Note: The Opinions in this essay do not and I do repeat DO NOT Represent the views of Toon Barn.
So, if you have not heard the news, now you know.
It is not the announcement that has made the news; it’s the reaction to this news that is causing the firestorm.
It’s the cynical dismissal of this argument.
It’s the notion that we cannot find a higher standard for something beloved.
That notion is causing the problem. It’s also a sickness, this denial of the higher standard.
Let’s focus the essay to these simple points here. What I am writing here has nothing to do with any of the TV series they are planning outside of ratings and possible ratings.
We are not using this essay to talk about who is this series for or why (although will mention why these arguments are moot in the final analysis)
This essay focuses on one word.
It’s a destructive, demoralizing and degenerate behavior. And until we come to grips on why this announcement is so hated by those who loved the franchise and those that helped on the franchises two series get off the ground, we will no longer have any sort of animation industry to be proud of.
In fact this essay is meant to finally (although with horrendous sadness and despair on my part) destroy the notion that America and the majority of the western world are truly the end all be all of animation. We know that is a massive lie, and will continue to be a lie. This essay will also explain why that is.
Before we start ANYTHING concerning this new series, you the reader must focus on the network that has aired the last two series of the Franchise – Cartoon Network. First off, let us go back to an article I posted which was originally from Bloomberg News. Focus on the main argument of this article. I’m showing the link to the original just to show you how bad it is:
You can see the chart for yourself.
They have all fallen to levels unseen.
The supporters of the new Thundercats series can spin all of this all day. The people who butter their bread (the ad agencies and their consultants) have stated the facts of the matter. The networks are literally dying and there is very little HOPE for all three.
Not one show can salvage a half a decade worth of malfeasance (if we really want to be honest – 25 years of malfeasance).
Now, let’s be fair here. There is a online presence for kids for each of the three networks you understand. This is all true. Nielsen the ratings board that handles ratings – is trying to change matters. We are heading to a new specification for TV and Internet Based content called ATSC 3.0 with 4K setups and different ways to handle content. In the future – the issue with ratings see shows getting all sorts of metrics to spin matters for the media executives and shareholders.
Even with all this, with all this – that doesn’t mean the show would even be liked or respected by its intended audience. We don’t know. That’s the only leg the supporters of this new Thundercats project has left to stand on, and that leg is pretty much termite infested, its splitting and cracking apart like ice breaking apart slowly. It’s not a good sight to see.
Let’s get to the second part of the argument – where it’s for Kids. This argument is being doing twenty million ways. But everybody misses the point. The fact is there is no longer going to be a toy store for kids to even buy the product (if we go by the same argument that the new PPG show was made to make money and toys), and even if the toys were to sell, they are aimed as collectors, not kids per se.
You might say fine, but what about video games and the like? Outside of Cartoon Networks website, which has some of these games – a major league game as in physical disc based is not in the cards. Even if it was – the best it can hope for is 150 thousand, lifetime if lucky. They have done games for Adventure Time, and Teen Titans Go, but their middling at best.
This was a cynical move by Warner Brothers and Turner (who didn’t really announce both 2019 and DC Superhero Girls until after their upfronts), to try and drum up the masses for their show. This was a similar move done when the Power Puff Girls 2017 came out and their marketers spun it. Same with Teen Titans Go. It gets a rise out of people but doesn’t help the whole network in a healthy manner. They air Teen Titans Go for 12 to 14 of the 18 hours they have before AS takes over. And yet with all this – not only for CN but for Nick and Disney Channel (the very latter is a Premium Channel not unlike HBO mind you) and similar shows of the like, the ratings are dismal. I hear for some shows on each of the three networks they barely get above 90K. Some Paid Programs get 4 MILLION a day on the Cable Nets under the Kids ratings. How the world does that happen? Family Guy, a show that isn’t meant for kids – gets more ratings that Teen Titans Go for the same demographic. And realize that the animation in all three examples are not as good, and latter day Family Guy is making similar jokes to Teen Titans Go and possibly Thundercats 2019 and yet the ratings for Family Guy is higher.
Something is deeply wrong, and it isn’t the kids.
Let’s also look at the art style and explain issues people don’t understand, and I will use Adventure Time because many of these series are done in the same style as Adventure Time is. Adventure Time some time ago won a Peabody. That episode in question was directed by Masaaki Yuasa, who has done TV series in his Native Japan, and got his fame for a movie that was done by the 2011 principal animators of the Thundercats series, Studio 4C.
Pendeton Ward – a quirky animator in his own right – created the show. Granted, there were moments in the franchise Ward was pulling rabbits out of hats and succeeded. The Lich is one of the better bad guys in the modern era. But Ward’s deficiencies become apparent with Princess Bubble Gum and Marcline and sometimes with Finn.
This was not apparent with Masaki Yuasa and his directed episode “Food Chain”. This episode was done is a way that is much softer than Ward’s harsher comedic style without subsuming Ward’s characters. The show was done much more slower, deliberate. It was the promise of Adventure Time – seen in different more mature eyes.
Throughout the years of the show before and since – and after Mr. Ward’s retirement, Adventure Time never reached that height. Masaki Yuasa’s spark – Helped by many of his former works mentioned earlyer – one being My Neighbors the Yamadas, directed by the Late, Great, Isao Takahata – Miyazaki’s closest friend and co-founder of Studio Ghibi (which aspects of the studio was created from the TopCraft studio who helped animate the Thundercats ’85) help him win the Peabody. Adventure Time’s biggest feather in its cap was done by a man, trained, and watched over by another legendary animator, who is connected to the Franchise we are talking about in this essay.
And what did the network, who had problems with any sort of success do with Adventures Time’s now high status? Squandered it. 3 More seasons of forgettable dross and the creator of the show – knowing he never had the same support in his college years nor in his professional life – stepped down from the franchise.
Teen Titans Go, later takes over, then PPG 2017 and you know the rest.
The art style can work. In the right hands. The fact that somebody can out do – with a language barrier to boot mind you, somebody who created the work – says a lot of about the art style and its obvious deficiencies. The work in 2019 is demoralizingly plain. Compared to another series remake from the 80’s, “Voltron: Legendary Defenders” this announcement felt like a sad excuse for a convention pateron piece. Sure, they made it for different audiences possibly but just like in the 80’s, just like the 90’s, the 00’s and now the 10’s… kids see through the weaknesses, but even with that inner knowledge; Teen Titans Go and even Johnny Test still is a thing.
Its this over-reliance on comedy and comedic banter and memes that is causing the disconnect in this shows announcement. Part of this is political. In the mainstream American entertainment world since the end of TV shows such “Daily Show” and the election of the recent President, certain creators feel that comedy resonates better with the audience. This isn’t all wrong. The fact is where, why, how and whom the jokes are aimed towards. The 2019 series is aimed In My Honest Opinion, not towards Kids per se, but at the same audience that are fans of a another TV show run by Turner “Samantha Bee”, or say “Drag Race” aired by Viacom’s VH1. It wasn’t even for fans of the 85 series or the 2011 series, which partly caused the massive backlash. (we will get to the backlash in more detail in a moment)
There were, before we continue – connected to this part of the essay concerning art style, a mistake in the argument the fans of the Thundercats and critics of the art style made when they made the case about Japanese animation over this work – the arguementors used the wrong shows. If the fans of both shows and of western animation wanted to win for their point of view – they should have tried using a show – Much older than the Thundercats mind you – GeGeGe No Kitaro, which has aired on one network for over 50 years through its 6 versions of the series. It airs on 9:30 Sunday Morning (their version of Saturday Morning, many schools in Japan still have Saturday Classes). Those for the 2019 (I will get to them in a moment as well) keep using the weaknesses of the two other series, and stories and even the characters. That only works to a point, and as we will find out later – it’s a cynical world view that showcases why those points were made.
But one last look at its art-style, Shows like 2019, Adventure Time, Steven Universe and others – try to be more “Cartoonish”, on the basis of arguments made by John K. and others. But the problem is that argument was done in bad faith with people with questionable metrics of morality. It is also because a situation with a college (well, three colleges in North America) and the teachers and what comes out from the teachers. You see folks, the teachers in these schools focused on one aspect of artwork made from mostly self-taught artists and cartoonists and made a whole mythos about them. Disappointed with the lack of success in recent years with other projects, the strain Walt Disney put on the animators Union, the new metrics from UPA and others – CalArts – used the concepts of tradition and the cult of the great men (and women) and their work as sacred rules one needs to become successful in animation.
But CalArts didn’t teach any of these men and some women past, and now in the present, ethical business models. How to treat co-workers with respect. How to go beyond the teachers work and into your own style.
The fans here have the right complaint about CalArts/Sheridan/NYADA. It is all formulaic. That might fly with a cynical business model, with deeply scared executives worried about the future ownership of the IP (the AT&T deal isnt inked yet and Time Warner has stated that a breakup is possible if the deal doesn’t go through), but not with fans.
Here is the major reason why 2019 has the bad taste in people’s mouths. It’s the surprising reaction from many connected with Cartoon Network/Adult Swim’s executives and such to protect folks that now have even lesser talent then the 2011 series! I made my issues known all those many years ago. I knew CN made horrendous choices along with Warner Brothers concerning Lego and Chima. This was a quid pro quo for the Lego Movie and the Lego Batman Movie. It’s sad to witness but the gamble paid off. Now a similar move is being made – and this time the folks are defending these folks because of their connections with the Rick and Morty series (which they have given 70 episodes). Rick and Morty works – and no matter how many people try to spin it, try to dodge it, try to explain it all away, its not good for 2019 because of two big reasons, Thundercats wasn’t diversified when its rivals from the 80’s became in the 90’s and 2000’s– and there was no catharsis ending franchise transition episode or movie concerning either the 85 or even the 2011 series towards any sort of new look for 2019. That’s why people have lost it on the internet over this.
As an aside, what makes this worse is the use of some of the executives as shields from criticism. Granted, Jason DeMarco is like Captain America to this essayist eyes. Do No Harm is his motto. But even Captain America has a weakness, and that weakness is Bucky Barns – and many of his friends act like him. In fact, to emphasize the point – in the story leading up to the two biggest films in years, Bucky in that universe is slumming it up in Wakanda. Well as you can see – these same folks – these “Bucky Barnes’s” promoted and supported a deeply cynical move by Disney and their advertising connections when it came to Black Panther. So imagine my shock when the same people who most don’t have kids, talk about 2019 kids show and slam everyone for their disagreement over the artstyle, whereas other kids shows with better looking art styles are doing just fine (fine in the sense that they all going down with the sinking ship Kids Cable Networks mind you) without the baggage.
These folks are the same people sadly, who ask for a replacement or somebody else who can succeed John K (Katie Rice is working in the new Animaniacs series, which is going on Netflix even though Warner Owns the rights has been mentioned) and John Lassiter, want to be safe at work but not find somebody who can push these workers and others to better highs. These folks (many of who were hurt by these men and others, which this essayist deeply empathize with their plight and hopes they get the support they need in the years ahead), in error believe that their new champions that they mention (many of who have much less talent let alone merit let alone the guidance from their professors, many of them now have become Priests and Guru’s in their own right) can be just accepted by the audience because each companies marketing team is bar none.
That is a bold face lie, and the Bloomberg article proves it beyond any doubt.
What’s worse however? That these same cynics have the nerve to defend a corporations choices because their friends working for these same massive entities when they are mostly if being honest, ambivalent to the whole concept of the corporation itself and its cult of personality as a whole? First of all ladies and gentlemen, to the cynics that say to let go of the past and let kids have their show (its not really theirs its owned by Warner Brothers) you can do such but you really, really need to be in the side of making the whole industry – not just one company or even one block, better. In fact it cant get better because many of you cynics are not allowing or have dismissed – just like your professors in these schools for nearly thirty years – the same Asian based animation tropes and usage to air on the networks in a reasonable time, knowing that your friends your defending have massive emotional and talent deficiencies all across the board!
The Cynics here against the fans of this franchise are saying these things to protect three colleges that no longer have the skills to compete worldwide with any other animation/art college in the world.
It is Also to protect the image of their failing business model.
The Cynics wish to keep alive a structure that hired men that have some of the greatest talent in the world, but not the morality or the financial ethics, for people that never knew nuance, protected these men when they did such actions and will never have the talent to make a long lasting and remembered franchise.
And to protect their own group who they say are for the downtrodden of the world, but has lived or will live in places most of the downtrodden can’t reach unless it’s a some Migos music video they convince a lot of promising female dancers to go on to these posh houses for a video.
It’s almost like when Kun Gao shakes Jason Demarco’s hand, knowing that the latter is against piracy of all forms, almost like the Red Skull shaking Cap’s hand into while “Bucky Barns” is watching with bated breath behind the shield… Red Skull wanting Cap to say the words Hail Hydra and you can almost feel he gets to the Hail, but everybody they loves the shield is telling him no, don’t say it! We HERE to PUNCH Red Skull not shake his hand!
Do you see what we, as fans have to choose if we continue to support lesser and lesser work and talent? Do you get the sense of confusion of what we have to support in order to love the shows we want to give our support to.
The American Media is sadly even more stratified than even the Japanese and European media structures and that’s SAYING SOMETHING, even with Netflix, Apple, Amazon and Verizon nipping at the heels of Comcast, Time Warner, Disney and Viacom.
Its animation industry is also more corrupt and unsustainable in this stage.
And for someone who has loved animation since he was a kid, he cannot expose his future kids, nor any other kids living now – to such works that have weakness of heart, bereft of joy. To have the medium that saved him and others to be now run by literal gangsters, sex pests, and destroyers of the innocent, with their replacements being no worse in morality but much more weak in talent, skill and the fundamentals then even their defenders can muster a defense for. For it is turtles all the way down and if you imagine the craziest thing, these turtles are held by only a needle point and it’s bent a third of the way. Held up by a lie that has now become a religion all to themselves, the supremacy that exist in all corners of media – even in this 2019 series, shows its ugly, petulant, malcontented power in the form of the new showrunner of the franchise.
It is a remarkable and reprehensible sight, and it is truly Mumm-Ra’s last great trick to defeat the heroes. And that dark lord of Egypt, descendant of the crazed demonic power of eons past may have won, after all.
It is with this heavy heart – that I tell you that there is near little hope for any future for the western animation medium as it stands right now. The rest of the world is catching up – it’s the media structures in the United States and Canada that is preventing the inevitable. These gatekeepers, such as Crunchyroll, are kept and supported by the media powers. They pay the cynics in the jobs, so they can create the controversies that set twitter ablaze.
There is no controversy.
2019 is trying to continue a type of show, Adventure Time, who its creator was inspired by Thundercats ’85, which Adventure Time won an award for an episode done by a man, who was trained by one of the principle co-creators of a animation studio that helped in Thundercats ’85, with much lesser talent and skill and even studio than all three men and studios we have just mentioned before.
It is sign of massive desperation and upmost disrespect. They did it in the 2011 series, and I stated and I told people this on the site:
It’s simple and plain as day. The Thundercats should have been more.
But it’s not. Moreover, in my opinion, it should be buried until a real budget, with real talented writers, translators, and Japanese TV backing and massive international deals are done and ready to go.
And what did Warner Brothers do?
Brought it back with an even lesser budget, even worse (meme driven) writers – no international deals.
You cannot support a medium that continues its downward path into barbarism. Why deal with the sex pests, the corruptors of the innocent and those that will steal their wages on the backs of working for them because it’s the Pixar way, or the Warner Way or other such nonsense?
Why deal with those who are victims of these monsters, then ask us to support those who have not the skill, nor the talent, not even the resume to even say that they are competent?
The whole system is broken, beyond repair, and there is no need and no reason to keep it up any longer.
The Executives of these major multi-national media companies are already fighting their last war for control of massive pieces of crumbs, and they don’t care one wit what happens next. Why should you care who is moving chairs around IP that may not exist in 18 months?! Much more stable hands with longer histories, willing to get rid of their corruption, and talent all across the board are available to us now. You don’t have to use Crunchyroll or Youtube to get it. You don’t have to Pirate. You must first distance yourselves from the untalented. Those patron accounts they use are a modified form of Universal Basic Income stolen from your credit and debit cards.
It’s time to do the right thing folks and see this move to revive this franchise as a dead cat bounce of a dying landscape that will soon give way to more international animation influence with an Asian led medium.
It is sad for many people working in the industry and have kept the faith.
It makes people who love the business cry.
However, our educational systems are nearly nonexistent for art, let alone anything else. Free speech, a given right; is slowly torn away by misbehaviors on both ends of a political spectrum of elites who see the future in terms that lead humanity into two world wars. How can anything approaching Thundercats 85, heck even the 2011 series can exist in this frame of reference we see now? It cannot and some of the arguments for and against 2019 feel like the continuation of concepts seen in the election of 2016.
At the end of the day, it’s not the argument about is it for kids, no – it’s the argument of what kinds of kids will be watching the show – the social-economic demographics these cynics worry about. Even those poorer, who can’t watch the show – are dismissive already 18 months out. This show is for the classes these cynics now question in so many other places, occupy, and send their children in certain schools most never even heard about. The neo Avant garde that sees other ethnic groups work as grand revelations but at the same time dismisses them from having the same types of work that allow those revelations from even existing. This is the grand hypocrisy of 2019, and one of the reasons at this time as fans, must shun and no longer support and defend such malfeasance. What I am saying is not the continuation of privilege, which doesn’t exist. It is the continuation of supremacy, in which talent without ethics and morals, are replaced with those that may not have ANY talent, morals and ethics and are just there as window dressing for these corporations and the cynics that spite them on one hand and take their money at the other. That’s why the whole structure must be destroyed forever.
No longer can we hold hope to the North American Animation worldview. It became corrupted the day these men who graduated from CalArts and later run the studios colluded with each other to lower down wages for their workers, their classmates. The same men became sex pests, and harbored destroyers of the innocent. Support 2019 at your own peril and your hypocrisy will be shown and correctly called out as such.
For us as fans, it’s time to let go. Warner Brother’s ownership of these IP will not exist for too long, no matter what happens in the entertainment world with the mergers. And even if a fourth series comes around – such damage of good will and trust has been done, that unless it’s done fully by outside hands and animated outside the purview of North American Animation and its misgivings, it will be seen as a false mea culpa.
It is long since time to see the truth. It’s time to protect and hold to the good works that are left in the U.S (which is very little) and promote the even better works the world has to give us. See these cynics words with utter contempt. Ultimately, we must build something new not even from the ashes from the old days – but a clean break, which the world can give us.
And it will be reborn in this age – a new creative class – no longer shackled by the whims of Crunchyroll and Pateron and other such. No longer shackled by CalArts/Sheridan/NYDYAnimation and the gurus. No longer beholden to the liars and the cynics. No longer praising the denizens of Mumm-Ra, who steal from their workers, pervert their female colleagues, and destroy the innocent who are to be their audience.
We Shall Be Free.
We Must Be Free.
And the world… led with the smiles up above of honest men who taught honest truth not just to children, but to us if we only look up and hear and see… will show those who love this God Given Creation, the way.