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(This is the old Smokey, of course. You can tell because he's so manly that he could put out a fire just by folding his arms and looking sternly at it. It's times like this that I wish I was a lady bear.)
However, for the NAC, "re-imagining" apparently means 3D animation, and because they didn't want to do it themselves, they decided to turn to college students as a clean, legal source of cheap labor. Now, BYU has a fantastic animation program, and in the highly capable hands of the animation students, any project is bound to flourish. Sadly, nobody informed the NAC of this when they came to BYU in want of an animated educational video about Smokey the Bear, so they gave the project to the BYU Ad Lab.
Long story short, this happened:
I don't know who was the supervisor for this, or how long they were asleep for, but I'm pretty sure they need to be fired. Another person who needs to be fired is whoever gave the okay for this to be released as an official video for the U.S. Forest Service. I mean really, this is just bad. The whole thing looks like it was written, animated, and voiced entirely by one bewildered Freshman with a beginner animation program. Of course, I might have been able to leave the video alone -- just walk away and brush it off as another bad educational video -- had it not been for this article, which praises the project highly, making it sound like a brilliantly crafted piece of educational media. It is this alone that stirs in me an intrinsic desire to tear this video a new one.
Now, as much as I dearly wish to talk about why the video is terrible, I really have no idea where to start, so I guess I'll just go from the top and work my way down:
The opening was fine; just some clouds. Pretty standard stuff for something like this. It wasn't until I encountered the sheer baby-eating terror that was the character models that I began to worry. I tried to be fair. I told myself that the students worked hard on this video for seven months and it wouldn't be fair for me to make fun of it. I asked myself "What if this were my project?" and tried to put myself in the place of the creators. Of course, as I did that, the very next thought into my head was "Oh, wait! If it were me, I would make sure my character designs weren't terrifying before I let it see the light of day." After that I felt justified.
And now, some bullet points:
- Once upon a time, it was the 80's and animation looked like this.
- Bad writing + Bad voice acting = terrible characters
- Aryan male is the hero, girl and black boy are naïve simpletons, Latino boy just wants to torch the forest. Oops. Attempt to give characters diversity: Failed
- Hitler Youth can talk to trees. Why? Nobody knows. They never speak of this power again. Plot hole status: Gaping
- Worst animated bunnies ever. Project is officially sunk.
- Smokey has a depressing backstory. The past was drawn in crayon; ask your grandparents
- "In Soviet Russia, forest burns you.”
- Smokey is intensely creepy. After much deliberation, I realized it's because he has no fur. Also because he has no soul and wears suspicious jeans.
- Don't worry. Smokey followed safety regulations and put the fire out properly after roasting those kids.
- Creepy dad is creepy. He is definitely an accomplice.
- Creepy dad and Smokey hit the gay bar after hiding the evidence.
- Rule #1 of fire safety “Only you can prevent wildfires” isn't a rule, it's a slogan. Get it off the list.
- Cousin Eden says: What about wildfires caused by lightening, diptards?
- Hey kids! Always annoy every random bearded stranger you meet in the woods about fire safety and a bear in a hat will give you a shiny ranger badge. “Go go, Forest Rangers!” *guitar solo*
- Ranger Lupe has no purpose. Her existence is a hollow lie. Please to be giving her a purpose, or cutting her from the movie. Thank you.
My final word: The NAC needs to try harder, writing should be left to the writers and animation to the animators, and those members of the production team of this unfortunate creation should seriously consider releasing it under the name Alan Smithee.
As for Smokey, he doesn't need a re-imagining. All he needs is a shovel, a deep, manly voice, and that good old song:
"Smokey the Bear, Smokey the Bear.
Prowlin' and a growlin' and a sniffin' the air.
He can find a fire before it starts to flame.
That's why they call him Smokey,
That was how he got his name. "