Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sexy Beasts (literally)

I think we all remember our first cartoon crush. You may have been sitting in your footie pajamas watching Saturday morning cartoons, or perhaps in a pillow fort in a plastic tiara and pink skirt, singing along with sleeping beauty, but I know that every little girl at least once had her little fluttering heart stolen by some devastatingly handsome configuration of lines and colors at one point or another (I'm not sure where little boys stood on cartoon crushes, but I'm sure a fair handful of them fell to some shining animated beauty as well.) Animation studios have been doing this for ages; somehow making two-dimensional animated characters appeal to us -- particularly Disney, with its Aladdins, Peter Pans, and Prince Phillips -- but this power doesn't seem to stop at humans. It's already bizarre enough that they can make us fall for lines on a page in the first place, but animators seem to have the uncanny and somewhat disturbing ability to do this with animals as well. Observe:

Exhibit A:
Robin Hood. One of my first cartoon infatuations. Yes, I know he's a fox, and boy what a fox he is! By making him bipedal, dressing him in that jaunty, roguish ensemble, and pairing him with that blasted attractive voice, Disney has successfully turned a furry woodland creature into a dashing heartthrob that causes many girls to be naturally drawn to him even after they remember that he's a fox. There is definitely something not right about this. Aside from the fact that he's so attractive is the fact that the animators created him like that in the first place. You can tell that he's intentionally that way, so what are they trying to pull? Robin Hood is not the only one, of course. More recent examples have even been able to do away with some or all of the clothes and often even the bipedal movement and still make them distressingly attractive.
A few of the more notable examples include:

Thomas O'Malley from The Aristocats

Diego from Ice Age

The fox from The Chronicles of Narnia (Another instance of a fox, you'll notice)

And, my personal favorite, Puss in Boots from Shrek

First of all, I should NOT be able to come up with this many examples, and there are still a bunch that I haven't even mentioned. Also, you'll see that all of my examples are either foxes or cats; such is to be expected, because they're already beautiful animals in their own right, but their acquisition of personalities and voice actors turns that natural attraction upside-down and makes it far more unsettling, especially when you consider the voices they use (It was NOT fair of them to have Antonio Banderas be the voice of Puss in Boots.) This is far too common of an occurrence to be a coincidence; these animators have to be aware, at least in part, of the whole weird area they're getting into with this, and yet they still do it. And don't think the girls are the only targets either. I've got plenty of evidence of sexualized female animals as well, notably Lola Bunny, Odette from the Swan Princess (swan form, of course), and Minerva Mink from Animaniacs, all pictured below:

Another area of weirdness that animation (and even comics) can sometimes get into is doing this with young boys (Observe sample subjects Calvin, Pajama Sam, and T.J Detweiler:)

(Also, note that Hobbes is another one of those attractive cats)
By pairing them with the charm,wit, and subtle deviousness of much older guys, the same effect is created, which is more unsettling than I can possibly say.

This all begs the question of what the animators are up to with this whole thing. I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and not question their... preferences... or their motives in conveying such preferences to a suggestible audience, and instead I'm going to guess that it is primarily a matter of exploiting the power they have over our minds to take us against our wills to the outer limits of weird. My theory is that animation studios enjoy messing with us, and so they make these animal characters subtly and disturbingly attractive to keep us questioning ourselves. I think that lately, Pixar has even managed to stretch the limits to which they can manipulate us by reaching beyond the animal kingdom to even more bizarre things.

Also, this one is not so much attractive, but I think he still deserves an honorable mention:

Purely for the reason that I have never wanted so much to hug a robot.

At any rate, I think that we can feel a little less weird about being attracted to the personified members of the animated animal kingdom, cause it's pretty safe to assume that the studios meant it that way to mess with us. Don't give them the satisfaction of knowing they made you question your psyche.
Unless of course none of you actually have this problem and I'm the only one who's attracted to cartoon cats and ten year old kids. That being the case, take this as a confession on my part and please get me some help.

Comment y'all!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

If I Were a Movie

Have you ever had a dream that plays out like a movie with all the typical story elements, plot twists, and so forth? Has your movie dream ever been a horror movie? Mine was the other night, which is strange because usually my dreams don't have plots, but this one did. Of course, there was one main difference with mine that either serves as a sad testament to my blandness, or as an indicator of my intelligence and foresight. Personally, I tend to believe the former, but I digress. So, it seems that, in this dream, I was on my way to a piano lesson taught by an old woman in a wheelchair who lived in a large creepy old house and didn't talk or go outside very much. As there was no front door on the house (or there was, it just required a lot of scaling of house siding that I wasn't really keen on doing) I went around to the side door and found that it had been, not kicked, not smashed, but HATCHETED open! I instantly became wary and I looked past the wrecked door into the room beyond, which was piled so high with junk that I couldn't really see anything. It was at this time that two other girls came along and said that they were students of this woman too and were really worried because she wasn't answering her phone. It was dark, and we all had flashlights, and the two girls said that we should go inside the house and look for her -- typical horror movie setup. However, it was at this point that, instead of reluctantly agreeing and following them inside as movie lore would dictate, I gave them a patronizing look and said something to the effect of "What? No! That would be the stupid thing to do! We're going to call the police and wait for them out here." I then proceeded to spend the rest of the dream preventing people from going into the house while we waited for the police.
Of course, this is the way I would do it if this actually happened in real life. Heck if I lose out on an adventure, I'm not about to subject myself to the sight of the old lady's dismembered corpse stuffed in a wooden trunk while I wait to be massacred by a hatchet-wielding psycho. Nuts to that! Still, I'd have thought that in my dreams I'd be at least a bit more adventurous and impulsive, resulting in a decently entertaining movie dream, but apparently this is not the case. Nice to know my dreams are so honest about my personality, but since dreams with plots are so rare for me, it would be nice to have a little excitement in there that doesn't involve singing naked for a full opera house or all my teeth falling out....
I mean, really! I didn't even know it was actually possible to bore yourself awake! Heaven help me if my blandness now follows me into my dreams.

Like alcohol and heavy machinery, jelly beans and ketchup, or Hannah Montana and feature-length movies, reality and dreams are two things that, if you can avoid it, you should definitely never mix, lest you be very VERY sad.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pocket Contents

I have a coat. I have had this coat for several years. Every time I receive something important or find something kinda cool when I'm wearing this coat, it goes in my pocket and never comes out. That said, here are the contents of my coat pocket:

My keys
A pair of furry gloves that look like they could be sentient beings
A foot cut from a pair of tights
A receipt for Jamba Juice
An metal ankh (Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol)
A twig from a pine tree that a boy gave me at play practice in ninth grade
A wrapper from the candy my parents gave out for Halloween
A turkey voucher
A script of a scene from 'The Importance of Being Ernest'
A receipt from Macey's
A post-it note with door codes for computer labs
A small (unopened) sample pouch of lotion
A bandit mask
A small, grey plastic brontosaurus

That is all.
I shall now put it all back in my pockets. Thank you for your time.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Blue Jeep

Yes, yes, I know. Two posts in one day is hardly orthodox, especially less than two hours apart, but I hope you'll forgive me. When I think of things, I have to do them immediately, otherwise I'll forget.
At this particular time, I felt the need to share with you a rather significant and distressing part of my life.

This is a Toyota FJ Cruiser.

Known to me in my simplicity as "the blue jeep." (I am aware that it's not actually a jeep.)

I do not trust this vehicle.
Why don't I trust it?
Because it is stalking me.

Everybody seems to think I'm crazy when I tell them I'm being stalked by a blue jeep, especially when I tell them it is the jeep itself and not the driver who is following me, but I see it and I can feel it watching and I'm NOT crazy.
I see this blue jeep EVERYWHERE, sometimes several times a day. It all started one day when BFF Beth and I went to Shopko and I saw this jeep no less than THREE TIMES in fifteen minutes in different locations. It was then that I began to suspect. Later, on a school trip to the city, I saw it again, at least three or four times, driving past and trying to look casual. Since then I have seen it everywhere I go, and I know something is up. I have many friends who have never seen this vehicle unless they were with me, and then they see it everywhere too. And don't try to chalk this up to coincidence, cause it happens WAY too often. On the worst occasion, my dad dragged me along on some errands one day and left me in the car while he went into the store. When I looked over, I saw a horrific sight: An entire dealership lot of blue jeeps smirking back at me, and I couldn't do a thing about it. It's been a lot sneakier lately, usually trying to blend into parking lots, but I can still see it.
It may seem as though I'm just overreacting-- surely I'm only seeing it so much because it has such a distinctive look -- but I don't believe it, not for a moment. Just by looking at it, you can tell that it can't possibly be up to any good. It's far too jaunty and smug to be trustworthy, and there's no doubt that it's up to something. It definitely has it in for me. I just need to stay one step ahead, but, of course, the blue jeep will always be watching.

The Toyota FJ Cruiser is not to be trusted.
Don't let yourself be fooled.

Paper or Plastic?

For those who may not know me well, there is something I feel I ought to clear up.
In my writing, and particularly my blog, I come off as sardonic, cold, and potentially, quite disturbed; this is the by-product of the creative center of my brain having been severely warped and twisted from years of theater, the internet, and growing up with Daniel and Laurel. However, while anyone who knows more of my writing than they do of me might conclude that I am also like that in every other area of my life, this is not the case. In fact, I possess one of the most painfully sensitive, profusely bleeding hearts that I have ever encountered. I say this for a couple reasons:
1) I care about EVERYTHING; seeing a dead animal on the side of the road pierces my heart to the core, as does seeing a homeless person wheeling their shopping cart along the street. For me, everything has feelings, so when mom and dad brush off my cats as "just a cat" I feel horrible, and beyond that, when I step on a stuffed animal on the floor, I have to apologize and put it up in the right place. I cannot handle being mean to anyone, and always aim to please. When I make somebody mad or upset, I feel pretty much like the worst person in the world, and I hate letting people down for any reason.
2) This phenomenon carries over to every reality, most pathetic of which is my video gaming. Now, I am not a gamer, but when I do occasionally game, my favorites are fantasy RPGs in which much of it is based on the choices I make. The best one I have ever encountered is Dragon Age, which I am currently playing, in which everything you say to any of the characters affects how the game goes and how they feel about you. I am quite aware that they are all computer generated and none of them actually have the feelings they simulate, but still, I cannot bring myself to be a jerk to ANYONE, even if they're already incredibly hostile towards me. I always choose the kindest, most cordial dialogue option, and only threaten or speak coldly if there is absolutely no other means to my end (and even then I do so reluctantly, with my conscience aching). This results in me listening to everyone's long boring stories, and adding several unnecessary hours to my game by completing pity quests for every random peasant who happens to have lost their puppy in the deep dark woods filled with GIANT SPIDERS! Also, if there the option to kill somebody or start a fight, I will exhaust every option to prevent this. If the conflict can be resolved by "just talking," it will be. This is stupid, because a large part of the game is based on the fighting aspect, and yet, I have weaseled out of so many fights and talked through so many conflicts that half the villains in the game have just skipped out on the promise that they'll be good and not try to kill me again (which of course, I usually trust that they'll do, even when it bites me later.) My inability to detach my heart from any decision makes me just about the worst gamer in the world.
3) I cannot say no. EVER. Just about anybody can guilt me into just about anything if they play their cards right, and they usually do. In just about any situation involving choice-making, a glare or a pout can cause me to completely bend to the will of whoever is giving the look. And, of course, if I make the wrong decision for that particular individual I feel terrible, so I invariably choose the option that person seems partial to. Doesn't take much to make me feel guilty.

Anyway, my point is that I have never EVER walked out of Macey's with a plastic bag. Paper bags suck, and are ridiculous to carry, but I can't get past the cashier's look of disapproval when I begin to say "plastic," and so instead I stumble out with an armful of giant paper bags obscuring my vision. And, of course, they ask me EVERY TIME which I'd rather have, so it's always on my head, and, from the look the baggers give me, I feel as though I'm actively clubbing baby seals if I even stop to consider plastic. I don't know why I care so much. I'm not an environmentalist in the least, and I really don't think plastic hurts anything that much, but I just can't handle the disapproval of the cashier who I will never see again. I mean, I don't want to be the one to cause anyone a negative emotion. That wouldn't be very nice of me.

Anyway, now that you know, you can pretty much use this information to sucker me into anything. Though, I'd prefer that you simply continued to be fooled by my seemingly cold and sarcastic tone. In fact, forget I ever said anything...

Unless, of course, you want to find scores of bludgeoned baby seals on your front porch.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"Well, well, a codfish on a hook!"

It would seem that a fair few of my blog posts have been aimed at ruining everybody's childhood and/or perception of innocence. I apologize; it is simply the way I think. That said, here's another one!:

In the eyes of many, one character stands out as being the absolute embodiment of childhood. I am, of course, speaking of Peter Pan; the pinnacle of childish innocence, merriment, and mischief. As one who never grows up, Peter maintains his youthful sense of adventure, and often engages in playful trickery, such as children do. However, there is a darker side of Peter that everybody manages to gloss over with a shocking amount of indifference, and that is that Peter is a complete sociopath. Looking past his already apparent lack of regard for just about everything, clearly shown in the way he callously casts Tinkerbell (his only real friend) off "forever" then immediately forgets about it, Peter engages in a good deal of horrifyingly sadistic behavior without batting an eye, particularly in his conduct with his nemesis, Captain Hook. On one of the more notable occasions (mentioned, but not actually shown in the book or in the movies,)Peter Pan is known to have actually SEVERED HOOK'S LEFT HAND and FED IT TO A CROCODILE. Not only did this require active handling of the severed appendage, but a conscious decision to do so, rather than ending the duel with his opponent's death (such as is customary) instead, choosing to leave him in agony to deal with the massive bloodloss, then feeding the hand to a crocodile so that it might develop a taste for Hook's flesh and follow him until it got a chance to pull him underwater, drown him, and tear him to shreds. And you know what? He gloats about it! Peter Pan actually speaks gleefully of the incident. Also, keep in mind that the reason Hook is after Pan in the first place is out of revenge for cutting off his hand. This means that he would have had no reason to do so prior to that. THAT is messed up. Furthermore, there is a certain point in the Disney adaptation in which Hook is dangling by his namesake prosthetic from a cliff as the crocodile circles hungrily below. Peter is actually prepared to kick him off the ledge to his death without a second thought, despite Hook's pleas for mercy, and is only dissuaded by Wendy (who, by the way, he only cares about because she's hot, judging by the fact that he's really not all that torn up when she leaves.) You can tell that, had she not been there, he would have been perfectly content to let him fall. Keep in mind as well that, during this time, he has completely forgotten about the actively drowning Princess Tigerlilly, and when he finally does remember (when she's past her nose in water) he acts as though he just remembered that he left his keys on the kitchen table.
Beyond that, the only time he really displays a real emotion towards another being besides anger is when Tinkerbell is about to die. Makes sense, with her being his mother/sister/lover(-ish figure?) but when contrasted with the fact that he is perfectly content to let his lost boys practically kill each other, and the fact that he didn't really take much initiative to stop the mermaids from drowning Wendy, it really doesn't seem quite so redeeming.

In short, say what you will about childhood egocentrism and the accompanying playful disregard for others, but I'm pretty sure that Peter Pan goes far beyond that. Peter is definitely aware of what he's doing and how it affects others, he just doesn't care, so there's no argument for innocence. At any rate, Peter Pan is a complete sadist, no doubt about it, and no matter which way you look at it, the boy who wouldn't grow up is completely cracked.