By Donica Farwell
In 1994, Disney released one of the most memorable animated features of all time: The Lion King, directed by Rob Minkoff and Rodger Allers. A touching and powerful coming of age story about a young lion named Simba and his internal and external struggles to reclaim his kingdom, The Lion King won the hearts of children across the globe. I remember watching the Lion King as a child. All of the colors, cute animals, and catchy songs led to many rewinds of that VHS tape. As the younger generation of children who grew up with the Lion King become adults, they can now appreciate this timeless movie on a deeper level. And if you thought you knew The Lion King, here are some things to appreciate, think about, or notice next time you have the urge to watch this Disney classic.
Disney is pretty well known for throwing in some subtle adult content into their movies. Both creative yet not damaging to the story line, these lines are hilarious to an adult audience. I had a completely different experience watching The Lion King as a college student than a 6 year old. Questioning the innocence of the movie and listening for inappropriate phrases is both a shocking and fun way to spend 1 hour and 29 mins. First off, Mufasa is the sole alpha male of a lion pride. Male lions lead a group of female lions and are the sole source of reproduction. Therefore, even though Mufasa is “married” to Sarabi, Mufasa has mated with all of the female lions in the movie and is the father of all of the young cubs, including Nala. This makes Nala Simba’s sister and they are betrothed to be married.
Other than the incest, The Lion King contains a few quick lines of inappropriate content that many adults don’t always notice. For instance, Pumba gets stuck under a log when trying to escape from Nala. Timon is trying to push him out. Timon screams, “Why do I always have to save your AAAAH!” Since Timon was pushing on Pumba’s rear it is not hard to guess what Timon was going to say before Nala jumped into view. Speaking of rears, I have never seen a movie with more fart jokes. For just a few examples, during “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” Zazu follows young Simba and Nala through the center of a group of zebras. When left alone the zebras turn around and lift up their tails leaving Zazu looking horrified. Also, a prevalent character trait of Pumba is that he has no friends because he passes gas. While he later uses this as a weapon against the hyenas, during Pumba’s serenade during “Hakuna Matata” Pumba claims, “Every time that I…” Timon interrupts with, “Pumba not in front of the kid!” Apparently Disney didn’t want the word “fart” in a rated G movie. Later in the movie, Simba asks Timon to be a distraction for the hyenas so he can confront Scar. Timon responds with, “What do you want me to do? Dress in drag and do the hula?” The movie then shifts scenes to Timon doing a pelvic thrust in female Hawaiian attire singing a sound about, “eating this hunky mass of juicy meat.” Obviously referring to Pumba, at least we hope, who sits with an apple in his mouth on a platter.
During The Lion King’s most romantic song, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” Simba and Nala trip and fall down a hill. They land on top of each other while Nala gives a pretty obvious seductive look and proceeds to lick, the human equivalent of kiss, Simba. In the wild, after the male has chosen his mate from the pride, he rubs his neck on her; therefore, signaling he wants to mate with her. There’s at least 20-30 seconds of lion neck rubbing in The Lion King. Simba and Nala soon fight after their “encounter” about Simba not wanting to face his past which ends with Simba asking, “Now are you satisfied?” Nala replies, “No, just disappointed.” A G rated Disney version of a sex scene? Take of it what you will.
Of course there’s also the controversial scene where Simba throws himself onto some grass over a cliff and many claim that the dandelions and leaves that float into the air as a result spell “sex.” There are pictures all over the Internet showing this image. However, after watching the movie many times I did not see it. I also do not think that the animators would mess with such an important part of the movie: these dandelions and leaves are what float to Rafiki and lets him know that Simba is alive. Without Rafiki coming back, Simba might not have ever returned.
Filled with clever puns, subtext, and memorable quotes, The Lion King script is incredibly interesting and entertaining to focus on. As a fan of puns, I noticed so many creative play on words the last time I watched The Lion King. For instance, when trying to help Simba and Nala escape the hyena trio, Zazu nervously says, “Oh look at the Sun it’s time to go.” Ed, one of the hyenas, asks during this scene as Simba, Nala, and Zazu run away, “Did we order this dinner to go?” The Lion King, like many Disney movies, includes a few Easter eggs. One in this movie is when Scar forces Zazu to sing in his cage made of bones. Zazu sings, “It’s a small world after all.” Scar interrupts, “No…ANYTHING but that.” Speaking of Scar, a slick, cunning, and arguably one of the most hated antagonists in Disney history, was actually originally named Taka in The Lion King: The Tale of Two Brothers book. Mufasa, whose name means king, was chosen to rule. Taka means garbage. Uru and Ahadi, Mufasa and Taka’s parents, named one of their kids “King” and the other, “Garbage.” No wonder Scar turned out the way he did! During Scar’s song, “Be Prepared” hundreds of hyenas appear out of nowhere and walk in sync while Scar sits on a high cliff which displays his dictator power and basically tells the audience exactly what is going to happen.
Arguably the most tragic and heart wrenching moment in Disney history: Scar kills Mufasa. He makes Simba think his roar started the stampede and proceeds to tell him to “run away and never return” before telling the hyenas to kill him. When Simba pleads to his dead father, “Dad…get up. We got to go home,” I still cry. Especially since Simba previously asked his father during their deep discussion of the stars, “We are always going to be together right?” No Simba, you aren’t. However, Mufasa’s death was almost necessary to hit home hard the theme of the circle of life. Simba had to learn that his father lived in him. These are extremely challenging messages for a child watching The Lion King to comprehend.
A final thing to think about next time you watch The Lion King is exactly how powerful the message is. Not just a story about taking back a kingdom, The Lion King is about overcoming tragedy, taking responsibility, and appreciating the constantly moving force of life that continually begins and ends. My favorite quote is from Rafiki when he gives advice to Simba about dealing with his past, “Oh yes the past can hurt. But the way I see it is that you can either run from it… or learn from it.” This is a very relatable message to all college students. Mufasa’s warning to Simba, “Look inside yourself. You are more than what you have become” is another prevailing message.
Like the beginning of the movie begins with Rafiki holding up Mufasa and Sirabi’s baby, Simba, with Mufasa’s father looking down on him, the movie ends with Rafiki holding up Simba and Nala’s baby, Kiara, with Mufasa looking down on them. Next time you watch The Lion King look for all of these elements and embrace the comic relief, triumphant characters, and incredible themes.
Ok, everyone, listen up. It’s time to start thinking critically about what your horror films are doing for you. Halloween is over and done with, so the rampant consumption of sub-par horror is no longer acceptable. We, as a culture, are settling for the most mundane and unimaginative scare tactics that directors and screenwriters can brew up, namely what I will refer to as “the non-diegetic jump scare.”
Let’s fill you in on a little terminology before we delve into our discussion of the increasing laziness in the horror movie world. When we refer to something as “non-diegetic,” it means that something exists outside of the universe of the film plot and is made evident only to the audience. In other words, the characters of the movie neither see nor hear the non-diegetic element. An example of a non-diegetic film element is the soundtrack, usually perceived only by the audience.
All that’s meant by the phrase “jump scare” is the plot device in movies within horror, thriller and suspense genres that literally causes audience members to jump or startle due to some unexpected action onscreen.
So now we can talk knowledgeably about the greatest scourge in today’s horror films, something that is magnificently unforgiveable, manipulative and largely pointless – the “non-diegetic jump scare.”
We’ve all seen it. A character is wandering around the screen, doing whatever they do, and suddenly the movie’s ghoul appears somewhere in the screen margins, unbeknownst to the onscreen character. This development startles the audience, but then serves no further purpose to the plot development.
Further, this plot device usually doesn’t even help to develop suspense, because by the time the filmmakers are resorting to this cheap tactic, the audience is very aware of the presence of the monster.
Therefore, the “non-diegetic jump scare” serves no purpose other than to acknowledge and titillate an uncritical and passive audience into believing that the suspense and plot is somehow furthered by the continued appearance of the monster exclusively to the viewer, but rarely to the horror and disgust of the diegetic characters.
As with everything, examples make the understanding of new ideas much easier to swallow. The most glaring example that comes to mind is Guillermo del Toro’s “Mama.” Watching this movie, the ghost-mama appears several times in dark closets, around corners, etc. only to the benefit of the audience’s superficial satisfaction with the horror movie that they (better) have paid to watch. As a ghoul that has the option of invisibility, del Toro’s ghost has no motive to reveal itself if it is not going to be seen by the characters. Therefore, the appearances of the monster in these circumstances only serve as a nod toward the audience instead of furthering the plot or engaging with the actual characters in the plot. It’s a cheap ploy that attempts to fool audience members into thinking there is some sort of real horror or danger happening, when really it only reveals the lazy and uncreative half-efforts of the filmmakers.
Are horror directors just trying to be artistic, breaking the fourth wall of the silver screen? All signs point to the contrary, as the purpose of most narrative films, especially horror, is the keep the audience engaged and enthralled with the plot, not shake them out of the illusion by acknowledging their presence.
These appearances do not reveal any danger to the characters in the film, nor do they move the plot along in any important way. They seem only to be an assumption of the viewer’s low attention-span, therefore constantly begging for the audience’s visceral reaction to danger that isn’t actually there.
To rephrase, “If a monster appears out of eyesight, does it MATTER?” No. It doesn’t.
This is not to say that all jump scares are bad. To show and ultimately break the tension of a scene in which diegetic characters are actively engaged in the screen action is artistic, skillful and frankly terrifying when executed correctly.
Just think of that horrifically tense scene in Ridley Scott’s “Alien” when the crew of the Nostromo are closing in on the location of the homicidal xenomorph, relying only the blinking sensor of their motion detector. As they close in on a closed locker door, the suspense builds to a terrifying jump scare as the locker door bursts open to reveal what’s inside.
Or, if you’re craving a more contemporary example, what about the jump scares in “It Follows?” Every single scare serves the plot, and although they do effectively terrify moviegoers, these jump scares never pander. The audience is scared when the characters are scared. The audience is tense when the characters are tense. For the audience to be tense when there is no cause for immediate tension within the plot is absurd.
Overall, the use of “non-diegetic jump scares” proliferates only because we, the audience, allow it to. Without our passive acceptance of this cheap and unimaginative tactic, the practice would fizzle out and be relegated to the purgatory of novice horror directors still wet behind the ears. Be critical and stop settling. We deserve to be horrified, not cheaply pacified.
“Hit me again.”
Amy, played by Jamie Ascher, a snarky swimmer with a secret passion for writing, addresses Ester, played by Drew Mancini, a shy high school senior striving for perfection in the pool. The two stand in the intimate space in front of two benches next to a single row of blue lockers. Ester hits Amy in the stomach. As the exchange between the two students continues, with a little bit of inference from Amy’s constant touching of her stomach and odd requests for Ester such as “Sit on me,” it quickly becomes apparent that the reasoning for the punches is that Amy is pregnant. Carrying out the pregnancy to term never presents itself as an option for Amy; her mind is made up from day one, and there is simply no other option for her or her future at this point but abortion. Throughout the course of the play, “Dry Land”, Amy, with the help of her sidekick, Ester, and through a couple of D.I.Y. abortion methods, hopes to reclaim her future.
However, “Dry Land”, is not an abortion play; in fact, the characters never use the word “abortion.” The Thalian Blackfriars, a student run theater organization, goal was for “Dry Land” to be a play about friendship. “The first thing my director, Geoffrey Douglas, said for our first rehearsal was that I don’t want this to be an abortion play,” Jamie Ascher who portrays Amy and who is a third-year Communications Studies major from Roswell commented. “Yes, it’s a play that involves it, but he wanted to really instill in us that the play was about friendship. It shows how two girls went from being strangers, one of them kind of using the other to help her get rid of this problem, to Amy actually being heartbroken over the fact that Ester has to leave for college.” Friendship is a complicated entity that causes Amy and Ester constant struggle, for as their friendship develops, more issues begin to arise.
As the play progresses, you learn more about the lives of Amy and Ester like you would if you had befriended them off the street. They’re getting to know one another for the first time during the course of Amy’s unwanted pregnancy. The dialogue between the characters is honest and inquisitive, a tone that comes with being in high school and getting to know someone for the first time. They talk of their futures, Ester’s involving swimming for a college and Amy’s involving fancy cheese and books, which signifies a better life for her outside of being a mom and a small town.
The more time the two spend together, the more they begin to open up and rely on one another. The walls that each of them hide behind start to come down little by little. Ester tells Amy of her suicide attempt at one point–– a detail that is not delved into as much as I had wanted. As a matter of fact, “Dry Land,” does not touch on Ester’s issues as much as Amy’s, which is my one complaint about the show. I wish I had gotten to know whom Ester was a little more outside of what we’re told. Ester remains as sort of a mystery, but Amy shows a little of her vulnerability when she shares her dreams of becoming of writer, which is a detail no one knows about Amy.
As easily as the walls can come down, they can go right back up. “Amy bullies Ester after she reveals to Reba[, played by Hannah Martin,] that Amy likes to write,” Jamie Ascher commented: “She betrayed Amy’s trust and it shows that just because you have an emerging friendship with someone that there are still these walls that we don’t necessarily break down until there’s been enough bonding.” The back and forth conflict between Amy and Ester keeps the new and vulnerable feeling of the relationship. If the two had just came out and shared everything about themselves, then the relationship would not feel real because people do not just open right up on a first encounter.
When the play comes to a close the air is heavy. Abortion is not a topic people are normally confronted with on a daily basis, and now they’ve been placed in front of a stage that is doing just that. The play really makes you question how you see the world, because no matter what, life goes on. For Amy and for Ester, life goes on. Amy has to put this traumatic experience behind her. She has to go right back to focusing on school, extracurricular activities and everything else teenagers worry about. She has no time to recover, which reflects the fast pace of the real world. Life doesn’t stop moving.
“Dry Land” is beautifully crafted. “I didn’t know from reading the script the first time that it could be that great,” Jamie Ascher remarked. “The first time I read the script I was like what did I just get myself into, but it was so much more heartfelt and touching than I originally thought. I originally hated Amy. She was so rude, but you gotta dig under that. She’s got stuff going on.” The Thalian Blackfriars create an intense and powerful connection with the characters through the intimate size of the stage in the five-row Cellar Theater; I felt like I was in the locker room with Amy and Ester, like I was a part of their story to the point where I cannot help but hope that Amy and Ester remain friends. I hope they stay in contact and find the lives that they deserve because at the end of the day these characters are all of us.
We all go through struggles and hard times; we’ve all been through high school and the fear of being whom we truly are so I hope, maybe more for myself than anything, that these characters found better lives.
I will never forget the first time in February 2009 that I saw the disturbing images of Rihanna’s face. Battered and bruised as a result of the altercation that quickly escalated between her and the man she loved, she was unrecognizable. Even though I understood the extent of Chris Brown’s wrongdoing, I was devastated for both of them. As an angst-filled 15-year-old, I selfishly suffered in knowing that my borderline obsession for Brown would have to be toned down a notch, starting with taking all eight (yes, eight) posters of him off my bedroom walls.
Fast forward to six years later, and people are still talking about it. Rihanna, who is featured on the cover of the November issue of Vanity Fair that hits the stands today, still has to answer questions and set the record straight for what exactly happened right after the Clive Davis’ Grammy after-party.
Rihanna, a.k.a. Robyn Fenty, 27, is wildly successful. She has 13 number one songs, is a fashion icon, and has a number of endorsements ranging from collaborations with MAC Cosmetics to being the face of Puma. So the age old question is, why would someone that has everything in the world going for her choose to return to a life of physical and mental abuse? Her answer in the VF interview: she thought she could change him.
The “Umbrella” singer has stated in many interviews in the past that she has moved on from the traumatic event, she will always be associated with this major social issue. She even admitted during her interview with Diane Sawyer that her “…selfish desire for love could result in some young girl getting killed.”
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and although Fenty does not like all of the connotations of being the victim in such a horrific crime, she gets people talking. In her interview with Vanity Fair, she explains how she thought she was strong enough to deal with Brown’s insecurities and that he was misunderstood. These are the excuses women, and men, too, in abusive relationships make for their significant others when, in reality, they are only making excuses for themselves not to walk away.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states 10 million Americans are victims of physical violence annually and that domestic violence accounts for 15% of all violent crimes in the US. Furthermore, it states that 1/3 female murder victims and 1/20 male murder victims are murdered by their partner. It is important to note, though, that domestic violence goes far beyond physical abuse. If you feel as though your partner stalks you or is too obsessive over you, that is abuse. If your partner is forcing you into sexual activity, or simply ignoring the lack of consent, that is abuse. If your partner is critical or humiliates you if you question them over one of the issues previously listed, that is also abuse. The number one rule while in an abusive relationship: don’t let the abuser be the victim.
Rihanna is highly commended for staying strong in her permanent decision to not return to Chris Brown. She is an example to all that even though that with all of her tremendous fame and fortune, all of her contacts, and all of the people supporting her, no one could have made that decision for her. Women and men alike have to find the power and ability in themselves. It is crucial for them to know, regardless of how beaten down or meaningless they feel, they are absolutely worth the love from another human being, but more importantly, they are worth the love from themselves.
If you or someone you know is struggling to come out of an abusive relationship, please visit http://nnedv.org/getinvolved/dvam.html.
“Black Mass” director Scott Cooper and screenwriter Mark Mallouk have tried to bring together all of the character and plot traits that American audiences have come to love and expect from their gangster films: a charismatic, yet psychotic gang-lord, a plot thick with tension between said gang-lord and the federal law and emotional relationships that attempt to humanize the main characters.
“Black Mass” tries to do all of this, and it fails. Cooper’s retelling of the rise and fall of one of America’s most violent and ruthless criminals seemed promising in its theatrical trailers, which were undoubtedly chilling and fantastic. However, in all its theatrical feature-length glory, “Black Mass” isn’t half as good as the two-minute teasers released beforehand.
Starring Johnny Depp as the vulgar and violent James “Whitey” Bulger, “Black Mass” recounts the way in which Bulger terrifies his way to the top tiers of Boston’s gang hierarchy, while simultaneously acting as an informant to the FBI in order to remove his competition.
Sounds like a good plot, right? Wrong. “Black Mass” suffers from the same syndrome that ail many Hollywood films: its star-studded cast takes away from the audience’s suspension of disbelief. Watching the film, I didn’t get the feeling that I was immersed in the story of “Whitey” Bulger. I felt more like I was just watching Johnny Depp with too much makeup on, Joel Edgerton being the obligatory crooked cop, and Benedict Cumberbatch bumbling through what may have been the most laughable Boston accent in recent film history. And I should mention that everyone’s Bacon Number just decreased all the way to one, because the prolific Kevin Bacon was thrown in there for good measure, as well.
“Black Mass” is also barely interesting to look at, unless you like looking at a crusty Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch doing his worst John Kennedy impression. Stylistically uninspired and formally unimaginative, the cinematography in “Black Mass” leaves something to be desired.
Further, the characterization of “Black Mass”’s main character, “Whitey” Bulger, was a bit off-mark and poorly cobbled together. After a couple weak attempts to humanize Bulger near the beginning of the film as a family man who cares about his elderly mother and impressionable son, Bulger’s plotline veers off course and over a proverbial cliff as the film seemingly gives up completely and randomly on trying to characterize Bulger on any human level, electing instead to hamfistedly shove the character’s craziness down the audience’s throat with excessive violence and vulgarity.
For the majority of the movie, little of Bulger’s intimidation, violence or wit serves much of a purpose toward the plot. Instead, Cooper seems to put all of his efforts toward superficially characterizing Bulger as a cool and composed homicidal maniac, instead of tying Bulger’s actions and disposition into his weak plot. At first, this tactic was effective at creating tension and suspense. However, about halfway through the movie, Bulger’s seemingly unrelated actions and encounters came across less like necessary characterization and plot development and more like the filmmakers’ attempts at distracting the audience from the nosediving storyline with titillating gore and tension.
Evocative of early gangster films in which criminals ran around and did random acts of crime and evil for no apparent reason, “Black Mass” didn’t live up to the hype it created for itself. If you want a good gangster experience, save yourself the time, money and disappointment and just watch stick with “Goodfellas.”
The hugely successful concept Marvel created has Hollywood scared. Until they realized, they could do the same thing. Now franchises have been rebooted and touched up to try out the connected universe for themselves.
One of the more well-known franchises is the DC superhero movies. As long as there has been a Detective Comics and Marvel Comics there has been a battle between the two. They have fought inch by inch to gain a niche in entertainment. Last year, DC announced its next 10 years in film. Starting with next year’s Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, more importantly including the first female-led superhero movie with 2017’s Wonder Woman. This announcement followed Marvel’s film slate. It should be noted that while DC had cornered the marked on television, Marvel is breaking apart that sector with so many projects in the near future.
Another franchise coming back to life is the reboot of Ghostbusters. Ever since the sequel of the original film, there have been rumors of a third film in the works. This was confirmed last year when it was announced that an all-female Ghostbusters movie was planned. The film is headlined by Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon. Of course, there needs to be a male led movie as well, with Channing Tatum leading. These films will likely have connections if they do well. In this way, the shared universe can provide audiences with more diversity.
Sigourney Weaver is coming back to the Alien franchise for a sequel to James’s Cameron’s Aliens, completely ignoring the original sequels. The new Alien film will likely have a connection to Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and its upcoming sequel. The shared universe will allow more exploration of the themes discussed in the films.
All in all, the over-arching plots should at least make for great entertainment. At the most, the competition for ratings and ticket sales will drive more innovative entertainment tactics.
Something a little different. This month is very exciting for television viewers like me. HBO favorites come back and new shows debut all while my final exams and final papers become due. Here are the shows best suited to get viewer’s attention and keep it for more than a season.
Lip Sync Battle from Spike
When I first heard about Jimmy Fallon’s segment from the tonight show being turned into an actual program I wasn’t too excited. I think I might have groaned. However, the two episodes that have aired were really entertaining. The program keeps the spirit of Fallon’s show and the caliber of the guests as well. The show is co-hosted by L.L. Cool J and Chrissy Teigen. As long as the show keeps booking guests like The Rock and John Legend who bring humor and talent, the show will be good. Also seeing the preview for the next episode, it looks like it will be just fine.
Marvel’s Daredevil from Netflix
Daredevil is my most anticipated show this month. Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe belonging to blockbuster hits like The Avengers and Iron Man, Marvel is looking to corner another medium: Netflix. The series is set in New York as the blind lawyer-turned-vigilante Daredevil, played by Charlie Cox. Joining Cox is True Blood’s Deborah Ann Woll and big-screen actress Rosario Dawson. Daredevil is the first of five Netflix series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After Daredevil is A.k.a Jessica Jones with Krysten Ritter. I’m certain Daredevil will be renewed before it even premieres just like other Netflix hits, after all, review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes has already given it a score of 100%.
Game of Thrones, Orphan Black, and Mad Men
There is not much to say about Game of Thrones that hasn’t been said so far. Viewers should expect more twists, more death, and maybe some more awkward incest. Game of Thrones is also the reason HBO made a deal with Apple for direct streaming services. Orphan Black’s return seems to be highly anticipated. Audiences love the multiple award winning Tatiana Maslany as 16 different clones and counting. Mad Men starts its last part of its last season. The program has had a remarkable run, even if Jon Hamm never won a prime time Emmy.
These shows have the most promise this month. Also stay away from Syfy’s Olympus. It was a poorly executed attempt to steal some Game of Thrones audience and got a flat “F” from the AV Club.
Grace Helbig, Youtuber with a popular Youtube channel called “It’s Grace”, had her show’s pilot this past Friday night on E!. The show was not what you typically see on your TV screens.
It’s a big chance the network took. Grace is a quirky Youtuber, as are most of the internet people, so the fact that this major network decided to put her on their lineup shows how much sway the internet really has.
It seems like more and more people are ditching their TV and going for their fix via their computer or tablet or smartphone. TV networks are finding it hard to compete when Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime are around.
So to remain relevant and fresh, it’s no wonder E! went out on a limb and got a hugely internet famous, maybe not “real life” famous, star to host a show.
The show probably lent itself better to the internet because it was true-to-form Grace’s quirky style. Hopefully it’ll get more episodes because the show was unique and original and it’ll be interesting where Grace takes it. Her point of view is one that is only occasionally broadcasted because it is so self-aware and largely uncensored.
So here’s to Team Internet. May they continue to spread and keep doing weird things.
It blew my mind when I first heard the news that much of the audience of Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe was in their 20s. This came out when network higher-ups were planning on canceling the show. The real question is however, what attracts college-aged people to kids’ cartoons. One short answer: Children’s’ television is becoming much more complex than past generations and reflects that complexity from society.
Take Steven Universe. Superficially, nothing is much different from the rest of the cartoon line-up. The show was created by Adventure Time writer and composer Rebecca Sugar and Ian Jones-Quartey. The creators use Steven Universe, like all animators, as a medium to explain the world around them.
I started watching an episode, just to see the hype. The show seemed normal with colorful backgrounds and energetic characters. Then I watched another episode. And another.
Not long I realized that this isn’t like any other cartoon.
Steven Universe is a cartoon about a team of alien heroes, the crystal gems, and their youngest and newest member Steven. Steven’s mother was also a crystal gem, but died when Steven was born. So the Crystal gems raised Steven. Parental loss is just one of the issues Steven goes through and creator Sugar explores.
Recruited to help explore complicated issues is a highly talented voice cast. The Crystal gems are made up of a cast of Amethyst, Pearl, and Garnet. Amethyst is voiced by Michaela Dietz. Pearl is voiced by Deedee Mango Hall, formerly seen on Broadway shows like Wicked. Probably best known however is Garnet’s actor, English rapper, Estelle. The best tactic Sugar uses in gaining emotional connections with the issues she explores is using the voice actors as singers in the show.
The most important thing that Steven Universe explores is that there is no pure form of family. In today’s age, the nuclear family isn’t the only type of family. There needs to be media that reflects that. I haven’t seen characters that have such a strong connection as in Steven Universe, and as long as the show is airing, an example of the new normal is in good hands.
Women, a 2014 Publishers Weekly study found, are part of the fastest growing demographic. However, it seems that mainstream publishers don’t know how to interpret that fact, even a year later.
In 2011, DC Comics rebooted their titles in the DC New 52 event. One of these series was a new Batgirl penned by Gail Simone. In the 1988 Graphic Novel the Killing Joke, Batgirl Barbra Gordon was shot and paralyzed by the Joker in a plot device for the male characters to solve. In the new 52 series, Gordon was lifted from her wheelchair and back onto the rooftops of Gotham City.
The new Batgirl is seen as a milestone in female geek culture. The culture was sent back years with the release of the new Batgirl Variant cover depicting a crying Batgirl being held at gunpoint by the Joker losing all the power gained back in her series.
This is not even the first time DC has reduced fan-loved female characters. DC green-lit a contest to have “undiscovered talent” draw the character Harley Quinn in various “suicidal scenarios.” The undiscovered talent being a DC Comics artist.
But for every DC Comics blunder, there is a Marvel Comics success.
In May, Marvel is starting a new superhero team composed of an entirely female team in the new title, A-Force. Starting next month, however, Marvel is releasing anthologies of the fan-favorite female characters. The first issue begins with a collection of Ms. Marvel, the first Islamic female superhero, and Captain America, soon to be the first woman leading hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Its 2015, its past time that there is more representation for fans in their favorite mediums. Women are bullied out of video games with gamergate. Mainstream publishers like Marvel and video game designer Bioware receive awards and success from inclusive media. DC Comics, on the other hand, has a website designed to track how many days it has been since they have done something stupid.