The Olden Days, When This Site Still Called Itself Unbelievably Retarded

Saturday, February 19, 2005


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One of the things that bothers me about doing URBMN (and UR itself, once I actually redesign the site and/or make it look like I give half a toss about it) is the fact that I feel like a moron sometimes for not excessively following popular culture these days.  I know I've repositioned Unbelievably Retarded away from the "metal fanzine" it barely was in the first place this past year, but I'm still not exactly trying to appeal to a mass audience with what I do.  I don't think I'm able to appeal to a mass audience considering how off-the-wall some of the things I've written are.  When I came across the story about Warner Brothers "redesigning" Bugs Bunny for the 'NEW,' 'HIP' 'INTERNET GENERATION,' though, people seem to have reacted to this enough that my need to make smart-arse comments about this subject and how people have reacted to it has been awakened.

Honestly, this is the biggest overreaction to a bog-standard "SAME SHIT, MORE ATTITUDE!" story I've noticed in quite some time.  Cartoon Brew dedicated six stories to this topic in a matter of a few days (which puts the lie to a topic the site posted earlier) and people are already going New Coke on this story, running around like headless chickens and yelling "HOW CAN YOU SCREW AROUND WITH WHAT WORKS?  CHANGING THE FORMULA IS LIKE PUTTING TOES ON OUR EARS OR GOD TURNING THE GRASS PURPLE!"  I'm not playing devil's advocate, but people seem to have forgotten and/or ignored three important things about this revival which I think need to be addressed.  To wit:

1.  No one's actually redesigning Bugs Bunny and throwing him into a 28th century situation.  These are spinoff characters meant to extend a brand, nothing else.  No one's making pretensions to the contrary here.  I'm not surprised that a Time Warner company is ripping off another TW company's strategy here - DC's been bogarting this joint for decades and the last time anyone cared was when Superman was "killed" thirteen years ago (well, that and the "new tights" crap that lasted a whole year before Superman went back to the usual blue/red/yellow arrangement he's famous for.)  Sometimes this strategy works, sometimes it doesn't.

Loonatics seems to be more a ripoff of DC One Million than anything else - descendents of established characters fight crime while ostensibly carrying on the "Looney Tunes tradition."  This was inevitable coming from Warner Brothers.  After all, that Teen Titans revamp worked, didn't it?  I prefer to think of Loonatics as an Elseworlds brainfart as opposed to the desecration of a sacred trust.  Frank Miller, Grant Morrison et al. have been screwing around with Superman and DC Comics superheroes for years with varying degrees of success.  So the idea spilled over into the Looney Tunes "universe" - wow, never expected that.  Some people are really short-sighted sometimes.

2.  To the people complaining about this being "OMG ANIME WTF?!" - give it a rest, will ya?  I'll agree with Warner Bros. Animation being one of the studios that have been influenced by anime within the past few years, but they're not nearly as bad at aping it as other studios are.  Trust me, if you've seen Martin Mystery you'd know how much some studios steal from Japanimation - and they always steal the most annoying, superficial parts of anime, too.  What the designers at Warner Bros. Animation do, to me anyway, is steal equally from anime and Jamie Hewlett for their animation designs.  The Teen Titans and Loonatics character designs are too angular for Loonatics to be considered purely anime.  If anything, somebody's trying to ape The Batman more than rip off standard anime conventions.  Those crazy Koreans animators.

Most people who complain about some cartoons being too anime have probably never watched anything but Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z anyway, and judging anime by its most obvious overseas successes is one of the worst things anyone can do.  Anime is too big and has too many distinctive styles for Shaman King or Robotech to be fully indicative of the entire genre.  Ushio To Tora, Super Milk Chan and Sailor Moon can all be considered anime despite each entry having different styles and quirks from each other because they all originated from Japan.  Loonatics is just another example of Warner Bros. taking a bunch of disparate styles and amalgamating them into something that'll appeal to the "kids."  Gotta prop up that Kids WB, now.

3.  This is the most obvious example of trying to rectify the treatment of a poorly-handled set of icons I've seen in a while, but any character more than ten years old has to go through a "freshening" of said character in order to stay current.  Do I consider any pop culture icon sacred?  NO, and that's the way it should be.  I'm not saying Loonatics isn't going to be crap, but it's something that's totally of its time and it could be the impetus for reminding people of why the characters were so appealing in the first place.  It probably won't, but who's to say what shows eight-year-olds like.

I'm looking forward to the Doctor Who revival, for example, but its success will depend on how good the revival ends up being (and Doctor Who needs to be better than what it is right now - basically Paul McGann having amnesia, moping about Gallifrey being blown up etc.  Man, the hardcore fans raped that show.)  Sometimes a radical revision is what is needed for certain characters, and the success of evergreen franchises like Doctor Who and Looney Tunes depends on whether someone's seriously trying to give a franchise a well-deserved boot up the ass (e.g., Space Ghost Coast to Coast) or cynically trying to milk it for the dead cash cow it's become (e.g., any other Space Ghost revival.)  People have forgotten Quack Pack, Taz-Mania, Tiny Toon Adventures and Ren & Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon not because the characters didn't need reviving, but because the revivals were crap.  Only time will tell if this revival is as bad as Baby Looney Tunes - and that show's a tough depth to out-plumb.

Yes, I also think The Simpsons' new season is better than the previous four and I enjoy the newly political tone of the show.  Wanna fight about it?