Unpopular Opinions: Franklin

For a moment, let’s talk about Franklin.

Franklin Show

No, not him…

Peanuts Franklin

Him.

Franklin (no last lame given) made his debut in Charles Schultz’s Peanuts comics strip on July 31st, 1968. His debut was heralded by some publications, siting that was good to see that Charlie Brown wasn’t colorblind. Indeed, Franklin was one of the first African-American characters in American comics that was an equal and wasn’t some tribal native or something similar, but there’s a trusim here and someone has to say it:

Franklin was a token!

Don’t boo me! It’s true! Listen, I respect that the addition of Franklin to the Peanuts cast was a noteworthy achievement for it’s time. America was just beginning to open it’s eyes to racial equality, and the addition of an ethnic cast member was definitely a step in the right direction. I have no real issues with Franklin personally, but the problem was (and still is) that Franklin has no personality. I challenge anyone to name one thing that they know about Franklin other than the fact that he’s black.

You can’t, because Franklin didn’t do anything. Among the Peanuts characters, he had no job whatsoever. What sort of person is Franklin? What does he like to do in his spare time? What are his likes? His dislikes? What are his relationships with the other kids?

Franklin’s biggest contribution to date was one direct-to-video special in which our boy raps at the start of a baseball game.

Wow, a black kid rapping. Never saw that before. Well, not before noon! Rap is an art form, to be sure, not denying that, but this was clearly given to Franklin solely because of his ethnicity. While it was good to see Franklin at last have something to do, at the same time, this moment was a tad jarring; it would have been like if a Latino kid suddenly jumped on to the screen, shouted “Andale!” and led the gang into doing a Mexican hat dance! To all of the budding young writers out there: when you have an idea for something that a person-of-color can or should do, if you can’t imagine a white character doing these same things, then maybe you need to re-evaluate your script.

Charles Schultz could’ve given him something to do in the strip.

He could have been obsessed with eating doughnuts…

Donuts

Dem doughnuts!

Wizard's Hat

…Or he could have fancied himself as being a suburban wizard, dabbled in the black arts and regularly went around wearing one of those stylin’ pointed hats!

I’m just pulling stuff out of thin air here, but any of those things or some similar could have worked. I would have preferred it if instead of just being a black kid, Franklin had been a fully rounded character who just happened to be black. As it was, Franklin was often overlooked, ignored or left out in subsequent years because he wasn’t an interesting character. However, he wasn’t interesting because his creator Charles Schultz didn’t make him interesting. You can’t blame that on anyone else.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a fictional character be a person-of-color, but it helps when said character actually has a character and possesses some distinguishing traits beyond the color of his/her skin. A character should be a character first and and ethnicity second.  Unfortunately, beyond adding a “touch of color” to the place, Franklin’s actual contributions to the Peanuts franchise were minimal, at best.

Ironically, Franklin was more of a token black than the character who’s actually named Token Black.

Token Black

This kid is at least rich.

Oh, cruel irony!

Unpopular Opinions: Keep Daffy Duck Daffy!

Recently, thanks to one of our regular correspondents Inspiration Date, it has come to our attention that Warner Brothers’ Wabbit: A Looney Tunes Production has been re-christened New Looney Tunes.

New Looney Tunes

And with the new title comes a slight alteration in the show’s format: the series now features the rest of the Looney Tunes gang alongside Bugs Bunny. Here’s the new opening:

Upon learning of this, I perked up a little when I read that this format change would include new shorts featuring my favorite Looney Tunes character, Daffy Duck.

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I was initially apprehensive about how this team of producers and writers were going to render Daffy, especially in the wake of The Looney Tunes Show, but then I read that this take on Daffy would be “totally nuts”, and then I saw some clips:

And this was my reaction:

Which brings us to today’s Unpopular Opinion: I’ve always liked the earlier, crazy Daffy Duck more than the later, greedy, selfish version.

Angry Daffy

“WHAT?!???”

Don’t misunderstand me; I like the egomaniacal, greedy, cowardly version of Daffy well enough. I enjoyed the “Duck Season/Rabbit Season” trilogy. Chuck Jones did a masterful job of playing this darker version of Daffy opposite Bugs Bunny and as the completely unfit genre film heroes in the 1950’s shorts, but unfortunately Jones seemed to have done his job too well; for a long time afterwards many artists, writers, producers and fans have come to accept this version of Daffy as the definitive version, and this is the take of the character that most often permeates his appearances.

I have nothing but respect and admiration for Chuck Jones, but part of me wishes he had never tried to change Daffy (maybe Jones could’ve used another character for the greedy, selfish jerk role, like resurrect Gabby Goat or Beans or somebody else) so we could still have the bonkers version of the character throughout the subsequent decades, as that version’s always been my favorite. For a long time, I had to settle for imitations, like Quack-Up from Hanna-Barbera’s Yogi’s Space Race.

Quack Up

Go Duck Yourself!

In fact, I sometimes like to imagine an alternate universe in which the loony Daffy never went away, so we could get that version in productions such as Tiny Toon Adventures. How cool would it have been to have a Tiny Toons version of insane Daffy Duck? Imagine how different Plucky Duck would’ve been.

Plucky

Gogo Dodo

The only disadvantage to having a nut-job Daffy protege would be that with one absurd bird on the show, then Gogo Dodo wouldn’t have needed to have been on the show, which would’ve been a shame, but a small price to pay.

I don’t know how the general public is reacting to New Looney Tunes‘ version of Daffy, since for some reason Turner/WB and Cartoon Network are fridging the show and not airing it in the US (it’s not even airing on Boomerang Online!), which ticks me off, but that’s a separate rant unto itself, but if I could say one thing to Warner Brothers, it would be this:

Crazy Daffy Duck

Daffy Duck is fine as a greedy, selfish, snarky, cowardly, self-serving loudmouth, but he’s best when he’s unhinged, demented and totally nuts! Keep Daffy Duck daffy! It’s in his name, for crying out loud!

Unpopular Opinions: The Jetsons

Usually I like to start these segments with a clever little intro that segue ways into the main point, but this time I can’t think of any way to sugar-coat this particular thesis, so I’m just going to come right out and say it…

Jetsons

The Jetsons is boring.

There, I said it.

I know that it’s considered a classic cartoon. I know that it’s a staple of Hanna-Barbera. I know that many people regard it as iconic. But it’s still as dull as dishwater. The stories are dull. The characters are dull. The jokes are dull. And the depiction of the World of Tomorrow (TM) is really, really dull. The latter is particularly puzzling, since distant future settings are usually cool. We here at Twinsanity love the Utopian future setting (as referenced in “The Future Rocks!”) but on The Jetsons there’s absolutely nothing you’d find fun to watch.

Alien on Hoverboard

Where are the cool aliens?

Hoverboard

Where are the hoverboards?

coloured-robot-design_1148-9

Where’s the cool future tech?

Where’s the mind-boggling science fiction stuff? The only remotely cool thing on The Jetsons is the flying cars. That’s it. You can’t even fall back on the appeal of the show’s main cast, since the titular characters are likewise as dull as a plain dry piece of toast. Sure, Elroy’s smart and Judy’s nice to look at, but the show didn’t even mine those elements for all they could.

Yeah, when HB brought the show back in syndication in the 80’s, they added a new character, Orbitty…

Orbitty

…And what did he add to the show? I’ll tell you:

zero

Absolutely nothing.

-It should probably be mentioned that like it’s predecessor The Flintstones, which was basically just The Honeymooners in animated form, cross-pollinated with the Tex Avery MGM short The First Bad Man, The Jetsons is similarly based on an existing fictional staple, Blondie.

Blondie_Logo_2007

More accurately, the Blondie radio show and theatrical films starring Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake (Fun Fact: Singleton was the original voice of Jane Jetson).

Penny_Singleton_Arthur_Lake_Blondie_1944

So the show was basically Blondie in the future. Fair enough, but here’s the thing…

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I thought Blondie was like watching paint dry as well! Who at HB thought that would be a good franchise to co-opt? You know your show is boring when even putting it in the Space Age can’t make it interesting.

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Granted, The Flintstones wasn’t all that great either, but that show at least had some semi-interesting characters, the occasional kind-of funny joke and it had the whole fan service thing to fall back on, so if you like dinosaurs, dudes and chicks in skins and humorous acts of animal cruelty, you can watch for those things, even if you didn’t care about the stories.

How can you have a show set in the distant future without anything fun in it? Other shows and movies have done cool stuff with that setting:

Meet the Robinsons

We only got brief glimpses of the future society in Meet the Robinsons (in fact the book the movie was loosely based on, A Day with Wilbur Robinson, didn’t even involve the future or time travel), but what we saw of it, with its’ colorful architecture (including Insta-Buildings), transportation bubbles and flying time machines, was more interesting than anything we saw on The Jetsons.

todayland

See, that’s funny.

Futurama-01_0

A lot of the things depicted on Futurama didn’t make sense (and the show’s writers have openly admitted that a lot of it didn’t make sense), but Futurama was still cool, fun and interesting.

project_geeker

Heck, even the late CBS Saturday morning cartoon Project G.eeK.eR. was more interesting than The Jetsons, and that show only lasted a single season. Project G.eeK.eR. gave us a really odd, wild, wacky and cool future setting with a dazzlingly quirky mix of human, alien, animal and robotic worlds: THAT show had a future city straight out of Blade Runner. It had artificially created super men with amazing powers. It had cyborgs. It had cool aliens. It had genetically modified humanoid dragon gangsters. It had mutated monsters. It had a space station. It had evolved talking dinosaurs who lived in a hidden dinosaur city (it turns out the dinos didn’t go extinct, they were merely hiding). It had a sentient super-intelligent strain of the common cold. It had a mad scientist mastodon voiced by Charlie Adler who floated around via an anti-gravity belt! Now THAT is interesting!

PF2200AD

Even The Partridge Family: 2200 A.D. had a couple of alien characters with quirky shticks and the family’s dog was a robot, which was kind of interesting.

Speaking of, did you know that The Partridge Family: 2200 A.D. was originally going to be a Jetsons sequel series? T’is true. It was originally planned by HB as a follow-up to the original Jetsons series a la Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm, featuring Elroy as a teenager and Judy as an adult reporter, but when the idea was pitched to then CBS president Fred Silverman, he opted to swap out the Jestons for animated versions of the Partridge Family instead. Why?

conspiracy_nut

NO ONE REALLY KNOWS.

Smiley bored 2

-Personally, I’m guessing Silvy found The Jetsons as boring as I do!

 

 

Unpopular Opinions: Teen Titans TAS is Silly!

Let’s talk about Teen Titans GO! for a minute.

teen-titans-go

 

Yeah, I know. This is a VERY polarizing series. It’s silly and nonsensical and loud and garish and seems completely inane to anyone beyond the second grade. No denying that. But what I don’t get is when people complain about TTGO! (and they do… a lot!), someone will inevitably chime in with something like…

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“Teen Titans GO! is garbage! It’s a slap in the face to fans of the original  dark and serious Teen Titans!”

wtf

Um…seriously?

teen-titans

This show was “dark and serious”? THIS SHOW?? The show in which 5 teenagers live together in a giant T-shaped tower with no adults and no discernible income who never take off their costumes (they even sleep with them on), call each other by their superhero names all the time, in one episode tried to stop a British fashion designer who’s stuck in the 1960’s from using his Yellow Submarine/Monty Python powers from turning the entire city stereotypically British and in another battled a wacky magician voiced by Tom “Spongebob Squarepants” Kenny who imprisoned them in his magic hat and they spent a bulk of the story as talking animals and in yet another episode fought a mound of living, talking tofu? You’re calling THIS show “dark and serious”??

ummno

Teen Titans GO! is very juvenile, I’ll give you that, but let’s not let our fandom cloud our memories and capacity for logical thinking, shall we? The 2003 Teen Titans series was a silly show that was occasionally intense, not an intense show that was occasionally silly. Selective memory much? Yeah, there were some intense, dramatic moments, but overall it was pretty darn goofy.

teen-titans-2

The show was like a group of kids playing superheroes, but the game never stopped. The kids stayed in character and play-acted all day and all night. Am I calling Teen Titans: TAS bad? No. But it was not “dark and serious”. The show did a Wacky Races spoof in one episode, for crying out loud.

On a similar note, when people bad-mouth the 2016 Powerpuff Girls reboot (and they do)…

ppg-2016

…I’ll hear something like:

nerd

“This show is an abomination! It’s a dumb comedy instead of a serious action cartoon like the original PPG was!”

-Whaaa? You think the original Powerpuff Girls was a serious action cartoon?

 

oh-wait-youre-serious

Were we watching the same show back then? Or was there another show called The Powerpuff Girls that I’m not aware of? ‘Cause the PPG show that I saw was a comedy cartoon which sent up the superhero genre, like The Tick. I once said that very thing to some wanking fan, and said fan replied with:

dummy

“The Tick was a silly parody!”

And Powerpuff Girls wasn’t??

dummy

“PPG aired on Toonami for a little while!”

So did Hamtaro, so following your logic, that would also make Hamtaro an action cartoon.

Again, you can prefer whichever incarnation of PPG that you choose, but don’t hand me this malarkey that the original PPG was this hardcore action cartoon, because I know it wasn’t. I was there. It was a show about 3 color-coordinated kindergarten aged girls with crazy superpowers who spent their days fighting a super-smart chimp, a metrosexual demon, a big pink furry hillbilly monster and a gang of green skinned mutant juvenile delinquents.

Here’s today’s Unpopular Opinion. It’s actually a truism, so some of you hardcore super-fans might want to sit down for this one:

marvel-vs-dc-justice-league-avengers-team-up

THE SUPERHERO GENRE…IS…SILLY!

No, I’m not denying that there’s some great writing and action and even drama in the better stories, nor am I saying that superhero stories aren’t cool, they most certainly can be, but let’s face it: the genre as a whole is inherently goofy and absurd. It’s a universe littered with muscularly fit guys and gals who somehow come into possession of crazy magic powers and mad skills, they give themselves silly names and don brightly colored pajamas with giant letters and/or symbols on them and use said crazy magic powers to do battle against bank robbers, space invaders, mad scientists and would-be world conquerors. Reality check time: superheroes are already silly as all get-out, so turning them into fun, strictly-for-laughs comedies isn’t really that big of a stretch.

I’m not saying people have to enjoy the likes of Teen Titans GO! or Powerpuff Girls 2016; chances are if you’re above the target age group for these shows and you grew up watching their predecessors, then these shows are likely not going to be your cup of tea, but before you attempt to claim that the previous incarnations of these shows were something akin to Lord of the Rings or 12 Angry Men, you might want to take these off:

nostalgiagoggles

NOSTALGIA GOGGLES. Now with 75% More Blind Ignorance!

Unpopular Opinions: Jubilee

Here’s an unpopular opinion for ya: I don’t think Jubilee (of the X-Men)’s mutant power is lame. Never have and never will.

jubilee_011

Let the sparks fly!

Whenever some comic book or superhero site makes a list of the lamest X-Men and their powers, Jubilee invariably makes the list, and I’ve never gotten that. Yes, over the years the gang at Marvel have come up with some seriously dorky mutants….

 

…Like Jazz, the mutant whose only power was having blue skin, and nothing else. Oh yeah, and he was also possessed mediocre rapping skills. Cool?

jazz

“Blue-yaka-sha!”

dr-smith

Or Longneck, who had a six-foot neck.

longneck

He’s the hero to call should Geoffrey the Giraffe ever decide to knock over a bank.

Or Forget-Me-Not, with the power to be forgotten. And this is useful because…?

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What was I talking about? I forget.

But why is Jubilee always placed in this category? Jube’s original powers were cool. Who wouldn’t want to be able to fire multicolored hot electric destruction from your finger tips?

jubilee-2

Often I hear folks say, “Hur-hur. Jubilee’s powers are stupid. They’re just fireworks. She can’t do anything.” Ah, no. Jubilee’s projectiles are not mere fireworks, they are globules of plasma fired in varying degrees of intensity. Do you not know what plasma is? Allow me to elucidate:

Plasma is the 4th state of matter, after solids, liquids and gases. It is an ionized gas consisting of positive ions and free electrons in proportions resulting in more or less no overall electric charge, typically at low pressures (as in the upper atmosphere and in fluorescent lamps) or at very high temperatures (as in stars and nuclear fusion reactors). One possessing this power could easily short out electrical devices or destroy a house with this power. Jubilee’s powers were actually nerfed on the FOX TV show because a) she was just a kid and her powers hadn’t reached their full potential yet and b) in the comics, anyway, she chose not to use her ability to its’ maximum out of concern for seriously injuring or killing someone. One’s power is not weak just because one chooses to hold back on it. The potential for serious damage is still there.

Jubilee is similar to DC’s Wonder Twins, who are similarly lambasted by fans, critics and comedians for being lame-ohs when in fact their abilities are actually potentially formidable and were more extensive in the comics than they were in their TV incarnation.

wonder-twins-3

-Speaking of which, let me side track for just a second here. Recently I had a bit of back-and-forth with the same horndog jackass with the Blackfire fetish on the DC Superhero Girls comments section on YouTube. When I casually mentioned that I’d like to see Zan and Jayna on DCSHG, this smug piece of talking moose excrement quipped:

jackass

“I dunno, man. You come off like a weirdo.”

Says the guy who’s obsessed with a D-List villain character. You wanna see a weirdo, douche? Look in the mirror!

pot-kettle

-There, I said it. I feel better. Now back to Jubilee.

Now with the level of respect and enthusiasm that I have for Jubilation Lee, you may be wondering what I think of Marvel’s new incarnation of the Generation X comic book series, with Jubilee at the forefront? My answer is…

stone-cold-steve-austin-hell-no

Yeah, I haven’t read the new Generation X, and I have no plans to. Why? Because it looks dumb and not like anything I’d be interested in. I have no problem with the cast being basically misfits who don’t fit in with any of the other more serious X-Factions; that could be fun if they decide to do it as a comedy, you know, wacky roommate antics, but the characters they chosen for it are unflatteringly lame. Eye-Boy?  A kid with eyeballs all over his body? Disgusting! Nature Girl? A girl with deer antlers who can communicate with animals and plants? What the actual what? It’s like someone at Marvel saw that Robot Chicken sketch about Kid Venison and said, “We should do that for real!” Bling!? The daughter of rappers who’s made of living bling-bling? Seriously?? Yeah, these ideas are too ridiculous, even for comics. (Though I do think that Bling! is a cool name.)

You’re probably asking:

nerd

“But Damon, you should be looking forward to the new Generation X. Jubilee’s back, and she’s the leader this time!”

-Yeah, but it’s Jubilee NOW. Not the Jubilee that’s cool. The current Jubilee has been depowered and without her plasma fireworks for nearly a decade; now Jubes is a vampire who was bitten by the son of Dracula and has a baby?!?

Pardon my French, but….

french-man-15924519

“EFF THAT ESS!”

Nah, folks can check that out if it tickles their collective fancy, but I’ll stick with my memories of the Jubilee that I liked, thanks.