We have succeeded in raising €1000 to get Mauricio out of Venezuela. Mauricio can now begin getting the necessary paperwork, and, all going well, he should be safely in Colombia in a month or two. I will of course keep you posted.
I know I promised another World War 2 short review when we were fully funded but I have to come clean; I didn’t expect us to be funded so quickly so I haven’t got anything written yet.
Plus, what with what’s currently going on in the States the cartoon I was going to review…
Yeah. It just…doesn’t feel like the right time. Or maybe it’s too right a time.
I dunno. I will continue with this series but when I’m in the kind of head space that I can actually be funny.
Hi guys! We are now halfway there to getting Mauricio safely out of Venzuela and, as promised, here is the second of the war era animated short reviews. Because you’re all superheroes, and because I thought it might be particularly cathartic right now to watch some Nazis get punched in the face, today we’re looking at one of the Superman shorts from the 1940s. Enjoy, and please consider donating if you haven’t already.
Studio: Famous Studios
Country of Origin: United States
First Screened: March 26, 1943
Recently, the internet came down with a case of the vapours when it was announced by the BBC that the next Doctor would be played by Jodie Whittaker, who has lady bits.
Jolly good, quite right, good idea, quite right, jolly good and not before time. Now, when it comes to Who I haven’t really had skin in the game since Ecclestone left but I’m sure she’ll kill in the part. There have been bad Who writers, bad Who directors and even bad Who seasonsbut they have never cast a bad actor in the lead role (no, not even him) and I doubt very much they’ve started here. But Whittaker’s casting does raise some interesting questions. How will people in the past react to a character whose main defining trait is showing up out of nowhere and bossing everyone around when it’s a woman doing the bossing? How will, say, the Puritans react to this trouser wearing lady with a mysterious blue box and what can only be described as a magic wand? Will every episode of Doctor Who consist of angry peasants trying to ascertain if Jodie Whitaker weighs as much as a duck? It’ll be interesting to see how they handle it.
Of course, the status of women in society has swung wildly upwards and downwards over the millennia depending on the era and society in question. Progress is not a hill, but a rollercoaster. Consider Lois Lane, who, as the perennial love interest of one of the most famous pop-culture icons of the last century has had an unbroken presence in various media for almost eight decades now, and so represents a useful yardstick for the portrayal and status of women in American culture. In the Silver Age, this was Lois Lane.
The fifties saw Lois’ role as a daring and accomplished journalist minimised to almost nothing so that she could engage in an unending spiteful love rivalry with Lana Lang over who could dupe Superman into marrying her first. It was a terrible time to be a woman in America, and it was a terrible time to be Lois Lane.
Contrast this with a decade earlier, where we find Lois Lane wasting bitches with an uzi.
“Take that ya rat bastards! When you get to hell, tell em Lois sent ya!”
World War 2 brought huge advances both for women and minorities because America had to either make the most use of every available person regardless of race or gender or risk total defeat to the forces of fascism and America was all “Ugh, fine.” You see this in the Fleischer (later Famous) studios Superman shorts with their depiction of Lois Lane, still one of the finest interpretations of the character three quarters of a century later. And possibly the character’s finest hour is today’s short, Jungle Drums.
Since President Nicholas Maduro assumed control of Venezuela in 2013, the nation has been in political, economic and social freefall. While the government pushes a constitutional amendment that will give Maduro dictatorial powers, 75% of the population have lost an average of 19 pounds due to food shortages. The healthcare system has broken down and violence is rising as people fight for ever scarcer food and medication. Venezuela’s 30 million citizens are facing nothing less than an existential threat.
And one of them is our friend Mauricio.
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you probably know Mauricio. He did the video review a few years . He’s been a regular commenter here almost from the very beginning. He’s a pal, and he’s in real danger.
That’s why we need to get him out now.
I’ve set up a GoFundme page for Mauricio. The goal is to raise a thousand dollars, which should be enough to get him safely to Colombia, rent an apartment and pay for food until he finds work. Please donate whatever you can, big or small. If we all work together we can get him out of there safely.
June Foray has died, a few months shy of her hundredth birthday and the animation pantheon has lost one of its true gods.
Pick a female cartoon character of the last century and the odds are good that June voiced her. She was the Looney Tunes’ Granny from 1955 to 2014. She was Magica De Spell. She was Cindy Lou Who. She was Rocky J. Squirrel, Natasha Fatale and Granny Fa. In her time she was married to Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Goofy, Sylvester and Yosemite Sam. Her filmography reads like the history of American animation itself. Disney. Warner Bros. Hanna-Barbera, Simpsons, Family Guy, Powerpuff Girls.
She voiced Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in his final short.
She wrote and hosted radio shows in the nineteen thirties, and voiced video game characters in the 2010s.
She did it all, folks. She did it all.
She was often stuck with samey roles and nothing parts but listen to enough of her voicework and you will hear a performer of staggering range and versatility. Some called her “the female Mel Blanc”. No less an authority than Chuck Jones is said to have retorted “Mel Blanc was the male June Foray.”
Sometimes a death leaves me sad and despondent. Not this one.
I look at June Foray’s life and all I feel is amazement, and wonder, and joy.
What a life. What a life.
Thanks for everything, June. I mean, thanks for almost literally everything.
Far back in the mists of time I named Marvel’s 2006 series Civil War as one of my all time favourite comics which was proof enough for many of you that I was a fool and a scoundrel whose opinion on comics wasn’t worth a soiled back issue of Youngblood. It’s a controversial story, no doubt, and while I probably wouldn’t keep it on my Top Ten list if I was to do another, I stand by what I said about it before. It was a new kind of comic event, one where right and wrong wasn’t clear cut and black and white and which had a real, lasting effect on the status quo. Comics are a very conservative medium. Sooner or later, everything goes back to how it was before. No one stays dead, the bad guys always lose, the good guys aways win. In a word, they’re safe. Mark Millar, who wrote Civil War, has been accused of many things over the course of his career…
…but being safe has never been one of them.
The story kicks off with a young superhero team called the New Warriors trying to catch a group of supervillains as part of their reality TV show (hey 2o06, how ya been?). Turns out one of the supervillains is a dude called Nitro whose power is that he explodes. Which he does, killing most of the Warriors as well as a nearby school. “The Stamford Massacre” causes a massive sea change in American public opinion and swift legislative action from the federal government in exactly the same way that real life school massacres don’t. The superhero community is given an ultimatum: Either give up their secret identities, submit to training and register and work as a paid employee of the US government or give up being a superhero. This splits the superhero community right down the middle. Iron Man supports registration, seeing as any alternative would likely be much more draconian. But Captain America sees it as massive government overreach, like if the only way you could intervene in a mugging was if you were a cop. So right there we have a conflict that’s really fascinating and multi-faceted. Both sides have perfectly valid concerns and points of view. Personal liberty versus the greater good. The desire for security versus the rights of the individual. Heady stuff. Aaaand then Mark Millar kinda turned Tony Stark into a Nazi because it was a Marvel event and SOMEBODY has to turn into a Nazi in these things.
It’s Squirrel Girl’s turn next.
I love Civil War…
Let me clarify that, I love Civil War the comic, but it’s got big problems, the most glaring being that it undermines its own unique premise by having the pro-reg side resort to increasingly extreme and amoral methods and making Iron Man and Mr Fantastic into outright villains. But there’s more good than bad and I think its reputation has risen quite a but in the years since it was published, not least because virtually all the events Marvel has done since form an elegant, unbroken chain of perfectly formed turds.
This was the WORST Civil War, and yes, I’m including all the ones that happened in real life.
In the MCU, the Captain America series was the natural home for a movie version of the Civil War story, especially since Winter Soldier had already touched on its themes of government overreach and the War on Terror’s intrusion on personal privacy and liberty. Winter Soldier was a high-watermark for Marvel critically, and with the Russo brothers back directing, the writing team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (both previous Cap movies and Agent Carter) and Chris Evans returning to sling the shield you’d think that Cap 3 would be about a safe a bet as a movie could be. But it nearly all went terribly, terribly wrong thanks to Marvel’s other civil war which was just now coming to a head. The head of Marvel studios, Kevin Feige, had been butting heads since the start of the MCU with the CEO of Marvel comics, Ike Perlmutter.
Perlmutter is, by all accounts, about as pleasant to deal with as a scorpion in your anal cavity. Miserly to a Scroogian degree and a rather nasty racist (if you ever wondered why Don Cheadle was chosen to replace Terrence Howard it’s because Perlmutter thought they looked exactly the same. Yeah.) He’s also an alleged war criminal and I say “alleged” because I don’t want him to sue me. And for no other reason. Things came to a head when Perlmutter told Feige that this Robert Downey Jnr kid was costing too much money and that they should fire him.
Feige went directly to Disney who re-organised Marvel studios so that Perlmutter was completely cut out of all decisions involving Marvel’s films. And so Perlmutter was defeated and left with nothing but his incredibly lucrative job, his billions of dollars and the immense power that comes with being part of Donald Trump’s inner circle (come one, you knew this guy was friends with Trump as soon as I described him). It’s probably just a coincidence that Marvel’s notoriously racist CEO was kicked off the film lot right before Marvel released “the blackest Marvel movie ever” but it’s pretty sweet nonetheless. But is the movie? Let’s take a look.
Hey Mouse what the hell! Where’s the Captain America 3 review?
Aw jeez, sorry, I done goofed. I completely forgot that I’ll be on holiday this week which means, unfortunately, that the review for Captain America 3 has to be pushed back to 22 June.
Mouse, you’ve let me down and you’ve let yourself down. Good day to you.
Not so fast.
What the…I can’t click out?!
I think you’ll find escape quite impossible.
A trap? Treachery, sir!
Relax. I just need to ask you something. Since Shortstember ended I’ve been mulling over ideas for a new series of animated short reviews and because I couldn’t settle on one, I thought I’d let you, my fabulous readers, decide.
What are our options?
1) Word War 2 Propaganda Shorts
All the major American animation studios contributed to the war effort by making animated propaganda shorts. Some were profound, some were hilarious, pretty much all were racist as all hell. But, y’know, racist for FREEDOM.
2) Over the Garden Wall
An all-star cast, beautiful animation and a sublime score, Over the Garden Wall is ten shorts of pure cartoon awesomeness.
3) The New Mickey Mouse Shorts
Mickey Mouse is back and actually great! It’s like 1929 all over again and not just because of the imminent collapse of Western democracy!
4) The Fleischer Supermans Supermen Supermens Cartoons featuring the DC Comics Character Superman
Look! Up in the sky! Some of the greatest animated shorts in the history of the medium!
5) The Animatrix
You have many questions, however, despite the changes brought about by reading this blog you remain irrevocably human. Ergo, some of the following you will understand and some you will not. Interpolated between the release of The Matrix and The Matrix: Reloaded the Wachowskis released a series of short films by some of the greatest anime directors of the day telling stories within the world of The Matrix. Concordantly, you may wish me to review these shorts, but only if you believe it is your choice to do so, at least on a sub-conscious level.
6) Batman: Gotham Knight
Or…if you like the idea of short animés directed by top tier Japanese animation talent meant to bridge the gap between the first two installments of a major film franchise but aren’t really arsed about The Matrix we could just do the same thing with Batman instead.
7) The Censored 11
The Censored 11 are eleven Warner Bros shorts deemed so appallingly racist that they’ve been permanently pulled from broadcast.
So. Who wants to just get really, really sad?
There’s a poll below, so get clickin’ and I’ll see you on the 22nd.
So, you gonna take a year to finish this series too?
Question. Do you think that when Ron Clements and John Musker show up at the Disney studios they’re all…
‘Cos they’d kinda have to, wouldn’t they? I mean, they’ve earned that. If they wanted to stop at every cubicle and say “Oh by the way, we’re the reason you have a job. You’re welcome.” who among us would begrudge them that? With The Little Mermaid, Clements and Musker kick-started the Disney Renaissance, catapulting the animation studio back to cultural relevance and critical and commercial acclaim. And then, just for poops and giggles, they did it again in 2009, with the Princess and the Frog marking the end of the Lost Era and inaugurating the current golden age of the canon. Come to think of it, I have a feeling that Disney could have saved themselves a lot of worry and financial distress over the decades if they’d just hung a sign on the wall saying “WHEN THINGS ARE GOING BAD, JUST MAKE A PRINCESS MOVIE”. Seriously, never fails. Okay, apart from that one that almost drove the company to bankruptcy.
Totally worth it.
Where was I? Oh right, Clements and Musker. These two men wrote the book on the modern Disney Princesses movie. They are O fuckin’ G, or at least as gangsta as one can be while making movies about princesses and their talking animal friends. They are the Biggie and Tupac of this one very specific movie sub-genre.
In this analogy, Walt would be Ice-T.
Moana honestly feels less like a Disney Princess movie, and more like the Disney Princess movie, an attempt to make as definitive a version of this kind of movie as it’s possible to make. That may sound like a compliment…but…
This movie feels like it’s trying to take everything that worked about the previous nine modern Disney princesses (Merida doesn’t count FIGHT ME) and distill them into one character. Moana is all those princesses combined into one. But is she an awesome Megazord or a shambling Frankenstein’s monster?
Hallo. Yes, it’s been a while. I’ve been busy, biding my time. I actually saw several good movies (Logan, Moonlight and The Lego Batman Movie), the reviews of which are forthcoming despite them probably being gone from your local cinema by the time of reading. But really, I wanted a film to hate. A film to boil my blood. I was waiting.