Apparently, I really like cartoons with really shitty animation budgets.
“Trixie, calling the Mach 5, Come in Speed!”
Speed Racer probably used about a 90% of its animation over and over again and that’s disregarding the fact that half the times the figures didn’t even move, but c’mon when you have the Mach V around you can skimp on the balance. Was there ever a cooler dude than Racer X? Have I ever felt more satisfied than when I watch it with my niece and she says “That’s Speed’s brother,” when the masked Rex comes on the screen. I’m a good Uncle though and do my best to always warn her never to hide in the trunk of a car like Sprydle and Chim Chim did in, well, ever single episode. And yes I admit it; I’d marry Trixie in a second. After all, that’s probably where my love of that Tom boy look came from in the first place.
One of the things I really dig about “Speed Racer”, aside from that cool tracking shot of Speed and the Mach 5 in the credits that the movies would go crazy over 25 or so years later, is that apparently no one ever registers for the races. You can show up at the last minute in a canoe with wheels and the announcer will nonchalantly say, “Driving the number 4 Red Canoe, Slick Oiler!”
“Courtesy of your friendly neighborhood Spiderman”
I admit that I am a huge geek, but Spiderman means a lot to me. The TV show was probably as absent mindedly put together and re-used as many shots as Speed did, but they sure did have the voice of J. Jonah Jameson casted perfectly. Parker!!! When I first got to college, I was delighted to find out that the school’s library had copies of every issue of the Spiderman comic ever put out. So while everyone was drinking coffee and meeting women, I was sneaking off to hold Spider-man Number 1. I’d read a couple every day in between classes and got as far as about #200. For my money, the first #100 or so are as artful as any novel written in the 20th Century. Ok, everyone is saying, “My, what a dork you are!” but the cool thing was that Spiderman was too. Spider-man is an epic tribute to every brainy geek romantic that ever breathed.
Poor Spiderman, despite eventually being a pretty amazingly good guy, always got the short end of the stick. This skinny, brainy nerd who is constantly picked on gets these awesome powers and his life still winds up sort of sucking just because he had one 15 second lapse in judgment. After he accidentally gets his uncle killed, this guy is doing penance forever. He’s constantly broke; his chicks are always mad at him; despite his best efforts at being a sort of crime fighting Jesus, everyone thinks he’s a public menace; and his Aunt is on the verge of death every forty seconds or so!
Here’s one thing I always admired about Peter Parker. This huge jock named Flash Thompson was always picking on him physically and making fun of him. Now if a radioactive spider bites me, Flash Thompson is on his ass missing teeth like thirty seconds later, but Peter always restrained himself. In a great twist, Flash was also Spiderman’s biggest supporter. Everyone in town could be saying that Spidey was Adolf Hitler’s son, including his ever dying Aunt May, and Flash would be the only guy in town saying any different. I used to always wish that Flash would find out who Spiderman was someday. Can you imagine how freaked out you would be to suddenly find out that the scrawny guy you constantly picked on in High School and College could have torn your head off in thirty seconds any time he felt like it?
The film was well done, but here is what really disappointed me: they eventually had Peter Parker marry Mary Jane, and she is the love interest in the movie, but his real true love in the comic was named Gwen Stacy. Gwen was a blonde, and she was killed by the Green Goblin. I’m guessing there wasn’t much support for an ending that would have been grimmer than the one in the Empire Strikes Back, but I was always a huge Gwen fan and her death was really the logical demarcation spot of the comic’s run. The point, though, was always that Mary Jane was in love with Spiderman while Gwen was in love with Peter Parker.
Why Spiderman is cooler than Superman and Batman
1) He is a geek – for real; Clark Kent just pretended
2) He is always broke
3) He is always misunderstood
4) He always has personal problems
5) He regularly does really cool acrobatic stunts
6) He always talks really cool smack while fighting a criminal!!!
Stan Lee always talks about how he always wanted to write a great novel when he was young, but to me, coming up with as many cool super hero sagas as he did was just as impressive. Plus to my knowledge he has never had a thing for underage girls.
I don’t know that I have much to add to the universal acclaim of the Simpsons other than to point out that the show in its prime packed more funny self-referential pop culture gags to the second than anyone ever thought possible. I sort of stopped watching after one of the most heart breaking moments of my life. Post-breakup my ex was laying on top of me seeming regretful over the hell she had left me behind with. Pushing my luck I begged her to say something nice about me and her response was “You really know a lot about the Simpsons.” I suppose that’s as good an indication of anything that it’s over. Can I crawl back under my rock now?
“Come to Butthead!”
I remember how controversial the whole Bart Simpson “Proud to be an underachiever” thing was, and then all of sudden there was “Beavis and Butthead” and no one ever mentioned it again. Bart Simpson was sort of mischievously wily, happily under read, and benign. The B-twins were willfully and gleefully stupid, barely literate, and dangerous to themselves and others. Perhaps that’s why the Simpsons eventually de-emphasized Bart in favor of the even less aware Homer. Beavis and Butthead made Bart look like Pat Boone to their Elvis.
They also potentially saved my life. I had been viciously tossed aside by who I was convinced to be my true love. I was miserable all of the time. Luckily for me at the time, “Beavis and Butthead” were on MTV even more often than Sports Center was on ESPN. That show and maybe even just the inane sound of their constant laughing became one of the three things guaranteed to raise my spirits along with the sounds of John Lennon’s voice and all-girl rock bands. “Beavis and Butt-head” were a needed substitute for my usual diet of angry, damaged, and sullen misery. I considered myself to be in exile for as long as we were no longer together. I even retreated to my Grandparents’ for a while, and there was a time when my Grandmother would watch the show with me every night. God knows what she thought she was watching. She called them Beavis and Buckhead, but she did notice that it was the only time I ever smiled.
I had a friend once who really didn’t care much what he was doing as long as there was beer involved. Beavis and Butt-head would have worshiped that guy. All they need are nachos, a television set, and a couch. Somehow they find everything they come into contact with endlessly amusing and hilarious. The boys’ impulses are always wrong, they say all the wrong things to women, and love to hurl out semi-obscenities especially Beavis. Hear the pure orgasmic joy he shows every time he hears or says the word bunghole. The animation was beyond crude but so were all those old Charlie Brown specials we all dug. It was hard at the time to conceive of anything cruder in terms of either attitude or animation, but pretty soon “South Park” tapes were being passed around by George Clooney and the boys struggled to hold on.
Parents went ape shit over the moron twins eventually forcing Beavis to stop smoking and constantly yelling the word fire. Of course, none of them watched the show enough to know that their creator was doing a better job articulating the decay of modern society then they were. No parents, nothing but MTV, this is what you get. Then again, who knew being stupid could be so much fun. Kids around the world looked at the horrors of being brain dead, and felt envious. Hell, who can blame them, being smart sucks. My cat is happier than me and all he does is eat and sleep. If he watched television and broke things, he could hang with B&B.
Let’s take a moment to ponder the history of brain dead duos as we ponder how despite the fact that Butthead had the IQ of a house plant he was Albert Einstein next to Beavis.
Laurel and Hardy
Abbott and Costello
Amos and Andy
Bob and Doug McKenzie
Bill and Ted
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in Dumb and Dumber
Wayne and Garth
Did we leave anyone out? It doesn’t matter Beavis and Butthead were funnier then all of them put together. You can purchase the cartoons now, but it isn’t the same without the impossible to clear music videos. Minus the videos you forget that they spent all of their time watching MTV and that they were basically the top music critics of their time. Where would Gwar be without them? Could they have had better role models than AC/DC and Metallica? Shouldn’t Winger have sued the moment they showed up on Stuart’s T-Shirt? Who wants to see Henry Rollins’ Liar video minus Beavis cheering him on? Could anyone sink pretentiousness quicker than a “this is like some of that college crap” from Butthead. Were they ever less that completely irritated by videos with words?
The classic of their catalog to me is the episode where they aren’t allowed to laugh during school and nearly explode sitting through sex education, although Butthead on nitrous was pretty damn funny. It’s a wonder Judge provided so many great scenarios for them, when really we all would have just sat there and listened to them laugh for hours on end.
Poor St. Peter having to review every disgusting facet of Beavis’ life up in heaven; the poor guys never did score, but they came close once on a television show about teens. Sadly, before Beavis could get it on he got hooked into talking about how much he liked to break “stuff” by the host of show. There was a great scene in their movie where dying Butthead sees his life flash before his eyes. Upon seeing that he’s basically done nothing but watch TV sitting next to Beavis on the couch, he utters something to the effect of “Wow, my life was pretty cool.” Stupidity was never so incisive.
“Hell yes, I want some Cheesy Puffs!”
God bless, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, in an age where people are lining up to hand over their civil liberties they sometimes seem like the only ones around with the will power to stir things up. Don’t forget that the South Park movie came out right after the Columbine tragedy, which of course happened in their home town. Who knows, the genius of Cartman with a V-Chip implanted in him, might have been the only thing stopping it from happening for real. Minus satire, I’d really mourn for the world. Stupidity is Stupidity. Insanity is Insanity. Stop looking for people to blame, teach your kids that doing the right thing is a decent idea, and let them laugh at the idiots on their TV sets in peace, and by idiots I mean the dudes on Fox news, the Bush family and Ann Coulter.
If I have kids and I’m forced to have them see either an hour of Beavis and Butthead, while smoking crack, or a ten minute segment on current events by Ann …