Friday, 25 July 2014

Batman: The Caped Crusader is the Dark Knight We Need, But Don't Deserve

The 23rd of July was Batman Day, so if you woke up feeling the weight of your dead parents who were gunned down in front of you a bit more heavily in the morning and wondered how those Bat-nipples appeared on your shirt, that would be why.

Now, you can read all about how Batman is the best because he's Batman, or how, despite his loner Dark Knight persona, Batman is a family man and never has really been alone. Also, you could learn why living in as an ordinary citizen in Gotham would suck and why Batman will never go to Bane's Chiropractice again, or that Batman totally kills people all the time but it's cool.

But I thought I would focus on those aspects of Batman which are nearly always look over by the public perception of Batman. That is the goofier side of Batman, the ridiculous, essentially camp, nature of a man whose response after suffering a tragic and traumatic event in his childhood is to dress up like a bat and punch crime in the face until it goes away.

One time, he literally punched the crime off a guy's face.

Because Batman is far more than just a gritty and dark superhero, although he is totally that too, and that's the thing. Batman encompasses so many different iterations and version but they all work, even when they don't because it's Batman. You can make him as realistic as possible like Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Trilogy, yet at the end of the day he's a guy who dresses up like a bat to fight crime. But he's just a man, because even accounting for the fact he's Batman, if you were really trying to depict a truly realistic version of Batman, you'd have to include the fact he'd totally get concussions all the time.

Not to mention he wouldn't be able to maintain being Batman for more than a 3-4 year period before his body collapsed under the toil he was putting it under or his reactions have slowed enough that he'd get shot by a 14 year old street urchin stealing a purse from an old lady.

Batman had to use a gun to stop a guy. While he was in a suit that enhanced his strength and reflexes.
Because his body just said, "Enough of this noise, I'm out".

And when you think about, despite being an all-powerful god in a flowing red cape, it is actually Superman that is a more realistic superhero, since Batman couldn’t make it through the week without his body collapsing from exhaustion, but an alien from another planet powered by solar rays which give him powers? That makes sense. And these aren't just the musings of some random blogger, these are the thoughts of Grant Morrison, and he would know. He only wrote Batman for seven years.

And indeed, Morrison's run on Batman must be considered one of the most remarkable runs of any writer on the character, because he didn't focus on one aspect of Batman's mythos, like the way Frank Miller fixated on his grittiness or Christopher Nolan tried to make him as realistic as possible, both depicting a dark superhero. Rather Morrison took everything from the character's 70-odd (now 75) year history and threw it all together in a melting pot of pure unbridled Bat-awesome.

http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120530050914/marvel_dc/images/2/2d/Bat-Cow_01.jpg
In addition to making Batman's son, Damian,  Robin, he also gave us Bat-Cow.
Verily, few writers have given so many so much.

No, seriously. He made a non-canonical liaison between Talia al Ghul and Batman which resulted in a son, Damian, that happened in an Elseworld's story twenty years ago canon because why not? From his initial spoiled brat appearance, he grew into a fan favourite and one of the best Robins ever.

His partnership with Dick Grayson as Batman is a beautiful thing to behold, they just work together so well, bouncing off each other in the best Dynamic Duo way.

Oh, and yes Bat-Cow is totally canon too.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-P_5AB4_5M_o/UVRMZQH4srI/AAAAAAAAOR8/KXVF_CO_lWM/s1600/Screen+Shot+2013-03-28+at+9.45.55+AM.png
Only Batman can go from completely silly to broodingly dark and awesome in a single panel.
Also, Bat-Cow's hair pattern looks like a bat mask! 

But I'm not going to fanboy all over Morrison's Batman although I totally could because holy Bat-Cow, that isn't even the most brilliantly ridiculous of the ideas Morrison was laying down when he wrote his grand arc for Batman.

Things like the Club for Heroes featuring 'Batmen' from all over the world which lead into Batman Incorporated, where Bruce Wayne publicly funded Batman and took the concept of Batman and implying it where-ever it is needed over the world. Or Damian beating Joker with a crowbar. Or a world-wide conspiracy with a shadow organisation run by Talia al Ghul that was always one step ahead of Batman.

And we can't forget Mr Toad. Who is literally a toad.

http://toonterror.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/mister_toad.jpg
I mean, we accepted Killer Croc, why not a criminal that is a live-action version of Toad of Toad Hall?

That's not even mentioning the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, a back-up psyche Batman developed in case he was ever mindwiped or his mind was broken. Yes. Batman has a back-up personality to keep fighting as Batman just in case he needs it because of course he does. He's Batman, he plans for everything.

This also saw the return of Bat-Mite as a figment of Batman's imagination and not a creature from the Fifth Dimension like he was in the Silver Age. Or maybe he still from the Fifth Dimension is since he says the Fifth Dimension is imagination... He's also the rational component of Zur-En-Arrh keeping this personality in check such that he doesn't cross Batman's moral code.

I know Prince did the soundtrack to one of your movies, but did you need to go all Purple Rain cape?

Morrison looks at all the discarded characters from the Silver Age of comics in the 1950s and 1960s and instead of dismissing them as silly, says "hey, I can use those guys, they're awesome". So he either literally brought characters back into the comic after decades of neglect, or created his own characters based on the Silver Age's wonderful sense of whimsy, when Batman battled criminals on a giant typewriter just because.

Why I'm focusing on Morrison, aside from the fact he is simply amazing, is that his run of Batman highlights how Batman is far more than just the Frank Miller's Batman which was used as the inspiration for Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. Miller's Batman is a brilliant, but he is limited by the vision Miller was conveying, in non-canonical works, I might add. Morrison thrives on the canon and history of the character, Miller's version is his ideal of what Batman could be.

It's just that Hollywood has decided Miller's Batman is the one everyone wants due to the massive success of the Dark Knight Trilogy, so the closer to Miller's Batman the better. And now we have gritty and dark Sad Batfleck.

Oh, and I actually think Ben Affleck will do well as Batman no matter how sad he is.

And there's nothing wrong with that aside from the fact we've seen it before in three previous Bat-movies. It would have been nice for a different approach to Batman, because like this kindly worded letter to Hollywood explains, there are so many different ways to do Batman.

Even Miller himself acknowledges this, saying "There are 50 different ways to do Batman and they all work. In fact, I've probably done about ten of them. I was once asked if I felt like I'd been handed a Ming vase. I said no, it's more like an unbreakable diamond. I could smash it against the wall or ceiling without hurting it. It's just finding a facet no one's used before."

There is only one requirement for Batman, that he wears a batsuit and beats up criminals at night. Everything else is up for grabs. And Batman is inherently awesome. Everything he does is cool just because it's Batman doing it.

Like that one time he removed a single specific tooth from Nightwing's mouth with a simple backhand.

Image
But how, you ask? Because he's Batman.

And that goes for campy Batman too. There is a good case for why Val Kilmer was a great Batman since Batman Forever was a perfect split between the dark gothic nature of Tim Burton's first two Bat-movies and the full out camptastically insanely bad Batman & Robin. However, even in Batman & Robin, the most reviled of all Batman movies, there is some enjoyment to be had. If you accept this version of Batman as Batman at his most ridiculously camp and over-the-top, it just becomes hilarious in much the same way, Adam West's Batman is so beloved despite the campy stigma he associated with the character for decades following his portrayal.

And George Clooney's Batman has a bat credit card... because why wouldn't he? He has a Batmobile, bat-boat, bat-plane, Batcave, so why not a bat credit card? It's just the idea taken to most logical and preposterous extreme. And that's hilarious.

"Batman Forever."
Get it? That was the name of the last Batman movie. Ah, fourth wall jokes.

Now everyone gets upset about this because it feels like they're not taking the character seriously, but really it's because they're not taking him realistically. People tend to conflate the two as though the only way to take a superhero seriously is to take him realistically, but that's not true. They were just exploring the campiness and goofiness inherent in the character, in the same way Batman: The Brave and the Bold did on television. Now they definitely took it too far, but that just shows how far Batman can go.

And I am by no means saying this makes Batman & Robin a good movie or that this scene is in anyway well done or not bad. It is bad. Terribly so. But it is Batman bad. And Batman makes everything good, even when it's bad, and this was bad.

But once you let go of the idea that Batman has to be realistic or even serious, and can be fun and goofy in the worst way, it becomes one of the funniest movies of all time where every glittery scene full of unbelievably terrible pun-laden dialogue and outrageous costumes and sets just radiates camp induced laughs.

Why, yes, I am defending what is often called the worst superhero movie of all time in my post about Batman's 75th anniversary, why do you ask?

The point I'm making is that Batman is amazing no matter what form or version we find him in. He is an idea that works because there's just so much endued in the character, he can encompass all things on the spectrum from utterly wacky camp to tragic dark brooding, often at the same time. And that is a beautiful thing.

He's more of a superhero than we could ever deserve and he still has more to give us.

Because he's Batman.


References:

Batman's Wikipedia page

Adam West's Batman TV Series Wikipedia page

Batman (Comic Book) Wikipedia page

Silver Age of Comic Books Wikipedia page

Batman wiki

A Brief History of Batman's Trunks

The Awful Secret Implied by The Dark Knight Trilogy

The Horrible Truth About Batman's Identity

6 Reasons Iron Man is Objectively Better Than Batman

Dark Knight Shift: Why Batman Could Exist- But Not For Long

Friday, 18 July 2014

Running With Blades - Excerpts from "The Blade Runner: A Raymond Chandler Novel" Part 1

Disclaimer: These are excerpts from the forthcoming novel written by Raymond Chandler's ghost based on Ridley Scott's Blade Runner: The Final Cut, itself an adaption of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.

Any likeness to characters from the movie owned by Warner Bros. is completely intentional and totally done on purpose for the purposes of parody.

The Blade Runner

by Raymond Chandler's ghost (edited by Chandler Bing)

Chapter One: The White Dragon Noodle Bar

The downpour masked the noise of the city, drowning out the cries of street vendors and the hustle of busy people scurrying to whatever important engagements demanded their attention. The neon light from their umbrellas bleed into the signs behind and in front of me, a hazy fog of fluorescence shining in the grey rain. A blimp floated overhead beaming searchlights down as it advertises the new life that awaited me in the Off-World colonies.

I was wearing my brown overcoat, blue shirt and dark brown red tie. I was scruffy-looking, often confused for a nerf herder, but clean shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. The newspaper in my hands was barely worth the paper that it was printed on for all the distraction it provided. The neon dragon on top of the noodle bar flickered its tongue on and off as though it saw something tantalizing but wasn't going to go get it.

It didn't seem to be really trying.

Finally, the little man in the noodle bar beckoned me to come forward as a stool opened up. Fittingly, the newspaper worked better as an umbrella held above my head as I dashed through the rain toward the newly vacated seat. Shaking off the wet, I point at the spicy beef, "Give me four," I asked, gesturing the number with my fingers. The man replied with something indistinguishable in Japanese but held up two fingers and gave a nod of his head in response.

"No, four... two, two," I implored realising that my attempt was to be in vain as he emphatically nodded his head again while holding up two fingers. With resignation I paid him for two but hastily added, "With noodles," as the coins left my fingers and I lowered myself into the stool. I grabbed some chopsticks, brushing them against each other like a butcher sharpening a knife, as he placed the bowl in front of me.

The noodles glooped down my throat like eels slithering, jousting for space in a narrow cave...

And then I realised two mooks were standing behind me.

Chapter 3: Bryant

The main hall was cavernous, more like a train station than a police building. A huge arch marked the entrance once one got past the doors, leading past a kiosk that had been re-purposed as a general information booth. Gaff escorted me to Bryant's office, although I knew the way. Blue light from the city filtered through the tall barred windows giving the whole place an eerie and cold atmosphere, while two rows of brown synthetic leather waiting chairs sliced the room like a bored housewife cuts vegetables, irregularly and with little purpose.

As I walked past them, I thought to myself, "Seriously, what the actual hell?"

Harry Bryant was not a man to inspire loyalty. Dislike maybe, perhaps a vague sense of pitied annoyance like a fly that doesn't realise that it keeps flying into the glass of a window and keeps concussing itself, but loyalty no. Captain of the Rep-Detect department but no closer to commanding respect than he was to regaining his hair which seemed to have walked out on him. A short pudgy man with a beat cop's moustache and watery eyes, his face lacked colour and didn't look healthy. As I opened the door of his office, it swung unceremoniously with some force and bashed a cabinet with a computer monitor on top. I had little respect for the man to whom the door belonged and in any case, I used too much vigour and let the door get away from me, though my tough guy act veiled the mistake.

"Hi Dick," Bryant said with the smug confidence of a weasel safe in its hole.
"Bryant," I replied with severe distaste... artificial weasel meat was quite stringy.

After a short staring contest where we gazed without longing into each other's eyes, he asked me to take a seat. Sensing my reluctance, he thought to implore me with his usual charm, "Don't be an asshole, I've got four skinjobs walking the streets."

Skinjob, that was Bryant's term for Replicants. In history books, he's the kind of cop that used to call black men niggers. Namely a dickhead. And no, that's not a term for a private investigator.

Chapter 7: Rachel And Tyrell

I sat down, with Rachel directly opposite me, the Voight-Kampf device between us, dividing us much like the table separated us, in that there was something physically in the space between her and I that conveniently symbolized the emotional distance between us. Fitting, since I was administering a test to determine whether or not she is a replicant by judging her emotional response. "Do you mind if I smoke?" she asked as though unused to asking permission from someone but prepared to suffer the indignity of being denied her request. "It won't effect the test," I answered dismissively as I set up my equipment. She reached for a cigarette in a slow, deliberate movement, like a robot performing a task... It came to my attention I might not need to perform the test in the long run but my equipment was already set up. She drew on her cigarette as though filling up the tank, each drag another shot of fuel prolonging collapse.

Perhaps this model runs on smoke.

"You're reading a magazine, you come across a full page nude photo of a girl..."
"Is this testing whether I'm a replicant or a lesbian, Mr Deckard?" Rachel interrupted with marked annoyance.
"No, we have a separate test for that," I replied. "If you like you can take that one afterwards, it involves simulated pillow fights and strap-ons."

Chapter 10: Holden's Interview

I drove into the tunnel, a moment's respite from the rain which still fell down as though trying to wash everything away but only succeeded in providing a steady pit-a-pat rhythm to the bustle of the city. While driving, I was playing the recording of Holden's ill-fated interview with the replicant known as Leon. Holden off loaded questions in that calm, yet condescending voice of his, although in this case it seemed the recipient was deserving of the scorn Holden had in his voice the way most people had ice in their brandy. The Nexus model was supposed to be of equal intelligence to the genetic engineers that created them, but Leon put question to that claim. Could he BE any more slow?

Could you Leon?

He seemed confused as to when the test had started, or indeed what comprised a question, his dull face as remote as a face could be, seemingly cofronted each thought as a challenge that caused him some concern. Evidently he had some mother issues since when asked to describe in single words, only the good things about his mother, his response was to blow Holden away like trash caught in the wind.

Chapter 13: Miss Salome

I buried myself into a corner backstage, holding a newspaper as shield in front of me. Miss Salome would be appearing soon, retreating to her changing room after her snake act. I needed to prepare an act of my own in order to gain her confidence, yet how was a problem. I decided to assume the alias of someone from the American Federation of Variety Artists, a seemingly plausible identity for someone in her colourful line of work. I also put on a grating nasally voice that sounded like a whiny chalkboard.

Worked like a charm.


Expect Part 2 of these excerpts soon.

Read the full book upon release sometime in 2019. Pre-orders available now.


References:

Blade Runner Wikipedia page

Off-World Blade Runner wiki

Raymond Chandler Wikipedia page

Authors and Creators: Raymond Chandler

The Big Sleep Wikipedia page

Friday, 11 July 2014

A Planetful of Terror

Zombies have previously shambled along this blog doing the zombie shuffle, but this post is more of a focus on one zombie movie in particular... and Planet Terror is that movie. Directed by Robert Rodriguez and released as part of a double feature with Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof under the title of Grindhouse, it is a superb homage to the type of films that would be shown in grindhouse theatres, namely exploitation movies.

Movies with posters like this.

According to Popcorn Horror, exploitation films were "[t]ypically very low budget, these types of films would often be seen to 'exploit' a trend, niche or controversy - such as sex, violence, or drug use". Essentially cashing in on cheap schlock value by exploiting some aspect or other in the name of promotion, exploitation films were generally of poor quality, not only in terms of story or acting, but also of film stock, grainy and damaged due to their limited budget and lack of care.

In the pursuit of authenticity, Planet Terror has grainy footage in spades, with some clips looking like they were smacked over the head with a spade and were trying to focus while dealing with a ringing concussion.

No, really. It's meant to look like that.
And Bruce Willis really needs to moisturize, his skin's starting to boil.

But while Death Proof is arguably is a better movie, Planet Terror is a better homage to grindhouse cinema. For while the former feels like a high-brow tribute to exploitation films, the later feels like an exploitation film itself, embodying the qualities of those films such that it feels like one of them, not an outsider admiring them from afar but never letting itself truly be one of them. And this isn't just in regards to the grainy footage or over the top bloodsplosions,

That is actually a person they're running over, not a bag of blood and guts.
Don't worry, it's perfectly normal to make that mistake.

But also the purposefully hamfisted dialogue and stilted interactions between the characters, who themselves are triple distilled archetypal stock characters stripped down to the barest of cliches and one dimensional character traits:

-the stripper with a heart of gold who becomes empowered (with a machine gun leg!)
-the stoic badass dropping sarcastic one liners
-the stubborn sheriff who doesn't listen to the stoic badass or acknowledge the situation until it's too late
-the jealous violent psychopath husband
-the cheating wife who's cheating with a woman because her husband is a psychopath
-she's also a sexy nurse
-the simple good-natured cook
-the bad guy who's bad because he's bad and in the military so there

And so on...

For example, this is how the interpersonal conflict between the stoic badass and the stubborn sheriff is resolved. Right after the

There is no missing reel. The implied sex scene is a lie!

we see the BBQ shack where the heroes are holed up in flames, and the stubborn sheriff has been shot... by his deputy. As he lays bleeding on the floor, he reconciles with Wray, our stoic badass, by telling him things would have been different if he'd [actual dialogue] “known that you were EL Wray”. He then proceeds to tell his deputy to let Wray keep the gun he was gonna take away from him, and to "give him all the guns". This all because he's name is El Wray and not simply Wray.

That dramatic reversal of the sheriff's attitude towards him is based solely on the fact his name is proceeded by 'El' which is supposedly makes him some mythical badass he can now trust, instead of the criminal he judges guilty and not worthy of trust the whole movie up to this point, despite seeming like the only person who knows what's going on and goes all badass assassin on the zombies. It is so stupid, yet so profoundly ridiculous in its attempt to give the stoic badass the respect and authority we know he should have got in the beginning of the zombie apocalypse because duh, that it's brilliant. There's no time for gradual character development when zombies need a-killing.

These zombies.

And these aren't just regular zombies with slowly decaying bodies, these zombies are covered in boils, leaking puss from lesions, their flesh mutated and bloated. Because "Rodriguez knows these exploitation films too well, and uses special effect hero Greg Nicotero superbly. They know blood is passe; failing to freak anyone out. Boils and lesions, however, are disgusting. So you use the boils to sell the squirting blood".

And there are a lot of boils in Planet Terror... they're just like, everywhere. Protruding, misshaping, oozing,
and exploding. In a way, Rodriguez's zombies are a cross between the shambolic slow-moving corpse of old, and the new breed of infected 'zombies' seen in 28 Days Later and later recent zombie movies. For not only is the zombie outbreak caused by an airborne biological weapon, infecting the town, but the boil zombies just have to smear their juices on someone to infect them too. 

So, Rodriguez is tapping into our collective fear of infection and biological warfare while simultaneously combining the revulsion, yet strange compulsion to pop, we tend to have towards boils and the uncanny nature of the reanimated corpse. 

All in the name of a tribute to schlock value B movies that made better posters than they were movies.

To be fair, Planet Terror had some bombastic posters.

Which raises another thing, the iconography of a stripper with a machine gun for a leg has to be one of the most awesome and inspired images in cinematic history. It combines two ultimate male fetishes (boobs and guns) into one harmonious whole, transforming the character into this symbol of sexy badassery.

Who somehow incorporates her strip routine into dodging a missile because of course she does.

Did I mention her name is Cherry Darling? Because it is and I couldn't even make a joke about that because Rodriguez knows how absurd of a name that is, and that's the point.

For, by succumbing to the exploitative nature of the films it is paying tribute to, Planet Terror becomes more than a film consisting of references, since there is no trace of irony or winking nods in it. Rather it IS a grindhouse film. Just one made with all the knowledge of how the genre operates and how best to exploit it.

And yes, I'm really going to end on that pun. Deal with it.

References:

What is an Exploitation Film?

Halloween Endurance Test: Planet Terror

Planet Terror Wikipedia Page

Planet Terror Wikia

Exploitation Films Wikipedia Page

Grindhouse Wikipedia Page

Friday, 4 July 2014

The Bravest of Warriors and the Irony Parasox

Bravest Warriors is a cartoon you can find on YouTube if you believe hard enough in the heart of the cards, or just type it into Google, whichever is your preferred method of searching for stuff on the internet.

Created by Pendleton Ward, creator of Adventure Time, it shares a number of similarities with its older sibling in terms of animation style, irreverent surreal humour that specializes in funny wordplay, a fantastical backdrop of weird mythical creatures, and a child-like whimsy that masks some adult dramatic undertones.

Also the main character is a skinny blonde dude who's in love with a girl who likes him too but they can't admit it to each other because of reasons.

But unlike Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors is set in space! So, if the former is a gloriously fun take on fantasy elements with mystic swords, magic, and heroes saving princesses and going on quests, you could say the later is the sci-fi version of that. But you know, with activated sticker swords, futuristic technology, and heroes saving alien races and going on missions.

And like all true sci-fi referential shows, a female character appears in a slave Leia bikini outfit. 

However, Bravest Warriors is more than just quirky sci-fi cartoon on the internet made by that guy who does that other quirky fantasy cartoon on television, it's kinda like a microcosm of a whole generation distilled into five minute episodes of wacky offbeat animation.

For when you break down the various elements of Bravest Warriors, it kinda starts to reflect the attitudes and sensibility of a generation, all thrown together in a Holo John of science fiction tropes, video game logic, Nintendo love, Saturday morning cartoons, and absurdest humour that appears childish but is actually only really funny to twenty-somethings who get the nods and winks. Not to mention post-post-ironic love of stuff,

Here Marten from Questionable Content helpfully explains what is meant by post-post-ironic.

And it is this post-post-ironic love of stuff that is key, because it is this gleeful sincerity that permeates all over Bravest Warriors, filling it up like it's one with Wankershim. Everything in Bravest Warriors is done with utmost sincerity even when it seems like it must be ironic because how can you end an episode with 500 chocolate puppies appearing out of nowhere and have a character declare it is the best day of his life without winking at the audience?

To be fair, it would have been hard for him to wink considering they had just removed his eyelids...

In case you can't tell, he's the one on the operating table and big pink eyes.

But this gleeful sincerity makes perfect sense in the context of the internet generation (for lack of a better term, although I guess some people use 'millenials'). No, seriously. On the internet we are encouraged to unabashedly love things deemed childish or uncool with no trace of irony. Or maybe with some irony, but honestly it becomes hard to distinguish between loving something ironically so much that you kinda genuinely love it, and just straight out loving something despite the fact it might be completely ridiculous or even embarrassing to watch.

And this post-post-irony comes about because it's so hard to tell what is even ironic anymore. It's like sarcasm in the nineties, people were being ironic all the time dismissing things they didn't like with sarcastic comments such that it kinda became difficult to tell if they were actually enjoying things or just be sarcastic. Like most things from the nineties, there is a handy Simpsons clip available that deconstructs what I'm talking about while also serving as an example.


For the nineties were a seriously ironic time. Not only did sarcasm run rampant, causing mayhem and feigned interest everywhere, but songwriters like Beck spat out nonsensical yet seemingly heartfelt lyrics in a detached tone leaving people puzzling over his sincerity. One of Blur's biggest songs, and definitely the song they're known for in the U.S., is "Song 2", a purposefully ironic parody of grunge rock. Yet it was loved non-ironically by those same grunge fans the song was making fun of, because by that stage who could tell what was ironic anymore?

In that context, it's no wonder Alanis Morrissette seems to have no idea what makes something ironic in her feelgood classic song "Ironic" but then again maybe she does. No one seems to know what irony even is, and that's the point.

Because by the time we get to the 2010s, people have kinda stopped being ironic. Or are so post-ironic, they're post-post-ironic and just love things with no shame or sense of irony. This doesn't mean there isn't sarcasm, or even irony, online. There is, and lots of it. But where Generation X, as they were known, seemingly faced the world with jaded sarcasm, millenials seem to approach a lot of things with a strangely non-sarcastic gleeful sincerity.

Think of the internet's odd fascination with bacon.

Why yes, that is a mosaic of actor Kevin Bacon made out of bacon that I found in a Google image search for the word 'bacon'. Why do you ask?

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I like bacon. Bacon is delicious and a welcome addition to nearly any meal. But that's the thing, it's just an addition. Bacon is never, or rather, should never, be the entirety of one's meal. It's that little extra something that makes the meal a little bit more special. Bacon and eggs without bacon is just eggs, and while eggs are great, there is something lacking when they're hanging by themselves. It will fill you up and even taste amazing, but it's lacking that something extra (bacon, the something extra is bacon).

But look at that picture above. It's a mosaic... made out of bacon. Someone took the time to not only cook all those strips of bacon, but arrange them such that they made the image of an actor whose most famous for his loose feet and having bacon as his last name.

And that's not one isolated example of bacon obsession, there are literally entire sites whose sole purpose revolves around bacon, from offering countless bacon recipesputing a rasher of bacon on your screen when you view a webpage, or where you can purchase bacon perfume. This is in addition to lists like this one of why bacon is awesome or this Oatmeal comic about why bacon is better than true love. Sure, the Oatmeal one might be a tongue-in-cheek, but it's picking up on the fact that the internet loves bacon.

I'm not even going to start on the internet's love of cats, for cats begath the internet and it is not wise to upset them, lest you feel their wrath.

I'm just going to leave this up here to appease the lolcat gods.

How this internet bacon cat tangent relates to Bravest Warriors is it provides context for the show's post-post-ironic love of stuff.

But moving past post-post-irony, I've mentioned quite a lot that this show is a Holo John of various elements of pop culture. That's just like the internet, right? Where everything is thrown together in this interwoven fabric of references. 

For example, the show uses 8 bit sound bytes as music for its soundtrack, adding a tinge of nostalgia to a whole generation for whom those Nintendo sounds were the nursery rhymes of their youth. However, Bravest Warriors doesn't draw attention to that fact as a point of 'spot the reference' or geek cred, rather it's woven into the fabric of the show, part of its DNA in the same way those sounds are an intrinsic part of many a childhood.

In this way, it's quite similar to Scott Pilgrim, a film built for a generation raised on sitcoms, comic books, cartoons and Nintendo games. Bravest Warriors is similarly steeped in the literature of geek culture, just with a focus on sci-fi.

And fittingly has a Star Trek: The Next Generation tribute episode.

But Bravest Warriors is more than simply a quirky referential cartoon that appeals to people of a certain age and background because it draws on the appropriate literature and pop cultural touchstones they grew up with. Indeed, like Scott Pilgrim it is an embodiment of the biggest challenge that generation has to face: growing old.

Note, that is not the same as growing up. Growing up has connotations of putting away childish things and becoming an adult. But once we have came into our own, the millenial generation, as we're called by newspapers who have to give us some name or other, realised that being an adult doesn't mean you can't love the things you did as a child. Rather, you can appreciate them more. And not purely out of nostalgia, but because those things are the things you enjoy, so why shouldn't you enjoy them as an adult? Because they're not appropriate?

Grownups
Like this old xkcd comic points out, it's our turn to figure out what being grown-up is.

And so, we never let go of the childish things we loved, not because we didn't want grow up and become boring, although there is a bit of that, but because we didn't see why growing up meant letting go of the things you loved as a child. You can be a responsible fully functioning adult and still love comics or watch cartoons. The two things aren't mutually exclusive.

But since we're now adults, eventually the previous generation will be gone, and then we'll be where they are now and that's what Bravest Warriors kinda really is about. What happens when we have to be the grown ups after our parents are gone? That's how Bravest Warriors opens, with the gang's parents were all sucked up into the See-Through Zone, so they have to take on the role of the universe's mightiest heroes.

It's about the Nintendo generation learning to accept adult responsibility while still retaining their child-like enthusiasm for the things of their youth. And while we may be afraid of growing old, like the way Chris Kirkman dislikes his future self and doesn't want to accept that Emotion Lord is really him from the future,

"You think you're going to have that gorgeous blonde hair forever? Awww, that's adorable."

We have to accept baldness as something that was always going to happen when your maternal grandfather was bald and your father is bald, and that it's okay we're getting older. 

Because that means we can stay up late as we want and love the things we love without irony. We just have to pay the rent or save a planet from certain destruction as well.

No biggie.


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About Me

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This introduction is supposed to let you know that you have found the correct Caleb. 

I am here to tell that your search is over. I am indeed the correct Caleb for any given situation. Parties, hunter-gatherings, long walks on the beach, shindigs, guest appearances, and so much more. I am an multi-purpose Caleb guaranteed to impress friends and influence your uncle.

I also write stuff online.