advantage of in animation than in live action. That’s a sentiment that I think is confirmed by what’s on TV. While nearly every live action TV show continues to lumber in the clichés of the medium, animated TV shows are having fun with the medium, especially in Japan, where it seems like anything goes.

Of course, I’m not dumb enough to assume that animation isn’t without its cliches. Due to the public’s stereotypical assumptions of animation, most Western animated TV shows and movies are aimed at children (though some manage to attract an older audience). Japanese animation tends to have its own clichés, especially as anime producers have been focusing on securing their existing fan base, rather than expanding the audience (many attribute this problem to the decline of the anime industry). Perhaps this is because, like any other form of entertainment, animation must find an audience in order to survive, and I guess that’s why you see a number of clichés recurring both East and West. Then again, all entertainment has its clichés, so it’s unwise to blanket judge all animation because of it.

Aside from that, I never really cared about live action TV. I’ve watched some, and most of them are boring. I’ll like some live action shows (I definitely consider myself a Game of Thrones fan), but I just prefer animation better. I feel that animation is a more techinical and imaginative art form, and that’s why I think it’ll always beat live action hands down. My passion for animation is so great that, if I was offered the chance to make one of my story ideas into a film, I would insist on it being an animated film.

Given everything I’ve said here in this article, I think I’ve made my case quite clear. Of course, I acknowledge that everyone has different tastes, and I wouldn’t insult people just for preferring live action over animation. Though if there’s one thing I despise, it’s when people make ignorant assumptions about animation. For those who don’t know much about animation, I encourage you to watch as much animated shows as possible. Immerse yourself in the medium, and you’ll find something quite enchanting.

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.

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.